A. Hey thank you Wes, thanks for having me. Royal Orphan, at this point only exists as a studio project, although given the right set of circumstances we may pursue some live gigs in the future. It's a two man project which consists of myself on lead vocals, guitars and bass and Joey Migz on drums. We've been friends since freshman year of high school which was 1988, and we've played together on and off throughout the years. We're both at the stage where we've settled down, y'know wives kids, mortgages and all that grown up stuff so I figured lets just now while we can take the best material we've written and record it; at least plant our flag somehow. And the result is the 6 song EP that I completely self financed and released independently.
Q. When did you decide you wanted to be in a band?
A. Wow, making me dig way back! Probably when I saw the video for Van Halen "Jump" on MTV way back in 84. I was 9 years old, took my first guitar lesson that year. Started on my dad's Spanish classical guitar and got my first electric guitar 3 years later. Started to outgrow the star wars figures and GI Joes; caused by best friend Dan to follow suit and he picked up the bass. We got huge into Metallica and Iron Maiden. I never thought even with the starry eyes of a kid that I'd ever reach the dizzying heights those bands did, but then late one night on TV I saw a punk rock documentary called Another State of Mind which followed Minor Threat and Social Distortion as they went cross country on a busted up school bus. Not that I ever aspired to that but that proved to me that it was possible to make music and reach an audience. That made a HUGE impact on me.
Q. What is different about being a musician than you imagined?
A. Well, I never expected to get rich playing heavy metal, but then again I never expected the bottom to drop out of the entire friggin recording industry ha ha ha! Its no different than being a college graduate and having to hit the job market and sell yourself. Same thing; you need to apply yourself and convince people that you're actually worth their time. It doesn't matter how good you may or may not be or how good you may think you are at what you do.
Q. What gear do you use and why?
A. I own four Gibsons; a 1983 flying V which is the oldest I own and the one I've had the longest, I have a 2007 Les Paul Classic Custom limited edition, a late 90s model SG and a late 90s model Les Paul double cut. They feel great, people complain the V is awkward shaped or the Les Paul is too heavy but man, those things have BITE! They have a thick, rich tone palette and they're really versatile. They're not "heavy metal" guitars in that you can play almost any style on them; they're great for jazz, blues, other styles. All my heroes played them. They challenge you too, they're not too forgiving. If you suck, the Les Paul will let you and your audience know it! My amp is custom made for me, the BK Metal Bones which was hand built my Mike Fortin who is a good friend of mine. It's really an ultra hot rodded 50 watt Marshall JCM 800 that he asked me if he could re-work it as a prototype when he was just starting his own company. Fortin Amplification has really taken off and I'm proud to say I have one of the first. He's gone on to build stuff for Kirk Hammett, Scott Ian. It has a massive tone and it's probably the most versatile tube amp I've ever played. You can get a pile driving tone and still get a beautiful clarity from it. As you can hear on the album, I'm not going "chunka chunka dugga dugga" all the time, I play lots of big open fat chords and I need that clarity to get all that voicing through. We're only a one-guitar operation now so I myself need to push what I've got.
Q. What music to you listen to that would surprise people?
A. Sarah McLachlan. Surfacing is an incredible album. She is a true songwriter in the purest sense of the word. I listen to her in the car after rehearsal or coming home from a metal show. Helps me "level off." I'm also big on Sinatra, Rat Pack, Motown. My wife and I drove to CT to see Lionel Richie at Foxwoods Casino and he was amazing.
Q. How do we find your music and merch to buy?
A. The CD is available through myself at firstname.lastname@example.org or through our Bandcamp site at royalorphan.bandcamp.com. The EP is also available though iTunes, Spotify and Deezer and Amazon music.
Q. Do you want a record deal or are you DIY?
A. I think for the time being, I have so much going on with my job and my family I'm not sure if having a record deal is feasible. It would be nice to have some support but I don't think I'm in a position where I can commit to lets say, 3 albums over 5 years or whatever. And I really cant jump in a van and tour halfway across the country. I would however like for an underground metal distro to pick up the EP and move a few hundred copies across the globe; I don't think that's unreasonable.
Q. What bands do people compare your music to?
A. A LOT of people say Rush, Fates Warning which I consider a great compliment because of the caliber of their musicianship. However, they're not who I ultimately have in mind when I write. I've heard people say Mercyful Fate, of course Iron Maiden who are my favorite band of all time, One reviewer compared the EP to Helloween, Blue Oyster Cult and Thin Lizzy all in the same sentence and I jumped through the roof like "YES!!! SOMEONE ACTUALLY GETS IT!" Sometimes people say Dream Theater who I don't listen to at all; so it's kinda weird I guess it depends on who you ask.
Q. Are you pro-Spotify/streaming services or do you think it hurts sales?
A. Well, it definitely hurts sales from a completely objective point of view. There's no two ways about that. But it is what it is and you have to contend. I also think when you give stuff out for free, it becomes devalued and the overall public appreciates it less. And the rebound effect is evident in just how bad mainstream music sucks. I don't think its really up to me to be pro or against it. Look at AC/DC, they were the last hold outs on iTunes to the point where they only let Walmart carry their album. Eventually they succumbed to the way things are and had to bite the bullet.
Q. What is the ultimate goal for this band?
A. Short term goal is get our music out there; play some gigs out of NY. Ultimate goal? Wacken. I'd love to get shipped out to one of those huge festivals in Germany or Brazil. Just give me half a chance to show the metal fans of the world what regular dudes from Long Island can do.
Q. Will we see you on tour?
A. Highly unlikely. I'm in the planning stages of getting Royal Orphan to step up as a live entity, but I'd really like to make it more than guys on stage playing and then "okay good night, thanks for coming." Its tough, you have to really stand out. Not that we'll have loincloths or seven inch heels and makeup (ha ha ha ) but the show needs to be something special.
Q. Who would you love to tour with?
A. In my dreams? Iron Maiden. Not sure if I could win over a Maiden crowd but it would really be something. Might as well write a letter to Santa Claus ha ha ha. Realistically, I'd love to tour with High Spirits; they have the market cornered on the younger hard rock/metal crowd, and that's our target demographic.
Q. What is your favorite song of yours and why?
A. Hmm, you got me there. I think possibly Fondest Wish. That song is a pressure cooker, it was years in the making. Dan Kelleher who played bass for us years ago, and may still do so in the future, wrote the basic rhythm in the main riff. All I did was change the notes and I added the chorus. It tells a story and the lyrics work great with the composition and melody. This is the archetype of where I'd like our style to go.
Q. Why should people take the time to listen to your band over thousands of other bands?
A. This sounds like a question that a label boss would ask but it's funny because this is the exact same question I ask myself when I write. I pride myself on the fact that Royal Orphan does NOT sound like anyone else. I have my influences, but I think this project stands alone. Lets face it, there is an entire genre centered around "worship" of other bands. The logos, album covers, song titles, everything, they mimic the older bands. Originality is a hot commodity and I think Royal Orphan has it in spades, because we're taking heavy metal back to SONGS! The emphasis is on songwriting and storytelling. Kinda like Paul Simon meets Iron Maiden;) We're not pinned to a sub-genre. We're not this "core" or "djent" that or retro-anything. Everyone is trying so hard to re-invent the wheel with 7 or 8 string guitars, just write a damn song that people are gonna remember 20-30 years from now!
Q. What are your favorite websites/labels/podcasts etc?
A. I know they caught a lot of shit but I think Hells Headbangers is a great label. I wouldn't mind being affiliated with them because I hear nothing but good things from the bands on that label. They use some real innovative packaging, top quality vinyl pressing with really cool fold out sleeves. I think they signed a few bands or distributed cds from some labels that carry bands who...ummm...lets just say upset quite a few people. Theres a podcast that they run called Hellcast which is really cool, these two guys run it. It's lots of death metal which I'm not that huge into but they give great insight into things. I'm big on the internet radio shows, Metal Messiah radio is great, Bobby Lucas from the band Attacker has a show on there called Metal Bully and the Roach, its great. Lots of non-PC humor and skits like Howard Stern used to do when he was still funny, and they play kick ass old metal like Savatage, Metal Church, Saxon, Venom and Manowar. Gimme Radio is great every Tuesday with Ross the Boss, a guy in Kansas named Jon Kruse has a great show called Metal Manifesto; the guy is a guru of all things metal. And I love Mark Strigl from Talking Metal, he's played our stuff and he always has lots of different stuff he plays.
Q. Is imagery important to you? Do you judge albums by the cover?
A. I think its important to a point where no matter how skilled you are as a classical pianist, you wouldn't go onstage at Carnegie Hall in socks and pajamas. I think how you present your work to your audience regardless of genre is very important because it shows you take it seriously. There were a few times I bought something for the cover and was pleasantly surprised. A few other times, not so much. To come up with a cover concept that gets across that its a kick ass heavy metal album without the usual trite and clichéd stuff, that's where the work comes in.
Q. If you could choose a cover song your band mates would hate what would it be?
A. Probably something by Manowar because I'm the only one who listens to them. I always wanted to do Fast Taker as if Chuck Berry did it.
Q. Is the record or the live show more important?
A. Hmmm, hard to say, I don't think anyone should skimp out on either. When you record something, its forever. So it needs to be the ultimate in expression of the musical self. But nothing pisses people off like a bad live show. Led Zeppelin had monumental albums, but its been well documented that they weren't exactly a live band. Then again there are bands who kill it live, and even if the album isn't stellar, you might look at their music differently after seeing them perform. So if I had to pick I'd say the live show above all.
Q. Name 3 people dead or alive that you would want to play your music for.
A. Phil Lynott, Steve Harris and Chuck Schuldiner.