The South’s answer to Hard Southern Rock n Roll…
The Outlaw Orchestra formed in 2016 and have since made very significant waves in the Southern Rock scene, not that they’ll agree to this genre label. Alex, double bassist, and all-around showman concludes that the bands sound leans towards a new identity, Heavy Grass. A concoction of varying forms from Bluegrass to Rockabilly and good solid Southern Hard Rock. As the band put it “A melting pot of styles from American Southern rock, British 70’s rock, Louisiana roots to bluegrass”.
Drummer and the marketing driving force behind the band, Ryan Smith, has been getting some high-level gigs recently with the band sharing stages which have graced the presence The Temperance Movement, KING KING, Phil Campbell and The Bastard Sons, Wayward Sons and many more hard hitters of the Hard Rock genre.
Their musical dwellings range from pub to stage and all in between, playing mainly in the south and west of the country. That being said, the band will be playing HRH C.R.O.W.S in Sheffield and Planet Rocks Rockstock in Wales this year and that’s not the only festivals they’re playing this year either. These carefree rockers are busy with an ever-growing gig list to help further build on recent significant successes.
Their most effective profile raiser of late was the ‘Planet Rock Winters End’ festival which saw the band signing autographs on T-Shirts and CD’s for over an hour… a great indication of the impact their set made. Following this they received rapturous applauses from write-ups in many different magazines and online music sites, all very much deserved and on point to the recognition of their talent.
Recently, 14th May, the Outlaws also had success online landed a number spot for ‘See You In Hell’ on the 365 Radio Network, a US station from Englewood, Ohio. But, it’s not the first time the band has charted on the station with all of the new EP tracks featuring on the stations top 20 Rock table at some point over the past weeks.
The new EP from Southampton based band hit the digital platforms this weekend 12th May, a chance for the wider audience to hear their Southern Fired Rock shenanigans.
‘The Devil Made Me Do It’ is three tracks based on the input of all four members, as with is the case for most Outlaw tracks. However, these three gems are packed full of energy, charisma and lots of Hell Yeah! Live, Dave, ‘the Rocker’ and frontman for the band, tells a story behind each song adding visionary spice to their southern orchestric vibes.
The three tracks are staple dance floor fillers:
‘See You In Hell’ starts with the Adidas, Polo-wearing Stephen on banjo and neatly follows in a rhythmic crash of rock riffs. Full blooded and hard hitting, the track makes you want to chuck your partner around the room while kicking pints off tables (in a fun kind of way).
‘Laughing All The Way To The Gallows’, a simple song, as claimed by Alex, is one that is sure to get them feet moving. Ryan on drums provides the opening, which quickly turns into a rumbustious collaboration of funky country rock n roll all rolled up in a pulsing metrical thud.
‘Back to Georgia’ is the brainchild of Rocker Dave, who claims the lyrics were born out of a situation he and his partner Cathy found themselves in while traveling the US. Running out of petrol and in need of a solution, Dave suggestion to his partner that she hitches them a ride, which out of that moment gave birth to this awesome song.
Starting with the captivating sound of the cowbell, that instant sound of country rock hits you and you’re taken. Its magnetic lyrics grab the attention and transfer you into the song’s storyline, only helped by audacious lines like ‘Got my sweetheart by my side and I’m going to give her a real good ride’
(video by three7evens photography)
Catching up with Ryan, the drummer explained a few things about the band and its members and the plans they have for new music:
Your music is different to most, what genre do you stamp it with and where does the vibe you’ve created come from?
“We like to brand ourselves as ‘Heavygrass’. That might sound like we are a bunch of potpourri enthusiasts, but in fact, it nicely sums up what genre we are. This musical label we’ve devised encompasses all the styles of music we individually like. Within this label is Southern rock, Country, Rock n Roll, Blues, Cajun, Dixie, Flamenco, Bluegrass…you name it. What we are doing really is taking the Southern Rock genre and somewhat flipping it on its head and giving its backside a huge slap with a gigantic banjo.”
“As mentioned above, the vibe we’ve created stems from our individual appreciation of the musical styles we each love. For example, a few years ago, Dave and I used to be in a Southern rock covers band called Hazzard County covering songs by bands such as The Allman Brothers, The Rolling Stones, The Cadillac Three, Creedence Clearwater, Foghat and ZZ Top so our love for that sort of music is present in the sound. Alex likes his rockabilly music and his awesome trademark instrument and style on a lot of the songs really does shine through…especially live. Stephen the banjo master, he likes a lot of early Bluegrass stuff like Earl Scruggs and he is really what helps gives the band it’s unique flavour. He is one hugely talented guy. Collectively we all bring our musical talents, our love for good and different styles of music together in one big blender and we turn it up all the way to 13 till the unique musical blend kicks ass!”
The EP has been titled The Devil Made Me Do It, why that title?
“We recorded the EP at Mayfield Studios in Portsmouth mid-December last year, which was mixed and mastered by Gregg Powell, who did such a great job and when we heard the final mastered mixes, they blew our faces right off.”
“The title of the EP is firstly about how the world we live in is quite a dark place but living your life on the lighter side of things. Very much like the general vibe of our sound, we create happy uplifting rock n roll tunes you can dance to. Nothing political or too heavy. As cliché as it sounds, it’s all about having a good time and writing music that people will enjoy!”
“Secondly, the EP is a nod to our sponsor Cloven Hoof. The use of their slogan is intended to symbolise the collaborative relationship between Cloven Hoof and us, a definite rock n roll relationship forged in hell. During the writing of the EP, we had a few bottles about the place which kept our rock n roll engines well oiled.”
The EP is out with three awesome songs, Back to Georgia, Laughing All The Way To The Gallows and See You In Hell, but what’s the plan for a new Album being launched?
“We are constantly writing new material every rehearsal session and we’ve got a whole host of riffs and drum beats lined up and believe us, you’re going to be in for a treat. Since our re-birth last year after the departure of our harmonica player, our style is still a signature blend of heavygrass and southern country rock, but we’ve gone for more rockier, groove-based blues and everything in between with elements of punk in there. If we were to list a few bands so people know what to expect, think along the lines of Blackberry Smoke, Rival Sons and The Black Crowes but injected with some of the best banjo playing you’ll hear in rock music!”
You’ve been played a lot over the pond on the likes of 365 Radio, is there any plans to visit the US?
“Funnily enough Ray Wylie Hubbard, who is an incredible gritty southern countrsinger-songwriterer, is a fan of ours and we keep getting asked to play over there! Dave visit’s his pals in Long Beach and they’re always asking us when we’re going to hit Vegas or play in Nashville. When people listen to us, the first comment people make is that they think we’re from the ol’ U.S.A. and are pleasantly surprised when they learn that we’re English folk with a love of Southern music creating a unique sound which harks back to older American and British musical genres.”
“America is on the list of places where we are aiming to tour. British bands are a huge export over there and as we’re playing a sound they’re familiar with, we’d go down a storm. To be honest, the past 2 years has seen a massive surge of Southern rock in the UK by American bands, and a lot of British bands, and we’ve come on the scene at the right time and the amount of attention we’ve been getting by radio stations, reviewers, bloggers and the immense turnouts at proves this.”
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If you could play with one band who would it be?
“I can’t speak on behalf of the band but personally, two of the bands I look up to, not only because of the amazing drummers they both have driving the rhythm, are Blackberry Smoke and Rival Sons. The music they produce is what I’d call intellectual Southern Rock. There are so many elements of their sound which makes them two of top bands to support. There are no standard song-structures and they fuse various genres together, away from musical stereotypes, swerving in and out of unexpected song-writing conventions to create something exciting and to keep you on your feet. This is very much the angle we’re going for.”
The crocodile head on Alex’s Double Bass, does it have a story attached to it?
“Alex’s biggest hero is ‘Crocodile Dundee’ and does the best Australian accent you’ve ever heard and his favourite drink is Fosters. Sorry Cloven Hoof!”
“Seriously though, Alex is a rock n roll animal and all the crocs in London Zoo are frightened of him! I believe he made a drunken bet with Bill Oddie drinking shots of Pernod and discussing the origins who was the better presenter, him or Michaela Strachan and Bill got a little angry, challenged him to a ‘croc off’ and the rest is history!”
It’s clear that this band are in it for the fun and love of rock n roll, but it could mall get serious if they continue to raise eyebrows the way they have been. And, with a strong endorsement from the awesome Cloven Hoof, a rum, and sponsor well known to rock festivalgoers, coupled with the love the band receives from the likes of Facebook pages such as ‘New Wave of Classic Rock’, helps to push them ever closer to becoming a full time outfit.
The band’s next feature on the airwaves will be tonight, Wednesday 16thMay, on Voice FM, a local South Coast based radio station, between 6.30pm and 8pm. Their set to play live which helps to give people to hear the true form, and worth the time.
If you don’t get to tune in the band are playing numerous gigs over the coming months and you can see all on their Facebook page @theoutlaworchestra