The best rock music always combines raw power and absolute panache. It should pulse with sexuality and pathos, but look damn stylish in the process. It can forge heavy, almost Paleolithic riffs yet retain intelligence, cunning, and pure pop hummability. In short, the best rock is utterly savage, unabashedly stylish, and entirely guilt free.
But records like that don't come along very often. Enter Punk Statik Paranoia, the latest and greatest Bacchanalian musical salvo from L.A.-based death-pop quintet Orgy.
"We want to make people stop in their tracks," says vocalist Jay Gordon. "We may have gone a little bit out there musically on our first two records, but this time we focused on the songwriting. It's just time to really connect with our fans. We just want people to go, 'This is worthy.' And of course we want the girls to think, 'I want to sleep with every member of that band.'"
A cursory listening of Punk Statik Paranoia should have music fans scurrying to lock up their daughters, sisters, and/or moms. It's that good. The first single, "The Obvious," pours layer after decadent layer of sweet distortion over subterranean fuzzbass and deep rhythmic grooves, all infused with a pop hook that'll haunt your head like a hangover. And it's danceable.
Throughout the disk, Orgy spin decadent lyrical yarns of love, medication and psychotic associates over addictive arrangements that alternate between chilly, electro-glazed soundscapes and monstrously heavy metallic pop. Dark gems like "Leave Me Out," "Inside My Head," and "Vague" are some of Orgy's most focused and catchiest works to date and ironically their loudest.
"I'm screaming a lot more on this record but I kind of needed to," laughs Gordon. "It's been the hardest of all three to write, and it's definitely taken the longest. We'd finally finish a song the band was happy with and I'd be like, 'Hey, are you sure there's nothing else? Have we exhausted every tip, trick and rule we know that can make this thing better?' I'm a total neurotic perfectionist."
Neurotic perfectionism has served Orgy well thus far. Releasing their 1998 debut album Candyass on Korn's Elementree label as the flagship act inside a year of forming, Orgy struck the singles charts twice with a bruising cover of New Order's "Blue Monday" and the dynamic follow-up "Stitches." As the record soared to platinum-sales status, pundits tagged the Orgy sound a number of ways ("electro-rock," "industrial synth," "sleaze rock," "techno-goth"). But they all seemed to agree on one thing: Orgy's brave new mix of prismatic synth lines, pulverizing guitar, and New Romantic vocal stylings was fresh and welcome. Even attendees of Korn's notoriously heavy Family Values Tour approved.
"It was really weird to see how people responded to what we did on that tour," Gordon says. "We were just being as ridiculous as possible trying to try a bunch of new things. But it worked out whatever kind of twisted message we were trying to get across, I think we achieved delivering."
Several more tours, most notably with label-mates Videodrone and '80s goth-rock pillars Love and Rockets, helped expand the fan-base, and by the year 2000, Orgy debuted its sophomore album, the sci-fi concept piece Vapor Transmission, at No 16 on Billboard's Top 200. The sound was harder this time out, the songwriting more complex, and the record garnered even better reviews than had Orgy's first, spinning off a pair of strong singles in "Fiction (Dreams in Digital)" and "Opticon." More successful touring followed, with Orgy once again headlining.
All well and good, but the past is the past. And Orgy's always been a bunch with a collective eye on the future.
"Forget looking back," Gordon states emphatically. "We don't walk around with copies of our first two records or anything like that. We certainly aren't into the VH1 'Where Are They Now' nostalgia circuit! But I was afraid if we didn't get this record out soon that I was going to start getting phone calls from them. Instead, I hope the new stuff has VH1 making documentaries like, 'Why are they still kicking ass? Why are they still blowing shit up? Why are they still pulverizing the planet?'"
While VH1 has announced no plans to create a series called "Why Are They Still Blowing Shit Up?," Punk Statik Paranoia may well accomplish a different goal of Gordon's: Converting the few people still out there who remember Orgy mainly as "those guys who did that cover song." Gordon thinks this record will do it. And if not, well that's fine with him too.
"You know, thank god everybody doesn't like just the same old thing. That's why we have fans in the first place," he says. "There's never any one set way that things have to be. I think our three records prove that. We're just doing what we're into. I always wanted to be in a band with a bunch of Bruce Lees, where everybody was just sick. And we're getting there we may only be white belts right now, but we will yet achieve that ultimate dopeness that we so crave."