Next Wave #552: The Orwells

Feral indie rock from Chicago...

As the old saying goes: a band has 20 years to write its debut album, and about six months to complete a follow-up. Yet in the case of The Orwells, it seems that there is sometimes a desire to erase and forget – to move forward into new areas.

Or in other words…

“Looking back on it, it’s really a piece of shit.” 

Vocalist Mario Cuomo doesn’t mince his words, but then if you’ve caught The Orwells live – a mixture of back-breaking intensity, youthful tomfoolery and the utterly unhinged – you wouldn’t expect him to.

“It’s definitely not what I thought it was when we made it,” he says, referring to debut album ‘Remember When’, released in 2012. “But on this next album, I’m very excited for people to hear the improvement, for them to see how we’ve grown and the direction that we’re taking it.”

Formed in high school, The Orwells were forced to fit band practice around their studies. Denied entry to bars and clubs due to their age, the group simply created their own scene. “We were definitely out on a limb,” Cuomo says. “When we tried to like come in and play a wild rock ‘n’ roll show, the older bands weren’t really having it. So we found ourselves throwing our own shows more than we did with the local music scene.”

Thrust into the limelight via their audacious live show, The Orwells have been thrust into a world of frenetic, near-endless touring. Yet this rock ‘n’ roll world hasn’t interrupted the way that the group approaches songwriting, as Cuomo explains: “You can only write so many songs about hot chicks that you meet after shows or being drunk in a hotel room,” he laughs.

 “That gets old, just like everything else does. I still find myself trying to keep up that element of fiction, just purely made-up situations. Kinda like making up stories. Half of the lyrics I come up with are just bullshit that I think sounds cool to me”.

With their brattish sensibility and near endless displays of energy, The Orwells seem to tap into that perennial youthful outcast in all of us – the kid who is forever being dragged to detention on reputation alone. “Everybody has been young and we just happen to be young right now,” the singer says. “We’re fortunate enough to be able to make music for everybody at this age. Anybody can relate to it, get a kick out of it. Anybody from the age of 12 to 40 is going to get something out of it.”

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Where: Chicago

What: Spitting, snarling, writhing, bleeding rock ‘n’ roll

Get 3 Songs: 'Dirty Sheets', 'Who Needs You?' (video above), 'Other Voices' 

Fact: Mario Cuomo’s favourite album of all time is Smith Westerns’ ‘Dye It Blonde’.

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Words: Robin Murray

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