Mother Orchis

by Joshua Miller
May 2009

Wisconsin's Mother Orchis

Wisconsin's Mother Orchis

Loudly making an entrance with a wave of raw emotion, MOTHER ORCHIS roams Milwaukee bars and clubs, looking to produce like minded beings that absorb her trance-inducing musical waves. 

Approaching this mysterious being reveals the elements that drive her: a band by the same name, which effortlessly blends classic rock, psychedelic rock and metal.  Laying down the beat of her footsteps and heart beat is Jesus, who keeps time her epic like movements.  Rochelle (often shortened to Roach) adds bass in rhythm with her heart beat while Kevin chugs away fiercely on his guitar.  Hallowing, somewhat growling, with an Ozzy Osbourne-like darkly tone, Matt Leece provides the final elements with his voice and guitar.

“I think we all kind of were on the same page from the get go,” Leece says of his band’s ability to merge their sounds together. 

It started off simply as a project last summer between Jesus and Roach, which played metal songs that Jesus wrote.  After some practices, Leece says that Jesus realized that the band needed something more, namely a singer.

“He saw it as a three or four piece with a singer, and he wanted to play drums,” says Leece.  “So I think they may have talked to Kevin about playing guitar in a heavy band or whatever, and things clicked for them.”

Shortly after Kevin joined the band, Leece followed.  Knowing Kevin already from their days playing music in high school, Leece says he entered the band’s world by simply going to see his friend perform.

“I actually just showed up to a couple of their practices, and asked if I could plug my guitar into something - I didn’t own an amp at the time so I just plugged into whatever was in the practice space - and they seemed to dig what I was doing,” says Leece.

Leece said that he got the idea for the name from an episode of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” show.  It seemed to fit what they were trying to do so it stuck.

“It was this episode called “Consider Your Ways” and it was just really gnarly,” says Leece. “It was about this woman who has a drug induced dream where she wakes up in a dystopian future where women are just these huge slugs hooked up to life support systems and forced to just like reproduce to keep the society going. They refer to her as ‘Mother Orchis’ in the dream. We wrote a song where I had lyrics based on that, and we kinda were kicking around band name ideas at the time, and Mother Orchis just stuck.”

With the name and members in place, the band wasted no time.  The sounds they produced came from hard work and close bonds.

“One of us will come in with an idea, and we go from there, or sometimes a riff just makes its presence known right there on the spot. We have fun,” says Leece.

Early on the band began to try out metal, specifically classic metal, with clean vocals.  As they practiced and performed, the sound became more of a psychedelic hard rock route.  The band’s Myspace page has four songs that are over twelve minute long, filled with epic riffs, powerful lyrics and the like.

“It’s very 70’s influenced, extended jams and such, but still heavy,” says Leece. “Hopefully it’s not too excessive, but things definitely have come together organically, and we don’t, like censor ideas based on a predetermined concept. If we’re vibing on a jam we usually just go with it.”

Sick of having rough recordings of their music online, the band jumped at the opportunity to record at the Shalom House, a house located deep in the woods of Kettle Moraine just outside of West Bend.  Kevin described their time in a Myspace post.

“Due to the recent weather-related events, we had a hell of a time getting there and back, but managed to make it home in one piece,” says Kevin. “The sesh was engineered by our friend Bobby, who has quite the knack for utilizing a room and knowing how to squeeze the best sounds out of it. Between his calm demeanor and the comfort of the house, we felt really accommodated, and in turn were able to produce a pretty good representation of what we like to do. Incredibly huge bass and drum sounds, and really textural guitar sounds.”

When ideas aren’t readily coming, Leece and Roach have worked on some acoustic versions of their songs, which Leece says helps they stay productive.  Leece says that he’s fine with people using Black Sabbath and Mother Orchis in the same sentence, but said he and the others have a wide range of influences.  The other influences on their Myspace page are Flower Travellin’ Band, Crazy Horse, Pentagram, and Hawkwind.

“I think each of us are really into a lot of different music. Kevin really loves a lot of old punk rock stuff, and has a great vinyl collection,” says Leece. “Jesus digs metal of just about every flavor, [and] Roach and I are really into a lot of psych and 70’s hard rock.”

When he’s not playing music, Leece and the other band members will likely be listening to some.

“I just found this record the other day, “Armageddon,” from ‘75. Fucking sick!” says Leece.  “I just love all the music that’s been out there for years that is just waiting to be discovered.”

As for the future, the band plans to record and birth new songs featuring their blend of hard-rock.  Mother Orchis’s next shows are at the Cactus Club May 9 and the Borg Ward May 26.

“We have things in the works, stay tuned,” says Leece.  He adds that he hopes not to bore them but instead makes a mysterious suggestion to “Carry them away?”

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