Michelle LaRose talks to Nigel Rojas for 22nd Century Rock Magazine
Photographs courtesy of Orange Sky on Facebook
There is a wave emanating from a small island in the south Caribbean. This wave is hitting the shores of America in the form of a buzz about a band named Orange Sky. Think Classic Rock meets Heavy Metal with a whisper of Bob Marley and you’ll get the picture. Front man Nigel Rojas and his brother Nicholas Rojas on bass along with rhythm guitarist Adam Murray, keyboardist Richard Hall and drummer Obasi Springer comprise Orange Sky.
The Caribbean’s favorite rockers just released their debut album “Upstairs” in September and were embarking on a European and American tour. With a new album, a world tour and a new DVD, “Live In Trinidad”, the band is poised to take the rock world by storm. We were able to chat with lead axe-man/vocalist Nigel Rojas to find out what the buzz is about.
Nigel: I’d say our music… I always call it “Roots Rock”. “Rock” meaning we have elements of rock and even metal, and “Roots” meaning an element of Caribbean music as well. There’s parties we have down in Trinidad. Parties where we have a lot of hard rock and old school and new school rock playing, as well as some hard-core reggae. And that’s what we come out of, that type of scene.
22CR: You are from Trinidad, which conjures up images of steel drums and Calypso bands. What is the music scene like there?
Nigel: There’s a big scene for soka and calypso. That’s the national music. We have a rock scene in Trinidad as well. We grew up listening to rock and listened to a lot of reggae. Old school rock! A lot of stuff from the 80’s a lot of people feel ashamed of and we don’t. That’s where we’re at with that.
22CR: Your debut album, “Upstairs” was released this fall. It was recorded in Atlanta Georgia. Why so far away from home?
Nigel: We consider ourselves from the south too. Going to Georgia was a real life experience. Our manager lives in Atlanta and hooked us up with some real nice people at Real 2 Reel Sound, and in three weeks we were able to pick up all the tracks for the record.
22CR: The album was produced by Jeff Glixman, who is renowned for working with Kansas, Paul Stanley and Black Sabbath. What was it like working with a seasoned pro like that?
Nigel: Man, that was a dream come true! He was able to really milk us and to get the best out of us and just being able to work with a guy who’s worked with people like that. You know, who has that kind of sound that he brought to what we were looking for. We have a real old school approach to our music and our ethics, and we were able to learn a lot from these guys as well.
22CR: The album is on Granite records, which was co-founded by Kansas drummer Phil Ehart. Did he have any input on the making of “Upstairs”?
Nigel: Yeah. Well he’s our manager. So yeah he had a lot to do with putting everything together and still is. He’s very important in terms of putting a lot of stuff together. We’ve come to realize the team effort is the true Orange Sky. We have the band but have our really strong support team and we’re really stoked about that. We feel really, really lucky at this time, you know what I mean? To be able to release our album on the 27th of September across North America and we’re going to start touring with Adema on the 12th on the west coast. Do some shows with them and some shows with Yngwie Malmsteen tentatively in October. We’re just going to go up there and plant some seeds and make some new friends you know.
22CR: The album was supposed to be released in May then was rescheduled for September. What causes a release delay like that?
Nigel: Well I don’t know, stuff within the label and what not you know. I guess, “Nothing before its time”. Our first couple thousand CD’s that are going to be available is going to have a value added bonus DVD as well in the package of a live concert of Orange Sky in Trinidad. So we made a couple of changes and we wanted to give people a lot more. So it took a little more time but, you know, we’re going to be out on the 27th of September. We’re really, really pumped up about it as well.
22CR: You cover Cat Steven’s “Peace Train” on the album. Why did you decide to do a cover song?
Nigel: Well we started to jam that song. Cat Stevens is an incredible songwriter, song craftsman and “Peace Train” was a song that we were just jammin’ and people started to really take to the song live and we decided to put it on the album. I think it’s a relevant song for how the world is right now. You know what I mean? Violence and culture against culture and man against nature. “Peace Train” just seemed like a good song to jam and people just started really getting a vibe you know. That’s why we did it.
Nigel: I hope so. I really hope so. You know, I really hope so.
22CR: You’ve sold over 10,000 CD’s independently. How is the independent album different from the new album?
Nigel: Nothing at all. This is our real album. This is our real album with a real producer done in a real studio in a real situation like that, so I consider anything we’ve done before “released demo’s”… and I’ll go on to say that this is our, really our first release. You know, first time out of the Caribbean womb into the world. This is us to the world.
22CR: You’re planning to tour Europe and America. What do you look forward to the most in doing this tour?
Nigel: Making a connection with people live when we play because that’s what we do best. The main facet of Orange Sky really is our live show. We just love to play and I think we have a real good kinetic exchange with the crowd of people. We can’t wait to get across there and start doing some live shows and making our connections on that level, you know.
22CR: You’re also releasing a DVD, “Live In Trinidad”. Tell us a little bit about the DVD.
Nigel: Well the DVD was filmed at a club called Club Zen in Trinidad for a couple thousand people. We have a really, really cool fan base and they’ve been keeping us alive. You’re going to get to see on the DVD what that exchange is, Orange Sky to their people. And its really nice, it’s really good, really, really well produced and we played our asses off that night.
22CR: Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Tourism has officially named Orange Sky as International Ambassadors. What exactly does that mean?
Nigel: I’m not really one to be into like false prestige. I do feel that it is a prestigious thing to happen for us, for want of a better term. But if you really check the word ambassador, ambassador really means that you “represent”. I guess once we get out into the real world we’re going to represent Trinidad. It’s not like we’re trying to fly the Trinidad flag or anything, it’s just that, I guess they’re proud of us, you know, and we’re happy for the love. It’s really a good thing to be considered that. As a rock band especially. So we feel honored to be in that situation
22CR: Thank you for taking time to speak with 22nd Century Rock today Nigel.
Nigel: Thanks so much it’s been a pleasure talking to you and thanks for everything you guys are doing for us.