With a small fanbase, but with lots of energy, the Amsterdam based Orange Outlaw released their very first album ‘Desert Wolf’, halfway down 2015. Dedication, interest and the drive to be out there has seen the band release their debut album independently. Now, half a year later, it’s hard to see what has happened with the ambitious hard rock band. Guitarist Dirkjan de Wit knows why: “We were, and still are, incredibly unknown. We’ve done everything about the album ourselves!”
Congratulations on the release of ‘Desert Wolf’, in my opinion one of the best hard rock albums of 2015. How is life with the band these months after the release?
The same as before the album came out, actually! We were hoping that, after the release, trucks filled with women would be unloaded at our houses, we’d have to send record companies away because there were so many wanting us, which is a shame. What we did get were some very good reviews, which we’re very happy with. A lot of extra fans and followers joined our fanbase, which is always nice. We did manage to get some more bookings for new shows. So all of that is very positive, mainly because we released the album entirely on our own. We were, and still are, incredibly unknown and we’ve had to do everything ourselves. No one is going to help you, there’s no label to back you during the recording. So in the end you’re quite “down to earth” about the reception of the result.
Is it hard to make an album all on your own?
This process cost me, personally, a year of my life. But the other guys probably would tell you the same thing. We all have an above average interest in the music and recording business, so we did everything ourselves. It’s a nice solution if you’ve got a tight budget. In the end you’re responsible of every decision that has to be made. It’s an incredibly interesting learning process.
‘I want people to say “This is definitely not my genre,
but it sure sounds like you know what you’re doing!”‘
What I mean is, for example, one of the three studio’s that are mentioned at the back of the album, is actually a room at my home! Sven (Cornelissen, vocals) and I have been working out all the vocals there. If you’d put the band in a studio for two weeks you’d do it all in that time, but we’ve all got to go to work and everything has to be done in the evenings. At a certain point you want this all to be finished, because you can’t stop thinking about it. In the end it was a lot of hard work, not in a bad way, but it was a satisfying amount of work.
Would you do it a second time?
Absolutely! You know what the fun thing is? And again, this goes for me, but for all the other guys as well, we really love recording. It consumes a lot of your time and takes a lot of effort, but in the end, what else would you do? Watch TV? I’d rather be writing songs.
The entire band feels this way and put such dedication into recording this album, it’s incredible. It was one of the goals at the beginning, to write an album of which people could say “This is definately not my genre, but you sure sound like you know what you’re doing!” That’s such a big compliment.
Where does the band name Orange Outlaw come from?
Well, we wanted to have an international, preferably English, band name. Orange is cool, because it has a link with The Netherlands. If you aim for the highest possible and in this case that would be world domination, how cool would it be if that domination had a Dutch element in it?
The Outlaw part has two stories. Outlaw sounds pretty cool, which is the short version. “Outlaw” also means that you are put beyond protection of the law. Everyone could kill or harm you. The old version of British law states “and may he bear a wolfish head”, which practically meant that you could shoot the person, as if it were a wolf walking up your porch.
And to why the album is called ‘Desert Wolf’, well, if you look at the musical landscape right now, you cannot deny that you are in a desert. A scarcity of inspiration, of innovation, so this ‘Desert Wolf’, that’s us!
There are some very clear sources of inspiration to be hear on your album. How far could a band go in the modern music business? How much of your inspiration can you “use”?
We’re not busy with that at all. We’re working very hard on building our own sound, as far as you can, as band these days. Any chord you strike on an electric guitar has been played before. So how do you make the difference? For us that’s Sven’s voice. He’s got a sound that you very rarely hear in the rock business. Most of the time you hear this heavy, raw rock sound, which can be very nice, but we’ve got Sven and he can really, really sing.
“So this ‘Desert Wolf’… That’s us!”
Combine that with the songwriting and you’ve got it. We just want to make real “songs”. If you listen to bands that we like to listen to, Slash, or Alter Bridge, they write songs. You’ve got to have good riffs, solo’s and other elements, but in the end you want to sing along to something. That’s one of the things I look for in new albums as well. A little bit of catchiness, and a certain feeling. It’s something that’s slowly fading away from the business and we think it’d be good if we brought it back.
After the release of the new album, the beer brand Warsteiner made a short documentary on you. How did that happen?Warsteiner started looking for people who really worked their asses of for something. Through a couple of contacts they asked me to do it. They sought the people who work hard to achieve their dreams. Who “Go for it”, which was the slogan. This was a great opportunity. They followed the band to the show we had in Tilburg and we all got free beer, because it needed to look like we were always drinking Warsteiner. We asked if our music could be in there and that was no problem, so everything really came together.
But isn’t there something you’d change about it? Or were you happy the way it turned out?
I’d really have loved to see every single band member do this. The connection between the band members is really something special. You can also hear that in the music. Everyone is going absolutely nuts on their parts and whether you’re a vocalist, a bass player or a guitarist, I think you can get your own kick from the album and really go wild on it.
In the commercial you can also see the band go wild onstage, but how does your audience react to your music and live performance?
Very good! What’s very important is that the audience is ready to enjoy it. We are a real live band. I play the best if I’m under pressure. The more people showing up, the more I enjoy the show, the wilder I go play. And that counts for all of us. For me, personally, this was one of the most important factors when I started this band with Jeffrey. I didn’t want to make music from behind a desk, without ever going out there and make people happy in real life. That’s what music is all about, making people smile. That’s the best thing there is, isn’t it?
“I think you can get your own kick from the album
and really go wild on it.”
You are, together with bass player Jeffrey Bryan, one of the older members of Orange Outlaw. Are you two calling the shots in the band?
Well, I think we have a pretty traditional way of dealing with everything surrounding the band. Most of the songwriting come from me, the guitarist, which is most of the time the way it goes in rock music. But in the end I don’t write any drums, nor do I write the bass parts. I tend to help writing some of the vocals, but it’s pretty difficult if you compare my low voice, with the amazing reach Sven’s has. Everyone does their thing and that way everything comes together really good.
However, every band has one or two of those members that tend to deal with things. I think Jeffrey and I are two of them. The younger lads have a distinct opinion as well, but, for example, I just have a very big mouth. And with that you tend to call and do things quicker. That’s something that really depends on who you are.
Loads of bands fall apart after their first record, but how far do you think Orange Outlaw could go?
Really, really far, as far as I can tell. We’re super patient, which is a good thing. With time we’ll just shove ourselves down your throat. It all just takes a lot of time, it might even take until the third album before we really start to break through!
There’s such an amount of diversity on the record, where does all that come from?
That’s actually a very fun element, for example, ‘Nobody Wants Me Tonight’ is written entirely by Sven. It’s completely different from the rest and we wanted to do something like the old Guns ‘N Roses tend to do. If you’re a real rock God than you can write something subtle and tender and it will only make you cooler and more rock ‘n roll. That’s why we wanted to have a track like that. Just like ‘El Blanco’, which is just a really atmospheric intermezzo, it came out really nice.
“With time we’ll just shove our music
down your throat.”
Diversity will add up to the fun of listening to an album. Albums that are all the same, in any way, are less fun to listen to.
You’re not the kind of band with nine album tracks, three minutes a piece. Is that something done deliberately?
We’ve got even more material, but the length of all these tracks just came to be this way. ‘To Me You’re Done’, for example, is just like an opera, it deserves to have an immense opening and a majestic closer. That’s the way we’re writing at the moment. It could change in the coming years, we could be writing shorter songs, combining them with a couple of longer ones in the future. This is “us” at this moment in time.
We’ve been looking at the length during the recording. We saw some pieces we could throw out, but we really didn’t want to, because they just sounded so good. You don’t want to scrap parts of your music! It all became part of this very organic process.
“‘To Me You’re Done’, is just like an opera,
it deserves to have an immense opening and a majestic closer.”
On the Orange Outlaw website you state that you have the secrets to making the best burgers in Amsterdam, but what’s the secret to that?
Well, I could tell you, but I’m afraid I’d have to kill you!
But, joking aside, eating hamburgers is a way of life. The most important part is using charcoal roasted, high quality beef. If the cow jumped around in the pasture, you can taste that. After that it’s a mix of chili mayonnaise, a bit of alfalfa, the right sauce, crispy bacon, pickles, a red union and one more thing, but that’s the secret ingredient and I’m not going to tell you that.
One more thing! People use to think that a hamburger on a firm bun is nice. Never do that! A hamburger bun has to be soft, it’s essential.
Thank you so much for the recipe! Is there something you like to add, something the readers really have to know?
We’ll just keep playing on! Keep an eye out, because if you look at us, you see a very young band. We’ve just been born and we’re tearing away the placenta. So, beware!
‘Desert Wolf’ is available through the Orange Outlaw website