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Interviews : Orpheus (Chris Themelco) – 22/12/2009

By on December 22, 2009

Orpheus – Chris Themelco

Orpheus is Melbourne’s answer to a classic Euro melodic death metal band. They have only been around for the last year but have been making some major waves in the local scene, more so with their recent success and support of Amon Amarth in Melbourne.  These guys are destined for big things. Keep an eye on them!

Metal Obsession had the chance to chat with Orpheus’ front man Chris Themelco about the bands recent highly successful EP “So It Begins” along with what’s planned for the band in 2010.

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Metal Obsession: Hi Chris. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us at MetalObsession.net
Chris Themelco:
Not a problem, it’s an absolute pleasure!

MO: How’s everything in the Orpheus camp at the moment?
CT:
Good good, we just started writing again now that we’ve all finished uni and that stuff for the year. It’s been a pretty busy 6 months since the EP release

MO: You guys released your debut EP earlier this year dubbed “So It Begins” which has been getting some pretty positive reviews so far. The band seems to have borrowed a lot of inspiration from melodic death metal bands like Arch Enemy, Children of Bodom and Dark Tranquility, yet, the sound which you have created is a lot more fresh and vibrant and doesn’t seem as recycled as most of the other bands who have tried to follow in the same footsteps. What has been the biggest inspiration behind “So It Begins”. Both lyrically and musically?
CT:
Well, the EP was essentially our first effort in the recording studio as Orpheus. It was a great way to test the waters for what we’ve done so far. Those first 6 songs were obviously riddled with our influences, but still retain some of our own, I guess, signature sound that we’ve started to develop.The influences are definitely the greatest around those 3 bands. We love Dark Tranquility for their amazing song writing and arrangement, Bodom for their technicality and catchyness and Arch Enemy, cause in the end we all love the heavy riff oriented melodic death/ thrash sort of thing! Lyrically, I’d put it down to personal experience, thoughts and views on all facets of life really.

MO: The album seems to carry a very solid production value, more so than some of the well established bands in the scene at the moment. Who produced “So It Begins”?
CT:
The album was produced by both the band and Ermin Hamidovic with Ermin taking care of all the mixing/ mastering. He’s a fantastic engineer who is probably the best we’ve heard and worked with locally and he’s worked with a lot of great Melbourne metal bands. We are definitely hoping to work with him on the full length.

MO: I recently heard Orpheus were working on their next full length album. How long have the band been working on that and was there any major influence to write the album so soon after the release of the EP?
CT:
Well. Technically we’ve always been working on it. [laughs] We knew what we wanted from the start, but now we feel we are confident enough in our music and abilities to unleash the fury on an album so to speak. [laughs]

There wasn’t any real influence in starting so soon, and we won’t be in the studio until mid next year, but I guess the whole process is starting now with writing songs for a full length. Just writing and re iterating through each and every song until it’s perfect to us is the main aim right now. Also, since recording the EP, we feel our new songs are a much better representation of what OUR sound is and has become.

MO: Have you chosen a title for the upcoming album?
CT:
No not yet. That’s something that will probably wait untill the mixing process starts, or later. Title’s are one of those things you know. It really needs to encompass the message the whole collection of songs on the album portray. At the moment, we are still working out what we want that message to be.

MO: Are you hoping to try anything new on the upcoming new album or will it be similar to what we have heard on “So It Begins”?
CT:
It will be similar to some degree, I mean the basic sound is there, but we’ve definitely grown a lot into our own sound since even then. Joao is taking up more lead guitar duties for guitar/ keyboard melodies and even playing some of his own solos.

Matt’s definitely pushing the boundaries with his drumming and variety within that and everyone is really just pushing themselves to be able to put in more and more each day. The music is starting to sound really well rounded and more professional I guess. That being said, we would love to push the boundaries with this release.

MO: When can we expect a release of the new album?
CT :
As much as I’d love to say really soon, we don’t expect a release until late next year. At the moment, the album is looking to be self funded, so it’s something that determines a time frame for sure. If a label or a backer gets on board, then it definitely gets a load off our shoulders and helps put time frame into perspective. But the realistic outlook at present is to treat it as an independent release.

MO: “So It Begins” seems to carry some very heavily influenced keyboards from your keyboardist, Sasha. Was it your original intention to introduce such a heavy mix of keyboards or did it just happen by accident?
CT:
To be honest, the first incarnation of the band was to be without keys at all. [laughs] Sasha was a good friend and played in a local hardcore band, but we all knew how talented she was so we invited her to the first band prac, and we realised she was perfect for the band. She is an amazing keyboardist and is classically trained. Everything she writes just fits so well, so I think it was a natural progression instead of something we thought about consciously.

MO: It seems to work really well though. I think a lot of people will be surprised when they hear it and how well the keyboards mix in with everything else.
CT:
Well I hope so. [laughs] We really love what Sasha has to put into the songs, so I hope everyone else can appreciate and enjoy how the songs are complimented so well by them.

MO: A lot of metal heads would see Orpheus as a band still wet behind the ears. Mainly due to the bands age compared to some of the other well established or mature bands in the scene. Has it been hard for people to take Orpheus seriously because of the age difference, more so now because the band is making a name for themselves?
CT:
In all honesty, it’s been both good and bad. We get a lot of compliments on our music and playing which is always a great thing, but it’s when people hear how old we are that the eyes open a little wider. [laughs]

Matt was 16 when we started and Sasha was just turning 18. As much as I hate to give them big heads, they are very talented for their age, but I wouldn’t admit that to them. So it’s great to be able to start early and then hopefully be at an even greater level of competance when we are at the age of most of the more established Aussie bands. On the other hand, it’s made it hard for people I guess, in the industry to be able to support us fully. It seems our age is a bit of a concern in the sense that we may not seem as dedicated as the rest due to our short time together and ages. But the fact is, we are all 110% into making this band a success.

MO: Since the release of “So It Begins”, Orpheus have toured with some very prestigious local bands and recently took part on the Amon Amarth Australian tour. How was Orpheus’ music received infront of the Melbourne crowd?
CT:
It was great to play to a room over over 800 people, and also a bit daunting because we knew they weren’t specifically there to see us of course. We just hoped for the best and played as best we could, and it seemed like it paid off. A lot of people seemed to get into it, some knew us and some didn’t. We had a lot of people come up to us afterward with kind words about the show, so it was a definite boost for our confidence. Amon Amarth’s drummer also let us know he enjoyed the set which was great and scary at the same time. [laughs]

MO: Are the band searching for a label or distribution deal at the moment, or are you happy continuing playing local gigs for now?
CT:
We just signed with Welkin entertainment for some management regarding gigging with some of the bigger aussie bands, so that’s great. But we are definitely looking for a label in the future, so that hopefully we will be able to have one when the album release comes around. We’ve been talking to a few local ones pretty recently, but we will see where things go from here.

We’ve always been very independent and pro active when it comes to getting gigs in the last year and a half, but since the EP release, we’ve been asked to play more and more gigs. So right now we are pretty content with slugging it out, but we definitely wouldn’t say no to some help. [laughs]

MO: What are your personal thoughts on the Australian metal scene at the moment?
CT:
Absolutely thriving. I always used to think there was a problem with the Aussie metal scene, but the more we’ve been exposed to it, the more we realise, there’s a HUGE amount of quality bands out there, it’s just not a very looked at genre here in Australia. If more effort and money was put into really promoting and helping the metal scene in Australia, I think we’d find a lot more Aussie bands taking on the big guns overseas.

MO: Any shows to be announced within the new year?
CT:
We’ve got a few coming up, but not many at the moment. We are concentrating on writing for the next month or so, and then we will be kicking it up for more gigs. But so far we have the 26th at the Central Club for Deathmas ’09, 22nd Jan at the HiFi bar with Demolition and some other great bands. And then finally may 15th at the Arthouse with some great local and interstate bands.

MO: Has anyone mistaken Orpheus for that folk rock band from the mid 60’s with the same name? [laugh]
CT:
Haha, luckily no mistake of that so far, but I did find out about them when trying to wiki Orpheus [laughs]

MO: I’m assuming the name is taken from the Greek mythology of Orpheus?
CT:
Yes it definitely is. Matt came up with the name. Essentially, Orpheus was the guy who put Cerberus to sleep using his harp. We felt it was pretty much perfect for us due to the connotations that story holds. He was a musician who with melody managed to control the beast dog of the underworld, what could be cooler than that right. [laughs]

MO: Any last words you wish to say before we finish up?
CT:
I just want to encourage everyone out there to check us out, come down to a show and hopefully enjoy what we have to offer. We don’t try to promote ourselves to be the most unique, brutal, amazingly technical blah blah band out there.

What you’ll get is 5 people playing some individually great, catchy but still brutal and heavy Melodic Death metal. We put 110% of ourselves into every one of our songs and shows because we plan to be doing this shit for as long as we can!

Hopefully all of you metal heads out there can help us live that dream and be apart of it with us too!

MO: Cheers Chris. Thanks for speaking with us at MetalObsession.net
CT:
Cheers dude, and thank you for the interview, it’s been a real blast.

Upcoming gigs:

26th Dec 2009
Earth @ The Central Club,  Richmond
w/ Sentience, Orphues and many more
Tickets available at the door 7pm, $13.

22th Jan 201o
Demolition@ The Central Club,  Richmond
w/ Orphues and many more
Tickets available at the door 7pm, $13.

Metal Obsession Review: Orpheus – So It Begins…

Interviewer: Anwar Rizk (Metal Obsession)
Interviewee:
Chris Themelco (Orpheus)
Date: 222/12/2009
Origin: Melbourne, Australia
www.myspace.com/orpheusmetaloz

About

Anwar is the editor-in-chief of Metal Obsession.net. When Anwar isn't busy promoting tours, interviewing bands and reviewing awesome music, he loves to collect metal vinyl and play video games. Follow Metal Obsession on Twitter and Facebook