Before protestors began taking to the streets to march for George Floyd and Black Lives Matter, the world was still grappling with how to handle quarantine. That’s when BTRtoday chatted with New Zealand based indie rockers Mild Orange.
Though the pandemic kept them apart, their dreams as a band were able to remain big. Mild Orange looks into the future dreaming about selling out huge venues, headlining festivals, and even hoping for large bands like Kings of Leon to open for them someday. Those might seem like some pretty lofty goals, but they were already able to accomplish one dream while in quarantine—releasing their sophomore self-titled album.
The fourpiece’s self-titled LP came out 5/29 and is truly warm and mild. The group says their name, Mild Orange, is supposed to convey some sort of color theory. Though orange is a vibrant color, it can also provide comfort—and Mild Orange’s recent album is just that. With intricate instrumentation that feels like a refreshing taste of citrus combined with calming melodies and lyrics, Mild Orange is the perfect album to diffuse any tense situations.
Listen to the new album below and read the entire interview with Mild Orange.
BTRtoday (BTR): Hey guys, how are you all holding up during quarantine? Were you able to stay in touch and keep the creativity flowing or was this more of a break for you?
Josh Reid (JR): Hey hey, we’re all good! Things are starting to ease back to normal here in NZ, restrictions are loosening and more places are reopening their doors. It was an unusual couple of months for sure, but we kept in touch and shared a couple of beers over zoom to catch up. We all tinkered away with our instruments and various other creative outlets while being cooped up. We are scattered throughout NZ at the moment and had a getaway scheduled for some writing/rehearsing/recording which had to be rescheduled—but it is great to have something for us to look forward to and work towards creatively.
Jack Ferguson (JF): More of a break for me, couldn’t play the drums because I was missing one crucial piece to my drum kit. More than anything I made unnecessary furniture with spare wood and did skids on my mountain bike.
BTR: What’s something you guys do for fun other than music?
Josh Mehrtens (JM) I love to paint and create visual art. It’s been fun working on the Mild Orange artwork and getting into the film productions for our music videos during the lockdown.
JR: Personally, the main thing I have been doing for fun in recent times is cooking and baking, but I’m itching to catch up with the band and play together as a group again.
Tom Kelk (TK): I’m the same as Jah, I love cooking. Lockdown has been great for perfecting a few recipes. Looking forward to cooking for the boys again.
JF: I’m not the same as Jah and Barry I love eating but not cooking. I spend the majority of my leisure time surfing, playing golf, and getting in the Gulag (Call of Duty) with mates. Also, love taking photos, my camera comes with me everywhere—I feel naked without it.
BTR: What’s your favorite part about being in Mild Orange?
JR: While not totally relevant at the moment, I love the way Mild Orange is something that allows us to see and travel the world and experience other cultures. Despite only having one overseas tour under our belt and a trip to Mexico/US, it always amazes me to see how many comments and interactions we receive on social media from a vast array of countries and languages. It’s crazy how music is so easily accessed from every corner of the globe nowadays and I think seeing that is perhaps the most satisfying thing for me. I can’t think of many other industries that allow people from so many backgrounds to connect over a shared enjoyment of the same thing.
JM: Jah just nailed it with that answer. I love connecting with people—and when fans get in touch either by messages or in person and share their experiences with the music and how it helped them through a tough time, or helped gain a new perspective or even helped them find their significant other, I find what we do feel really worthwhile. Seeing smiles at our shows, and meeting and talking to awesome people from around the world is so so cool. So yeah, my favorite part is the awesome people we’ve met along the way.
TK: Yea Jah, I was gonna say that too. I also love playing live, it’s such a buzz to play to a crowd. Seeing people singing along to your music is really special.
JF: Exactly what Jah Mehrt and Barry said. But my third favorite thing is the free stuff.
BTR: Tell me a little bit about the track “Making Things”—did you try anything different? What were some of the inspiration behind the lyrics?
JR: I think “Making Things” shows fans a slightly edgier side of Mild Orange. It’s still a catchy, pop song at its core, but it shows that we are capable of exploring new sonic territory, namely through the introduction of more distortion and fuzz, in my case. This was one of those songs that came together very naturally. I recall when Mehrt first played the chords to us, all of our parts stayed more or less the same from that very first jam through the song.
JM: I try to write lyrics that are universally applicable to multiple scenarios and which can evolve as one’s context to them evolves. I enjoy seeing the various interpretations people have of my lyrics. I change my understandings and meaning all the time, personally. By this I mean, to me the song was initially about not being certain about diving into a relationship. It then became clearer to me as I analyzed the lyrics more overtime that it was about not truly knowing how something may go until you give it a go.
BTR: How did Mild Orange meet and why the name Mild Orange?
JR: Mehrt and I actually met and became friends at kindergarten when we were three years old. Our families both moved away and it wasn’t until university that we met again. I got offered a spot in a flat with a bunch of guys (one of which was Mehrt) back in 2016 and I took it. We soon discovered a mutual love for playing and writing music and the foundations for Mild Orange began here. In fact, a lot of the songs from our first album (Foreplay) were written here as a duo. We kept at it like this for a year or so and even played a couple of shows just the two of us until we realized we really needed more members to get things moving.
JM: Barry and Jack joined shortly after our first show as a duo. The sound became fully realized once they were in the mix. I had been in the same hall as Barry in our first year of university, so I’d known him a few years. He and Jack played together in another band, Albion Place, when they joined Mild Orange. They’re very very tight together. I remember meeting Jack at a house party the week before our first jam together and Jack didn’t know I was the guy from the party until I told him at band practice later on.
The name Mild Orange comes from the title of an unreleased track from my brother who releases music under the name Sam Wave. We adopted the name to create our own vision and vibe around it based on some color theory and the feeling we want to put out to the world. Orange is also everywhere in our lives.
TK: Initially, Mehrt asked me if I wanted to drum for Mild Orange, I said, “na, I’ll play bass though.” I brought Jack along to the first jam and the rest is history.
JF: I knew this guy who knew this other guy who told my mate’s flatmates sister’s dog that Josh and Josh needed a drummer. Met Barry via another band via a Snapchat audition. Met Mehrt at a party (I didn’t make a good first impression) and met Jah on Tinder.
BTR: If Mild Orange had a life motto, what would it be?
JM: Keep on groovin’.
JF: Live, Laugh, Love.
BTR: What should we be keeping an eye out for in the future of Mild Orange?
JM: Us all growing as artists and performers. Progressing sonic and visual art as access to technology becomes more easily available while conserving certain analog and classical traits … Oh, and headlining Coachella and Glastonbury someday.
JF: Selling out Wembley Stadium three nights in a row with Kings of Leon opening for us.