Code OrangeTim Saccenti

Code Orange’s Jami Morgan On Livestreamed Shows: “This Almost Has To Be A New Genre”


Code Orange adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic quickly this year, putting together a livestreamed concert with under two days notice of their planned release show for their latest album “Underneath” being cancelled this past March.

That set, which can be seen here, pulled in tens of thousands of viewers and led to the band launching a series of streaming activities since, including their ‘MTV Unplugged‘-inspired ‘Under The Skin‘ stream and resulting live DVD/album.

With their next big livestreamed event, ‘Back Inside The Glass‘ (get tickets here), set for this Halloween, October 31st, the group’s frontman Jami Morgan recently spoke with Forbes of how they have been successfully weathering the COVID-19 pandemic, and their ambitious livestreaming plans.

Discussing why he refers to the band as ‘the innovators of livestreaming’ and what he feels needs to be done to keep livestreamed shows successful, he offered:

“…You’ll see in our teaser trailer for [Back Inside The Glass], I call us “The Innovators of live streaming,” and the reason that I do that is we’ve had to hit this thing out of the park three times to even get noticed.

We have to remind people what it is that we’re doing because of the amount of effort that goes into it, so there’s that, and I think what’s important to understand is if you’re a band on a bigger scale, and if you do the first [livestream show] that we did, you’re set.

But that’s not our situation and it never has been our situation, so we have to keep going and we have to keep being creative and keep trying to be as innovative as possible.

In terms of other artists, anyone who knows me in interviews knows I don’t bullshit, I have nothing but respect for everybody who’s taken their shot at it because it is something that is a difficult hurdle, and it’s not something that heavy music relates to very well.

Heavy music is very much about energy and live energy, from hardcore all the way up to the rock festivals, it’s a very important component. What I think people in heavy music and just overall music need to understand is that this almost has to be a new genre.

It’s not playing live, it’s not playing live on the internet, it has to introduce visual components and other elements to keep people entertained and excited. If you’ve watched any of these shows it can get really boring to watch a concert, even a great concert with production for 45 minutes with no crowd. Half of watching a video of a band on YouTube is seeing what the crowd’s doing or seeing their reaction.

So when you take the reaction out of the equation you have to replace it with something, and I think in a lot of ways we were the first to crack that egg and we still are in the way that we’re about to do this next one, which is introducing a whole new visual element.

But heavy music is not full of money in this time period, especially not on our level, so mainstream artists are going to be able to pull off a lot cooler and more entertaining visual concepts because the money is there to do that.

The money is not there in this side of the world so what you have to do is you have to get very DIY, you have to be willing to put the work in and that is what we excel at the absolute most. Whether it’s building our own stage from the ground up, anything you saw in ‘Under The Skin‘ that was a prop, we made and we built.

We were spray painting in the fucking parking lot all the way up to all the visuals that you see during the set, Shade [Balderose] and I made. So people have to get DIY on every level because you have to keep the budget as low as it can be, and you have to give the best most high-end cinematic product possible for this shit to be interesting.

And if it’s not interesting it’s not going to last, that’s what I would say to heavy music. Again, respect to everyone that’s taken their shot, but you have to go beyond that, you have to go beyond just playing a show, and that’s what all the other genres are going to do, 100 percent.”

Code Orange originally had a much different 2020 lined up ahead of them, including a North American tour with Slipknot, a spot on the annual ‘Coachella Festival‘ and more. Speaking of missing out on that and his anticipation for the band’s eventual return to touring, he responded:

“We’re not going to have the growth that we really believed we would have had hitting the road with Slipknot, playing Coachella, and doing all these things that we were going to do, but we’re going to cement the fact that under any circumstance this band is going to give you the best possible version of itself that you can get in that moment.

In terms of the live streaming element, I can see us working that in going forward, but I’m telling you when we’re able to get on the road and these gloves can come off, the new version of Code Orange is one of the best band’s in the fucking world, and we’ll be one of the best live bands in the world.

It’ll rival anything in heavy music that there’s been, so I look forward to just being able to show that and bring a whole new show based on everything that we’ve learned in this period.

And I expect this period to go on for a while longer, and we’ll continue to play the cards that we need to play. We’re not going to tap out after this one, but I really think this next livestream is going to show that there’s a whole other way to do it.

This is another big step up from what we were trying to do last time, it’s going to be sleeker, it’s going to be a visual spectacle, and not in the way that the last two were, it’s in a completely different way. It’s like I’ve been calling it, it’s an “environmental experience,” so I think it’ll be cool to see what comes out of that.”

You can read more over at Forbes.

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