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Interview with PJ Orr

Former front-man of Sydney psych rock band Hailer, PJ Orr has just put out solo album number two.

Tomatrax caught up with PJ Orr to ask a few questions.

You’ve just put out your second PJ Orr album, how does it feel to have it out?
It feels fantastic! It was quite a while coming, most of the songs were written a couple years back and we started tracking in 2018… so it has been a while in the incubator. It was all wrapped up and done around October last year however with all the release logistics etc it took until April this
year to finally bring her out into the world.

What made you pick Tightrope Walker as the album’s title track?
Chose to run with Tightrope as the title track as it summed up the record both sonically and thematically. Why on earth do humans climb suspended between buildings with nothing but a tightrope?? The song is a love story and hits at finding shelter and a compass navigate chaos and confusion, “drifting in the right arms” – it just felt right.

Where was the footage from the Tightrope walker video taken from?
A very talented friend and musical ally dug the footage out of dusty old out of TM archives, he works for the ABC down in Melbourne and had the song on loop and pieced it together. It’s a hodgepodge of educational videos and footage of old carnivals and travelling circuses.

What was the inspiration behind the album’s cover?
The cover was done by Dani Massey – who also happens to be my partner in love and life! She did the artwork for Foggy Notion and practically every visual aspect of PJ Orr. The inspiration was somewhat of a happy accident. I had a working title for the album – “squares on both sides” and she ran with that – hence the mirrored faces. We felt it still worked with Tightrope.

You were previously with the band Hailer, what made you decide to perform solo?
Looking back with a couple of years perspective now, it was an evolution rather than a dramatic lightbulb “I wanna start a solo project” thing. Life took us in different directions – literally. Right now, neither of us live in the same city! The rather cruel irony is that, musically and as a band, we were peaking around the time we stopped playing in 2014 after spending much of 2013 touring and recording in the US. The snap into PJ land in 2015 gave me a rush of creative freedom however now as time rolls on, I appreciate how special our bond was musically and emotionally. We almost like one person – it was a great ride.

How does performing solo compare with being in a band?
For me sharing music not only makes something bigger sonically but it allows you to harness other people’s energy. It’s definitely more fun, there really is nothing like it. Playing solo is great too – the simplicity is freeing in a way, but I find it much harder work compared to playing with a
drummer. Songs can have different lives in each of the worlds – I like that.

Your Facebook bio says the band members are you and your merry band of Night Managers. Who are your Night Managers?
Ha yeah, the Night Managers… looks like my FB page is a lil behind the times. Well the Night Managers was the name of the PJ Orr band before PJ Orr became the band. It marked the evolution from a solo project to a shared collaborative one. That is where we are at now with Joe
and Nando. The spirit of the Night Managers still lives on though – they were dependable, they were plyable – they were the night managers!!!

Do you ever listen to your own music?
Ha yes, I sure do – and don’t believe any muso who says otherwise! For me it tends to be on super high rotation whilst in recording phase – it’s almost the only thing I can listen to. Other times it is literally the last thing I want to hear, it’s funny like that. Right now, I’m writing and doing a bunch of scratch demo’s so listening to them more so than the album. Recently I went back through the Hailer catalog for the first time in years – sounded fresh. I heard that Gene Clarke only listened to his music and maybe some Dylan… that’s taking it too far!

What other music do you listen to?
Oh it’s a cliché but goddam near everything. My sweetspot

Check out PJ Orr’s Facebook page to find out more!

Tomatrax Long Player Countdown – Part 10 (Top 10)

We are coming to the end of the Long Player Countdown for the 2010s. To recap, here are

Numbers 100 to 91

Numbers 90 to 81

Numbers 80 to 71

Numbers 70 to 61

Numbers 60 to 51

Numbers 50 to 41

Numbers 40 to 31

Numbers 30 to 21

Numbers 20 to 11

The countdown series will continue with the Top 100 songs of the past 10 years in September, but now, here are the top 10 albums of the ‘10s!

10. Steven Wilson – Hand. Cannot. Erase.

9. Tales of murder and dust – Hallucinations of beauty

8. The Awakening – Chasm

7. Damn Terran – Damn Terran

6. Frantic Chant – The Glass Factory

5. They Might Be Giants – I like fun

4. Royal Chant – Raise your glass and collapse

3. Ali E – Landless

2. Sylvaine – Wistful

1. Beauty in Chaos – Finding beauty in chaos

Legendary producer John Fryer and Anjela Piccard release ‘She Talks To Angels’

John Fryer, legendary producer and artist in his own right, unveils the latest offering from his Black Needle Noiseproject. Joining forces with vocalist Anjela Piccard on the new single ‘She Talks To Angels’, these artists pay tribute to the Black Crowes with their own unique twist and stylistic trademark.

“Always been a big fan of the Black Crowes and it always feels good to pay homage to bands you like. We wanted to give it a totally different and cinematic feel to the song in our version. Anjela’s vocals are very heartfelt in her interpretation and delivery of the lyrics and being inspired by the cities of New Orleans and LA, the City of Angels,” says John Fryer.

Released by Cleopatra Records, ‘She Talks To Angels’ is the first taste of the forthcoming album ‘These Mortal Covers’, which will be released later this year.

“There are moments in this life that are both catastrophic and quite triumphant. The intention in recording this song is one of reflection and understanding. At some point, we all can find ourselves in total relation to the lyrics and the instrumental flow of the track. As for myself, the New Orleans / Los Ánjeles connection remains an anchor of the heart, as both cities represent a long-standing spiritual melange – unparalleled in beauty and gracious acceptance of its people,” says Anjela Piccard.

This new single comes on the trail of the new video for Seed of Evil’with PIG, an unholy collaboration from two of the most celebrated and talented forces in industrial music as Fryer is joined by Raymond Watts (KMFDM).

As one of the most innovative sonic architects in our age, “John Fryer has practically soundtracked your entire life” (Impose Magazine). His musical imprint is massive, having shaped the sound of bands from Nine Inch Nails and Cocteau Twins to HIM and Depeche Mode. He is also one of just two masterminds behind This Mortal Coil (along with Ivo Watts-Russell – not only producing, but also keyboards, strings and synthesizer sequencing).

John Fryer started his career in 1979 at London’s Blackwing Studios (London) and soon began working with seminal bands on the 4AD, Mute, Rough Trade and Beggars Banquet record labels, including Depeche Mode, The Wolfgang Press and Cocteau Twins. His achievement in helping develop the latter’s pioneering ethereal and ambient sound ultimately led Watts-Russell to recruit Fryer as his partner for This Mortal Coil.

A sense of expectation about his music has never left him – expectations he often exceeds from release to release, having produced many groundbreaking artists along the way, including Love and Rockets, Swans, HIM, Cradle of Filth, Clan of Xymox, Nitzer Ebb, Dead Can Dance, Yaz (Yazoo), Xmal Deutschland, Fields of the Nephilim, De/Vision, Stabbing Westward and many others. Over the past two decades, John Fryer has also produced several film soundtracks, including Seven, Clerks, Johnny Mnemonic, Mortal Kombat, Faust and Resident Evil: Apocalypse.

Fryer also announced that the CD edition of the ‘Before The Tears Came’ LP can be pre-ordered. This was the first album from Black Needle Noise, which had previously been issued only digitally and on vinyl. The CD has the full 11 tracks as per the digital release.

‘She Talks To Angels’ is out now, available digitally across online stores, such as Apple Music, and streaming platforms such as Spotify. It is also available directly from the artist via Bandcamp.

Vocals by Anjela Piccard
Music by John Fryer
Song written by Christopher Mark Robinson / Rich S. Robinson
Cover Photograph by Martha Schuster with supermodElle

Keep up with Black Needle Noise
Website | Bandcamp | Facebook BNN | Facebook John | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube | Spotify 

Tomatrax Long Player Countdown – Part 9 (20 – 11)

20. Brother Earth – Positive Haywires


19. Eels – End times



18. Ride – Weather diaries

17. New Zero God – Short tails and tall stories


16. Marble Sounds – Nice is good


15. Kristin Hersh – Wyatt at the Coyote Palace


14. Caught in the wake forever – Against the simple wooden cross

13. Red Plastic Buddha – Songs for Mara


12. Michael Cullen – True believer


11. Les Discrets – Septembre et Ses Dernieres Pensees






Tomatrax Long Player Countdown – Part 8 (30 – 21)

30. Ride – This is not a safe place

29. Sophie Koh – Oh my garden

28. Sons & Daughters – Mirror mirror

27. sleepmakeswaves – Made of breath only

26. Jet Plane – Loud to Sleep

25. Steven Wilson – The Raven that refused to sing (and other stories)

24. They Might Be Giants – My murdered remains

23. Red Plastic Buddha – All out revolution

22. Marble Sounds – Dear me look up

21. Anda Volley – Are you armed


Tomatrax Long Player Countdown – Part 7 (40 – 31)

40. Kate Carr – Landing lights

39. The Starks – Earth and the ego

38. They Might Be Giants – Phone power

37. The Antlers – Burst apart

36. Massive Attack – Heligoland

35. Ed Kuepper – Lost cities

34. Eliza Hull – The bones of us

33. Sylvaine – Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone

32. The Twilight Sad – It won’t be like this all the time

31. Gay Paris – The last good party



Tomatrax Long Player Countdown – Part 6 (50 – 41)

50. Alice SpaceDoll – Sunships and Starseeds

49. Roger Waters – Is this the life we really want

48. Pink Floyd – the endless river

47. Shihad – Ignite

46. Laura – Twelve hundred times

45. Regular John – Strange Flowers

44. Future Love Hangover – Ecstatic Yours Truly

43. Jet Plane – Pipe dream

42. Caught in the wake forever – my family goes on without me

41. Black Moon Tape – The Salvation Of Morgane

Tomatrax Long Player Countdown – Part 5 (60 – 51)

60.  Radio Wonderland – Seize the means

59. Primitive Radio Gods – Out alive

58. Good Weather for an airstrike – Underneath the stars

57. Mercurial – Inertia tides

56. Ctulu – Ctulu

55. Lightning Love – The blonde album

54. Steven Wilson – Grace for drowning

53. Sophie Koh – Book of songs

52. Super Best Friends – Status Updates

51. The Tiger and Me – the drifter’s dawn

Tomatrax Long Player Countdown – Part 4 (70 – 61)

70. Roger O’Donnell and Julia Kent – Love and other tragedies



69. Opeth – In Cauda Venenum

68. The Spectors – Ooh Aah Aah


67. The Beths – Future me hates me

66. Superorganism – Superorganism

65. The Claypool Lennon Delirium – South of reality

64. Tia Gostelow – Thick Skin


63. Passenger – Flight of the crow

62. Triggerfinger – Colossus

61. Sounds Like Sunset – We could leave tonight







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