Photo by James BunoanThe Orphans are the most feared, loved and misunderstood group of sweetheart delinquents you'll likely ever encounter. Whether it's the relentless screeching of Dan Carranza's pick sliding against his guitar E-string, the Richenbacher body swing of Wade-No-Last-Name's bass (inspired by Kip Winger, no less), or the severe beating Brandon Werts gives his set of traps, the LA band captivates. And although it's true you'll actually hear all their instruments (and vocals) in one uninterrupted stream on their recordings, it's their live set, complete with the thrill of Jenny Angelillo jumping into the audience threatening to kiss/kill you—that will leave you dumbstruck and craving another 12 minutes of insane, old-Dangerhouse-Records-sounding bliss.
"We played a show recently at Fais Do-Do, and kids were literally running out the door," muses Wade. "All we really want is for the audience to have fun and get involved in the music."
Even Carranza, who's also Angelillo's half-brother, gets pretty bummed out that the only words seemingly associated with the band are blood, vomit and destruction. We promised him we'd try not to use any of those words here, to which he gently responded, "I'd really appreciate that." But then his bandmate told us one of the most brilliant stories ever to involve those very things—and barbecue.
"Wade had a broken elbow," Angelillo begins with a laugh, "and we were playing at this venue in San Francisco called Molotov's. Basically, Wade's been drinking all day and he just ate a bunch of barbecue. We walked next store to the club and he immediately straps on his bass."
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"You know how when you're a kid you're told not to swim until 45 minutes after you eat? Well, this is kind of like that," she says. "Not only did [Wade] projectile-vomit on everyone standing in front of the stage, but he somehow managed to cut his hand and hit some weird artery. So now he's squirting blood and vomiting."
"Any person can do some property damage," states Angelillo proudly, "but not every person can projectile-vomit barbecue and splatter blood on a good portion of San Francisco's punk-rock scene."
But the best part, she insists, was watching the band that was supposed to play after them, "just looking at us in disgust." (That look couldn't possibly have anything to do with the fact that the microphone they were about to use was newly saturated with opening-band spew, now could it?)
It's not like that with the Orphans 24/7, though. "I get a really bad rep when we play live," says Wade, "but it's just because every single thing energy-wise comes out when I'm playing. I'm drained after a show. Or I'm so high or drunk—god knows I don't even remember half of it. Just 15 minutes of blackout. But I'm the nicest guy! I guess I just don't always come off like that."
Angelillo agrees. "We're not as crazy as people think we are. Me on stage . . . that's definitely me, but I can't be like that all of the time. I'd be a very angry, crazed, schitzed-out person. It's just a release, and I can't afford to go to therapy anymore, so I need to be in a band."
Carranza, on the other hand, seems pretty mellow up there. His head is usually hanging down while his eyes are permanently glued to his instrument. "To be honest with you," he says, "I'm just so worried about remembering the songs. I haven't been playing [guitar] all that long."
As for Werts, he's the elusive one. He usually just shows up, beats the hell out of his drums, grows his beard some more, and sends us e-mails about their upcoming shows, most of which usually include a threat of some sort. (We seem to recall one signed "Come to the show or we'll step on your spleen"—meant with love, of course.)
We think it's safe to say that an Orphans live set is a little rough around the edges. But that same raw energy is what got them a manager—for a little while, at least. Namella Kim recalls sitting through four of the worst bands ever one Tuesday night at Goldfinger's in LA before the Orphans hit the stage and peeled through a jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring set.
"As soon as they were done and the dust had settled from the rubble," says Kim, "I went up to them and just said, 'Hey, can I manage you?' They looked at me like I was a martian.
"I don't think they ever thought they would make it out of their garage, and I had never managed a band or anything," she says. "But I wanted to try it to see how far it was going to go. I really just wanted people to hear them."
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So for someone who was there from the beginning, what does their ex-manager think of the progress her little darlings have made? "I recently saw them and they had some technical difficulties," says Kim. "They were bummed they couldn't play their full set and just kept saying to me, 'Nam, we're good now!'"
The Orphans have a seven-inch out now on OC's Kapow! Records, as well as an album already recorded. (The full-length is looking for a home.) But what's really special—like we're-so-much-cooler-than-you special—is a copy of their first seven-inch we obtained at one of their shows. It's numbered one of two, with an Orphans pin stuck through a thank-god-it's-wrapped, glow-in-the-dark condom ("I'm surprised you didn't get a wet one," says Angelillo), and a "Stop the Sores" syphilis information card stuffed inside.
"Sometimes we like to give our fans a little piece of us and the crap that's in our van," says Angelillo. "There's condoms all over our van, and I don't know why. None of us get laid, ever!"
The Orphans perform at Que Sera, 1923 E. Seventh St., Long Beach, (562) 599-6170. Fri., 9 p.m. $5. 21+.