Photo courtesy of Code Orange
As Code Orange Wraps Up Tour With Korn, They Look Ahead To Headlining Stages & Making New Music: "We Really Want To Take A Big Swing"
The Pittsburgh hardcore executioners are finishing up a tour with Korn and gearing up for a headlining run. Code Orange recently unleashed a new single, "Out for Blood," and bandleader Jami Morgan has some intel on upcoming music.
Code Orange's new song "Out for Blood" is nothing if not a blunt instrument. By fusing the most immediate parts of 2000s radio-friendly metal — and pairing it with a viscera-spattered video — it pushed the beloved hardcore band further into the airwaves than ever before. But Code Orange has a fascinating and complex essence that goes past mere riff-mongering.
"We don't subscribe to the idea that you're either a punk-metal band or a 'smart metal' band or a 'dumb, push-people, Monster Energy' band," vocalist and drummer Jami Morgan tells GRAMMY.com. He goes on to remember the old days as Code Orange Kids, where they threw down everywhere from airless punk-squat living rooms to meathead fests and crepuscular harsh-noise covens.
"That's hopefully our imprint on heavy music — to take different pieces from different scenes, because we've been part of all of them," Morgan continues. "We've done it all and we are it all."
This hydra-like multifariousness is what enabled the Pittsburgh hardcore band to make Underneath, arguably their most realized album to date. Commensurately experimental and brutal, the album garnered near-universal critical acclaim and a nomination for Best Metal Performance ("Underneath") at the 2021 GRAMMY Awards. (Three years prior, they'd been nominated in the same category for "Forever.")
So what do Morgan, guitarists Dominic Landolina and Reba Meyers, keyboardist Eric "Shade" Balderose, and bassist Joe Goldman get to do when they've existed in so many spheres? They can become the most arcane space-rock band in the world if they want. Or, they can write shameless bangers like "Out for Blood" and tour with Korn — which they're wrapping up now.
At the tail-end of those dates and on the cusp of a North America headlining tour kicking off April 3, Morgan caught up with GRAMMY.com to discuss Code Orange's roots, stylistic philosophy and road ahead — which includes new music in the not-too-distant future.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
In these final dates with Korn and your upcoming headline tour, what do fans have to look forward to?
In terms of supporting Korn, if you're a fan of the band, you're going to see the biggest version of us in a setting that's different than they're used to. We're getting to play a record we worked really, really hard on that wasn't able to get the roadwork that it deserved over the course of the pandemic.
In terms of our headline tour, we're hoping to be able to bring the fullest version of Code Orange there's been so far. We haven't done a headline tour in four years at this point, and we're bringing a visual element to it. A lot of what we do is visual — if you follow the band, you know that. Hopefully, the more we're able to step it up, the more we can show that.
Was Korn part of your heavy-music immersion growing up?
I wouldn't say they were necessarily part of our initial heavy-music experience, because we come more from of a hardcore and punk background. That's where we learned about heavy music, and that's where we learned about metal — through punk and hardcore.
But as we've gone on — obviously, Korn has always been everywhere. Korn was actually, technically, the first concert I ever went to. I went to a concert when I was in fourth or fifth grade. It was Linkin Park and Korn and Snoop Dogg.
I think they're inspiring in their longevity and in their push forward. They definitely try to keep it creative, and they keep it moving. They don't sit there and wait five years in between records. They keep pushing. When you look at Korn, you've got to understand there's not many heavy bands left that can draw in the way Korn does. It's kind of an anomaly, you know?
So, I've got nothing but respect for them. They influenced many of the things that influenced us.
Who were the bands that got you going early on?
We got into this really young. I booked my first show when I was about 14 years old. We've technically been a band — in different incarnations, but with the same four people — since we were 14.
My parents are pretty young, so when I was a little kid, I was listening to a lot of hip-hop and rock. Rakim, KRS-One, Public Enemy, but my dad was also into Minor Threat, Black Flag and Bad Brains. Your basic ABCs of punk and hardcore. It kind of sprung off from there and we fell down the metal rabbit hole.
We don't subscribe to the idea that you're either a punk-metal band or a "smart metal" band or a "dumb, push-people, Monster Energy" band. We take pieces from all that stuff. We can go as experimental as anybody and push people on the ground as well! That's hopefully our imprint on heavy music — to take different pieces from different scenes, because we've been part of all of them.
We've paid as many dues to the hardcore scene as you can, but before that, we were playing roll-on-the-ground punk shows where the singer was naked and all the bulls***. We've played the experimental noise dungeon. We've played the push-someone-on-the-ground festival. We've done it all and we are it all.
Did you guys ever play to an audience of zero early on?
Yeah. We've probably played more shows to an audience of zero than anyone. We toured the U.S. 10 times before we were in a magazine or coming out of anybody's mouth that wasn't under the level.
That's helped us a lot, honestly. That helped us win fans. I find it tough to grow when there's so many bands and artists. Everyone gets attention, but it feels so spread out, especially in heavy music. There's not a linear path like there's been in previous years of heavy music, I would say.
That has taught us a lot. We've played in many basements; we've slept on many floors; we slept on the same floors we played on, right after. We've done it all.
At what point did you feel Code Orange became a unique entity and not just the sum of your influences?
I think we've always had a sense of ourselves. That sense has developed over the years. To me, I can chart it aesthetically. At one point, when we were young, the band was on a certain aesthetic path and kind of came to the end of that path. We had the fortitude to reboot that a couple of records ago because we wanted to go in a different way that would pay off long-term.
I think [2020's Underneath] is definitely a record that you can't say sounds like anybody. You can say that sections and parts sound like certain influences, but I don't think there's a record that sounds like Underneath. It's the most encompassing of that vision. Where do we go from here? We'll see.
Can you drop any hints about the music you're currently working on?
We've been working hard on it. We have many, many more songs than we've ever had. Normally, we'd kind of plot them out for ebbs and flows. But for me, I'm a heavy music fan, but I'm also a big hip-hop fan. I love electronic music. I love rock. Everything.
I get bored going on that same ride. I love metal, but it's hard to sit through these albums all the way through. It can be painful at times. So, the way we try to plot these things out is like a rollercoaster. Up and down. "OK, what are our downs going to be? How do we bring the adrenaline back? How do we [stick] the landing?"
So far, stylistically it's a big departure from anything we've done so far. But that's why we keep working on it. We want to get it right. We really want to take a big swing on it.
I've found that most heavy musicians listen to far more than just heavy music — or sometimes no heavy music at all. What are your listening habits like?
I just get into specific things really hard. Our guitarist, Dom, is an insane metal encyclopedia. He's unreal. Joe, our bass player, is a huge metal/hardcore guy. Shade, our keyboardist, doesn't really listen to it, but he does understand what makes it tick. Reba's really into alternative music and rock. So, we're able to pick these different things.
While I don't always sit around listening to metal all day long, I understand what I think makes it great. My goal is to try to suck the best moments out of it, the fun moments, and make that as many of our moments as possible. Hardcore is always the pit, the mosh part, but you can use that philosophy for whatever.
So, we try to make the songs fun in that regard while hopefully being interesting. We are a rock, metal, hardcore band at the end of the day, and everything else is things we're pulling in. You're not going to hear a record from us that doesn't have a heavy element, but if you've been following our stuff, you know we like to mix it up.
To drill a little deeper, what are you listening to this week?
Let me look. I opened up Spotify. I was listening to that new song by the Game that Kanye produced called "Eazy." That's a killer song. I'm listening to Drakeo the Ruler.
I'm listening to a lot of Nine Inch Nails — they're my favorite band of all time. It's constant. I try to get away from it, to escape it, but I just can't. They're my favorite band because it mixes a lot of elements we're talking about. It doesn't lean on the metal side, but it's just heavy. For the most part, the music I want to make is dark. I'm into the dark arts! Aesthetically, musically, that's what I like.
George [Clarke] from Deafheaven has that new group, Alto Arc. I've been listening to them. I've got a song from that. I thought that was absolutely awesome.
As a relative outsider looking in, I feel like we're in a really fertile period for hardcore. But as someone who's been truly in it for many years: what's the deal? Are we in a boom or bust period?
I think it doesn't really work that way, because most of what's good about it — 95 percent of the bands that are good — is because of that environment. And if it grows beyond that environment, it doesn't work. And it shouldn't work, and it's not supposed to work. It's like taking a character out of a movie and putting it in another one.
There are a small amount of bands that are built in a different way. You can already see Turnstile or Power Trip — rest in peace to Riley — there have been and are bands, and I believe we're a band like that, that can exist and appeal outside of that because of the type of thing they do.
That's the type of thing we've always done. We've never went from being a straightforward hardcore band. We started really f***ing weird and we're still really f***ing weird in different ways. There have to be elements of your sound and vibe that reach out from those things. And sometimes, when the ball gets rolling — like maybe what you're describing — it forces other bands out of that box as well.
And that doesn't make sense. To me. It's best in that environment. So, in terms of a boom period in quality, I'm sure: there seems to be a ton of amazing bands, and people are going, and it's exciting.
In terms of bands that are cutting through that cloth, we'll have to see. But I definitely feel like Turnstile is built differently than whatever other band you do like, and is killing in that environment.
But for me, I can already see where it starts and ends. That's what hardcore is, and there's nothing wrong with that. And for most people in hardcore, that's exactly what they want. They don't want things to grow outside of that bubble, because it would literally make it not hardcore.
There's a lot of good stuff, it seems like, and there's always been a lot of good stuff. But we'll have to see what direction bands go. I don't know if a lot of hardcore bands' goal is to take risks. I think their goal is just to be in the hardcore scene and have a blast and play hardcore.
That's not really our goal, and never really has been our goal. We've been screaming that from the rooftops since day one.
MusiCares MAP Fund Charity Auction Launched
GRAMMY Charity Online Auctions offers exclusive memorabilia from seventh annual MusiCares MAP Fund benefit
Following the seventh annual MusiCares MAP Fund benefit honoring Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan and Vans Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman on May 6, GRAMMY Charity Online Auctions has launched the MusiCares MAP Fund Charity Auction. Presented in partnership with Kompolt, the auction is open through May 19 and features a variety of autographed music memorabilia, including items signed backstage at the MusiCares MAP Fund benefit concert by Linkin Park's Chester Bennington, Gahan and Paramore.
Additional auction items include a framed issue of Rolling Stone signed by the Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger; vintage memorabilia signed by Tony Bennett, Jackson Browne, Annie Lennox, Rod Stewart, and Barbra Streisand; guitars autographed by Kings Of Leon, Korn, Tom Petty, Kenny Rogers, and Keith Urban; unique memorabilia signed by Jeff Beck, Justin Bieber, Eminem, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Muse, Katy Perry, and Rihanna; and a 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards VIP Experience for two including rehearsal passes and hotel accommodations.
To place your bid on items featured in the auction, visit www.ebay.com/grammy. All proceeds will benefit MusiCares and the GRAMMY Foundation.
Serj Tankian of System Of A Down performs at Download Festival 2011
Photo: Christie Goodwin/Getty Images
U.K.'s Download Festival Announces Lineup For Virtual Festival: KISS, Iron Maiden, System Of A Down And More Confirmed
The three-day online event, taking place June 12-14, will also feature performances from Korn, Deftones, Babymetal, The Offspring, The Pretty Reckless and others
Download Festival, the celebrated rock festival in the U.K., has announced the lineup for its Download TV virtual festival. The three-day online event, running June 12-14, will feature headliners KISS, Iron Maiden and System Of A Down, who were all scheduled to headline this year's Download Festival before it was canceled in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Other confirmed Download TV artists and performances, which will broadcast exclusively via YouTube, include Korn, Deftones, Babymetal, The Offspring, The Pretty Reckless, The Darkness, Bowling For Soup and others, in addition to as-yet unannounced "special guests," according to the Download Festival website.
Download TV will feature content blocks, split into daytime and evening programming, comprising "music, special interviews, unseen performances, and exclusive footage," according to the Download Festival website.
All three headlining sets will comprise footage from previous performances. On Friday night (June 12), the festival will show footage of KISS's headlining set from Download Festival 2015. Saturday night (June 13) sees Iron Maiden sharing "nostalgic performances" and snippets from their ongoing Legacy Of The Beast World Tour, in addition to "something just for Download TV," according to the festival's website. System Of A Down closes the virtual weekender Sunday night (June 14) with footage from their performances at Download Festival throughout the years, including sets from 2005, 2011 and 2017.
Download TV will also feature interactive content throughout the weekend, including tutorials, artist interviews, special live performances, mindfulness sessions, cook-alongs and more. The online festival will also share fan-created content via their social channels.
Download TV is the latest virtual festival to come from the metal and rock worlds. This weekend, bands like Darkest Hour, Tesseract, Twelve Foot Ninja, O'Brother and Silvertomb, as well as members of GWAR, The Black Dahlia Murder, Anthrax and more, will be slaying the virtual stage at Slay At Home, a metal and art online festival benefitting MusiCares' COVID-19 Relief Fund and the GlobalGiving Coronavirus Relief Fund.
To view the full lineup for and to learn more about Download TV, visit Download Festival's official website.
Photo: The Recording Academy
Artists & Their Fans React To 2018 GRAMMY Nominations
This morning's 2018 GRAMMY Awards nominations announcement prompted artists to hop onto social media to celebrate
Around the country and around the world, artists woke up this morning to find out they're one step closer to winning GRAMMY gold on Jan. 28, 2018, at New York City's historic Madison Square Garden. Many have already taken to Twitter and Instagram to share their excitement at this morning's happy news.
Let's take a look at a small collection of artists and their fans who were among the first hop online and celebrate today's announcement.
Tyler, The Creator – Best Rap Album Nominee
Alessia Cara – Best New Artist, Song Of The Year, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance Nominee
Zedd – Best Pop Duo/Group Performance Nominee
Shakira – Best Latin Pop Album Nominee
Jazzmeia Horn – Best Jazz Vocal Album Nominee
Ledisi – Best R&B Performance, Best Traditional R&B Performance, Best R&B Album Nominee
August Burns Red – Best Metal Performance Nominee
Calvin Harris – Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical Nominee
Sylvan Esso – Best Dance/Electronic Album Nominee
Thomas Rhett – Best Country Album Nominee
Body Count – Best Metal Performance Nominee
The National – Best Alternative Music Album, Best Recording Package Nominee
Sara Caswell – Best Improvised Jazz Solo Nominee
Maren Morris – Best Country Solo Performance Nominee
Be sure to tune in to the 60th GRAMMY Awards on Jan. 28, 2018, broadcast live on CBS from Madison Square Garden in New York. The 60th GRAMMY Awards telecast will air from 7:30–11 p.m. ET/4:30–8 p.m. PT.
Amy Lee of Evanescence
Photo: Pier Marco Tacca/WireImage
Evanescence, Tool, Incubus & More Announced For Welcome To Rockville 2019
The three-day fest will take place in May and will feature some of your all-time favorite rock and metal groups
Hard rock and heavy metal take over Jacksonville, Fla., for three days when Welcome To Rockville comes to town. The 2019 offering brings GRAMMY winners Tool, Korn, Evanescence and GRAMMY nominees the Prodigy and Incubus as some of the top acts to hit the stage.
Florida's biggest rock n roll party just got bigger! Welcome to Rockville lineup features @Tool @Korn @RobZombie @the_prodigy @Shinedown @IncubusBand @evanescence @bmthofficial and MANY more.— WelcomeToRockville (@RockvilleFest) December 3, 2018
Tickets on sale Friday 12/7 @ 12pm ET.https://t.co/Yf8DWnM6be pic.twitter.com/dMiPQnoQD4
The fest's lineup will also include GRAMMY nominee Rob Zombie and GRAMMY winning group Judas Priest, which celebrates their 50th anniversary this year and recently announced a tour, as well as Chevelle, among others. Catch the full lineup above.
Bands have taken to social media to announce their performances. "Time to knock the rock dust off. We just signed on to do a few U.S. festival dates in May so look out for show announcements!" Evanescence tweeted out.
When it comes to anticipated performances, Tool is no doubt one of the big ones, as fans continue to wait for their first album release in 12 years. As no official North American tour dates have been announced, their performance at the fest has gotten their fans speculating of an official tour announcement dropping soon.
You can catch the acts May 3-5 at Metropolitan Park. For more information on how to get tickets go here. Tickets go on sale Dec. 7.