INTERVIEW: sailing the high sonic seas with Mother Junkst (aka Joel Orford) of Lagerstein
If you're a fan of metal, pirates or a cheeky shoey or two, chances are you'd be well-versed in the nautical sonic antics of Australia's premiere pirate metal party lords Lagerstein.
Hailing from sunny Brisbane, this jaunty seven-piece have steadily rocked the boat with their folksy, rum-soaked brand of swashbuckling metal, frequently taking their wares on the seven seas to slay stages all over Europe, the UK and, of course, their homeland.
And while no one can quite pull off sinking a beer bong while shredding riffs as well as the Lagerstein lads, there's a whole lot more to this lot than just their on point outfits and penchant for the odd ale or twenty; timelessly displaying sheer hard work and driving passion for their craft that near-eclipses the sea shanty shenanigans, Lagerstein have certainly got the writing chops and explosive live stamina to validate why the group are constantly in demand all over the globe, including at the iconic stages of the Sabaton Open Air and Wacken Open Air festivals.
Now currently cavorting on their 'Endless Rum' tour overseas and poised ready to unleash their brand new album '25/7' next month, it seems the Lagerstein legends had already truly outdone themselves for 2019 - but true to form, they've popped a feather in this year's cap by announcing some huge Aussie shows this November as well. But before the next phase of Lagerstein kicks in, Tiana grabbed violinist and keyboardist Mother Junkst (aka Joel Orford) to chat hustle, live shows and how this group of Brissie buccaneers ultimately banded together to form their own port in the musical storm. Interview below.
TIANA SPETER: Ahoy Joel! How are you?
JOEL ORFORD: Ahoy Tiana! I’m excellent thank you, I’m in sunny Budapest! It’s very lovely here right now, very daytime.
TIANA: Very daytime! I’m very night-time right now cos I’m in Sydney. Kind of time polar opposites right now, but that’s kind of awesome.
TIANA: Huzzah for science! It’s so great to be chatting with you today, tell me a bit about your role in the mighty pirate party that is Lagerstein!
JOEL: So I’m Mother Junkst and I’m the violin player and keyboard player. Pirate supreme!
TIANA: Pirate supreme indeed, bringing the stringy goodness to Lagerstein! I recall having some pirate times with you lot last year at Dead of Winter festival, a lot of Fireball whiskey was had. In fact, I’m actually packing for Dead of Winter Festival as we speak!
JOEL: Perfect! I’m pretty damn jealous. It goes next level every year! I’m very keen to see how it goes, and see pictures.
TIANA: I’ll try to take some pictures that aren’t shit. I’ll make that my mission statement for this year’s Dead of Winter.
JOEL: That’s a decent mission statement. I can’t say I normally succeed in that!
TIANA: Well I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself. I’m a bit nervous now. But I’m actually more jealous of you because you’re in sunny Budapest AND you’re traipsing all over the world for your ‘Endless Rum’ tour. Plus, you’ve had new music drop into the world, announced your album and added even more shows on this run. How’s the reaction been from an insider’s perspective to the new material? ‘Dig, Bury, Drink’ obviously had the music clip that dropped recently too, I had that on repeat it was so frigging hilarious.
JOEL: Glad you enjoyed it! The reception to the new song has been just awesome. It’s a real pleasure for us to finally be able to release this. We have 11 more to share, so we’re looking forward to getting more out. But it’s such a long process going from this idea that just starts in your head, then you write it down to getting it recorded – and then actually sharing it with people. So it’s really, really exciting! And to see people enjoy it as much as they have been, 'Dig, Bury, Drink' has definitely been our fastest growing song. So I can tell that at least one person is pumping it.
DIG, BURY, DRINK (LAGERSTEIN)
TIANA: And ‘Dig, Bury, Drink’ was the first piece of musical treasure off ‘25/7’ which is due out literally late next month. Is it a pretty solid indication of what’s to come with the new album?
JOEL: It’s a solid indication that it’s fun! Everything is super fun. But I think that the album is really quite diverse, there’s a lot of different sounding songs. That one is kind of our…I don’t know what you’d call it, it’s kind of dancey? And we have some stuff that’s more epic and questy, we have a reggae moment going on…and some kind of blues stuff as well. So what we really wanted when people listen to it this is that: it takes them on a journey of the highs and lows of the sea. And musically, it has a lot to offer in that the songs are all quite different to each other.
TIANA: On the topic of having these highs and lows and a bit of a diverse hunt throughout the album…you guys also launched a treasure hunt online for the new songs from the record, with Lagerstein commandeering the internet with a trail of clues to hear more. Has this process been a success so far?
JOEL: Yeah, people are super into it! Right now we’re doing a hundred shoeys that are leading up to the next thing. And to be honest – if we did the count, I reckon we are over a hundred now. So everybody who is a part of it is about to get their next clue! It’s so much fun to be honest to have this treasure out there and have people looking for it! It’s pretty awesome, so I’m excited for them to not find it so that we have it buried for the rest of our lives (laughs).
TIANA: It’s an awesome concept, and a side congratulations 100+ shoeys in such a short space of time. You guys are obviously overseas cavorting across the globe right now, including appearances at Sabaton Open Air and Whacken amongst many other things…what’s the reception like to a fearsome band of Aussie buccaneers when Lagerstein gets up onstage at some of these massive iconic festivals overseas?
JOEL: It’s just awesome to be there, we feel so grateful to have been invited and have the opportunity to come and share our music over here. It’s awesome, even a few of the festivals that we’re coming back to that we’ve played previously in 2017…to just see the fans come out! And to be able to be in another country where they speak a whole second language, and you’re a long way from home – and then to see people in Lagerstein t-shirts, singing the songs and knowing the words…it’s quite surreal, to be honest.
LAGERSTEIN 2019//pic Lagerstein Instagram
TIANA: It’s nice to see them really embracing you over there. I mean, we obviously love you over here, but it’s awesome given how much time you guys spend away from home, so it’s nice to hear that they’re taking care of you over there. But while Lagerstein are no strangers to playing overseas, you are coming back home for some local shows once again later in the year…what will it be like to get back onstage back home after being away for almost all of 2019?
JOEL: I really can’t wait! I’m not wishing for this trip to be over sooner, but the Australian tour is gonna be awesome. I think that this is our biggest and best yet, the venues that we’re playing are all fantastic stages. And it’s just really exciting for us to be able to bring our new material to the Australian Lager Crew, who are the ones who have supported us from the bottom to the top, basically. And we kind of flogged them with our show over the last three years, with ‘All For Rum And Rum For All’. So, I think that they’re probably really keen to hear some new songs and we’re really looking forward to showing them what we have in mind for them, to really step it up a level and bring a bigger stage show and more jokes on a bigger stage with new music! I’m really, really pumped for it.
TIANA: So exciting, and for so many it will mark the first time we get to cop the new album live – very awesome times ahead. And while a lot of the venues for this Aussie run are bigger, I did spy that you’re playing at Frankies as well in Sydney…and I have to ask: how the hell do you fit seven people onstage at Frankies?
JOEL: It’s just utter chaos. Frankies is…I’m not sure if you know Jordan who is one of the owners there, but he is just such a legend. We did a Frankies show together last year for the very first time, and as soon as that was done we were like: “We have to do this again!”. That was just like 400 people in a room, and it was just nuts. So this one came up and I just talked to Jordan and he was keen, and I was keen so – the Frankies one is the one show where it’s kind of pretty damn rock and roll. There’s gonna be a lot of people putting their feet on the roof that night!
TIANA: It’s always a guaranteed epic night at Frankies, and what better band to be at the helm than Lagerstein! I’m very keen for it.
JOEL: Yeah, thank you! Me too.
TIANA: Obviously you guys have played your fair share of varied venues, you’ve played these smaller shows, these huge festivals and everything in between…do you have a preference, do you love getting intimate and sweaty with the fans at these smaller venues, or do you love the rush of those huge festival stages? Or do you just love everything?
JOEL: I am a pretty loving guy. But actually…my preference, it’s not so much what the stage is like, or where you are, but what kind of connection you’re having with the people you’re playing to, and sharing that time with. If they’re really into it and there’s just smiles all round and the band is really on point and we’re playing really well…that kind of electricity – that’s what I’m into. And you can get that anywhere! It just needs those right conditions of people just really loving it and having fun! And nothing feeds us more than seeing people enjoy themselves while we perform!
LAND OF BUNDY (LAGERSTEIN)
TIANA: That's legit one of the best answers I’ve ever had to that question, it’s actually a little bit beautiful. Now, as we’ve kind of touched on earlier, Lagerstein are notorious for some onstage antics at times, with your love of rum and your beer bongs and what have you. But aside from those antics, is there a live show moment that’s stood out for you personally after all this time? Whether it was memorably good or bad or hilarious or other?
JOEL: There’s been a lot of funny things with people slipping over or spilling beer bongs or often getting crazy stage invaders because it’s such a party. A funny one is people coming up and just taking the microphone and they’re just so into it. And we’ll just be like: “Man, you should definitely get singing lessons though. It’ll help us sound better” (laughs). I think that something I really love about our show is when we play ‘Drink ‘til We Die’ and the Captain takes everyone camping and we go sit down on the floor. It’s something really unique and I can see that, especially doing it over here in Europe, that people haven’t seen something like that. And they love it, because our Lagerstein show is so high intensity and so much energy and dancing – it’s really awesome to then have this kind of chill-out moment, like: “Let’s all just relax a little bit and stretch it out”. And then we go back up again. So that’s something that I really enjoy with the show!
TIANA: As a member of a pirate metal band, I’m especially intrigued to ask what sort of music you grew up listening to, and how you ended up in such a high-octane genre. Did you start off like everyone else and have those typical gateway bands that led to this heavier stuff?
JOEL: I grew up playing classical music until I went to university for a bit doing classical piano. So, that was my original background. But then when I was about 15, I became crazy for black metal. And that was kind of my introduction. Obviously I heard lots of bands, but when I got into black metal I was like: “This is ME”, when I was younger. And I think all of Lagerstein, or at least the three of us who started the band…we were all playing in these kind of symphonic black metal/death metal bands in Brisbane at the time, and we started Lagerstein because we wanted to do something that was the opposite of those bands. Lagerstein has outgrown all of those bands now, but originally Lagerstein was kind of the side thing, and those bands were the main project. We always had this feeling with those bands that when we came off stage, we could really be ourselves and party and celebrate and have fun. But when we were onstage, it had to be dead serious, everything perfect, real grim…and we wanted to bring what we felt like was a real part of us and who we are as people onto the stage. Lagerstein, when we first started it, we said we wanna do big stages. That was kind of the first thing, and the rest just kind of followed really naturally.
MOTHER JUNKST IN ACTION ONSTAGE//pic Lagerstein Instagram
TIANA: And it’s evolved so much, I mean you guys have even run your own festival now as well. Did you have any idea it would resonate so hard? Or were you just more concerned with doing the music that you guys all loved?
JOEL: When I was 19 and all of this began – I had no idea it would be like this! Or that I would be this kind of person now, travelling around and just being obsessed with playing music. Everyone in Lagerstein is just all about music, it’s the reason we’re here, I think: to share music. But when I look back on it, everything has been a really natural progression, it always has been our dream to have a professional metal career, and be able to tour around the world and play. And – I hate work! I don’t wanna work, so that’s why we work so hard to make this a thing, and sacrifice so much to keep it going and grow it. And I think that every step along the way from starting Lagerfest…well, the very first Lagerfest, we started it as a fundraiser for our first European tour in 2013. We literally got on the plane the day after and went to Europe. Everything along the way, from the theme to the different kind of background business things we do running the band independently…they’ve all been from that desire to just make an impact and make something massive. That comes really naturally from who we are, we love having fun, we love joking around, we love partying. And we love making this music, so nothing has been very deliberate, I think. Or planned.
TIANA: Sometimes that can be the best way though! Especially if the desire and the ability is already there…
JOEL: Yeah, exactly! It’s all been very natural.
TIANA: Well, the love seems to be coming straight back at you guys, and it just seems to keep growing and growing! It’s very exciting to see it happening, even with this next album there is so much hype already. And I have to personally thank you for being one of the few bands whose press pic isn’t a bunch of dudes standing in a forest glaring down the camera.
JOEL: (laughs) I’m really so, SO keen to get this music out for everyone. It feels like a lifetime since 2016 and we released that last album, and we basically started working on some of the songs for this one straight away. It’s been a three year process and it’s just a real pleasure to see it go from being an idea in your head that you scribe down to building it into a full story – and now being so close to being able to share it with everyone and then start performing those songs for people! It’s gonna be awesome! I think this is our best music yet, it’s got a much clearer idea of what we’re about, I think, and what people enjoy about our music.
TIANA: I’m super excited to hear more of it, and I feel like I need to jump onboard this whole treasure hunt thing too! But even if I don’t get to hunt it down, I’m so excited to see what happens next for Lagerstein, and for when you guys get back here later in the year. But in the meantime, enjoy cavorting around the high seas for the ‘Endless Rum’ tour – and thanks for the chats!
JOEL: My pleasure! Thank you so much! And to anybody reading who wants to be a part of the treasure hunt – just head to partytimesahoy.com and sign up there and you’ll get your first clue. And then you’re pretty much on your merry way! I hope you can solve some riddles, because it’s meant to last 100 years. It’s pretty hard. But. Thank you so much again, it’s a pleasure to talk to you, and I can’t wait for a lot of rum at Frankies Pizza in November!
LAGERSTEIN'S EPIC NEW ALBUM '25/7' IS DUE OUT ON FRIDAY 23RD AUGUST. FOR PRE-ORDERS, HEAD HERE.
BY TIANA SPETER