Orphan Riot Talks “American Endgame”

Recently I sat down with the young punk band Orphan Riot, composed of frontman Noel Greene on vocals/guitar and Ian Horlbogen on bass, following a promo photo session for the addition of their new drummer, Isaac Cisneros. I met up with the band at an abandoned dam in Sanford, NC (does it even get any more punk rock than this?). We took some pictures, discussed their latest album, and what’s next.
Left to right: Ian, Isaac, Noel / Photo by Melanie Mae Bryan
What first got you into music?

Isaac: My dad. Just hearing punk music when I was young…punk, hardcore, and emo. And then when I got older, just hearing what I wanted to hear, and sharing it with him.

Noel: My dad as well. I was 7 or 8, maybe, and he came back from an Iron Maiden show in the shirt, and I was like, “What’s that, that’s cool!” So then he played “Run to the Hills,” “Can I Play With Madness,” and “Trooper”. Then I got into metal, and then into punk. I started with Green Day, Rancid, and then just branched out into the guys that were in their circle…bands they hung out with…and then you just keep going from there.

Ian: I would play with all of my dad’s CD’s in his car, and I would just pick one out, “This one! I like this one!” And then I would start picking the ones that I actually liked, musically, and then it all went downhill from there.

Who writes the lyrics for your songs, and what is your creative process like?

Noel: For writing a riff for a song, and then come up with the lyrics around that. Then just keep going from there. And then the latest stuff we’ve come up with, Isaac’s been a real big help with that.

If you could go open a show for any artist in the world, who would it be?

Isaac: 100 Gecs

Noel: Rancid

Ian: I’d have to go with my new favorite band, No Cash.

What is one message you would give to any new musicians?

Isaac: Play what you want to play and don’t worry about convention or what you’re supposed to do, just do what feels good.

Noel: Just keep going for it. If you have a dream, just follow that, follow your heart, keep playing, and just stay active.

Ian: I would say have fun, and just do what you like and enjoy.

What would you be doing right now, if it wasn’t for your music career?

Isaac: Well I go to school for music so that would be a big change, so I feel like I would be going to school for film, if anything.

Noel: Juvenile detention!

Ian: I don’t know, I’d probably just be a boring, regular teenager. It doesn’t excite me, don’t plan on being one.

How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business?

Isaac: I think it’s allowed for more niche music communities and letting music genres grow, allowing there to be more experimentation. There’s always going to be someone out there that it resonates with, and it’s easier to reach people.

Noel: Back to what Isaac was saying, it’s a lot easier to get discovered, and connecting with a different niche. And it’s a lot easier for people to discover new music because you don’t have to go to the record store anymore, just follow a link on the internet, free.

Ian: It makes it a whole lot easier to discover new music and music you enjoy listening to. You don’t have to go to the record store or go to a show and hear about bands through word of mouth. Spotify has a little section, “Artists Like This”, so you just start clicking and you can discover more in an hour than you would have in a week thirty years ago.

How has COVID-19 impacted you as a band?

Isaac: No shows.

Noel: We had a busy Spring and Summer plan, branching out into going more into Tennessee, South Carolina, and branching more southeast. But we’ve been doing a hell of a lot of writing, and we’re recording next week (another EP).

Ian: COVID’s a bitch, we could’ve been touring!

What is your favorite song to perform so far?

Isaac: “Ray of Fucking Sunshine”, I guess. I haven’t performed yet.

Noel: On our last release, American Endgame, probably “We’re All Fucked”, the opening track, it’s got a really good energy. And also “Teenage Dipshit” because that was the first song we ever wrote so a lot of the guys that we first started hooking up with in the local scene, that’s the stuff that they know, and they just go apeshit. And the stuff on the new EP, like a lot of the lyrical content, with everything that’s going on now.

Ian: I’d say “Youth Disapproval” or “Ray of Fucking Sunshine”. They’re both fun, fast songs to play.

What is the best advice you’ve been given so far about the music industry?

Isaac: Being person and being legitimate.

Noel: A few years ago when we first started out, the first shows we started playing with was a Celtic punk band, The Born Again Heathens, and they were really helpful. They got us our first real show that wasn’t a school talent show or some sh*t, and their singer Scott was saying that it’s brick by brick. If you keep going at it, you will see progress, and that’s been really helpful.

Ian: I agree with what Noel said. They don’t really talk to me about that, they talk to Mike (the band’s manager) about that stuff. I get all of the whole “don’t do drugs or alcohol, it ruins your life.”

How would you describe your new album American Endgame, to any potential new fans reading this article?

Isaac: Punk music, like I didn’t write it and I wasn’t involved in it, so I don’t think I have that much insight into what it’s trying to say as a body of work.

Noel: Like 90’s-inspired punk with lyrics surrounding topics of today, with all of the crazy shit going on.

Ian: It’s our first real album and it’s us trying to make these points that the world is messed up, and all we can do is shout about it because no one listens to us otherwise.

From left to right: Noel, Ian, Isaac / Photo by Melanie Mae Bryan

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Listen to their new album, “American Endgame” on Spotify below.