Following the recent release of their third album, Terrible Human Beings, we sat down with The Orwells’ front men, Mario Cuomo and Matt O’Keefe, Chicago’s bad boys of rock ‘n’ roll, to discuss their new album and potentially being drugged at their own shows.
Your new record, ‘Terrible Human Beings’ has a lot more of a mature sound to it compared to ‘Disgraceland’ and ‘Remember When’. Was this intentional or the result of just growing up a bit?
Matt: Yeah, kind of a bit of both. We did talk about trying to push ourselves farther than we did with the last two records and focus on the music and lyrics a little bit more this time round. So yeah, there was definitely discussion there.
Did you feel a need to grow up to progress with your sound?
Mario: Yeah, you don’t want to get pigeon-holed as like a certain band and as like, yeah, you don’t want to be a one-trick pony.
Matt: We kind of became the drunk teenagers; it was what everyone had read about us so, we just really wanted to shatter that reputation. That was a character of us though, but if we stuck with that forever then we’d be totally fucked, you know?
With the overall maturing of the band, does that mean the tour partying has slowed down?
Mario: Nope. Not really.
Matt: We still drink a lot but we’re just not pouring beers on each other. We’re still drinking though.
People say that the “Tricky 3rd Album” is the hardest to master. Did you find THB harder to write?
Matt: *long pause* I think this one, probably, it felt easier because we wrote it in a way we haven’t written the other ones. The other ones we’d get together and hope a song came out of it. This time round, we really like, it was me, Mario and Dominic sat around with a guitar. It was just easier to write the songs and know earlier on when you had a shit song and when you didn’t.
Mario: Instead of recording a whole fucking song and then listening back and being like “oh fuck”.
The name, ‘Terrible Human Beings’, where did that come from? Was it aimed at anyone, especially with the politics in America at the moment?
Matt: *laughs* That just kinda worked out. It was more just kinda a joke about what people have heard in the states of our reputation.
Mario: Just poking fun.
Matt: We kinda beat them to the punch, you know?
Mario, you obviously dropped out of school to pursue music. What do you think you’d be doing now if The Orwells didn’t take off?
Mario: Gas station! *laughs* Fucking, popping slurpies, pumping gas and I’d have a fucking cool ass jumpsuit with my name on it!
Would you encourage more people to drop out of school to do what they want, instead of staying in the fucked education system?
Mario: It’s kind of unnecessary. Like, you don’t have too. So, I mean, it depends on how much somebody wants to like solidify this as like, if you want other options then like don’t do that. But, like, if you really don’t think you have any other options and it makes sense. But if you think “maybe I’ll try it and then I know, I can get a job somewhere else that is more traditional…”
Like a gas station?
Mario: *laughs* Yeah, I guess! I don’t know, do you need a diploma to pump gas? Yeah, it depends on the kinda person. If you’re not doing so hot in school and you can’t really graduate to begin with, it makes sense.
With all your touring around the world, you have covered a lot of grounds. Where has been your favourite place to play?
Matt: I don’t know if we have a favourite place
(Matt then realises the readership of this magazine and states anywhere in the South of the U.K.)
Mario: We probably had the best response this time around in Glasgow. That surprised me. They weren’t rude or anything; they were just really intense about having a good time but also, like, they were really polite and respectful. It was really intense but, everyone was really sweet after.
Where has been the shittest place you’ve ever played?
*both look at each other and laugh*
Matt: Probably just, uh, some shitty U.S. city?
Mario: *laughs* I know! I swear to God, we were drugged in Boise. We had all been roofied because, the fucking bartender must have roofied us because, I swear to God-
Matt: We were fucking hammered!
Mario: It was so fucked…
Matt: We rolled up really early, like 2, and we weren’t playing ‘til like 10. So, we just started drinking as there is nothing else to do in Boise.
Mario: *laughs* we couldn’t even get through the set. We couldn’t even get through two songs and I just started insulting everybody in the crowd- everybody.
I bet that went down well!
Mario: Everybody returned all the t-shirts that were bought that night. It was real bad. But if that was going to happen anywhere in the world, Boise was a damn, good spot. But, somehow, we still got paid and got through enough songs to be paid. But yeah, everyone still left.
Matt: And they all returned their shit.
I didn’t realise you could return at a merch stand?
Mario: You can if that was the show you just saw…
The Orwells’ new album Terrible Human Beings is out now.