Interview: Orthodox's Adam Easterling on New Record, Filming in an Abandoned Hospital + More

(Photo credit: Cam Smith)

Nashville’s Orthodox have come a long way from their start to where they are now. The band have worked tirelessly, going from popularity in their local scene to touring across the country with their frenzied, endlessly heavy brand of metalcore/hardcore. Read on to hear what vocalist Adam Easterling has to say about what inspired their new record, Let It Take Its Course, filming their new music video in an abandoned hospital, stage presence, and more.

As usual, I started the interview off with one of my favorite questions to ask: who played your first hardcore show, and what impact did that have on keeping you involved? “[The] first heavy gig I went to wasn’t necessarily a hardcore show, but that show was Haste The Day, Scary Kids Scaring Kids, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Gwen Stacy and As Hell Retreats. [It] was an eye opening experience to see that kind of chaos in a room as big as it was. The first actual hardcore gig I went to was for Casey Jones and Hour of the Wolf. Absolutely loved it, and it made me branch even further into the, at the time, unfamiliar territory that is the ‘hardcore’ genre.”

Speaking about Let It Take Its Course, we start off with what influenced the record. “Musically, the influences were very similar to that of Sounds of Loss (System of a Down, Korn, Slipknot, Gojira). We just got a little braver with how far we were willing to nod towards those influences, and really try to develop our own interpretation of said influences. One of the more fun parts of the process this time around was realizing how much darker things were coming across sonically, and finding a way to add brighter elements to contrast and compliment those darker songs.”

Sounds of Loss, their previous record, definitely comes off as a album that is telling a particular story. I asked Easterling whether he tends to write records with specific lyrical themes in mind, as well as whether he considers it a continuation of any of the ideas on that album. He explains, “Throughout the lifespan of Orthodox, I’ve always had different songs that can tie together to others throughout different releases, mainly through running lyrical themes. So, in ‘Let It Take Its Course’, I kept a similar idea running. The difference in this product, is that I took the lyrically themes that became familiar in Sounds of Loss and changed the context around what the words are saying entirely, so that the same words can be said in two different songs, and mean different things. The actual title of the album itself is a play off of the bridge in ‘Panic.’”

Album artwork

While similar, it should be noted that Let It Take Its Course is still a fresh new take on what Sounds of Loss set forth. When asked what things in particular were different between the elements of both records, Easterling replies, “Musically, there’s a lot of different, personally unexplored delivery. Sounds of Loss had a very impactful and straightforward strike to most every riff. The new album takes a lot of things that would usually be played a certain way, and puts our own taste on it.

“The first thing that comes to mind is the drone-y breakdown that takes over the back half of the title track, ‘Let It Take Its Course.’ Usually when writing a part like that, the hi-hat would stay consistent on all four counts, and the vocals would be harsh. Instead we took a different, in my opinion, groovier approach and put the hi-hat on the off beat, and made the vocals soft to resonate with the cadence of the guitar. It’s little touches like that that can make a part unique. The guitar itself isn’t doing anything that plenty of other bands have done before us, but add the lead over it, change the drum pattern, and surprise people with how the vocals are delivered, and the part itself will stand out.”

“I Can Show You God” serves as the powerful first single to the record - as Easterling puts it, it’s an “ass-beater” through and through. “This song was the first track Austin Evans [guitar]  brought to the table, which, from the jump, was a great sign. Once everything was wrapped up and we heard the final mixes, the vote for this to be the first song out was unanimous amongst ourselves, reason for that being that we hadn’t put any new music out in two and a half years, and this song was an ass-beater from the start to the end. There’s very little room to breathe, and the intensity of that song is unmatched in terms of anything we’d ever put out before. So it just made sense. Give the people something that’ll hurt their neck as a way to introduce the new wave of what we have coming.”

Orthodox chose to film a music video for the single. After watching the eerie visual, I had to ask: what was the process of filming that video like? “Filming this video was an absolute trip. Mike heard about this abandoned hospital in Alabama back in the fall of 2018, and we went and explored it a little bit one day before we left town to head to the next show. The following summer, we had the same opportunity, and went back in and took plenty of awesome pictures. The place itself is eerie in the sense that, in broad daylight, there are so many places within it that are pitch black. All the walls have been blown out, and the innards of the ceiling hang through all of the hallways. 

“Once we decided that ‘I Can Show You God’ was going to be the first single, we were having a little bit of trouble thinking of ways within our budget to make a video that could really display the intensity of the song. Then it hit me - let’s go back to that fucking hospital. We shot the video in two days. The first day was mainly getting our bearings of the place and figuring out where we wanted to get the shots. The following day we got most of the shooting done. We ran into plenty of squatters, and even made friends, who hung out with us as we did the last bit of shooting within the hospital. Overall, it was a really cool experience to look back on. Starting off, we were paranoid of what was around each corner, simply because we were unaware of what or who we might find - and if it was all safe. By the end of it, we were hanging with someone who lived in the place, and we were relaxed and having a good time. Shoutout to Cam Smith and Nick Chance for not only braving the space with us, but making the video what it is.”

Orthodox proudly reps their home city, Nashville, which has a growing heavy music scene and a sort of distinctive sound - aside from themselves, bands like Chamber and Thirty Nights of Violence are gaining in popularity. Easterling speaks highly on their Music City roots: “The Nashville hardcore and heavy scene is one of the best I’ve ever experienced in the country. You can always count on the same faces being at every show, and the shows themselves get wild beyond compare, with very little animosity in the room. We’ve become a group of people that are genuinely there for the right reasons, and it’s incredibly welcoming and exciting.”

One of my favorite parts of seeing Orthodox has always been the fact that Easterling’s stage presence (as well as the lights when they have them) really sells the mood of the music, making each show a bit more of an “experience” compared to what one can typically expect at a show. “I’m glad you got to see the lights when we were doing that!” Easterling replies, “[That] was a very fun experiment that a lot of people seemed to enjoy. The idea of that was simply trying to find a visual that could change as we went that would also pair with the music we were playing. (To anyone reading this who is unaware of what this looked like - type in ‘Orthodox Full Set 11.17.17’ on YouTube [embedded above]. Shoutout to Errick Easterday!) As of late, we’ve luckily been able to play much larger rooms than we were when the lights were a thing. The only downside to that is that the lights don’t have the same impact in such large spaces, so we’ve put a hold on using them.”

Expanding on that, I asked Easterling what kind of musicians and bands inspire his stage presence. “I can trace just about everything I do back to two polar opposite musicians - Serj Tankian of System of a Down, and Tyler Short of Inclination/Another Mistake/Constraint. Another Mistake was the first hardcore band I ever truly connected with within that genre. The way Tyler moved then, and even moves now even with his aging injuries, has always been such a joy to watch. Every movement has a purpose, and is fluid. It’s active and intense. And that’s what I tried to instill in my stage presence when I moved into doing vocals. System of a Down is my all-time favorite band, and Serj Tankian has always been a huge influence on me as a performer.

“However, his stage presence has always seemed to be rooted in Armenian culture. From the way he positions his hands as he sings, to the dancing around he does during their groovier parts. This has always been fascinating to me because the music itself is so heavy at times, but he is still able to match the feeling of the music without moving drastically. That’s something I’ve started to explore as we’ve rolled out new material - simply finding a way to move to a part in a way that isn’t normally done. It’s pretty weird and sometimes a little embarrassing since I’m not anywhere near a good dancer - but when the band is really locked in and we’re feeling it… It’s an absolute blast to allow myself to get uncomfortable and not take myself too seriously.”

Those who have followed Orthodox since their inception are aware that the band has changed a lot from their first EP (Give Me a Reason), released in 2014, to their current sound. I asked Easterling how their goals have changed since then, as well as how the evolution of the band has felt from then to now. “I think the goals of bands in our area change semi-often. Nobody starts a band like this and intends to make it to the big leagues from the jump,” Easterling explains. “Orthodox started as an outlet, and all we wanted to do was tour and get our music out there. Then as time went on, and the music caught on, the goals changed. Now we actually have the goal to see how far we can truly take the project, and so far we seem to be moving in the right direction.”

As far as what Orthodox has coming up next, they have a month-long U.S. tour coming up with Spite, Varials, I Am, Dealer, and Unity TX, which they will be embarking on in mid-February and finishing towards the end of March. Easterling couldn’t be more stoked about it. “This is an absolute heavyweight of a tour, and every band brings a completely different perspective to heavy music from start to finish. Can’t say enough how excited I am for this tour. Outside of that, we don’t have anything on the books, but with a new album coming out this year you can definitely expect us to be busy.”

When asked for last words, Easterling chose to close on a grateful note: “Just very happy to have a new album coming out, and to anyone who’s read this far: I hope you’ll listen. And whether you love it or hate it, thank you for paying attention.”

I’d like to thank Adam for doing this interview with me, and being so open and informative about his process! You can check out Orthodox’s links below to stay up on news, music, and more:

Additionally, you can preorder Let It Take Its Course via Unbeaten Records’ shop by clicking on the image below.


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