Note: This piece first appeared in Australian Guitar #131. Subscribe to our print edition here!
Three albums down, Code Orange are on the verge of a revolution. Ahead of their trip Down Under for Download ’19, Matt Doria catches up with shredder Reba Meyers to chat new music, influences and her new best friends at ESP.
Though usually tackling interviews with deadpan prose and a generally intimidating aura, Reba Meyers is in high spirits when Australian Guitar snags a call with her. The guitarist and vocalist is taking a short break from rehearsals, where, amidst brushing up on their breakdowns ahead of a trip Down Under (where she’ll leave no ears unscathed at the second local Download Festival), Code Orange are hashing out a few new ideas.
It’ll be interesting to see where the future takes the five-piece. Their 2017 album, Forever, was a dimensional leap into new territory for the Pennsylvanian pit-brewers, dosing their usual gritty and guttural hardcore with a dash of sludge metal, some alt-rock attitudes and even a hint of industrial electro vibes. Though they arguably never were, it cemented well and truly that Code Orange weren’t just another run-of-the-mill group of misfit kids with some angry yells and stolen distortion pedals.
So y’all are working on some new jams!
Yeah! We’ve been working on new stuff for the past month or two – just non-stop writing songs, trying to get the next album worked out.
Do you think 2019 will be the year a new record makes it onto shelves?
I’m not sure yet. We don’t have a solid timeline set up, but we’re getting demos together now and we’ll probably be in the studio within the next couple of months. That’s all I really know so far; for now, we’ve just been writing, writing and writing [laughs].
What does the new stuff sound like?
Well, it’s hard to say. I like to leave a bit of mystery to it, but if you know Code Orange, you’ll know that we just take everything to the next level. We don’t like to do what people expect us to do. But it’s still gonna be good. It’s gonna be catchy and it’s gonna be hard; it’ll be everything that we are, y’know, just taken to the next strain of intensity. So we’ll see, y’know? I think it’s a little too early on to know what the next album will sound like, but I do know it’s gonna be great.
What are you influenced by at the moment?
Everything. I’ve been trying to really hone in on all of my influences. And y’know, at this point in my life, I’m not necessarily getting into new music – there are new bands and new artists and everything, but in terms of styles, I’m pretty much set in my ways by now. So I just want to take everything I’m inspired by and mix it all together, and do our own version of it. When I’m writing riffs, and when we’re thinking about ideas for songs, nothing is off the table. Metal, hardcore, rock, rap… We’re taking all these different feelings from all these different styles, and trying to replicate that feeling in our own unique way. It’s been a very deep rabbit hole to go down!
Let’s talk guitars! What are you jamming on?
ESP just sent me a custom Viper, which was made… I don’t know, something like ten years ago. It’s a Japanese custom model, and it just plays so well and sounds so clear. Especially in the recordings, you can really tell the difference. Like, when I play through that versus when I play through my regular Viper, it’s just so much more clear and sharp sounding. So I’ve been playing that a lot, which has been awesome. I’ve been running through a lot of plugins, too, as opposed to playing with a full kit of hardware, so that’s bit a bit of a change.
That ESP collaboration is huge! How did you wind up making friends with them?
I’m not even sure! They used to have a guy working with them and he reached out to me, and we talked a little bit – I think they were into the band, and into me as a guitar player, but nothing really came of that. But then they got a new guy working for them, and I think he recognised me as someone they could really focus the company on.
So we’ve been talking a lot about ideas, and they’ve been giving me attention and helping me out. It’s good to have that relationship, because y’know, we tour non-stop, and either things are constantly breaking or we need a refresh. They’ve been very supportive of us, and I respect them for that. ESP is my favourite guitar company, too, so it’s like a dream come true for me.
What are some of those ideas you mentioned? Could there be a Reba Meyers signature model on the horizon?
Yeah! I mean y’know, I don’t want to say anything too specific, but I definitely think that’s a possibility in the near future. That would be sick.
What does your rig look like at the moment?
I’ve been through Ableton lately so I’ve been messing more with plugins than anything. But pedalboard-wise, I’ve got a Tube Screamer up front, and there’s another pedal called the Hellmouth that I’ve been using as my distortion sound. I have a Moog Ring Modulator on there, and I have some Earthquaker pedals as well. I’ve been using their Sea Machine lately, and that’s been really awesome for a lot of the cleans; I can get a really cool, wheezy sort of chorus sound out of it.
And there’s some other little random things on my pedalboard that I use for noise and stuff – I have an AMT Wah that I use every so often. I like to switch it up as much as I can, just to get some unexpected sounds out of things.
Saturday March 9th – Download Festival, Sydney
Sunday March 10th – The Zoo, Brisbane
Monday March 11th – Download Festival, Melbourne
Tickets on sale via codeorangetoth.com