Sunday, August 25, 2013

A word with Marc Orrell (Ex- Dropkick Murphys, Black Pacific)

One of the bands I grew up listening to that made a huge impact on my life as a person and musically were the Dropkick Murphys.  I still feel to this day that they still bring the same intensity and energy to the stage. When I was younger, the most energetic person on their stage was their now former lead guitar player, Marc Orrell.  After leaving the Dropkicks in 2008, he headed for sunshine, good times, and a new life in California  He currently resides in Los Angeles!.  For those who may not know, Marc still is making music!  I was lucky enough to catch up with Marc through email to see how California living is treating him, and his new project, Wild Roses!  

Run Don't Walk: So originally you are from the Boston area.  When did you move out to California and why did you?  What kind of opportunities has been presented to you since moving there?

Marc Orrell: Yes, I was born and raised around the Worcester/Grafton MA area but I moved out to LA in 2009. It's a great place for rebirth and change. So much to do, so many shows to see and I don't have to shovel snow anymore. So it all made sense to me. I needed to make some changes in my life. 
I've got great friends, been to some killer places, and just purely loving life out here. I'm actually in Palm Springs right now. Only a 2 hour drive from LA and it gets me out of the blaring loud city for a while. Super relaxing in the desert. I love coming out here with a few friends, take some mushrooms with a bottle of whiskey and party with the ones I love.

RDW: A couple years ago, you teamed up with Jim from Pennywise and joined the Black Pacific?  What was that experience like?  What lead you to the band you started and play in now, Wild Roses? 

MO: Jim Lindberg is a punk icon, a great guy and a talented writer. I didn't really know him personally that well before The Black Pacific. I got an email from Joe Sib at Side One Dummy Records one day asking if I wanted to jam with Jim. I liked the tunes I was sent so we set a date to jam. Jim, Gavin Caswell (bass) and Alan Vega (drums) and I fit in like a glove and we just took it from there. Tours just started going everywhere. They're great bunch of guys. They're my boys.
About a year and a half ago, a friend of mine who I played hockey with as kid back in MA and also books the bands at The Whisky A-Go-Go convinced me to do a show down there. I got a few people together, formed a band (one of them being Gavin of The Black Pacific) with a few songs I had been writing and I found my spot. I have never been happier playing music. I called it Wild Roses. The writing in my songs is all over the shop so I thought the name was fitting.

RDW: Reaching back as far as you could remember, what made you want to be a musician?  How old were you when you picked up the guitar and when you started your first band? 

MO: Michael J. Fox put it in my mind doing Chuck Berry's, "Johnny B. Goode" in Back To The Future. I thought "I want to do that!" Although I never knew music instruments actually existed though. Hah! I first picked up the drums. When I look back on it, I think that was a smart decision. It got my rhythm going and developing that sense was key. I played punk rock so it was all about being free and going for it without thought. After begging my mom to buy me a bass with an amp for $100 I saw at a garage sale like a spoiled brat, she buckled and bought it for me as an early birthday present. I played bass and sang in a 3 piece when I was 12. Next thing I know, I'm playing the guitar my brother gave me. His Epiphone 100 Bolt. What a good dude.

RDW: As most might know, you formally were the lead guitar player for Boston Punk stalwarts, the Dropkick Murphys.  How old were you when you were picked up by them?  How long did you play with them for?  Was it an overall satisfying experience? 

MO: I dropped out of high school during my second sophomore year of high school and started working at Blockbuster Video headed for high places. Next thing I know I had joined DKM through James Lynch who I knew through The Westies. I was 17 and my first show with DKM was in Japan. I played with them for 8 years. I consider myself so lucky and grateful to have had that opportunity. I learned a great amount from those guys. I would not be here if it weren't for them. I can't thank them enough.

RDW: Lets talk gear!  As a guitar player myself, I am always curious as to what gear other musician’s use.  What is your current set up for Wild Roses?  What were you using in Black Pacific and in Dropkick Murphys?  

MO: In DKM I jumped around a bit from guitar to guitar but mostly I used a 1973 Gibson Les Paul Custom with '57 Humbuckers with a Marshall JCM 800 100w. Boom! Done! Classic sound. Bright and clean like Malcolm Young. Kinda rips the paint off the walls though. Hah!
The Black Pacific I used a 1974 Les Paul Delux? or Standard? (can't remember) with Seymour Duncan JB Jazz pickups. They're a little hotter. ABYed a Marshall 800 100w and a Marshall 900 50w. Both on at all times. Fuckin loud! A few effects pedals here and there. A Phase 90, Keeley Katana boost pedal, Boss Compressor, I dunno a few other things I've tried here and there. I'm new to pedals.
With Wild Roses, I haven't found my perfect set up just yet. Still looking. Like I said my writing is all over the shop so I'm jumping from here to there. I was playing a lot of acoustic guitar on tour. Mainly, I AB'ed from a Fender Pro Junior 80w (which breaks up nicely) with a 1971 Telecaster and '51 Nocasters. Switched over to acoustic Martin D18 with a DI into the PA. I have been pulling out the Les Paul more an more often lately. Might just start playing the whole set with it. I was born a Les Paul man. The Keeley Katana, Holy Grail reverb, and we'll see what happens when I continue writing. Tremelo...?

RDW: Who were some of your major influences growing up that made you want to be a musician for a living?  I noticed a while ago you have that Rolling Stones logo on your shoulder.

MO: Yeah, The Stones are fucking incredible to me. They just light me up. I've always been a bluesy type of guy because I had Chuck Berry's "The Great Twenty-Eight" record when I was learning guitar. That was all I wanted to learn how to play. That and Green Day's "Dookie" record. From that grew The Clash to the Pogues to local bands. A huge influence was believe it or not, Dropkick Murphys. I was the craziest fan of theirs. I had my own rock concerts playing along to their records in the mirror with a guitar. Fantasizing, "Maybe they'll invite me on stage to play one day". I don't know why I was thinking these things or how that would even happen, but its just something kids do. I gained a lot of knowledge from my time prior and while in DKM. Ryan Adams is also a huge influence of mine too. He's one of my favorites. All eras. Such a fantastic writer, that one. LCD Soundsystem are a favorite of mine as well.

RDW: Outside of playing music, do you work any jobs on the side or does music take up most of your time? 

MO: I watch Bob Ross.

RDW: There is a video out there of you performing “Breakdown” which was released on “The Meanest of Times” as a bonus track at one point in time.  Was that a song that you wrote while with them and you perform on your own now? 

MO: I did that one just for fun. I won't be recording or releasing it. I was playing around with that song a bit at the time, put it in a different key and added some parts, basically just messing around with it because it's a good track.

RDW: What does the future hold for Wild Roses?  I know there is an E.P. out.  Are there any plans for a full length?

MO: Wild Roses is my future. Its taking up a lot of my time right now but I plan to do more in music down the road. I love producing and playing live so we'll see how it all rolls. Right now its full steam aheadI released the "Denim" EP in July. I got the chance to work with David Bianco (T.S.O.L., Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, AC/DC) on that. Dave is an old buddy who produced the DKM record "The Warriors Code" which spawned "I'm Shipping Up To Boston". Had a great time with him and got some cool material out of those sessions.
I also just got back from Nashville, doing the first recording session for the forthcoming Wild Roses full length with Andrjia Tokic (Alabama Shakes, Promised Land, Clear Plastic Masks, and Horray For The Riff Raff). I moved out of ProTools land and recorded to 2 inch tape. Such a rad experience and an overall vibe working like that. Haven't done it in over 10 years. Tape brings a heartbeat that I forgot about a long time ago. Its a living thing. Makes it all human and lifelike. Andirja works fast! A lot faster than me so he's been keeping me on my toes. I'm headed back there in October for the next session. No release date is set until we get finished with the recording sessions but keep an eye out on our websites.

Wild Roses Information:


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