2008.04.08 – ORPHAN PROJECT – Shane Lankford (interview)

Orphan Project is one of those bands that are almost unknown to wider audience and are still not appreciated enough. This music, deeply rooted in European rock tradition and played by American musicians has a potential to suit many various tastes and it’s a pity that OP is still an underground band. Here is a recent interview I did with Shan Lankford – lead singer of Orphan Project. Enjoy

Ep „OPII” is right now available at music stores. What about the new album? Do you plan to release it in the near future?

The new OP EP is available online from our website www.myspace.com/orphanproject and from other select websites (Trinity Productions…owned and ran by Rob Perez who I’ve worked with on Visual Cliff and Fall of Echoes). It’s also available in some stores, but right now only small local stores. As far as distribution goes, I’m working on a deal with Music Buy Mail for Germany, and we just sent Norway a few copies to be handled by Nordic Mission. As far as the EP goes, this is different from most other EP’s as that it doesn’t point toward a full-length to follow it up. We will be eventually working on a full-length cd, but to be honest I don’t know when that will be. Music comes to us in spurts, but with all our “life” time-constraints it comes fewer and fewer, so we want what we do put out to be the best we can do!

How did you create tracks for OPII. Could you, in short, describe the process of creating music for this album?

Well, this is usually how it goes. From the inception of the 3 originals what would happen is: Bill would come to me and let me know he has a music idea, and then I would either have lyrics written waiting to be used or I would start a rough draft on-the-spot. Then as he plays what he has, I’ll start singing and we’ll key into a good groove (with Tim present) and just work on the song that way. Once we have a good working “semi-structured” version (usually meaning chorus’ and verse’s with a bridge idea, but no formal ending) then we’d go to Tony (keys and producer) and lay a “click-track”/grid. Then in the studio we’d lay drums first, then usually bass, rhythm guitars, vocals, keys/sounds, background vocals, and lastly lead guitar riffs and final effects/sounds. That’s usually the process, and during that process the bridge and ending usually make sense and kinda form as we record the tune. Hope that helps.

Comparing with “OF”, “OPII” sounds heavier, it’s closer to metal. Is it the direction you’d like to follow in the future?

Yes, I would say so, keeping in the heavier hard rock/slight goth vein.

Who came up with the idea to include cover of Pink Floyd “Another …” on Ep?

It was a song we did many times “live” and it went over very well…but the original idea to do the song was John Wenger’s (composer, keys, guitars on Orphan Found)

What have you been up to since “Orphan Found”?

Wow, now for that I could write a book, but I’ll give you one chapter for now. My wife, Wendy & I, just adopted a baby boy (only 2 weeks old)!!! He is now 11 weeks old and doing well. His name is Donovan Jaden Graeme Lankford, but we just call him Grae. It’s funny about the name Graeme and Orphan Project…I was looking up meanings to the name Graeme and it means “home”. Grae would’ve been an orphan, but now he has a “home”! He is a great joy and usually most of my time is spent being with him.

Is there any chance that Orphan Project will tour Europe and Poland?

Yes, if someone offers us the opportunity, and the logistics all work out! We’d love to go!

What’s prog-rock scene like in the USA?

Wow, that’s a good question, to be quite honest when I’m not doing Orphan Project “stuff” I’m not really involved in the scene. I can say for sure that Orphan Project has a stronger foothold of fans overseas (in Europe & the UK), than it does over here in the States.

Do you plan to benefit from your popularity and launch any advertising/promo campaign or would you prefer to remain an underground band for a smaller group of fans?

Honestly, I’ve not thought too far ahead on that. What I did with “Orphan Found” was just make contacts via the internet and compile all the data and just keep contacting all the labels/reviewers/radio stations. Basically, we never got a strong response from any mainstream company, and the prog labels couldn’t really promise much, so we stayed “independent”. We would love a deal with a major label, but I don’t believe they will give us one, since the “full-time” touring is out of the question…unless the $ is good.

“Orphan Found” is a concept album. Are you going to create another album of this kind, maybe you already have some ideas?

Well, with me now adopting…I’m sure I’ll have (and do have) some ideas that could possibly fit into a “part” of a full-length cd. What I could see is a full-length with half of it being a concept and the other half just being new tunes that could stand on their own.

How is your music received outside the USA. Where else have Orphan Project many devoted fans?

As I’ve said earlier, that most of our fans are outside the States, but we have a decent local following near my hometown, and my church. It’s a tough road, in order to have a ton of fans you need the $$ to get it out there, whether it be by “hitting the road”, or “hitting the airways” (lots of $$). As much as you like/love “Orphan Found”…I’d bet you’d be surprised how little people know about the cd. It’s just part of the joy of being a musician…it’s nice when people who’ve never heard of you “stumble” across your music and love it and also let you know how much they enjoy it!

If you were supposed to mention three albums that are important to you, what would be your choice and why?

1. Petra’s “More Power To Ya”: it was the first cd/album I ever heard that was “rock n’ roll”…and better yet, it was Christian!!! I love their first singer, Greg X. Volz…he was a big influence on me. 2. Kansas’ “Leftoverture”: in my opinion the best cd/album ever written with one of my all-time favorite songs “The Wall”. You can hear Kerry’s conversion story right in the lyrics…as he is being compelled to “tear down the wall” between his own desires and what he is now seeing to be Truth. 3. King’s X’s “Gretchen Goes To Nebraska”: I remember listening to this lying on my bed and thinking…”hmmmm, do I really like this” (during the first tune), and then as the cd/album progressed…I was thinking….”holy smokes, this is amazing music…great harmonies, powerful music, thought-provoking lyrics…by a 3-piece no less”. I wanted to be in a band that made people want to make music, and King’s X did that for me.

One time you told me that “Orphan Project” belongs to the past, however, you recorded a brilliant album. Is OP a regular band or still a project?

I would say that we are a project that wants to be an everyday band, but time & $$ doesn’t allow it.

I really need to ask this question. How are Polish people perceived in the States – please go ahead, without beating about the bush 🙂

very well, haha, I think the perception of the Polish is hard-working, good natured people! At least from what I know.

Some words for our readers? 🙂

I would leave you with this quote from the movie “Amazing Grace” that has always given me chills since I first heard it…..”I am a great sinner, and Christ is a great Savior!”…never forget that. When you are at the end of your rope cry out the King and He will give you strength to climb to the top of that rope and you’ll find yourself in His arms. He is your Father so feel free to go to Him as a son or daughter! Psalm 55: 16-19.

Thank you very much for answering these questions. I wish you all the best and hope that soon we’re gonna meet in Poland.

Piotr Michalski

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