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!