UGLY KID JOE vocalist Whitfield Crane recently spoke with Australia's Silver Tiger Media. The full conversation can be streamed at this location. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On ORCHESTRA OF DOOM, his symphonic tribute to BLACK SABBATH:
Crane: "A 35-piece orchestra, all analog, no Marshall stacks... it's a cross-pollination that is something to behold. It's got BLACK SABBATH, Ozzy [Osbourne] era; it's got Ozzy Osbourne solo songs off of 'Diary Of A Madman' [and] 'Blizzard Of Ozz' like 'Revelation (Mother Earth)', 'Mr. Crowley', 'Diary Of A Madman', some UGLY KID [JOE] songs in there, some of my solo stuff. We treated it like a true opera or classical music experience. It will have all of the characteristics and idiosyncratic rules of an opera — there will be an intermission. Symphonically, it's something I've never heard. It's fucking cool."
On the project's origins:
Crane: "I found myself in Verona, Italy. I made friends with all the orchestral players, and we hatched this scheme and manifested ORCHESTRA OF DOOM in Verona, Italy. We sold out a show in this place called the Ristori Theatre, the third-oldest opera house [there], which has such history. I never could have imagined I'd be singing with an orchestra in the first place. The fact that there's no electricity involved in the classic sense — no Marshall stack, or what have you — the sonic dimension is profound. I picked BLACK SABBATH because I love BLACK SABBATH, but I didn't know until I knew that BLACK SABBATH was perfect for this end. They are orchestral, but it's dark; it's beautiful. [Tony] Iommi's riffs are just crazy. It's a special thing; it's a different kind of animal; and it liberates everyone involved. For me, it's outside my box, and for the orchestral players, they're like, 'Wow, we can play SABBATH and Ozzy? Rad.' It's fun, to say the least. For me, it's very inspiring to be a part of it... When we played in Italy, it had a cross-section of everybody. It had orchestral fans; it had rock 'n' roll fans; it had people that were curious. It moved everybody, including me. When you think about orchestral music, it's good for all of us to branch out musically and creatively and artistically, and cross-pollinate. It's a great time to do it. There's a lot of proof of that with other projects that are similar. It's special and it's magical and it's inspiring, certainly."
On performing with an orchestra behind him:
Crane: "It's scary, a bit terrifying and also liberating. I feel like I'm out of my depth... There's a piece somewhere on YouTube where David Bowie's talking about, as an artist, you should always be out of your depth. That makes me feel alive. I've played lots of different rock shows in the classic sense — stadium shows, club shows or whatever with different bands — but this is so beyond that and out of that scheme that it makes me feel alive as an artist. And I'm not battling Marshall stacks or a big bass cab. It's beautiful to sit there and zen out or give into the music. It's special for me."
On his other upcoming musical plans.
Crane: "I'm going to make a [solo] record... I'll have October off, so I'll try to get something going on [then]. In November, UGLY KID JOE's going to go in the studio and knock out a full-length record, and then we'll have that in our back pocket. Next year, we'll [release] that... I really love working. I feel good to work. I'm really good at sleeping; I'm really good at doing nothing. If I get to the sea or the ocean or the mountains or whatever, and just kind of be, I like that a lot, but if that's coupled with all the projects I'm doing, I feel more grounded."
On UGLY KID JOE's comeback:
Crane: "When UGLY KID JOE blew up in '91-'92 through the end, all the old-school masters loved us. Ozzy loved us; Lemmy loved us; the DEF LEPPARD guys were cool; VAN HALEN — all our heroes liked us and loved us and took us out on tour, but we didn't have a peer group. In a very real sense, UGLY KID JOE's enigmatic in that sense... UGLY KID JOE did not make music or jam or do anything for nearly 16 years, so when we did get back together and went out in 2012, we really didn't know if people would dig in or even remember us. When we came back, we did a festival run in Europe. It was on fire. It's healing in a lot of sense for us — it's cathartic — because everybody's alive, and all the bullshit that we may or may not have gone through being in a band, it's been really fun for us to go play."
On the benefits of living nomadically:
Crane: "I don't live anywhere. I have a backpack; I have a credit card; I have an accountant; no felony records... When we were kids, we'd tour around the world, and we'd come back and talk to our friends, and they'd say, 'Oh my god — you went everywhere!' We didn't really go everywhere — we went and got our passports stamped and went to the club. That was it. We didn't go see anything. Now, I'm like, 'Okay, I want to go see stuff.' I'll start and end tours somewhere in my mind that's fantastic and something that's interesting. I'll sit with my booking agent and the guy I co-manage the band with, and I'll go, 'Look, I'm not fucking around. We're going to make money. Big deal. That's great, [but] that's going to come and go. Let's garner some experiences.' For instance, UGLY KID JOE just toured all over Europe, and in the last three months, I lived in Mallorca, Spain for 40 days. I lived in Prague for three weeks. I'm always making an effort to experience life through music. A troubadour, a minstrel or whatever you want to call whatever I am, it's a great currency. You can get sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll out of it, which is fine. It's been done, and will be done again. There's nothing wrong with that, but you can also figure out, 'Where's the coolest hike to go on?', or, 'Where's the best restaurant?' You can meet really cool people through music. It's like a key to a gregarious door... There's a big world outside, and I'm always looking to get inside of it... When I look at people's faces — including my own in the mirror — I want to have smile wrinkles at the end of life."
In addition to frequent international tours with UGLY KID JOE and the upcoming ORCHESTRA OF DOOM performances in Australia, Crane is also currently preparing for his first-ever solo tour, which will take place in the United Kingdom in September. He also recently performed with THE WEDDING BAND, a covers supergroup also featuring METALLICA's Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo, as well as Joey Castillo (QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, ZAKK SABBATH) and Doc Coyle (BAD WOLVES, GOD FORBID).