I was able to sit in on a regular practice with Orange Air, one of Jacksonville’s newer local bands. It was one of the best times I’ve had working on the blog so far, and most of that has to do with how welcoming Orange Air was to people who were interested in their work. Rarely have I come across a group of people that are as genuine as the people in Orange Air, but who are also as talented at what they do as they are. They were at the old Warehouse studios off of Emerson, and because they were already in the middle of running through some songs, it felt like we were walking into something fresh and exciting. Mainly because I’d never heard the band play before, but what a mistake that was on my part.
Orange Air does that unique thing that the best bands do, which is take all of the influences every band member has, and roll it all into one thing. Listening to them, you can tell that the basic sound of the band stays true to the age-old formula of two guitars, bass, and drums. But what makes them different from most bands in Jacksonville is the level of proficiency each band member brings to their instrument. They’re not just some boring bar band that decided to get together and record a couple songs. Orange Air is one of the few local bands that I’d mix in with my everyday playlists, and mainly, that’s because the kinetic energy between Mike Reeder (bass), Mike Linsky (guitar), Nathan Smith (guitar/vocals), Jason Irvin (drums), and Jessica Sanders (vocals), is palpable.
Orange Air decided to give it a go as a band after they had all run into each other around the local Jacksonville music scene, and after a few sessions jamming together, they realized that they had almost immediate chemistry. Mike Reeder even remembers the exact day.
“It was at a coffee shop, December 2nd, 2012. That’s when we sat around a coffee table and decided, ‘Okay, let’s do this,’” said Reeder.
Jason Irvin went into more detail about how the band became familiar with one another before that fateful coffee shop date, and it sounds pretty much like every other band-comes-together-through-mutual-acquaintances story, but that’s usually how these things work.
“Mike Reeder and myself were playing in a band called Shovel Fight, Nathan and myself had been in a band in high school, and Mike Reeder and Nathan kind of connected together and were like ‘Hey, let’s start a band,’” said Irvin.
Watching them play together at the Warehouse was one of the coolest things I’ve seen in forever, because I don’t think you’ve lived unless you’ve seen a loud ass rock band cram all of their instruments into a room that’s not much bigger than a bathroom and crank their amps up to eleven. It was extremely loud, but also extremely fun to be around. Mike Reeder, tall and spare, was standing in the middle of the room laying down the bass-line, while Jason was laying down the foundation of the band’s sound with insanely crisp rhythm. Mike Linsky was in the corner closest to me, improvising here and there off of what Nathan was playing, and Jessica was in the farthest corner sashaying and crooning into the mic with the soul of Etta James, filtered through the body of a bohemian demigod. It sounds like hyperbole, but watching this band of misfits work together was a playbook on how to jam together. They were running through some new songs from their latest LP, Dragon Fly, which dropped in September, and while they wouldn’t let me record it (their manager, Jess Ann, is very protective of the band’s music, and won’t let it out into the world until it’s absolutely ready), it was all quality. They have about sixteen songs recorded and worked out for live shows, so the band’s finally reaching the point where they have enough material to put on an entire show with their own material. We were happy to cover them, but go to their Facebook page to see where they’re playing next, and to hop on over to their band camp to check out their music. They’re easily my favorite local band right now, and I guarantee if you give them a listen, they’ll shoot up your list, too.
Photography by Morgan Burden