Cleethorpes trio ORPHAN BOY return to the limelight this week with the release of their blistering second album 'Passion Pain and Loyalty'. With two of the group now residing back by the seaside, it seemed for a time like Council Pop would fade away, but Smiffy, Chris Day & co. have returned in style with a record that will be remembered for years and years to come.
W&H wasted no time in catching up with narrator and leading light Bobby Cross upon the vitriolic threesome's triumphant return to Manchester, where we were not only brought up to speed regarding the new record, but also discovered just how close the band were to calling it a day.
'Passion Pain and Loyalty' is preceded by it's first single, the as-ever self-reflexive 'Pop Song', a tragic tale of forgotten one-hit wonders built on a hypnotic keyboard riff:
“It's about chasing empty promises - No-one ever thinks or talks about the 99% of bands that fall by the wayside – some of these bands deserve success, and just don't get it” Cross explains, before putting things quickly into context:
“The first half of the decade saw the rise of the likes of The Strokes and The Libertines...A good first album, but they couldn't really follow it up with a second, a third..they went nowhere with their music”
“Our first album ('Shop Local') consisted of songs that we wrote within the space of a year” he recalls:
“It was a failure in terms of getting us to the next level; we hit a glass ceiling – although we got a cult fan base, people who were loving it, we never had a major indie success”
“This time last year we were a bit tired of it all – all the travelling and trying to live your own life at the same time....to be honest, I was thinking about jacking it all in, but Mike (Purcell, co-founder of Concrete Records and Orphan Boy manager) just wouldn't allow it”
“Considering the second album consists of songs that were written and recorded over a much longer period of time(going backward and forwards between Wolverhampton and Preston), they sit well together” adds Cross. It's a rare indicator of satisfaction from the ultra-modest singer.
Is 'Passion Pain and Loyalty' Orphan Boy's first serious attempt to grab the pop world by the scruff of the neck?
“I guess it's our second” laughs Cross “We though we could do that with our first album - but at the time 'Shop Local' was released, nobody was interested in angry post-punk music at that point. This album is more commercial....it's more musical. We had to get back to basics; more direct songwriting, stuff that hooks you in a bit more”
Orphan Boy's music isn't as simple as that though?
“No, it's always been varied...in my eyes at least – but a lot of people get confused by that. The people who sell music want things to kind of be as straightforward and brandable as possible”.
“We got branded as a 'lad' band – especially in Manchester..I mean, we are lads, but that doesn't mean we don't have ideas”
Summing up, he says “The album will do either one of two things.”
"It will suddenly click...people will talk about it everywhere...or it won't – it will just stay in the background..We'll go away and maybe come back again some other time.