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ATP! Interview: Code Orange Kids

If we didn't make it clear enough before, let us spell it out for you now: we love Code Orange Kids.

The Pittsburgh four-piece have released, without question, one of the best hardcore albums of the decade and we are confident that 2013 will Code Orange Kids' year, for sure.

With this said, Alter The Press recently sat down with the guys to discuss their latest album "Love is Love // Return to Dust", working with Kurt Ballou, gender politics in hardcore and much more.

Alter The Press: Being picked up by Deathwish at such an early age is pretty impressive going. What's it like being on such an influential label? 
Jami Morgan (drums): It's pretty tight. They are cool. We always liked the label. When they hit us up it was pretty exciting and it's worked out really well. There are some cool bands on it, especially from the past but also present. They have done records which we really love.

ATP: How was it working with Kurt Ballou [producer/guitarist for Converge] for the new album?
Reba Meyers (guitar/vocals): It was amazing. We were all pretty intimidated going into it. The first day was kind of weird, but he really knew our sound and got the tones we wanted so quickly. He is also a really down to earth dude, so it turned out pretty well. We had seven days to record it so we got to expand on a lot more things, use a lot of new gear. He had a lot to work with. I thought it was pretty awesome.

Joe Goldman (bass): I thought his studio was really nice. Most of the other times we've recorded, we've just been using what was around whereas with him there was a lot more variety; custom pedals, custom heads and things like that. It wasn't like most home recording scenarios!

ATP: One of the main things commented on in relation to “Love Is Love // Return To Dust” is its diverse combination of genres. What would you say were the main influences that went into the record - musically or otherwise?
Jami: I don't know about musically but there were a ton of influences. We just wanted to take the best parts of the 7"'s and the splits, trim the fat and try to make something short and straight to the point. We wanted to make something different that stood out amongst other hardcore LPs.

Reba: We have so many types of music that we listen to so it's really difficult to list what are main influences are. Sometimes it’s more aggressive music or the lighter stuff we listen to. I don't know. It’s more emotion-based, I'd say.

Jami: We try to put some weird dream-pop/shoegaze stuff in there.

ATP: When did you first get into hardcore? What was the first heavy record you heard that really struck you or made you want to play music?

Jami: I don't know what record, but we all started getting into hardcore when we were 15. We just started seeing a lot of local bands like we were getting into bands like our friend’s in Heartless, our friend’s band Path To Misery and a ton of cool Pittsburgh bands. Plus other stuff like Anti-Flag etc.

Joe: We were all into straight punk stuff. This was before I was in the band, but they were more into hardcore stuff and, based on that, they got into it by playing with those kinds of bands. I was their friend, so I would go to their show and that's how I got into it too. It was sort of based on the shows we played.

Reba: A lot of people tell me like they got into hardcore through this or that Bridge Nine or Deathwish band but personally, I got into it through the bands that would come through to Pittsburgh. Our friend Adam Thomas, who’s in Heartless, booked a ton of shows and there were a lot of dark hardcore and smaller bands around. I'd say those were the first bands that we got into as a supposed to all the typical ones.

ATP: All your song titles are split or bracketed - doubled, essentially - how do they relate and is there a reason behind this?
Jami: I don't know. It's just a thing I picked up from poetry. I like being able to create really mental images and ideas through song titles and lyrics. The records that stood out to me the most were the ones that have really distinct titles. With the song titles, I just wanted them all to connect. I don't know how to explain it.

We just kind of just started that from the beginning and have references to different poets and different pieces of literature in our songs and I just wanted to continue the theme of that. The title of the record derived from longer 90's hardcore LPs titles. Even just screamo album titles, stuff like that. That stuff had always appealed to me thematically. I feel like it stands out now as our titles are a lot different than those used by other bands. We try and use the brackets and parenthesis to make it distinctive to Code Orange Kids.

ATP: Can you talk a little bit about the themes of the album?
Jami: Most of the lyrics are about me and feeling depressed. Actually, it’s just about me being depressed! I don't know, I had a couple of hard years emotionally and mentally and the easiest way for me to get those ideas out there were to write about it. Thematically things would be about me just accepting myself and understanding that's not really going to change. I guess that's where the album title came from. Just accepting who you're going to be and then die.

ATP: How difficult is it to juggle all of your side-projects? (Adventures, Lilith)
Jami: It's actually not hard at all. We all have part-time jobs but other than that, we just save up and try to tour. It's just fun to make different music that's influenced by different things and time periods. It's not hard at all, we love doing it. It's fun.

ATP: Adam McIlwee [Tigers Jaw/Wicca Pha$e] does guest vocals on ‘Colors (Into Nothing)’ - one of your more ambient tracks. What's your relationship with him and why did you chose to get him involved on that particular song?
Jami: He's one of our closest friends and is someone in a different band that we really respect and think are really great. The song was really based around him and his vocal style. I thought it would be cool to put something in the middle of the record that differentiates the two halves and breaks it up.

We’re both into a lot of experimental music and just wanted to try something a little bit different. I asked him and he was down to do it. I love his band and we all think he's awesome.

ATP: This is a can-of-worms kind of question, but you've been asked a lot previously about whether you feel like you're treated differently being a woman in a scene largely dominated by men. Do you think the more commentary or attention there is on the fact you're a girl in a heavy band the more it actually becomes an issue?

Reba: I do think it gets to be too much when people ask "how is it being the only girl in the band? Do they treat you differently?" People think about it too much sometimes that's for sure but I would never be able to ignore something like that doesn't exist. I'm willing to answer the questions, it doesn't offend me. If I was reading something like that, I wouldn't be turned off by that. I would want to know too.

ATP: What are your thoughts on gender politics in hardcore - is sexism a noticeable problem?
Jami: It's a problem in general so obviously in hardcore. I would hope hardcore kids were out of that society but usually are not. I would like to think there is less sexism in hardcore/punk then everyday society.

Reba: It's weird because people would think it’s less of an issue, but it just gets covered up a little more. People pretend they are totally against that stuff but really are doing things behind people's backs and treating their friends differently. I would say it's better in the hardcore/punk scene, but there is still a lot going on.

Jami: I feel like I've spoken about this before but I think it's really important to examine those things. I have friends in certain bands who are really anti-sexism/racism, they talk about it a lot and are really on people about what they do and, in a way, it's really important but it can really turn people the other way too as well. It's important to find a good dialogue about things like that.

ATP: If you could tour with any band(s), who would they be?
Jami: "Hybrid Theory" Linkin Park, Buried Alive, The Misfits, Burn and LIGHTS. In what we are doing though, I'd like to tour with Blacklisted, that would be a band that I would love to tour with, just the way they structure their LPs is the way that hardcore bands should. Hardcore bands should look up to bands like Blacklisted, lyrically and musically. They push boundaries in a cool way. I would kill to tour with them. They don't tour really now.

ATP: Now that the album is out there, what's next for Code Orange Kids?
Jami: We are going to finish this tour and keep touring for a long time. We have a four-way split coming out with Tigers Jaw, End Of A Year and The World Is A Beautiful Place next year, another cool 7" in 2013 and I want to do another LP in the next year and a half. I don't want to overthrow a bunch of new material at the same time but I would like to have a consistent streamline of material that people can check out. We will be doing another tour in the spring and do Europe after. We won't stop.

ATP: Last time we all sat down, you said you were going to start recording the new Adventures album next year?
Jami: We'll probably start recording in February at home. I don't know when it will come out though. I want it to come out in the summer or spring. It's all written.

ATP: Thanks guys. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Jami: Come out to the shows with Gaza and Full Of Hell, come see us in the spring and check out the new record.

- Emma Garland and Jon Ableson

"Love is Love // Return to Dust" is out now through Deathwish Inc. You can read our 5/5 review of the band's stunning new full-length here.