Orson had been knocking on the gates of Hollywood for years before a lucky chain of messageboard posts ended up attracting attention from a plethora of UK labels. By this point the album had been recorded and on sale for a few months through their website, but it took one performance in the basement of a Manchester club during In The City for their publishing and record deal to be signed.
Within 2 months they'd filmed the video for the debut single "No Tomorrow", bagged the support slot for Duran Duran's European tour and played to over 10,000 people a night. When you consider prior to this their biggest show to date was to 300 people in their hometown you start to realize the magnitude of it all.
Designer Magazine's Alex McCann caught up with a shell-shocked Orson to recap that early Manchester show and find out how it all came together
Q: We're here in the place that it all started off for you, Manchester, where you played your first show outside the States for In The City
Jason: That was crazy. We were in the very bottom of 14 Lloyd Street and it was kinda a makeshift venue. I remember we couldn't jump very high cos Kevin's 6`1 and i'm like 6`5. In The City wasn't something we were all really familiar with. We found out a couple of months before that there was the possibility of it happening and we started to do our research. We sorta have something like that in America, we have CMJ and then SXSW in Austin, Texas so we're familiar with what it's like.
Q: For those who have just caught on and to recap - you came over here for your first ever UK gig and first gig outside the states and signed your record and publishing deal when 500 other bands were looking for deals that weekend.
Jason: I guess so. That's how it all happened
Kevin: It happened all so fast with one thing after another. It's mind boggling.
Jason: The publishing deal got signed literally the moment we walked off stage. We found out when we were in the taxi going back to our hotel. It freaky because it is like a cinderella thing.
Chris: A lot of this all happened without the record label seeing us play at this stage. They'd literally heard the tracks from us, word got out and then we come over here and get signed.
Jason: They were concerned with our performance before that. It was like you guys are good live right? It was like trust us, we'll be alright. I think the really hub bub is centred around the record because we made the album ourselves last year. We did it all ourselves with very little money, bout $5000, and spent about 6 or 7 months doing it at a friends house when we had time. It was all a big learning experience for everybody.
Q: A lot of bands are doing it your way - recording the album first and then looking to license it out to the majors
Jason: I would say it's the only way to go. We've been doing this for a few years now and we've had managers going back and forth saying just write that hit, just keep doing more demos and i'll send out more demos. And all the songs you do i'll keep shopping it to the labels
Chris: Which seems to be the default answer for Los Angeles.
Jason: It really started for us once we'd recorded the album and it's all happened so fast for us since then. Now 2 months after we sign a deal we're playing with Duran Duran which is another weird crazy thing to happen. People keep asking us how we did this and all I can say is it's magic cos I really don't know. We have a really good team working for us that are connected with really really terrific people that work for us non-stop. When we went out on the Duran Duran tour in Antwerp the most people we'd ever played was to 300 or so people back home in LA and all of a sudden we're in front of, what, 8000 people. So you go from elbowing people in the face to looking over there shouting can you hear me.
Q: Are you getting used to putting the bigger shows on for the bigger stages?
Jason: You kind of have to, you're forced to. These things just take as long as they take and we've been going since 2000 so it's about time.
These hats and suits are something we wear normally, it's not as if we've raided our dads wardrobes. I sleep with my clothes on they'll tell ya. It's easier on the bus. A lot easier.
Q: Have Orson always sounded like you do now?
Jason: We were kinda country before (laughs). We went through every phase you can imagine. We went through our Garth Brooks phase, Hall & Oates phase, Radiohead phase, Metallica phase, our Huey Lewis phase. What else did we go through? Disco. Black metal. Seriously it was all over the place. We didn't start sounding like this until late 2004. This has been a five year evolution from what we were five years ago, whatever we were listening to five years ago that's what we sounded like and now we just sound like Orson. We've always wanted to write songs that everybody knows the words to and singalong to.
Chris: I think each night from Luxembourg we've seen the same faces at each gig singing along to each song. We haven't even had a record out yet over here.
Jason: It's weird, that's what the internet does. Since we had our album on sale we've had orders in Tokyo, Spain, France. You have to bare with us because every single thing that has happened since we landed in the UK has been weird. We all had day jobs like a couple of months ago and were like, are we sure we wanna quit this job.
Q: So you're there working as PA, Sales and for cable repair companies looking on at the Hollywood hills dreaming of making it
Jason: I'll tell you later off tape exactly what it was he sold. We were about as non-glamorous and non-Hollywood as it got. We were so outside. I think that culture that everybody wants to be famous is everywhere though, not just in Hollywood. I mean we were watching X Factor last night and the whole worlds under this impression that anybody can be a star.
Hollywood is probably a lot like London. Where there's this big socialite scene where if you are not "somebody" you are not "anybody". It's funny because we moved over to London once we signed our deal and they got us into a party through the back door. We've been out in LA for 6 years and never been into anything like that.
We had managers and record labels come out to meet us in a restaurant for lunch and we could talk about this and this...and we were like "we can't we've got work" and they would just look at us like are you kidding me. They had to constantly arrange their schedule because we couldn't get out of our jobs.
Q: For people who've only heard the first UK single "No Tomorrow" how would you describe your sound?
Jason: I think it's different from everything else out there. It's different from what's going on in the UK at the moment, but it's different from what's going on in the States too.
Words: Alex McCann
Photos: Karen McBride www.karenmcbride.com
"No Tomorrow" is out now on Mercury
The album "Bright Idea" follows later in the year
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ORSON BACKSTAGE ON THE DURAN DURAN TOUR
ORSON LIVE GALLERY