ORANGE SKY – Nigel Rojas

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Spread the metal:

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Interview Conducted by Robert Williams

Orange Sky is a self described "Roots Rock" band hailing from  the Caribbean island of Trinidad. While Trinidad may be well known for introducing the rest of the world to the Limbo dance and Calypso music, it is certainly not known for being a Heavy Metal hotspot. Orange Sky is looking to change that. Orange Sky’s unique sound blends together elements of hard rock, heavy metal, and reggae. Yes, you read that correctly… reggae. Now before you go and ask me "Where do you find these bands?" I’d like to point out that sometimes these bands find you, such is the case with Trinidad’s loudest export who first caught my attention playing a smouldering set opening up for Yngwie Malmsteen on his "Unleash The Fury" tour.

"Dat Iz Voodoo" the second album from Orange Sky is now being supported by a Stateside jaunt with King’s X. Nigel Rojas, the upbeat guitarist and vocalist of the band dropped me a line from the road to fill us in one how everything is going.


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How are you doing Nigel?

Pretty good man…pretty good. Glad to be here, just getting over an ear infection for the last two days. Right now we’re in Florida. We’re about to do a bunch of Florida shows, starting with tomorrow night we’re gonna play at “The Garage” and in two nights we’re gonna be doing the “Pegasus Lounge” in Newport Richie, “The Backstage Lounge” in Gainesville and all that. So we’re concentrating on Florida for the next couple of weeks.

Then we’re heading across to Texas. And after two dates independently in Texas we’re gonna start off on a tour with King’s X across the West Coast.

We did a show with Kings X last year and it was really, really good. It was at “The Phoenix Tavern” in Kentucky and we actually got a chance to meet Doug (Pinnick) and the guys and see them perform live and it was friggin’ unbelievable.

We’ve always liked King’s X but to see them perform live was really unreal…so… It is just a super surreal and beautiful vibe that we got to go on tour with them so we can go onstage every night and see the States.

King’s X’s crowd is a pretty open minded, pretty tasteful sort of crowd, you know? I mean, the Malmsteen crowd was much harder to please I think. We went into the Malmsteen crowd every night not knowing how we would be taken and I still think it is miraculous that we were so well received.


How would you say the reaction to the new material has been?

Well, the reaction live had been phenomenal. Overwhelming really. Everywhere we have played so far in the U.S. has become family…you know what I mean? It’s been really good live. The reviews for the album…we have got some good reviews as well. We are very excited about it.


Do you feel like you guys have gained a considerable amount of notoriety stateside since the last time you came over?

Yes man. I can see that we are building a bridge but it’s brick by brick for sure.


I saw you guys open for Yngwie Malmsteen the last time you toured the U.S. back in 2005. What was it like playing 44 dates with one of the most legendary and influential heavy metal guitarists of all time?

That was just unbelievable man…words can’t describe it. I’ve told people before that he is a supernatural kind of dude. There are certain people who are just like special and Yngwie as a guitar player and a performer is really friggin’ special. Me as a guitar player watching him play is like penis envy, you know?


Did you get to know Yngwie touring together on the road?

Yeah we did. Actually, he is a nice guy. We had heard a lot of stories before we actually met him. The truth is he was really cool to us and very hospitable…it was good. We never had any incidents or anything.

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Your music has been compared to both “Black Sabbath” and “Bob Marley and The Wailers” in the past which only seems suitable considering you name both Bob Marley and Ozzy as being lyricists you look up to. How difficult is it for you to incorporate all of these different styles and influences in your sound and still keep the music catchy?

I don’t know. I think it just happened naturally and we have a big melodic background going back to stuff like YES and Frank Zappa and progressive stuff and melodic stuff as well so…I guess that however the music comes across it’s gonna be organic and straight from our heart. I’m glad when someone says we sound like Bob Marley and Black Sabbath because you know those are two of the best performers or bands from ever since…you know?


Who inspires you as a vocalist? Your vocals are really unique in a hard rock or metal setting…

Right. Well, I would say a lot of vocalists. People like Rob Halford and of course Bob Marley and of course Ozzy…Ronnies James Dio. A lot of the early singers, you know? Recently, I like Brent Hinds from Mastodon. He’s pretty classic rock as well if you know what I mean…


According to the bio on your website back in Trinidad you grew up listening to radio stations that would feature the music of Ozzy Osbourne, Scorpions and Judas Priest. Was there a hard rock or metal scene already in Trinidad when Orange Sky was formed?

Yes there was, yes there was…There are a few bands there as well and we have rock parties and rock concerts and what not but…Orange Sky came across as a “Rock and Reggae” band because we play that type of roots rock. At the dance parties we wanna have a lot of rum and a lot of ganga florwing you know. The DJ’s will play something like old school classic rock and new school metal and top it off with some old school reggae and everyone will just roll up some spliffs… you know… Just light up and just enjoy a tropical night.


Do touring metal acts ever play in Trinidad or is it just a small local scene?

We’ve actually opened for Six Feet Under in Trinidad and Hatebreed and some older bands like Skid Row, Night Ranger, Dokken… we’ve opened for all of those bands.

We’re not too far from South America so whenever those guys do their South American shows we can probably get them. They come and they jam and five-ten thousand people come out.

We played with the Scorpions as well last December. That was like twenty thousand people.


Really? Funny you should mention, my next question was gonna be if you had ever gotten a reaction from the Scorpions to your cover of “Is There Anybody There” from Lovedrive…

Yeah, actually we performed it at the concert and they really dug it, they dug it very much. It was nice to actually meet them and get a positive affirmation about the show.

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Had you and your brother Nicholas who plays bass in Orange Sky been in bands together before or was Orange Sky your first band together?

Well we’ve been jammin’ together ever since…so…

I learned to play guitar at twelve and I taught him everything I knew when he was about seven. So we started to jam from then on. Of course we had different bands and all that but Orange Sky was a culmination of our drive to play together and try and rock out.

I saw it as a vessel for my songwriting, you know? We just decided to play together and to rock out.


What kind of gear are you using on the Orange Sky albums?

I play some Dean’s – Americans. Dean USA. The Dimebag model with double humbuckers and that type of thing.

For my cabinets I use a Marshall for my twelve cabinet with a Mesa Boogie Roadster Head on it. A triple rectifier.


How long was Orange Sky together before your first album “Upstairs” came out?

We had been together for quite a while man. Orange Sky is like over ten years old. We never left the Carribean. When “Upstairs” came out on Granite, we had a different label and we went out to do a forty four date tour with Yngwie to promote it and then the label came and said that they were bankrupt.

So they sent us home for two years and we were all fuckin’ suicidal and everything…We were home for two years and that’s when we started to write the material for “Dat Iz Voodoo” and it was picked up last year by Star City and they decided to put the album out across the States and put us on a new tour (Happening now with King’s X) so we really feel lucky for a second lease on life. A second chance to continue to build that bridge that we started years ago.

We feel very lucky to be with Star City which is an independent label out of Pennsylvania.


Your new label Star City Recording Company acts as a label and an artist management team with a state of the art recording facility at your disposal. That is a pretty unique situation, how do you enjoy working with Star City?

I’d say it’s a very wonderful situation because Star City is an independent label they are not striving to be like Sony or any of these big people… They are just happy to have a few artists and we’re happy to be one of the few artists that get that attention and focus.

We’re very happy so far. We don’t have that typical band hates their label relationship going on. We feel very lucky.


So after playing both at home in Trinidad as well as in the U.S. do you have any plans to perform in Canada or play some fests in Europe?

Well we’re gonna try to. We haven’t done any shows in Canada but we’ve done almost all of the States on a really ground level, you know? King’s X is gonna be a chance to play bigger rooms… a thousand people and eight hundre people, fifteen hundred people… you know?

Just like with the Yngwie shows we’re gonna try and promote ourselves a lot more and make as much friends as we could. We’re having a lot of fun.

I know they have been trying very hard to get us across to Europe to play some festivals this year. So we’re keeping our fingers and toes crossed. We’re still with “The Agency Group” and we’re hoping that they can place us on some European stuff. Just after summer, you know?

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Do you have anything in the works right now as far as a follow up to “Dat Iz Voodoo”?

Yes, actually we have just completed a four song demo of what will be the next album. So, we’re very excited about that well we got a lot of fresh stuff, but, you know, we have to try and promote this album the best we can, but we’re very, very excited. I wish we could put out another album out this year.


Can you say where the new material is headed musically and lyrically?

I can tell you that the next record will be a typical Orange Sky record in the sense that it will have a wide range of emotions and vibes comin’ at you. It’s a more progressive album for sure. It’s also gonna be a little bit heavier.

It will be less political than “Dat Iz Voodoo.” It’s still there talking about the strife of the third world. It will still have the typical romantic angst in an Orange Sky kinda way. It’s not like “Oh baby I love you so much.” It’s more like “Why the fuck can’t you see me for what I am?” You know that kind of thing?

We deal with all those issues man. We deal with rock n’ roll everyday. If you like “Upstairs” and you like “Dat Iz Voodoo” I think your gonna like the next album as well.

I feel that heavy metal is the brother of hard rock and hard rock is the cousin of punk and punk is the adopted uncle of reggae. You know? So it’s all one family anyway and we just try to emulate everything we feel.


I’d like to thank you for taking the time to talk with me today Nigel. Before we wrap this up do you have any last words for your fans?

Yeah man. When we come to Florida or when we come to your town, come out and see Orange Sky play live. It’s a deep tissue massage and a bodyslam and you’ll want some more.