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A Dirty Dozen with PAUL VISSER from BLACK ORCHID EMPIRE – June 2020

| 12 June 2020 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “British rock band Black Orchid Empire share their brand new single “Natural Selection”. It’s the fourth single taken from the new studio album Semaphore coming 12th June, 2020 via Long Branch Records. Black Orchid Empire create huge, memorable rock music that combines heavy-hitting savagery with intense melodic beauty. Their technical, fearlessly complex grooves and gigantic sing-along choruses have already earned them a widespread fanbase.” We get guitarist / singer Paul to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release. What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through? Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Semaphore is a Sci-Fi concept record – there are a lot of narrative things going on which will become clearer as we release the short stories I wrote for each song. Also, a few sounds on the album you might think are guitar are actually really mangled synths.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

I have a very musical background – my father is a jazz sax player and sound designer, my mother plays piano and oboe, my step-father is a great blues guitarist, my brother is a fantastic drummer, producer, writer and artist. Strangely though I’d always seen music as a hobby until I didn’t get into the art school I wanted and decided to take a year out. Then I thought – what the hell am I doing? It’s always been music. I enrolled to do Music Technology at University right after that.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

So many! I was a huge fan of Radiohead, Skunk Anansie (playing with them was insane), Nirvana and Alice In Chains as a kid – I still am. I remember seeing Smashing Pumpkins in 1996 and being blown away. Later it was heavier records like Slayer, Slipknot, Korn. Listening to Meshuggah for the first time broke my brain. That opened up all sorts of exploration.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

On Semaphore I’d say Deftones, Tesseract, Periphery, Black Peaks and Karnivool.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Oh wow. It would have to be Josh Homme. He’s one of my absolute heroes for sure. I’d love to work with Nolly from a production standpoint too. He’s probably the best mix engineer in the heavy music world right now.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Semaphore is heavy and technical but also very melodic and super dynamic at times. It’s music that’s in like 13/8 but you don’t even realise because somehow you can still sing along and nod your head. We get a few comparisons – most have a lot of merit. It’s difficult to be compared to Biffy Clyro because their early music is phenomenal but their latest stuff does nothing for me personally. I still have massive respect for those guys though. Such an incredible live band.

7. What’s the best thing about being a musician?

The fact that your get to indulge in your addiction on a daily basis.

8. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

We all cook! All three of us love cooking and we’re constantly trading ideas. I think the fact that Billy and Dave come from opposite sides of the world to me means we have really interesting combined tastes. In food and music! Me and Dave are the drinkers – Billy is pretty much dry. And we are NOT campfire singalong types haha! Someone has to twist our arms very hard to do that.

9. When was the last time you were star struck and who was it?

Probably when I first met Skin way back in 2015. Shes fantastic, a real genuinely lovely human. She put her head round the studio door when we were making Archetype and asked to listen to it. It was a bit of a shock!

10. If you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job?

I’d love to build guitars. I don’t really have the patience for the details but I love tinkering with my own stuff.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”, even if it didn’t change your current situation?

You can only consider something a mistake if you don’t like where you are right now, and we’re super happy with where we are. I’m sure loads of things could’ve been handled differently but who knows. Thinking like that is a waste of time. I don’t think you can learn anything form being right all the time, and mistakes are great teachers.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Pink Floyd Dark Side Of The Moon. I recently produced a session at Abbey Road Studio 3, where that record was made. It was amazing. That album taught me that songs are everything, and you don’t have to follow what’s considered a normal structure. Pushing yourself is mandatory if you want to capture people’s imaginations.





Category: Interviews

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ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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