Code Orange are one of the most exciting names to emerge in heavy music over the past decade. On new album The Above, guitarist Reba Meyers combines clean melodies with the sound of “pure evil”…
This album feels more positive, almost more hopeful, than your previous records.
“It’s definitely more melodic. That was always inside of me as a writer, but within the context of the band, it wasn’t always necessarily appropriate. Now we’re all a bit more grown-up, I’m able to just go for it.
“People sometimes confuse those cleaner sections as a ’90s thing and I don’t see it that way. They hear a good rock guitar sound and say, ‘Oh, it’s like the ’90s!’ But I’m like, ‘No, it’s just a good guitar sound!’ I don’t want to connect our stuff with being part of some sort of revival.”
There’s still a lot of clashing dyads and tritone stabs in the heavy parts, to be fair!
“Those stabs are so percussive, evoking this sense of anger and hatred against the drums. I’ve been doing that since we were kids. I don’t know where it came from but it will never leave my arsenal. And the tritone is called the devil’s interval because back in medieval times people considered it to be pure evil.
“It’s wild that when I was 10 years old, it created the same exact feelings in me even though I hadn’t heard it before. The human body seems to just connect darkness with that interval – it’s crazy!”
You’ve used your EVH 5150III head along with various guitar VSTs over the years. What are we hearing on The Above?
“It was definitely a mix-and-match recording process. I trusted my ears to go with what sounded best and ended up messing around with cabs and mics more than usual. I hadn’t done much of that before. I ended up running my usual EVH head through a Marshall cab with Celestion Greenbacks.
“And I used a Fender Bassman for the more rock-sounding tones because it added a nice warmth to everything. There was a Roland Jazz Chorus for the clean parts on Mirror and The Mask Of Sanity Slips. I probably used plugins less this time, except for some atmospheric kinds of sounds that don’t sound like guitar.”
And how about instruments – was it still mainly your ESP Viper?
“Yeah, plus a Strat with a Hot Rail in the bridge and my Reverend Charger. I just went with stuff that felt good in my hands. I don’t want to go to a studio and say, ‘Hey, what’s your nicest guitar?’ and use it for the record because that won’t help me at all. That’s not my vibe. I’d rather play a guitar that sounds a little shittier or isn’t set up perfectly, but at least I know it inside out.
“And actually, sometimes bad gear can give you a good idea! I try not to overthink gear – I’ll go with whatever’s around. There are no rules. I’d encourage people to find their shit and live with whatever they can get their hands on. There shouldn’t be pressure to find specifics.”
- The Above is out now via Blue Grape Music.