Friday, 20 April 2012

Indietracks interview #6: Orca Team

Interview by Andy Hart (A Fog Of Ideas) and Sam Metcalf (A Layer Of Chips)

Orca Team is a 1960s post punk beach party from the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest made up of Dwayne Cullen, Leif Anders and Jessica B. They started out in Portland, Oregon, but have since migrated up to Seattle. They’ve released two 7” singles on HHBTM Records, a 2010 album ‘Let It Go’ and the 2011 EP 'Kissing Cousins'. Their new album ‘Restraint’ will be released in June, just in time for Indietracks!

Hi, tell us more about the band, how did you meet, etc.

Leif: Dwayne and I met officially right after I graduated high school. It was on a camping trip. We had known one another from before but we had never talked in passing. We thoroughly enjoyed each other's company. Dwayne kept making terrible and inappropriate jokes and I continued to laugh at them. While I was in college, we saw one another fairly often throughout the years. Eight years after we met one another, I asked if he wanted to be in a band with me but the conditions were he couldn't play any fills on the drums.

I met Jessica while at college. We both attended Western Washington University. We were both interested in ‘zine making and the girlfriend I had at the time made a club inspired by making ‘zines. Jessica and I were polite to one another but never made any real strong connections. Years later when I moved down to Portland, a mutual Bellingham friend reintroduced us. It was very special and we realized how much we relished in one another's company.

We originally started the band with Jessica playing bass guitar and me playing guitar. After trying to write a couple of songs, we realized it sounded terrible. I was just trying to do a bunch of shredding on guitar while Jessica was just hitting root notes on the bass. We decided to work with one another to build a sound with more tension. Jessica had never played guitar so we worked together to have a new language of song writing that used intervals rather than chords. I had never played bass before ORCA TEAM so I have no real understanding of what I should or should not be doing.

Dwayne: Leif and I met on a camping trip. I didn't know him, but we hit it off immediately like best friends telling sweet jokes and making fun of the assholes at high school. I met Jessica when Leif and her were dating. I had a pretty sweet moustache then. She judged it as a poor stylistic choice. Needless to say, it took a bit to convince Jessica that I wasn't a BRO.

Had you all been in bands before?

Leif: Yes. I have been in a couple terrible bands. Euphoric 2002 – 2007. Pastiche 2007 – 2008. Some bands that don't really count: Geena Davis and The Solid States 2007 (with Dwayne on drums!), My Modern Leg 2008. Some pretty cool bands: Fuck You Safari 2008 – 2010; Doppelbangers 2008 – 2009; The Squealers 2008 – 2009; Tron 2009. And some really cool bands: Besties 2010 – 2011; Corals (currently).

Dwayne: I was in a band called Elsewhere while I lived in Ireland. We practiced for three months then played one show and I moved back.

You've put records out on different labels - have you always been approached, or did you have to go begging?

Leif: Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records approached us and we were very honored. We have been approached for the most part but sometimes there is a difference between what you get offered and what you want. I kind of went in begging to T.V. Coahran at GGNZLA Records because we needed tapes for a US tour. Luckily, he was very considerate and made lovely EP tapes for us quickly.

Dwayne: I'd do a lot more than beg if Leif and Jessica would let me. Winkey Face.

Tell us more about who influences the band - musical and non-musical.

Modern Music: Jan & Dean, Cocteau Twins, Deerhoof, The Intelligence, Hella, PJ Harvey, Roxy Music, The Doors, Young Marble Giants, Iron Maiden, Death From Above 1979, Interpol, Suicide, Dusty Springfield, Sleater Kinney, Bloc Party, Good Shoes, Pylon, Marine Girls, The Sound, The Fall, Bikini Kill, The Slits, Roy Orbison, The Shags, The Ramones, The O'Jays. There are probably some more bands and artists too.

Composers: Phillip Glass, Debussy, Chopin, Bach, Tchaikovsky.

Film Directors: David Lynch, David Cronenberg, Alfred Hitchcock, Doris Wishman, Russ Meyer, George A. Romero, Maya Deren, William Friedkin, Jane Campion, Guy Madden, John Moritsugu.

Films: Wild At Heart, Le Jette, Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold, Shaft In Africa, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, Alien, A Boy and His Dog, The French Connection, Twin Peaks, Taxi Driver, Videodrome, The Dead Zone, To Live and Die in LA, Diehard, Detroit 9000, The Road Warrior, Flirting, Vertigo, Strangers On a Train, Up!, Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, Barton Fink, The Omega Man, Soylent Green, Cannibal Holocaust, The Beyond, Mod Fuck Explosion, Double Agent 73, most 007 films, Falling Down, most Friday the 13th films, Rebecca, Warriors of the Waste Land, The Thing (1982), Escape From New York, Martin, The Crazies (1973), My Bloody Valentine, El Topo, High Planes Drifter, The Joy Luck Club.

Dwayne: My lifetime influences are Gary Larson and Bill Watterson. Musical: the Smashing Pumpkins brought me out of just listening to generic radio music. The last few years I've been really into hip-hop and rap. I wish so badly that when I was thirteen I had listened to Destiny's Child and Alliyah instead of KoRn.

Not that I'm complaining, but what's with the shorts?

Leif: Those pasty white legs are for ladies’ eyes. I'm pretty sure they understand it. It's rare that a man will wear a pair of shorts that hang under his knee. It's kind of sexy in a backwards way to see a man wearing something so small. Also, have you ever played a show in the summer in Arizona? It’s 115 degrees Fahrenheit. It's hot. Plus, I look cute. An upstanding gentleman like yourself wouldn't appreciate them; so sorry to inform you.

Dwayne: I have no problem wearing short shorts. It’s tucking everything away buffalo bill style that sucks. AND the lipstick. AND the shaved legs.

Have you been to the UK before? And had you heard of Indietracks?

Leif: I think we have all been to the UK before but not for music or band reasons. I heard of Indietracks years ago from following blogs dealing with Slumberland Records. It seemed like such a wonderful idea. Actually playing this year is like a dream come true.

Dwayne: I know it’s not the same, but my family is from Ireland, and I lived there a year. I visited England, Cambridge, and Leeds for two weeks. I can't wait to have another pastie. Did I spell that right? England has some excellent beers by the way.

What are you looking forward to most about coming to play?

Leif: Making fun of the other bands there. And stealing merch. Just kidding! I think we are all looking forward to seeing all of the other lovely bands playing a meeting a bunch of cool people. We are planning a UK tour so we are very excited to travel around the UK. I've never been north of London.

Dwayne: Hopefully running into Seal. I hear he's available

And which bands are you looking forward to seeing?

Leif: Sea Lions, Go Sailor, Allo Darlin', Veronica Falls, Tigercats, Standard Fare, September Girls, Themakingof, Joanna Gruesome, and Girls Names.

Dwayne: Allo Darlin', September Girls (maybe I can impress them with my Dublin accent), Girls Names sound awesome, and I'm stoked to see Doggy.

Do you have any songs about trains and, if not, would it be wise to write one in time for Indietracks (which is a festival with trains)?

Leif: We do not have any songs about trains. I think it would be a cute gesture to write a song about a train or trains but to write one specifically for the festival sounds extremely trite. Almost to the point of trying to win favours except I don't believe anyone would remember the song or the gesture. Reminds me of when local artists write songs dedicated to the city they live in. It's a little too saccharine. A little too bland for my taste. Like eating paper.

If you were putting on an Orca Team festival (at Seaworld?) what bands would you have on the bill (living or dead)?

Leif: Seapony, Sea Lions, Black Whales, Shark!, Narwhal Party, Shark Toys, Whale Bones, Orcas, Orcateers, Orca Orca, Shannon 'n Thee Clams, Guantanamo Baywatch, Beach Fossils, Beach House, Blood Beach, Nude Beach and The Beatles (why not right?)

If for some reason you were otherwise detained who (living or dead) would play Orca Team in a film about Orca Team and what would the plot be about and who would direct and when can we see this film and what would it be called (this is one question)?

Leif - young Beck or Topher Grace
Jessica - Carrie Mulligan
Dwayne - Thomas Everett Scott

"In a time when the price of oil was on a steady incline, one band decided to cram their bodies and gear into a Toyota Corolla and travel around the United States. That band was called Soundgarden. Psych! No, no, it was just this band called ORCA TEAM. Got you though, huh?"

It would probably be a film about all the sad aspects of being in a band. The loss of hope while trying extremely hard at producing something. Never being satisfied. Showing up in random towns and playing for no one. But it would be pretty cool to see how things were usually wrapped in a positive tension. Also, I think it would be dry enough that the parts where Jessica and I fight would end up being very funny.

If I wanted the film to have no accuracy but sell well - Oliver Stone
If I wanted the film to include an interlude that involved mediation - David Lynch
If I wanted the film to have a part where the character of Leif asked someone to continually punch him in the face - Martin Scorsese
If I wanted the film to hallmark how Jessica was the most important piece of the band - Kimberly Pierce
Ideal directors for this film: Harold Ramis, Kathryn Bigelow, or Iain Softley.

If you could have written and recorded any song ever and claim it as your own then what song would that be?

The Promise - When In Rome
Head Over Heals - Tear For Fears
Asturias (Leyenda) - Isaac Albeniz
With A Girl Like You - The Troggs
Sand - Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood
Sometimes - Sunny Day Real Estate
Silence - PJ Harvey
White Tennis Sneakers - Jan & Dean
Sleepwalk - Santo & Johnny
Leif Erikson - Interpol
Reptilia - The Strokes
The Hot Rock - Sleater Kinney
Falling Away With You - Muse
Stranger In Moscow - Michael Jackson
Take It Serious - Mika Miko
Dead City/Waste Wilderness - Abe Vigoda
Patience Is Proving - Apartment
The Last Day of Winter - iLiKETRAiNS
Small Town Girl - Good Shoes


  1. Trite? Hmmm. Well, I've been called worse things, I suppose.

  2. Ah, I'm sure they'd change their minds if they heard 'Hey Dr Beeching' Pete! Plus that song has a life and relevance way beyond Indietracks anyway.