A Chat with Michael Orlando from Dead Girls Academy (07.03.19)

Image credit to Alex Stone

Dark. Macarbe. Someone you probably shouldn’t take home to your mother. Let’s be honest, Michael Orlando personifies this description. What the wholesome Brady Bunch troupe don’t know is Orlando has far more than dyed hair and a neck tattoo to offer this world.

With passion, insight, creativity and, let’s face it, a little darkness, the LA rocker and his band are set for stardom. Despite being on tour, Orlando takes some time out to chat to The Other Side Reviews. Talking about their debut album Alchemy, their new video ‘Far Away’, and what it’s like to be on tour, this is what he had to say.

OSR: First and foremost, the most common question, how did you get the name ‘Dead Girls Academy’?

MO: I had the name on the tip of my tongue for years. I was stoked to finally be able to use it! It has many meanings. It’s open to interpretation though.

OSR: Another common question, how did the band form?

MO: I started the band in 2016, after I had ended my previous band Vampires Everywhere. I was looking to start fresh and put something together based around a more melodic sound, thus, DGA was formed and it’s been an amazing ride so far!

OSR: If you could compare yourselves to another musician, who would it be and why that artist?

MO: I always like to say we are a combination of Motley Crue and Nine Inch Nails. I love to mix 80s solos with melodic dark rock. I try to combine things that mean a lot to me.

OSR: What do you think is the most unique feature of Dead Girls Academy?

MO: I’d like to think we bring a fresh vibe to rock ‘n’ roll. We are not trying to revive anything or copy other successful artists. We bring a unique sound to an already saturated community. You can’t build a legacy copying someone else!

OSR: Alchemy was released last year with good reception, but did you have any problems writing or recording the album?

MO: No, the recording process was amazing! I had heaps of help from my homie Ronnie Radke, and had a great team behind it. I’d like to think this is my best vocal work yet.

OSR: What is the concept behind Alchemy?

MO: I choose the name based on its definition, ‘a magical transformation’. Hence my jump from my previous metal band to melodic rock. I’m stoked about the name for sure! We chose real-life topics like social climbing, friendship and toxic relationships.

OSR: DGA recently released a video for ‘Far Away’, what was the meaning behind the song and the concept behind the video?

MO: The female lead, Maxine Smith, was admitted to a psych hospital for alcoholism. She falls into a coma and gets stuck in her head. She’s begging for the love that she lost to come back, but because of her alcoholism and insane behaviour he’s gone. It drives her crazy that she can’t escape the box she’s in. In the end, she wakes up, and he’s there.

OSR: Did you enjoy filming the video for ‘Far Away’ or was it a challenge?

MO: I’m not a fan of making music videos. I have OCD, and when things aren’t done to my satisfaction, it causes me great stress. Also, I have to try my hardest to look my best throughout, which takes a lot of work during a 12-hour day. It’s very stressful! I’m hoping the next video I shoot captures my vision exactly. I’m always on a mission for that. However, the ‘I’ll Find A Way’ and ‘Far Away’ videos are the best so far!

OSR: As I mentioned, DGA is currently on their US tour performing with John5. I read, Michael, that this is an artist you have admired for a long time. So, how do you feel about sharing a stage with the man?

MO: It’s amazing, to be honest. I’ve been a Manson/Zombie fan for as long as I can remember! John5 is a legend and at the top of his game. It’s been a great experience and it helps better our entire band as musicians!

OSR: You just finished gigging in Europe, and now you’re heading across the US. Doesn’t the constant touring tire you?  Being on the road for months must take its toll.

MO: It’s very tiring, but it also depends on how you travel. In Europe, we were in a sprinter which wasn’t pleasant. Long days sitting and waiting breaks your back. However, bandwagon and bus touring is amazing! You get plenty of rest and feel normal travelling for extended periods of time. We are lucky to be in a bandwagon on this tour which takes the stress out of the long drives.

OSR: To the starry-eyed fan, touring can be seen as part of the “glitz ‘n’ glamour” lifestyle, but what’s the reality of gigging.  I doubt it’s all plush RVs and champagne.

MO: It’s 100% not what people think it is! First, it’s a giant financial expense. You leave the comfort of your home for long periods and live like a gypsy in a werewolf movie. It’s all worth it for the 30/40 minutes you get to connect with people on stage though. I crave attention, so it’s perfect for me! To answer your question, yes, it’s very hard!

OSR: Do any of you still experience performance anxiety, and if so, how do you deal with it?

MO: A long warm up and Jack Daniels; best anxiety relief a boy could have! *laughs*

OSR: Alchemy has been released; you’re touring through March, April and a few dates in May, but then what?  What are your plans for the rest of the year?

MO: I’m hoping we fill up the summer with dates and keep grinding. We are writing new songs as well to keep the creative juices flowing. We may hit up the UK and Germany in Fall. Time will tell!

OSR: We all like to think we learn from mistakes, have you made any mistakes in your career that you think you’ve learned from?

MO: I’ve learned so many life lessons being a musician, and so much about the industry. I really cannot comment on this or it would upset a lot of people. *laughs* But it’s true, one does learn from mistakes. It may take you years and a shit ton of money, but, you eventually see the light!

OSR: If you could be a member of any TV sitcom family, who would it be?

MO: Adam West in Batman!

OSR: Are you a fan of karaoke, and if so, what is your jam?

MO: 100% into it! Any 3 Doors Down song.

OSR: What do you think makes a person a hero?

MO: Believing in yourself and helping others believe in themselves. You’ve got to believe you can do it first to be a hero, then you are able to help others!

Thank you to Michael for taking the time out to speak with us. To enjoy more from Dead Girls Academy, check out their Facebook and Twitter. You can also deafen yourself with their music by heading over to their Spotify account.

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