Valley Vibrations: Mock Orange returns to Evansville, talks upcoming album

Bobby Shipman

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Photos courtesy of Mock Orange

Following a three year hiatus from performing live, Mock Orange will hit the stage again Nov. 26 at Mojo’s Bone Yard in Evansville.

Mock Orange’s sound has evolved over the years

The Newburgh native band entered the music scene with their album”Nines & Sixes” in 1998, which received critical acclaim and national recognition.

“We first started out as more of a really technical pop-punk band,” said Joe Asher, guitarist and backing vocalist for Mock Orange.

Asher said the band’s sound is now more Midwestern indie rock.

“There’s a lot of big guitars – beats that will maybe have a little bit of head-bobbing, a little bit of swagger,” Asher said.

Three of the band’s four members still live in Evansville: Asher, Heath Metzger (drummer) and Ryan Grisham  (Lead vocalist and guitarist ), who joined the band in 2002. With bass player and backing vocalist Zach Grace in Nashville, Tennessee.

From the start of their career until about four years ago, Mock Orange was a touring band that traveled the country and even played 45 shows in Japan.

“We would just tour then come home, tour then come home,” Asher said.

With a combination of getting older and starting families, the band felt it was time to wind down.

“People were get married and (had) mortgages to pay, and also were just getting burnt out on it,” Asher said. “When you get to go to Japan, it’s amazing, but after touring for the 15th time you just think, ‘I wish I was at home’.”

Asher said they caught a lucky break, however, around the same time with the opportunity to license their songs to various TV shows, commercials and movies.

It reintroduced a stream of income the band members were missing out on by not touring.

“It’s less glamorous to license songs to some MTV reality shows as it would be to play shows, but it just seemed to work out for all of us better to do it that way,” Asher said.

Mock Orange’s songs have been played in MTV reality shows like “The Real World,” “16 and Pregnant” and “Viva La Bam,” as well as in shows like “CSI: Miami.”

The band’s jams have also been featured in movies like “Going the Distance” and “Back in the Day.”

Asher said the band’s songs get used for  obscure products people around Evansville would never see, like a small German product or a corporate training film.

The band receives a license fee and a public performance royalty every time their songs are used.

“It’s actually a lot easier on the body and mind than touring,” Asher said.

He said the band never planned on re-entering the touring scene.

“Time just gets away from you when you’re doing other things,” Asher said. “After our last album ‘Disguised as Ghosts,’ I think we had all assumed that would be our last album.”

They still played a couple of shows after their last album dropped, until the band was presented with the licensing opportunity.

It has been three years since they have played a show in their hometown, or at all.

A few years into their hiatus, Grisham and Asher decided there was no reason they shouldn’t do another album, Asher said.

The original motivation for the album was to keep the licensing machine going because the company they work with needed new material. But once they started writing, they became inspired.

“The energy of the last album was a little down – not in a bad way. But the first three songs we wrote for the new album were really up tempo and rocking and a straight-to-the-hook,” Asher said. “It just was exciting and we wanted to keep going. So it was sort of its own inspiration.”

Asher said Grisham, being the type of person he is, will not continue to do something he is uninterested in.

“Some of the songs were really engaging to us as players and it just made it easy to keep at it,” he said.

Asher said the recording process took forever due to major road blocks and technical issues slowing it down.

“We recorded ourselves this time because this is something we’ve been working on -learning the craft of recording,” he said. “Recording and writing is one gear to operate. Playing shows is another gear.”

The band is now in the process of mixing their songs and predicts the album will release during the first half of next year, he said.

“This particular show is just sort of a one-off,” Asher said of the upcoming Evansville gig. “We used to always play the day before Thanksgiving yearly because a lot of people are in town for the holidays. It’s just sort of a good night to play. We always had a really awesome show that night.”

Asher said Metzger and Grace encouraged the band to play this year.

“We are just going to play the songs we think people will want to hear,” he said.

Mock Orange plans to play many shows after the album debuts and is considering going on another tour, Asher said.

“If we end up selling all of the tickets out quickly,” he said, “then we will probably play another show in December.”

Tickets are on sale now and are limited to 175 people. They can be purchased at Mojo’s Bone Yard on 4920 Bellemeade Ave. or by phone at 812-475-8593.

The show is scheduled to run from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Evansville band Thunder/Dreamer will open.

Asher said he is thankful the band has allowed him to live in the world of music his whole life.

“Getting to go to Japan so many times and play such large shows was just amazing,” he said. “The time we played on MTV, even though that was a little bit silly, it was honestly another situation where most people don’t get that opportunity. It was nerve-racking and fun and just a cool experience.”

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