Pittsburgh’s Code Orange is not only one of metal music’s most jaw-droppingly intense bands, they’re also one of it’s brightest rising stars. On the heels of their phenomenal 2017 album, Forever, the band has seen success like never before, including major festival and tour slots around the globe, and partnerships with Adult Swim and WWE. We spoke with drummer and primary vocalist Jami Morgan before their show at Newport tonight about their meteoric rise, his unstoppable work ethic, and why there’s a lot more to their mind-melting music than meets the eye.
1870: The lineup for your show in Columbus in insane! Code Orange, Torche, and Gojira on one bill is gonna be a tough one to top. This will be my first time seeing all three bands, have you played Columbus before?
JM: Yeah, we played Columbus a couple years back, in somebody’s garage. There was no one there.
1870: Well there’s definitely going to be a packed house this time around. How has the tour been going? Making friends with the other bands?
JM: Yeah, we just went and did a whole tour of Europe with Gojira in February, and a couple shows in America with them afterward. They’re awesome people, it’s been great so far.
1870: This year has been crazier than ever for you since you released your newest record in January. You were recently nominated for two Loudwire Music Awards for Metal Artist and Metal Album of the year alongside major artists like Metallica and Avenged Sevenfold. Is it surprising that this many people are connecting with your admittedly-abrasive music?
JM: I’ve always had high aspirations and felt that there was something about [the music] that could connect with all sorts of people. I’m happy about it and I’m excited, for sure, but I’m not surprised. I don’t mean that in an arrogant way but when you work hard and you have a product that is worth something, it comes back around. It’s more reaffirming than anything, we don’t take it too seriously but it’s great. I think there needed to be something new landing in those spots, so why not our shit?
1870: You’ve been playing a lot of festivals and have some major ones still to come this year including Ozzfest and the Monster Aftershock Festival. Do you like playing festivals like those?
JM: I like winning new people over, it’s fun to tack things like that onto what we’ve already done. We just played our first show with Gojira [in Cleveland] and there were lots of people there from the Chicago Open Air Festival we had just done, they had all come just to see us because they had seen us there. It’s a long, slow process, we’ve been doing this for many years. People think you’re new and fresh, but we’ve got a lot of miles on us. We’ve been touring since we were like 17, I’m 24 now so it’s been a long fucking time. But as long as things are positive, as long as there’s upward momentum, I think we stay motivated. That’s what keeps us going, upward momentum in some aspect.
1870: Your music is pretty tough to wrap your head around, and some of the lyrics are extremely intense and not exactly the most positive. Does the current state of the world inspire you or make it harder to come up with lyrical content?
JM: I disagree. I think especially with the last record, the message is very positive. The I Am King record is very much about, to put it in the simplest terms, about being yourself. Just realizing who you are and achieving what you wanna achieve. It goes through a lot of things that have happened in my life, some of those are negative things or through a visceral, dark outlook. But it’s a self-motivation record. I wrote that record and we followed it to be doing what we’re doing. We had to just fully believe in what we were doing and say fuck it. Overall the concept of our band is very much one of self-empowerment.
1870: One of your songs has been used heavily on WWE programming and you even got to perform recently at an event at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn. How did that come about?
JM: A few of the wrestlers knew who we were, they sent [former WWE Champion & current Executive] Triple H one of our songs and he really liked it. I really loved that shit growing up, I was a huge fan so that was a dream come true. I always knew I would end up being on there, I just didn’t know how, but then we ended up on there. If you see it and want it, it’ll happen.
1870: You also had a pretty wild video for your track “The Mud” produced and debuted by Adult Swim. Same deal?
JM: We just hunt them down. I see some person on Twitter or something and I just find the people, I press ‘em. We pressed them for months, that shit never just falls in your lap. You gotta go get it so I’m always searching. Our guy at Roadrunner [Records] is really good about sealing the deals, we’ve got a really good team right now. You have to have an entrepreneurial mindset, build those relationships, and your shit has to be worth a fucking damn. That’s what it comes down to.
1870: So you’ve already toured with some of the biggest names in metal already, and you have opening slots for Dillinger Escape Plan & Hatebreed coming up before the end of the year. What would your dream tour be?
JM: Nine Inch Nails, I’m gonna make that happen somehow. I always figure it out. It takes time and work but if you put your mind to it, you can do it. I’d love to tour with them, would love to open for Slipknot, those are the two big ones and I think we would do really good. We bring the A-game.
Code Orange’s newest album, Forever, is available now on Roadrunner Records. The band opens for Gojira and Torche tonight in a powerhouse metal lineup at the Newport Music Hall, doors open at 7 p.m. and admission is $32.