There are a lot of people who helped us with the Kickstarter crowd funding campaign to go to print and pre-sell subscriptions! Creative Jason Draper runs the screen printing shop Wooden T-Shirts and will be printing Auxiliary’s first T-shirts, the Reclaim Collection available now through our Kickstarter. In addition to running Wooden T-Shirts, Draper has a long and successful history with music. He is a co-founder of one of Buffalo, NY’s longest running indie dance parties Transmission, a current resident DJ at one of Buffalo’s most popular goth club nights On the Wire, he is currently the bassist of indie rock band Failures’ Union, and of particular interest to Auxiliary readers he has a new postpunk band Orations. Orations, consisting of Jason Draper on bass, guitarist Paul Morin, drummer Steve Sojka, and singer Jess Collins, has recently released their first EP on Bandcamp and with Sheets of Tens. We asked Jason Draper a few questions about himself and Orations.
interview by : Mike Kieffer and Jennifer Link
live photos : Jennifer Link
What in your past as a musician lead up to the forming of Orations?
My high school years were spent playing the typical punk and alt-rock that most teenage bands end up doing. Even at that point I was trying to lay the groundwork for a band like Orations. I was always suggesting Cure covers and trying to get them to shift our direction a bit to the darker side of things. It’s not shocking that for the most part the people I played with had little interest in that. The closest I ever came back then was getting a band to cover “Boys Don’t Cry”. In more recent years I have inserted the occasional chorus laden bass line played on the high strings, but for the most part I let the bands be what they were. I’ve wanted to start a postpunk/goth band for about two decades now but never connected with the right people.
How did Orations come together?
I have known Paul and Steve for a long time, but our paths didn’t cross all that often. I actually met Steve in 1995 at an L7 show. I met Paul through playing shows. I knew for a long time that all three of us had similar musical interests and shared a love for a lot of the same bands. The problem was that all three of us were always busy with other projects, so I never inquired about starting something together. At the 2012 Mohawk Place Xmas party the three of us got into an excited conversation about some band or another, and I ended up asking them if they wanted to start something. I apparently picked the right time to ask because Paul drunkenly said yes. In the morning, when he awoke sober, he regretted the decision but decided to go to at least one rehearsal. In January we got together and in a couple hours worked out the basic structure for three songs and we all fell in love with the project.
In your short history, what has been the biggest challenge the band has had to overcome so far?
That’s easy, the only biggest problem we’ve encountered thus far as a band has been finding a singer. We had a very specific vision in mind for the band and finding someone who fit in with that proved to be harder than we anticipated. We started practicing in January 2013 and it was over a year later when we finally found ourselves playing with Jess. We tried out a handful of different people in that year, some of them were great, but the pieces just didn’t fall into place. It got extremely frustrating, but the band was a low priority for us at the time, so we just kept writing songs and continued our search. We didn’t want to settle for someone who wasn’t perfect, so it took time for us to stumble into Jess. We had all known her for a long time, but she had been living out west for a few years and had recently moved back to Buffalo.
What genres best describe Orations? And what artists did you draw from when crafting your sound?
When we first started out we were going for a dark postpunk sound that was heavier on the punk side of things. “Anhedonic Moan” (the first song on our EP) was written (pretty much to completion) at our first practice. That song will give you a good idea of where our heads were at in the beginning. After a few practices some cleaner, poppier songs started to manifest. Now we tend to go back and forth between the two sounds depending on our moods when we’re writing.
We never set out to create anything new and dazzling, we just always wanted to write songs that could easily find a home amongst those written by bands that meant the world to us. Some of our obvious influences are The Cure, Joy Division, Southern Death Cult, and The Chameleons, but we’re always pulling ideas from different places. There are parts of some of our songs that are inspired by Pink Floyd and Dead Kennedys. We kind of go all over the map, but it somehow all fits together.
Is there a story behind the name of the band?
Since I got the three of us together in the beginning, I was in charge of naming the band. For some reason I have always wanted to be in a band whose name started with an O. Words that begin with that letter have an aesthetic appeal to me. I also wanted the band to have a logo, as I had never done that before with previous projects. I absolutely love the Germs’ blue circle logo that came from the “Germs Burn”. Thinking about that made me want to use and O word even more. It’s not an exciting story, but I just flipped through the 15th letter in a dictionary, until I came across oration. A formal speech typically given at a funeral fit perfectly with what the band was going for. We pluralized to lower the chances of encountering another band with the same name.
At Auxiliary we love to see aesthetics being considered by musicians, what forethought have you put into the visual elements of Orations?
From the get go we always wanted some sort of visual appeal with Orations, but we didn’t want to go overboard. Too many bands form an aesthetic and they take it too far. Their ideas that were originally meant to be stark and appealing end up cheesy and distasteful. The three players in the band have a uniform that we wear live (black pants, with matching button up military shirts that we dyed). Jess can wear whatever she wants up front. She’s the show and the rest of us fade into the background.
Also, as I touched on earlier, I love the idea of bands having logos. When a band has a symbol that is completely recognizable with no text there is something special about it. What we came up with for us is nothing crazy, but I hope will someday it will have at least a shadow of the impact that logos had on me when I was younger.
Orations can redo the soundtrack to any movie, what movie would it be?
Does Carnage Visors count?
I really don’t know how well our music would translate to most films, but I could see it somehow working with a Cronenberg film. I’d like to match up what we make to Videodrome. That could be interesting. Actually, how about Lost Boys? I think Paul could pull off the shirtless, greased up saxophone player look.
In reverse alphabetical order, list your top 100 favorite bands.
To answer this question would do more harm than good for the band. I’m guessing my love of bands such as The Cranberries and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin isn’t going to win us any points with people who would be interested in Orations’ music.
What are some your creative endeavors aside from Orations?
I am the owner/operator of Wooden T-Shirts screen printing shop (I’m printing up the Auxiliary “Reclaim” shirts), I play bass in the band Failures’ Union, and I also DJ a couple of club nights around Buffalo (Transmission and On The Wire).
What are your long term and short term hopes for Orations?
We’re currently in the process of recording our first full length. We have a decent chunk of it done at this point, but there’s still a bit to work out. We’re looking for a label who would want to release it as an LP for us. I put out the EP on my own label, Sheets of Tens, which I created to put out smaller released for bands that I work with. Having the backing of a more established label would definitely be beneficial. We’re also starting to plan some shows around the East Coast and Midwest for the rest of the year.
Our EP is also going to be released in Europe on Swiss Dark Nights later this year. Once the LP is out we hope to head over there for a tour as well.