Dallas' the Orange Returns With a New Album Six Years After They Broke Up
The Orange are making a comeback, and this weekend they play Curtain Club
Back in 2008, rock band the Orange had a whirlwind taste of local success, playing venues like the House of Blues, making it to radio on The Edge and sharing tour dates with the Toadies and Soul Asylum. Regrettably, the band broke up a year later, and that Orange became a bit of dust-collecting still life. That is, until lead singer Scott Tucker set out to resurrect it.
Tucker had spent his time till college in a band called Special Edward and revisited every bit of writing he'd compiled in the last decade to reconstruct the band. He brought back lead guitarist and cellist Kirk Livesay, recruited drummer Irfan Malik, "Chicago Dan" Langerman on harmonica and guitarist Austin Camp. All in all, the Orange has seven official members, most of whom are classically trained musicians. They're also all high school friends. "These guys taught me how to play guitar in high school", Livesay says.
Despite aiming for what they call a "neo-psychedelic sound," blues guitarist Buddy Neighbors serves as a recurring guest, bringing with him a grittier shade. Tucker also enlisted the help of his sister Melissa, who plays clarinet and sings backup vocals. Despite the multitude of instruments played by the many members, they do not have an official bass member because, as they explain, they don't want to upset the perfect chemistry of the current lineup.
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Both Tucker siblings, Camp and Livesay sit in a patio in a Plano bar called Local Public House talking Disney movies, describing Tucker's colossal vintage toy collection, Camp's guitar pedal obsession and literally finishing each other's sentences. They're a VH1-bred lot, and their love for '90s music is a near-Shakespearean romance, listing Pete Doherty, Nirvana and Brit-pop as influences. The impact of '90s sounds is so unmistakable on their new album Sharing Vitamins that one can picture girls in Doc Martens and blue eyeliner as would-be music video subjects.
Like a well-fed starving artist, Tucker supports himself solely by selling (often commissioned) artwork and with his work as an independent art curator. His music and art are parallel and nearly intrinsic. As he explains, he uses lyrics and themes in his songs to construct his artwork, which he's exhibited all the way to New York City. His most recent showing, at Circuit 12 Gallery, was of 12 pieces, representing each song in the album, bringing the lyrics' imagery to visual life.
One piece, for instance, that conveys a metaphor for the song "Into Me" consists of an x-ray of his shaken-up insides following a car accident, placed next to a picture of a girl that broke his heart. "There's the damage you can see, and the one you can't," he explains. Some of the words were given a more literal interpretation: For the lyric "Imagine staring at five pictures of cowboys," he painted just that, ultimately selling the five-piece series as a set.
For two years, Tucker owned the Blow-Up Gallery at the Shops of Park Lane, where he showed work by Mayor Rawlings' daughter and showcased some of Dallas' most promising artists like Art Peña, whose piece, he relates proudly, ended up at the Dallas Museum of Art. Sister Melissa is a portrait artist who is skilled in the effects of realism. Their father was a professional artist, and they describe a home culture more reminiscent of the old Montparnasse area in Paris than that of Arlington, where they grew up. Tucker studied British Literature and Art, and she got a music scholarship from TCU. His art is comprised of large-scale paintings of geometric shapes, impressive collages and paintings which he calls "Pop culture orgies." One of these paintings features Nazis and the Pillsbury Dough Boy, and he means to denounce "consumerism to the point of fascism".
Besides working a few years for Neiman Marcus, whom Tucker calls "a huge supporter," both Tuckers state, "We don't have other jobs." nearly in unison. It was actually Neiman's prompting that earned Scott a nomination for the FGI's Rising Star art award for 2015. Despite flying six feet under the radar of the local press (except for Tucker's involvement in the arts), the Orange has managed to amass enough of a following to secure an upcoming spot headlining the Granada Theater on June 20. Tucker marvels at having evaded the mass oblivion of ADD-ridden Dallas audiences that he estimates grants bands a shelf-life of three months before they move on. Expressing his gratitude for friends who actually show up to support the band, Tucker points out, "It's incredible, especially for a band that's never released a full-length album."
The upcoming album Sharing Vitamins was crafted with producer Eric Delegard in Denton, through the arduous and expensive real-time audio process of analog-recording, using a vintage machine from the 1980s. "We worked on it for three years, and some songs were written six years ago," Tucker states. The album was mastered in California by the renowned Tom Baker, who has worked with Ray Charles and quite extensively with Trent Reznor. "We're really proud that he took on this project," Tucker raves.
The resulting record is high-quality, rich in beautiful guitar tones and sophisticated harmonies. Injecting an occasional unexpected sample, it holds your attention by shifting seamlessly from happy to contemplative. "It's pure and crisp" Camp says, of the sound quality. "It's polished and pure without compromising it with auto-tune" Tucker adds.
The Orange's new formation remains tightly knit under the same peel. Commemorating their reinvention, which allowed for two of their new singles to rotate heavily on mainstream European radio, the artists of the group have put a mural on the side of Curtain Club in Deep Ellum replicating the Sharing Vitamins cover. The album release party, where they will play a full-set show, will take place at Curtain Club on Saturday April 11.
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