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The Orange Effect caught our ears with sparkling three-part harmonies and a tuneful approach to songwriting, both of which the Anaheim quartet have been cultivating for the past year or so. Lacing old influences (Bob Dylan, John Denver) through newer ones (Fleet Foxes, Wilco), their debut EP, We All Yell, sounds about like you'd expect—pastoral, guitar-driven, new-old-sounding folk-rock.
Made up of Blake Flattley, Matthew Preston, Timothy Bauer and James Carroll, the band are heading to Austin to hijack South By Southwest, which jibes well with their spirit of kindhearted indie hustle.
Bauer also puts together a Christmas compilation of local musicians, Winter Is on Our Head, to benefit the Orange County Rescue Mission. We caught up with Preston to talk about the band's genesis, its name and its sound.
OC Weekly: Why the name? Weren't you worried it was stating the obvious?
Matthew Preston: The name is actually a reference to Agent Orange, which is something that James' dad unfortunately was exposed to during the war. None of us are from Orange County, so when we were coming up with a name, we didn't really give much thought to the idea that people would assume it would refer to Orange County. But even if it were a bit obvious, we don't think of that as a bad thing. If there really were such a thing as an "Orange Effect," and our name calls people to question what kind of effect Orange County has on you, then we can live with that. Plus, we are big advocates for vitamin C.
How did the band form?
Preston: Blake, Tim and I all went to college together and played music while we were there. We met James through Jim's Music Shop in Tustin, and we just kind of clicked. We messed around for a little while trying to define our sound in a classroom full of instruments, and we started picking up things that looked interesting and tried to find something that worked.
Where are you playing at South By Southwest? Is it a showcase?
Preston: We have our hat in the ring for a few showcases out there. We have a few leads, but nothing is concrete. We'll play on a street corner if we have to. We are big believers in the idea that you can't be a part of the conversation unless you speak. We are staying at a friend's house with a recording studio, and we are hoping to collaborate with some local artists out there, maybe a few that aren't local as well. But most important, we just want to talk to people about our music.
What's the biggest thing that's happened to you as a band?
Preston: In December, we released our first EP, We All Yell, and sold out our CD-release show. Being a part of the Orange County Music Awards has been a really cool thing for us. We also are playing a fund-raiser show on April 23 with Young the Giant at the House of Blues in Anaheim to help raise money for James' brother, who is in need of a heart transplant. It is going to be the biggest show we have played.
Why did you decide to put Winter Is on My Head together?
Tim Bauer: I was laid off from an in-house graphic-design position, and I decided to help some local causes while I was building my freelance design business. I was inspired by the Dark Was the Night compilation that the National put together, and I basically just went for it. I did the design work myself, and a lot of friends donated their time and efforts to raise some money for a worthwhile charity and promote some great local music.
This column appeared in print as "Art and Soul."