If you’re into alternative music, you will know who Code Orange are.
Forming in 2008 out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Code Orange started at humble roots creating their punishing yet emotive sound from a bedroom. The 5 piece are now one of the biggest names in alternative music, having shared the stage with bands like Slipknot, Ozzy Osbourne and Slayer, touring around the world and selling out venue’s.
After having an incredible year in 2019, securing multiple awards, signing to metal-mecca label Roadrunner Records (Slipknot, The Misfits, Nickelback) and not to mention bagging a Grammy nomination. It was a given that we were to expect big things in 2020 and we weren’t wrong.
At the start of the year, Code Orange started to release mysterious and slightly surreal video and interactive content across their social platforms and personal Instagram accounts. The captions and content full of strange code, they also created a unique interactive micro site full of clues and trippy visualisations, all pointing fingers to the new release and what we can expect. You can check out the awesome yet slightly harrowing “whatisreallyunderneath” here.
Shortly after this, we were treated to 3 new songs, each around a month apart, with incredible visuals to accompany them. Not only did these 3 new singles tell a story of their growth and transformation the band has been through. Infamously and somewhat unconventionally, Code Orange’s main vocalist, Jami Morgan, is also their drummer. But when the video landed for their first single of the album, it was clear Jami was no longer behind the drums but still delivering his trademark sound. Then when the penultimate video was released, Jami takes centre stage as front-man as the song kicks off, leaving fans to speculate and guess at who’s now going to be hitting the tubs.
The months of surreal content and singles eventually lead to the announcement of a brand new album coming in the Spring of 2020. Along with the new album, they announced a record release show to remember. A truly stacked and mixed bill of metal, electronic, punk and noise was put together to celebrate the album’s release at Pittsburgh’s Roxian Theatre, to a sold out crowd of over 1400. But then COVID-19 showed up.
The corona virus pandemic has obviously impacted more or less every corner of life in some way or another, but no industry has been hit quite like the music and entertainment industry. Bands can’t tour, band’s cant play shows, we can’t attend shows, shows can’t run, venue’s can’t book bands let alone open the doors, it’s a very worrying and uncertain time for music professionals to say the least.
However, Code Orange didn’t admit defeat that easy. After months and months of planning, 2 years of writing, months of pain developing the stage show and visualisations, (created by the band’s brain child and programmer, Eric “Shade” Balderose), they refused to let the show go down the pan. They refused to watch the album launch evaporate like everything else and turn their backs on what was the final stage of a huge campaign at the bands peak.
This is when they had the idea to partner up with hardcore community-hero, Sunny at Hate5six, a staple in the scene who literally travels the world documenting hardcore shows (if you know, you know.), we had the pleasure of getting him to Leed’s last year to document Have Heart‘s last ever shows. Sunny owns and operates his own website and youtube channel called, Hate5six, where he films live sets and uploads them for the world to see. You can see what I mean in this live Code Orange set from This Is Hardcore back in 2015 – it’s a bit lively.
The band had the idea of running the show, with the exact same level of production and visceral power as they intended. But rather than endanger the public, they streamed the show live on Twitch across the world. The stream went out to over 13,000 people around the globe. Not only was the live stream picked up by Forbes, Kerrang, NME, Rolling Stone to name just a few. It set a precedent for what bands can musicians can do in this very uncertain time, with many smaller bands following suit with live jams and sets from their own home. When only 1400 had the opportunity to experience the show originally, the unusual circumstances allowed over ten thousand people to take part.
It’s no surprise that Code Orange nailed their album launch regardless of what stood in their way. The live stream even prompted the band to run a series of shorter live streams. Where individual band members would perform an improvised show while the other members would be on hand to answer questions and interact with the audience tuning in live. In marketing; content is king. And Code Orange are destroying the content game within the world of music, regardless of genre. Take a look for yourself at the band’s Instagram and some of the band members below to get a feel for how they did it. You can watch the live Code Orange set from the Pittsburgh Roxian here.
Jami Morgan – Vocals
Reba Meyers – Guitar
Shade – Guitar/Programming
“whatisreallyunderneath” – Interactive microsite