|25 Jan 2023|
While at Hymers College, Oliver Witty (OH 2006-15) and his classmates, Tom Green-Morgan (OH 2005 to 2015) and Leo Joslin (OH 2005 to 2015), formed the band King Orange. Over 7 years later, despite taking separate paths after leaving school, they are still together and regularly performing their music. Recently they have been performing live sessions for 'BBC Music Introducing' on BBC Radio Humberside and they have released their debut EP, "Another Collapse In The Park".
I’d say Hymers shaped my taste for music, but for unorthodox reasons!
When people ask “how’d you get into music?”, I respond with “my parents”. They’re not musicians, but they love listening to all sorts of music. Growing up, my mother was a fitness instructor, so I follow with “my mum got me into drumming”. My father, on the other hand, had an iPod classic, with tonnes of songs on there. On family outings, I remember sharing the headphones with my sister – starting to develop a love of different genres in the process. I’d finish my answer with “…and my dad shaped my music tastes growing up”.
When I turned 11, I began listening to The Prodigy on my father’s iPod. I recall he only had “The Fat of the Land”, but I kept on playing the second track - “Breathe”. Back then, I didn’t know drum machines were used on the track, but it was enough to convince 11-year-old me to take up the drums. I was mesmerised by the swinging sound of the épée-like sword and wanted to know how to replicate that sound.
It was at that moment I picked up the sticks. For four years, I learned different stick-holding techniques, different rhythms in odd time signatures and built up my confidence to read sheet music. But it went nowhere. As many students will know, as you enter Senior School, you had to learn about music. So, you’d think with a head start, it would be a breeze? Wrong.
We had a music teacher, who was a talented pianist, but clearly had opinions on certain instruments. When it came to drums, he didn’t like them. I remember when I was 14, as part of the end-of-year exams, everyone had to perform a piece of music. He asked me to perform first because I “was the loudest”. At the end of my performance, it was clear he didn’t enjoy it, much to my chagrin. There was no chance of me even pursuing a Music GSCE if he was going to assess me. I had no interest in performing with orchestras either. Why would I? It’s the same guy organising it.
Fast forward a couple of years – enter Tom Green-Morgan. He’s preparing for a practical exam in the memorial hall, warming up the strings on his guitar. I ask him “if you’re playing guitar, what are you going to play it to?” He pointed to a CD player at the edge of the room. This was a pivotal point in time. Why? I was now Tom’s drummer and the after-school sessions began.
Then, skip to the last year of the sixth form. The deputy head, Andrew Holman, walks on stage for the morning assembly. He gives a presentation on embracing individuality. How you may ask? He blasts a bit of Nirvana, specifically In Bloom… followed by (and I’m paraphrasing here) “This is my favourite band, and if you don’t like it, who cares?” This was the motivation we needed to play in front of the school. But we didn’t have a singer. This is where Leo Joslin comes in.
And then it happened, we performed in front of the school. No longer were teachers and students solely succumbed to the organ. Instead, they were treated to layers of sonic bliss. It didn’t come as a surprise then that we wanted to keep this up after Hymers… and so we did – King Orange was born.
In 2020, following a string of single releases, we decided to write song ideas for an EP… which would later become “Another Collapse in the Park”. It took two years for this body of work to be released - as you can imagine, COVID-19 made matters complicated. But, from my point of view, this was a blessing in disguise. What was originally an angsty collection of songs turned into a 13-minute cathartic vessel to vent any frustration, anxiety or anger I had. When I felt isolated from the world due to COVID-19, mourning the loss of my grandfather, or being undervalued by an employer, I could always turn to this, feeling proud that we had created something that could emulate how I was feeling during this dark period.
Then, on 28th October 2022, we released the four-track EP. We performed a run of UK shows shortly after, and that same anger I once experienced channeled through to my drumsticks, and really resonated with the crowd. In fact, we were all surprised by how much our sound made people feel.
But it didn’t stop there. It’s come to light that our material had crossed international waters. Partway through the tour, we discovered that our lead single “Patriot and Father” received airtime on French radio. Days later, a Belgian radio station transmitted a different song from the EP. Shortly after, a Canadian radio station aired our second single “Self Torn from Sign”. The list goes on…
And so, I ask myself to this day, to what do we owe our success for this EP? Well, in our case, without the collective writing contribution of the band, the four songs would not exist. But there are other forces at play… is it the resurgence of post-punk or do we owe it to mental upset… the timeliness of the current economic climate, with people frustrated at the cost of living suddenly becoming expensive, or the disapproval of the ongoing war in Ukraine?
The simple answer is, we don’t know. But, if you do listen to “Another Collapse in the Park”, I hope it serves as some kind of therapeutic tool, just like it did for me.
Oliver Witty, OH 2006-15
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