COLIN EDWIN (O.R.k.): “We Felt We Needed To Express Some Positivity And Light Given The Circumstances”


Progressive Metal band O.R.k. have recently released their latest album entitled Screamnasium. The band’s bassist Colin Edwin (ex-Porcupine Tree, ex-Wise Heads) took the time to talk with Metal Express Radio about the band’s new album, having Adam Jones of Tool do the band’s album artwork, working with the special guests on the album, and more. Check out the chat below!

Metal Express Radio: The band’s new album entitled Screamnasium was released October 21st, what can you tell fans about the band’s new album? 

Edwin: It’s our fourth album together and it really feels like a peak for us creatively. We started working on some new material quite soon after the Ramagehead Tour, then, just like everyone else, we got completely derailed by the pandemic. We more or less abandoned a lot of the music we were working on and after a breather, we almost started over again from scratch. Paradoxically things came out very quickly and surprisingly they were sounding quite optimistic and hopeful, I guess that we felt we needed to express some positivity and light given the circumstances. I would say that it feels great to finally have the album out.

MER: What kind of feedback have you been able to receive on the album? 

Edwin: The press is only just starting to come in but the response so far has been really, really great, and I’ve seen some very positive reviews. Also lots of good feedback, messages and so forth from fans and those who’ve picked up the album early. A good mate of mine whose ears I borrowed for some mix feedback a while ago told me he thought it was the best thing I’ve ever been involved in. I can’t judge that myself, but I do feel very good about the album, I know it’s a strong statement.

MER: How was the writing and recording process?

Edwin: The usual method has been for me to visit Lef and Carmelo in Bologna and for us to create some rough song ideas together which we then send to Pat in the USA to do his thing and develop further, and we sort of continue the merry-go-round until we’re done. This time it was even more remote as I had to curtail my visits to Italy. I think to a lot of people, the remote recording process might sound like a cold, clinical way of doing things but I think all of us are very used to remote recording these days, and we’ve forged a strong chemistry through our live tours and consequently we have a lot of creative trust in each other. Also, sometimes I am quite happy to be left alone so I can take the time to try out different basses and sounds or bust out some old pedals. I usually find the finished bass take is either a very early one where I hadn’t really settled on anything, so it’s just intuitive, or something like my forty first take, where I have gone round the houses trying lots of different approaches, there doesn’t seem to be any middle ground, perhaps it’s just my OCD! The lyrics come last and Lef and I split the lyric writing duties.

MER: How would you compare this album to the band’s previous album Ramagehead?

Edwin: Screamnasium definitely has a lot more positivity and optimism, for that reason it feels closer to how we are as people. I did get a bit of feedback around the time of Ramagehead that our music was sometimes too relentlessly dark (…and as an aside I’ll also say I watched the ‘Kneel to Nothing’ promo video today for the first time in ages and I can understand that point of view!) but live O.R.k. always feels quite celebratory and it’s always enormous fun to be together, Carmelo Pipitone for example is part guitarist, part mobile party. Screamnasium has many more direct emotional elements than Ramagehead and sonically I think it’s big step up, Machine, who mixed the album, has really understood the sound we were aiming for and he’s put the icing on the cake for sure.

MER: How was it working with Adam Jones of Tool for the album art work?

Edwin: Adam also created the cover image for Ramagehead which all of us immediately felt was perfect, so we were really hoping he might make something for us again. We gave him Screamnasium as a working title, but after a few early sketches, nothing materialised. As Tool went back out on tour, I thought understandably that he probably wouldn’t have the time to do anything, and we might be looking at a Spinal Tap style black album cover scenario, then right at the last minute Adam delivered the marvellous animation that all the imagery comes from. Denis Rodier also did a great job putting the album package together. I feel a massive gratitude that we’ve had input from those guys and also Chiari Orsi who has made the two videos for ‘As I Leave’ and ‘Don’t Call Me A Joke’ – it’s always a good sign when there are some seriously creative people attracted to what we do.

MER: How was it bringing in the special guests on the album?

Edwin: ‘Someone Waits’ was crying out for some strings to enhance the atmosphere and Jo Quail was an easy choice as she had worked with Lef before. Jo comes from a classical background so was comfortable playing the string arrangement that Lef had worked out, but she really made it her own and then added the solo feature part that closes the album. I rate Jo very highly, she has a passion for music that literally shines out of her and she is a very accomplished musician who is able to step into different roles, improvising or composing. As for Elisa, Lef had wanted to have a strong female vocal counterpart to sing with on ‘Consequence’, I think it was a mutual connection in the movie business that connected her with us. She is from a different world musically but was very positive about O.R.k. and the songs and likewise, she completely knocked it out of the park so to speak.

MER: What do you see as far as plans for the band for the rest of the year?

Edwin: We’re saving our live activity for next year, mainly because we want the album to sink in a bit, and in the past we always seemed to tour too near release, which means the audience are unfamiliar with the new tracks. There’s plenty to do in the meantime, a lot of planning and trying to create opportunities to reach some new places. I also want to persuade Lef to finish a few of the tracks we originally abandoned, but there’s no rush.

MER: Who would you like to tour with any why? 

Edwin: It was bitterly disappointing that the System of a Down Tour that we were due to do some supports on was pulled due to the pandemic. Of course it would be fantastic to play with Tool, I think we might make a good counterpoint to some of their more cerebral moments. Next year we’re touring Europe again with Lizzard, they are great band and good folks to hang with so I am looking forward to that.

MER: For anyone unfamiliar with the band, how would you describe your sound?

Edwin: An affectionate slap in the face.

MER: What have been some of your favorite releases of 2022?

Edwin: Black Midi – Hellfire, Rammstein – Zeit, Can – Live in Cuxhaven 1976, Yard Act – The Overload, Diamanda Galas – Broken Gargoyles, and I am looking forward to the new Dead Cross album which is coming next week.

MER: What have been some of your favorite memories playing music?

Edwin: It’s usually connected with travel as it’s always a pleasure to go and play live, especially somewhere completely new and unknown. Visiting Argentina with O.R.k. a few years ago was fantastic because I really had no clue what to expect and I really enjoyed the atmosphere of Buenos Aires. It has also been very meaningful for me to go to Kyiv and work with Ukrainian musicians, which is sort of ongoing, as at first we couldn’t communicate at all with speech so the music really came first.


  • Matt Zaniboni

    Matthew is an interviewer here at Metal Express Radio. He started his passion for music journalism back in his college radio days serving as the Heavy Metal Director at WKKL out of Hyannis Massachusetts. During Matt’s tenure in radio, he has had time working for commercial stations in Boston Massachusetts such as WAAF, WZLX AND 98.5 The Sports Hub before landing with Metal Express Radio. Anytime you want to talk heavy Metal, hockey, Guiness, and dad life, Matt is your guy m/

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