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Members include AmirDerakh (born 1963; former member of Rough Cutt), synth guitar; JayGordon (born and raised in San Francisco, CA), vocals; PaigeHaley, bass; BobbyHewitt, drums; RyanShuck (born 1973 in Taft, CA), guitar. Addresses: Home--Los Angeles, CA; Record company--Reprise Records, 3300 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA 91505-4694 Phone: (818) 846-9090 Fax: (818)953-3211.
The Los Angeles-based rock band Orgy chose their namesake not so much for the sexual reference as for "a description of their various influences--drum-and bass, hair metal, funk grooves and Eighties synth bands--all getting it on together," according to Gavin Edwards of Rolling Stone. "Anything you can imagine is what we use to make a record," agreed Orgy's guitar synth player Amir Derakh on the group's official website. "From old-school to state-of-the-art and everything in between." Following their 1998 debut release entitled Candyass, Orgy went straight to the top with a spot on the major Family Values Tour and a hit single, "Blue Monday."
The members of Orgy, at the time of their success either approaching or in their thirties despite their youthful glam-rock image, found themselves cast into the limelight in 1998 and throughout 1999. They had all been in the music industry, albeit on the fringes, for some time. Lead vocalist Jay Gordon spent his entire life around the music world. His father, Lou Gordon, managed musicians from the (San Francisco) Bay area, working with acclaimed bands such as Tower of Power and Sly and the Family Stone. Sly Stone even became Gordon's godfather when he was born. "I was onstage with Sly and the Family Stone at age two, shaking a little tambourine," Gordon recalled to Edwards.
While Gordon spent a lot of time with his father during his early childhood, his parents divorced after his father was charged with possession of drugs. Afterwards, his mother continued raising her son alone in the Excelsior neighborhood of San Francisco. Periodically during his grade school years, possibly in response to his parents' breakup, Gordon ran away from home, but would always return when he felt hungry. Around the eighth grade, Gordon started playing sports. Larger than most of his peers (as an adult he grew to six feet, four inches tall), Gordon excelled at his favorite sport--football. On his team, he switched between positions, playing both quarterback and tight end.
Gordon began hanging around with the wrong crowd, and at age 13, he suffered a gunshot wound to the leg while walking home from school. Even though he did not provoke the assault, according to Gordon, the event made him reconsider the dangers of associating himself with criminal-minded people. Gordon next turned to heavy metal and glam-rock music, admitting to sneaking out of his house at night to attend Metallica (when the band was just starting out in the early 1980s) shows at a club in San Francisco called the Stone. Inspired by Metallica and other metal groups, Gordon sang in his own band for awhile until he damaged his voice as a result of screaming too much. After undergoing laser surgery at just 16 years of age to try and repair his throat, Gordon never thought he would be able to sing again. Consequently, into his adult career with Orgy, he continued to sing with a deep, growling voice.
After graduating from high school, Gordon moved to Los Angeles where he imitated his glam-rock, goth-rock, and heavy metal idols by dying his hair red and wearing pale make-up. Now a fan of groups like Ratt and Poison, Gordon never tried to join another band. Instead he kept his interest in music alive by going to school to study audio engineering and supporting himself as a DJ. Around this time, he also started promoting parties, producing for other hopeful acts, and introducing musicians to each other to form their own bands. One such group, Lit, prospered in the late 1990s after they bought the rights to their band's name from Gordon.
Ryan Shuck, Orgy's guitarist, grew up in the small California town of Taft, moving to nearby Bakersfield at age 18 to attend beauty school. Around this time, he met and befriended Jonathan Davis, who was working at a mortuary in Bakersfield. (Davis would later form his own group and become the lead singer of the successful rock group Korn.) "I used to cut his hair at beauty college--he was my guinea pig," said Shuck to Edwards. In 1992, the two friends played and wrote songs together in a short-lived band called Sex Art. One song written by Shuck and Davis included the Korn hit single "Blind." Shuck eventually sued Korn for songwriting credit, but Davis and Shuck settled the matter out of court. Thus, Shuck's name appeared on the album, and he received royalty checks from record sales.
Claiming that he only wanted his name attached to the song to help further his own music career and not realizing that money would be involved, Shuck later admitted to feeling embarrassed about the lawsuit. As he concluded to Edwards, "It's not cool to sue your friend." The legal matter did not harm Shuck and Davis's relationship, and Korn later helped to promote Orgy. After completing beauty college, Shuck moved to Los Angeles and styled hair for a living. In fact, he continued to cut hair for his fellow band mates and admitted that he would not mind working in a salon again if his music career fell through.
Before joining Orgy as synth-guitarist, Amir Derakh also held experience in the music business. In between jobs playing guitar for several Los Angeles bands, including the 1980s act Rough Cutt, Derakh developed an interest in producing and being a DJ. Orgy's drummer Bobby Hewitt, at the time supported by his adult film star wife Shane, played in another Los Angeles band called the Electric Love Hogs, while bassist Paige Haley earned a living painting houses.
Orgy came together in 1997 when Gordon decided that despite his rough voice, he wanted to try singing again and contacted producer Josh Abraham to help him record some demo tapes. He then called several of his musician friends around Los Angeles, inviting them to join in the sessions. Before long, realizing how well they worked together, the casual cast of musicians officially named themselves Orgy and spent the next six months writing and recording. Their collection of demos led to several record company contract offers, but Orgy decided to go with Davis's Elementree Records, Korn's new Reprise-distributed label.
To record their debut album as the first group to sign with Elementree, Orgy rented a house located on a snow-capped mountain in Lake Tahoe. The atmosphere, admitted the band, brought a definite influence to the song-writing process. "It was along the lines of [the Steven King horror film] 'The Shining,'" remarked Gordon on the band's official website. "Cabin-fever set in after about 15 minutes, right after the truck left back for Los Angeles." Shuck further added, "It's a raw record. It's all five-in-the-morning, pissed-off, fighting-with-each-other, kill-each-other kinda stuff. There's an innovative, futuristic feel to the music. Yeah, it's pretty cool." Paige contributed, "It's kind of like death pop. Our songs are all just slightly deranged, but I can definitely hear them on the radio."
After the album Candyass with its blend of metal, pop, and techno hit store shelves in August of 1998, Orgy found themselves thrust into the limelight, largely due to their hit single "Blue Monday," a cover of the classic New Order song. The idea to record their own version came about during Orgy's stay in Lake Tahoe when they saw a copy of New Order's Substance album in a record store. Although Orgy felt unsure about covering the single because of its past success, they nonetheless took the cassette home to help them record their own rendering. Faithfully following the original song, Orgy also added guitars to the chorus and an unintended, overall darker feel with Gordon's vocals.
Almost simultaneously, Orgy started performing for thousands of fans in large arenas, opening for Korn as part of the inaugural Family Values Tour. In the spring of 1999, Orgy hit the road again, this time opening for Love and Rockets. Eagerly anticipating their next tour, Gordon commented to MTV (Music Television) News's Robert Mancini, "It's gonna be a lot different because, I mean, it's smaller venues and whatnot.... And you know ... we know who Daniel Ash [of Love and Rockets] is, but he has no idea who we are."
Well into the fall of 1999, Orgy performed with Love and Rockets as well as on their own, with Candyass on the verge of going platinum. Also that year, Shuck and Gordon appeared in advertisements for Calvin Klein. The thirty-something Gordon, who refuses to discuss his age in order to maintain some sense of mystery about Orgy, confessed, according to the group's website, "We never know how people are going to react to our band. But they always react."
by Laura Hightower
Signed with Korn's Elementree Records, 1997; released debut album Candyass, joined Family Values Tour, 1998; toured with Love and Rockets, 1999.
- Selected discography
- Candyass (contains "Blue Monday"), Elementree Records, 1998.
- (With others) I Still Know What You Did Last Summer
- (soundtrack), Warner Brothers Records, 1998.
- Rolling Stone, September 16, 1999, pp. 53-56.
- Launch: Discover New Music, http://www.launch.com (October 2, 1999).
- MTV Online, http://www.mtv.com (October 2, 1999).
- Official Orgy Home Page, http://www.orgymusic.com (October 2, 1999).
- Rolling Stone.com, http://www.rollingstone.tunes.com (October 2, 1999).
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