Interview With Karo Torosyan From Orcus
Glendale, California's progressive black metal band, Orcus has been making its mark on the local Los Angeles music scene with their dark and mysterious brand of heavy music. They are getting ready to release their debut album 'Birth' on June 26th and have recently opened for the likes of Obituary and My Ruin. I took some time recently to get some questions answered by their bassist, Karo Torosyan.
Rocket: So are you originally fom Glendale?
Karo: No, I was actually born in Armenia. I was about four years old when my family decided to move to California and I've been roaming around Glendale and Los Angeles ever since.
Rocket: When did you start playing the bass guitar?
Karo: Well, it's actually kind of funny because I started out with playing Classical guitar at the age of 12, and that didnt go too far and I started playing classic rock and then metal. When I played metal it just seemed natural for me to switch to bass, and I think it worked out pretty well. I definitely have a lot more fun playing bass than any other instrument.
Rocket: What kind of basses are you playing? Give us the model and specs.
Karo: Currently my most prized possession is my Fender Jazz bass. Its a remake of the 60s model. I did most of the recording on our new record Birth with a pretty decent Ibanez Soundgear bass, but I definitely prefer the Fender Jazz over anything else Ive played.
Rocket: Nothing beats the Fender tone. Never will. What kind of amp rig?
Karo: What I really want is a good Ampeg rig, but I've been using a pretty decent Fender combo amp that pumps out 300Watts and is very easy to get a few really good tones out so it's working fine so far.
Rocket: What kind of strings do you use currently? Give us the Brand name and is it light or heavy gauge?
Karo: I'm really infatuated with flatwounds lately. DAddario makes a good set of flatwounds, and anything with regular tension is perfect. They're a lot smoother to play on and you get a deeper and more hollow tone out of the bass that way. If you're downtuning flatwounds will typically just sound like shit, so you just stick to higher tensions and you're good.
Rocket: Right on. I can hear all the notes being taken by the students of metal out there right now. Ha! Do you play with your fingers or a pick?
Karo: Fingers! It just seems much more natural to me and I prefer the sound you get from fingerpicking, plus it gives you room to slap the strings when you need to.
Rocket: My sentiments exactly. To me, playing with a pick is really like masturbating with gloves on. So who are a few bass players past or present that have had the biggest influence on your playing?
Karo: Martin Mendez from Opeth, Cliff Burton of Metallica, and of course Geezer Butler.
Rocket: That ole Geezer! Haha! Wicked bassist... just listen to early Sabbath... I mean, really listen... and he'll simply blow you away. How does the songwriting process work with Orcus, where you are involved? Do you have something to do with the song being created at inception or are you the last guy in line to add yer two cents?
Karo: With Orcus, everyone pretty much gets to take part in the songwriting. We'll all come up with little things here and there and put them together. Every now and then I'll come up with a guitar riff or two and I'll put together all my basslines. I'm also involved in writing some of the lyrics.
Rocket: What's been your favorite metal album for 2006 so far?
Karo: That would have to be Stormblast by Dimmu Borgir. I dont know if that would be considered cheating since its a re-issue with better recordings and production, but that'll have to be it. Dimmu Borgir has been nothing short of pure genius ever since Spiritual Black Dimensions, so its by far the best album this year as far as my opinion is concerned.
Rocket: So do you ever take time to answer fan mail on the Orcus Myspace profile?
Karo: All the time, pretty much every day. If you send us something on myspace, well definitely read it and reply.
Rocket: What's the funniest thing that's ever happened to you on stage?
Karo: That would have to be when my A string randomly popped in the middle of a set. Thankfully, I had a second bass that I was originally just going to use for the songs where we downtune, so I had to use that bass for all the songs and try to tune as quickly with the keyboards as possible in between songs.
Rocket: What's the next Orcus show we need to keep our eyes open for?
Karo: We'll be playing on July 7th at the Key Club in Los Angeles. Well be playing with our good friends, Neurobox.
Rocket: Give a shout out to your biggest supporters.
Karo: Of course my family, and the long list of amazing friends: Meher, Arman, Vartan, Monica, Nayrie, Gev, Tuft, JB and her friends, Tak, James, Jess, Anna, Marine, etc. Most importantly, I'd like to thank everyone that takes the time to listen to our music and appreciated as we intend it.
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