Illinois rockers The Orwells are set to release their third full-length album Terrible Human Beings on February 17th through Canvasback Music. Having already wreaked havoc with their raucous, debut record Disgraceland back in 2014, their long-awaited return is what fans and rock ‘n roll lovers alike. We spoke with frontman Mario Cuomo via email to discuss the forthcoming release and all that it entails for The Orwells.
Northern Transmissions: Your third full-length record Terrible Human Beings comes out in just under a a month (February 24). How are you feeling as it comes closer to the release? Any nerves or are you more just looking forward to having it out?
Mario Cuomo: No nerves. We know we’ve out done ourselves compared to anything else we have released in the past. It’s a solid rock and roll record and it will do whatever solid rock and roll records can do – which is not as much as they did at another point in time. Our fans will eat it up and if they share it with somebody that’s never heard of us, that would be nice.
NT: Terrible Human Beings was produced by Jim Abbiss, who worked on a couple of Disgraceland‘s tracks, as well. What was it about Jim that meshed so well with the rest of you? How does he help emphasize your sound?
MC: Jim was the first time I felt like I saw a producers gears turning and thinking constantly. He would give us ideas, wasn’t shy to tell us what fell flat and would should be taken away. It would be a different record without him. We cut songs and wrote some more in the studio to make it the best it could be. Without him pushing us, I don’t think the same record could have been made. Also one of the coolest people you could shoot the shit and hang out with, which helps a lot when you’re spending 30 days with somebody.
NT: The Orwells formed when you were all still in your teens, for the most part. How has spending those pivotal teenage years in the music scene influenced your growing up/maturing?
MC: It was nice to discover music together and like the same bands and try to be like them. Now, that’s not so important. We have very different taste and I think that helps us bring more of our own thing to the table. We have very different personalities and taste which keeps things exciting and challenges us to create as one.
NT: You’ve spoken often on how the Pixies have influenced your musicianship. What other bands or artists would you give credit for helping to shape you?
MC: As of now, personally nobody. When we were younger, we just wanted to be the Black Lips or open for Ty Segall or something. Now I just wanna be us. Make songs, throw down live and help restore rock and roll.
NT: The Orwells are set to embark on a massive tour in support of Terrible Human Beings, covering Europe, the UK, Canada, and the United States. Your live show is also an integral part of who you are as a band. How do you keep things fresh and entertaining each night? – not just for the crowd, but for all of you on stage too.
MC: It’s usually whatever happens, happens, so the live show can go all over the place. Interacting with the crowd accordingly, I try not to put on a face so if they give themselves to us, they’ll get it back. But if we aren’t getting what we deserve from them, it might not be the most glorious performance. I’d rather have a few shit shows and let some people down here and there if that’s the cost of staying sane; not doing the same dance every night and never pretending.
NT: This tour also includes a couple festival dates (Bonnaroo, Governor’s Island). How do you find playing a festival show to that of a club venue? Does your live show vary depending on the type of location you’re playing?
MC: Same shit, no. The only way we might play differently is if it’s a shit crowd, then they don’t deserve it. We’ll “stroke” ’em and take our check if we gotta.
NT: Have you been listening to any new/young bands that you think other people should know more about?
MC: Nobody that nobody has heard of. I just saw those Lemon Twigs kids though. I liked them, they look good. Lots of talent beyond their years. Our buddies from Georgia, Muuy Beiin, are one of my favorite live bands. I’m a sucker for frontmen and I think he’s one of the best around. One of those guys you’d think would be a total nut but then you talk to him and see that he’s really just a good genuine dude that knows how to throw down.
Interview by Ava Muir
The Orwells tour dates:
Feb 16 Rough Trade Brooklyn, NY
Feb 20 Strom Munich, Germany
Feb 21 Musik & Frieden Berlin, Germany
Feb 22 Luxor Cologne, Germany
Feb 23 De Helling Utrecht, Netherlands
Feb 24 Paradiso Noord Amsterdam, Netherlands
Feb 25 Botanique Rotonde Brussels, Belgium
Feb 27 Point Ephemere Paris, France
Mar 01 Stereo Glasgow, United Kingdom
Mar 02 Hare & Hound Birmingham, United Kingdom
Mar 03 The Haunt Brighton, United Kingdom
Mar 04 Thekla Bristol, United Kingdom
Mar 05 Gorilla Manchester, United Kingdom
Mar 07 Scala London, United Kingdom
Mar 16 Metro Chicago, IL
Mar 17 The Rave Bar Milwaukee, WI
Mar 18 Triple Rock Minneapolis, MN
Mar 20 Record Bar Kansas City, MO
Mar 22 Gothic Theatre Englewood, CO
Mar 23 Kilby Court Gallery Salt Lake City, UT
Mar 26 Strummers Fresno, CA
Mar 28 Ace of Spades Sacramento, CA
Mar 29 Great American Music Hall San Francisco, CA
Mar 30 The Regent Los Angeles, CA
Mar 31 The Irenic San Diego, CA
Apr 01 The Bunkhouse Saloon Las Vegas, NV
Apr 03 Crescent Ballroom Phoenix, AZ
Apr 04 Lowbrow Palace El Paso, TX
Apr 06 Emo’s Austin, TX
Apr 07 The Secret Group Houston, TX
Apr 08 Club Dada Dallas, TX
Apr 09 Opolis Norman, OK
Apr 10 Ready Bar St Louis, MO
May 17 A&R Music Bar Columbus, OH
May 18 El Club Detroit, MI
May 19 Grog Shop Cleveland, OH
May 20 Rex Theater Pittsburgh, PA
May 22 Mod Club Toronto, ON
May 23 Bar Le Ritz Montréal, Canada
May 24 The Hollow Albany, NY
May 26 Union Transfer Philadelphia, PA
May 27 Black Cat Washington, DC
May 30 Port City Music Hall Portland, ME
May 31 The Ballroom at Outer Space Hamden, CT
Jun 02 The Sinclair Cambridge, MA
Jun 04 Governor’s Ball New York, NY
Jun 06 Cat’s Cradle Carrboro, NC
Jun 07 Terminal West Atlanta, GA
Jun 08 Bonnaroo Manchester, TN
Jun 09 Bonnaroo Manchester, TN
Jun 10 Bonnaroo Manchester, TN
Jun 11 Bonnaroo Manchester, TN