Artist Interview: Matt O’Keefe from The Orwells

Hailing from good ol’ hot dog, deep dish lovin’ Chi-town is a young breed of old school channeled punk that, rightfully-so, boasts the name, the Orwells. A grungy clique of friends, family friends and brothers makes up the DNA of this band that evokes the 80s punk spirit, wading in a fresh twist of rasping vocals and rips of a smart-ass guitar. They just began their headlining tour off the heels of a musical trip with the Arctic Monkeys, a cruise with Weezer and their latest EP “Other Voices” –the 3-month younger sibling of EP “Who Needs You”— all came in the year after graduating high school. Let that one sink in.

The guys are back on American soil, on their way to First Unitarian Church on March 7th, 2014, after a stint in their stompin’ ground across the pond. We snagged a few minutes from guitarist Matt O’Keefe to get us better acquainted with the upcoming troublemakers of indie rock.

Rock On Philly: You’ve got a show coming up in Philly on March 7th and we’re excited to come check you guys out. Do you guys like playing in Philly? 

Matt O’Keefe: This will be our 4th time playing Philly. It’s an awesome city with awesome people. We always meet some super sweet bands when we roll through. The first time we played with and met The Districts, and they blew us away. The last time we went drinking with The Chelsea Kills and the lead singer would play and sing any Replacements song I named.

ROP: Sounds like us, but we’ll pretend you guys were drinking fruit punch. You just finished up a tour with the Arctic Monkeys throughout the beginning of the year and the Weezer cruise as well. Both of which sound amazing! Do you guys feel you’ve learned anything as a band or personally in opening for an act like that? 

MO’K: Always open your own doors, no matter how famous you are. And always make your opening act feel welcomed!

ROP: The tour and the new headlining tour seem to possibly be the predecessor for an upcoming (and highly anticipated) LP sometime this year. Where do you think you are in the process? Tell us what we can expect from it. 

MO’K: Album is D.O.N.E. Expect something you can play in your garage over the summer while you drink tall boys and barter your friends to mow your parents lawn for you.

ROP: Hmm, we wonder if that would actually work…What went into this album? What was your muse, if you will?

MO’K: Tall boys and bartering our friends to mow our parents’ lawns for us.

ROP: Noted. The David Letterman performance. Yes, it was getting brought up. I thought it was a great performance, you guys just went balls out and sounded right on point! What was going through your heads before/during/after, knowing you’re performing on a national platform like that?

MO’K: We just played like we always do. As Mario said, “Same show, different stage.” After it was all over we felt proud of it. It’s tough to properly represent yourself knowing a million people will see it, but we think we did just that. 

ROP: Which is what we respected about that performance! In listening to your latest EP, “Other Voices,” I get that underlying, old school punk feeling. Like a Clash meets a modern day Modest Mouse, with an Orwells original twist. Now I could be taking a shot in the dark naming bands like that, but what were some of your musical influences growing up and who continues to inspire you? 

MO’K: We were all big on the first Two Stooges records. I’m a huge Replacements fan. We all love Pixies and Tom Petty, you know, the obvious ones. Those bands always influence me, because whenever one of their songs come on, you can’t help but pick up a guitar and try to rip them off.

ROP: Pretty incredible to have a group of young lads like you bringing that revived sound to the table. No Justin Bieber or Demi Lovato for you guys? 

MO’K: That’s the kinda music that always made the most sense to us! I remember the first time I heard the Nuggets box sets, I was like “Oh s***! The universe now makes sense to me!”

ROP: It’s of awesome to see you guys continuing and striving on your successes so quickly. It seems nothing can stop the Orwells train and we’re excited to see this thing continue on. What can we continue to expect from you?

MO’K: Shows, shows, shows, record, record, record.

ROP: Easy enough! Well, lastly, I just have to ask, you just got back from England. First time? Tell us about it. The audience, the experiences…

MO’K: Not our first time but every time we go over it still amazes us. Crowds are wild, we can legally drink. Kids are much more willing to come up to us and talk s***, which is nice. It’s a fun country!

ROP: Lucky ducks! Well, Thanks so much for doing this with us! Can’t wait for that new album, good luck to you guys! 

Catch these guys this Friday (3/7) at First Unitarian Church. You’re probably guaranteed to drink tall boys and barter your friends to mow your parents’ lawn for you. Or just drink tall boys.  Either way, it’s evident the energy of these guys are bound to show you a good time.

For Tickets, click here

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