First things first, if you haven’t acquainted yourself with Gary Crowley’s “GC’s Punk & New Wave” show on London’s Soho Radio you are doing yourself a great disservice. The show’s Twitter account is a must-follow if you’re on that site. I’ve met and talked with many interesting people from doing so, including the subject of this interview, Martin Holmes, the lead singer of Orange Bomb.
Orange Bomb are a 4-piece rock and roll band from Surrey, in the south of England. “Punk attitude with modernist designs,” is how they put it (and rightly). The roll call is the aformentioned Mr. Holmes on the mic, Rob Allbeury responsible for guitars and additional singing, Andy Marling wielding the bass, and Matt Harriman behind the drum kit.
They’re not exactly teenagers anymore but they’re certainly not old men ready for the rest home either. You get the sense the band is keeping them young in spirit if not in chronology. A listen to their SoundCloud page will show you that besides being quick with pithy lyrics and catchy melodies, these guys haven’t lost much of the ever-evasive fire of youth. They’ve kept it and honed into something they use well, informed with their own experiences. They sound familiar to you in places, totally new in others. They sound like the best type of band, the band you want to see live with the adult beverage of your choice in your hand with your friends around you.
The band’s official bio puts it well, “Remember that girl at school? Well we do too. The character’s that lived on the streets were you lived? They lived on ours too.”
They’ve got two releases out so far, “Brighton” and “(ONe)”, which are on iTunes and Spotify. The band is working on its third release this year. See them if you live in their part of Britain, and tell me how it went won’t you?
And now my talk with Martin:
How did the members of the band come together, how do you all know each other? Is this your first band?
Orange Bomb started as a two piece with Matt (drums) and Rob (guitar and vocals) formed from their previous band The Wot Nots. After a year or so Martin (me) joined on vocals following answering an ad and then Andy joined about 8 months later on bass. A common interest in similar music and a desire to write and perform cracking original songs with a bit of thought brought us together. Everyone has played in a number of bands before and I did performance poetry too.
What would you say is your “signature” song- if you had to pick one tune to represent the band?
Its hard to pick one and there’s a fair bit of variance in the songs. “Sunnyside” is a real favourite of ours, usual storytelling, and brings together a number of characters from a council estate, against a real stick in your head chorus and our punk pop sound. Its typical Orange Bomb. Great to play live and always a favourite with the crowd.
How did the band’s name originate?
There was a list of about 200 suggestions and Orange Bomb stuck
What are a few things you’ve learned as a band?
That we can really do this and we have found a natural place together where it just flows and we all recognise respect the opportunity that’s presented
“This Is England” (nice allusion to the Clash single, I’m assuming)- has a very John Cooper Clarke-esque intro and some really gripping lyrics- how did that one come about?
We will take the JJC reference as a real compliment. The lyrics are adapted from a poem “The Mask Of Anarchy” written by Shelly in 1819 following the Peterloo Massacre where what was effectively a march against austerity ended with a cavalry charge and approx. 600 people injured and some killed. The poem was banned at the time. The opening call for people to get up from their inertia is really us saying there is so much that can be achieved, don’t waste your opportunities in our country which isn’t perfect but where we still have free speech, a degree of opportunity that others don’t have and that we owe that to others in history who struggled so lets honour it. Its that punk ethos of making things happen and dictating your own destiny
Your recent album “Brighton” came out last year, tell us a bit about it and are there any new recordings on the horizon for you guys?
“Brighton” covers a range of different themes including false people (“Actors”), uninspiring people and holding on to moments (“5 Minutes”) and the acoustic sound of the title track “Brighton” which is a poem about realising your with the right person and that there’s order in moving as one like the starlings circling in the murmaration above Brighton Pier. Brighton was an obvious name for the album it’s a place that we all love for different reasons and echoes an Englishness and that we like with obvious links to a pop culture that inspires us. We have just released a new single “Another Year” and are half way through recording a dozen new songs which we are really pleased with.
A lot of great bands have come from Surrey (The Jam, Stranglers, the “Surrey Delta” thing)- do you see yourselves as part of a tradition or is that just something from music writers’ heads?
The two bands you mention are great bands and favourites of ours so that probably influences at some level and certainly inspired our younger selves.
What has been the most memorable Orange Bomb show to date and why?
The first one. It’s when we found out that it works!
Is there an unsung hero of the Orange Bomb story you’d like to mention?
There’s a few characters in our songs but best we preserve their anonymity!
Where can people hear your music and get in touch with you?
We are now getting some good airplay on some independent and new music shows and we are on Twitter, Facebook, SoundCloud, Spotify and iTunes so get in touch!
My thanks to Martin Holmes for taking the time to answer my questions. Google the “Peterloo Massacre” he mentions and definitely follow Orange Bomb on all social media channels for some kick-ass rock and roll music.