Ahead of their new album, The Above, Code Orange frontman Jami Morgan stopped by Joel Madden’s Artist Friendly podcast. Their hour-long conversation is a rewarding one, as Code Orange are a unit with a relentless vision that put effort into everything they do. “I put 100% into it all the time,” Morgan says on the podcast. “I’m thinking about it literally my whole life, 24/7. We hit a lot of walls, and [we] figure out ways to dig under them and get to the other side and what could be the next thing. What’s something fresh?”
Before you dig into the new episode, we rounded up takeaways from their conversation. Check them out below.
Billy Corgan believes in the band
In July, Code Orange offered the first preview of The Above with the single “Take Shape,” which featured guest vocals from Smashing Pumpkins luminary Billy Corgan. The collaboration happened seamlessly, as Morgan wears his appreciation for the ’90s proudly (during the conversation, he rocks a Garbage tee, so maybe Shirley Manson should swing by their next session). At the time, Corgan was working on “some country-type shit in Nashville” and invited the band to hang out. “He hadn’t even listened to any of our records other than I shit I sent him for this,” Morgan explains. “He’d never heard our records at all. He was like, ‘Dude, you gotta go for it. You could do something with this.’ He really felt that.”
Code Orange went all in on their latest album
Code Orange’s creativity knows no bounds. Just queue up the video for “Take Shape” if you need proof, which comes to life in vivid detail. “[If] there’s something to be done there, let’s do it,” Morgan stresses. “Let’s put it on wax and stop talking about it and do it. That was the mission statement — make something that can hopefully be innovative while being exciting [and] being, hopefully much more than our stuff in the past, stickier, hookier, [and] a little bit more accessible.” With engineering from the legendary Steve Albini and production from the band themselves, they went all in to finish the album they set out to make.
His vision is limitless
“I personally don’t just wanna be in a band,” he tells Madden. Instead, Morgan set out to fill a void. The ideal heavy band? He explains it as a “highly detailed, somewhat methodical art project” that runs through many records, the merch, and all of the art. “But on the other hand, something that’s so raw and can jump out and bite you at any moment,” he explains. “On that stage, it’s blood, and it’s violence, and it’s the realest shit. It’s all of us in pain.” Naturally, Code Orange laid down a new foundation where they could build that up while “hanging onto the rawness” that makes their band so captivating. The result is one big piece. “Maybe it’s not all plotted out, but there are lines that I know we want to build on,” Morgan says. “That’s how we’re gonna live or die. There’s no looking back.”
Morgan battles with self-doubt
Madden is surprised when the Code Orange frontman reveals that he wrestles with self-doubt — it’s what all of their records are about. Morgan points to their second studio album, I Am King, which is about “finding forced self-confidence.” “We’ve always been outcasts, even being part of the hardcore culture,” he admits. “There was a very small time when we were universally accepted in that culture — a matter of months, not even years. It’s always been very divisive, even among the bands. It was about forcing your way in.”
The Above centers on the self
Morgan reveals that their new record has the most in common with I Am King, but from a different perspective. On a deep level, it centers on self-acceptance. “It’s a record about the soul in a lot of ways,” he tells Madden. “It comes back to looking inward — accepting faults that you’ve created and accepting things about yourself that you don’t like. We need to work and change to become better people, but also be willing to live on that island of self. Whatever happens when we put this record out, this is true self. If it’s successful and you get that light of adoration, that’s beautiful, but this record is about ignoring one light and trying to go toward another, which is that light of self.”