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Interview: Orphans of Doom

Orphans of Doom is a Kansas City-based band best known for creating genre-defying heavy music. They’ve been around since 2016 and have released their debut album Strange Worlds/Fierce Gods back in 2018. Their second album titled II will be released on February 28. I got the opportunity to chat with their vocalist and guitarist Jeremy Isaacson about the newest release, music industry and the future of metal.

Your second album will be released this month. Tell me more about the creating process and what was the most challenging part of making this album.
Well, our writing process is kinda multilayered. We do a lot of riffs; we kind of use Dropbox or any kind of media and then we play it as a band and kind of see what works, what doesn’t, what we wanna add, what we wanna remove. And then we create a bunch of songs; work on them, change things and then we get some instrumental stuff that works very well for us that we think kind of stands on its own and then, later on, I go in and write lyrical content and things like that for the songs. The most challenging part is usually getting everybody on the same page, on exactly what part each person will play and making that sound that we’re trying to get to.

Where do you usually find inspiration and is there any song off this album that has a really special meaning to you? Can you share more about it?
We take a lot of our inspiration from a lot of different places. We’re really into theatrical scores, classical music. Bryan, our guitar player, is really into prog. We take a lot of inspiration from progressive music like Yes, and some of that old-school stuff. We’re also really into, you know, more modern heavy metal stuff like High On Fire… of course, it’s a big influence; Mastodon, things like that. We really try to steer our way from trying to sound like that and more come up with our own thing. The song that’s probably the most special to me is the last one we did, from the lyrical point of view. It was “Fever Dream”, about a friend of ours we lost a few years ago and it’s kind of mind dealing with that.

This is your second album. What differences do you notice when you compare this one to your previous album and how much has your band changed since then?
The big difference between the first album and this one is that this one’s a lot more heavy-metal focused with a lot more energy and just a lot faster; trying to create some more interesting riffs and trying to find a little different space than normal. And we try to do that on every album; just finding different feel, different space. The next one may even be jazz, we don’t know. We keep trying to do different things and put ourselves in different ways. And we’re really kind of changed as a band, just in our delivery, I guess, and how we wanna push the envelope on our own playing and a little more defined melodies and things like that.

So, do you personally enjoy heavier stuff more or like you mentioned jazz or some other stuff? How would you describe your personal favorite style?
It’s like asking me which is my favorite dog! I listen to a lot of different stuff, I don’t really have a favorite. I have a favorite at the moment – I listen to a lot of jazz and classical and metal and a lot of hip hop music. I actually play a flamenco guitar so I listen to a lot of Latin music; just all kinds of stuff.

I also wanted to ask, besides music, what do you like to do in your spare time? What are your other hobbies?
I work out a lot; I’m kind of into a lot of health stuff – cardio and things like that. I also do a lot of fencing, different types of fencing – traditional fencing, kendo Japanese fencing, things like that. I also love cigars. I have a cigar right now and then. That’s pretty much it.

Is there anything that you don’t like about the music industry and what changes would you like to see that could help your band and music in general?
I think the biggest problem in the music industry right now is too many executives with their fingers in the creative processes. I think artists should do their own thing and create music and not being told exactly how to write music or that it has to have this type of structure or any of that stuff. And I think the reason why we love metal so much is because that’s one genre that doesn’t really have a lot of constraint in that way. You’re pretty free to do what you want and explore different sounds, textures and things like that. And from the band’s position, it’s really hard to get to the people you wanna get to in the same way with traditional media… Now you got Spotify and Soundcloud. It’s just hard to get to people when there’s this huge firehouse of music coming at you.

Do you have any advice for other metal musicians on how to stay relevant nowadays with all those problems in the music industry that you just mentioned?
My advice for new musicians is to always try doing new things, different things; trying to present things in a new way. It’s all about cutting away from a mold; not doing the same old thing. If you really wanna get to people – do something different, do something out of ordinary. That helps people to really recognize who you are and makes them more interested in what you’re doing.

Where do you see your band in the next 10 years and do you think that metal will be more or less relevant then?
I have no idea. We’re a little older so I don’t know what we will be doing in 10 years. Hopefully, we’ll do the same thing and have a good time just playing music. And I think that metal scene in 10 years will probably be pretty alive and vibrant as long as people keep pushing the envelope.

And for the end – What’s it like playing live shows and connecting with your fans that way? And where are you performing next?
We love playing live shows. We always seem to have a really good time, a really good crowd. When we first started playing together we were kind of not sure what to do with ourselves and just kind of do our own thing. As we more matured, we got a lot more interactive, we got a lot more high energy cause that’s definitely the part of doing what we do; just trying to have as much fun as we can and trying to get everybody to kinda get into it. So, we’re pretty fortunate to have a good fanbase here in Kansas City. We are performing next in Topeka, Kansas on February 27th. We’re doing a mini-tour for the album release. We’re playing Topeka on 27th, and the 28th will be here in Kansas City; and on 29th we’re going to Iowa, playing up there and when we come back we’re playing more shows down the road.

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About Jelena Jelisavcic

Professional journalist | In love with bands, tattoos, and horror movies.

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