Stereo Satellite’s Mike Orlando: ‘This Is a Band, Not a Side Project’
As the calendar turns to 2018, there's a new act emerging with some very familiar faces to rock fans. Adrenaline Mob's Mike Orlando has called upon his onetime bandmate and Disturbed bassist John Moyer, Adrenaline Mob's most recent drummer Jordan Cannata and former Rock Star Supernova singer Lukas Rossi to form Stereo Satellite, with the band's first ever show coming this week aboard the ShipRocked Cruise. The group recently debuted their song "Glass Houses" right here at Loudwire and are working toward the release of their debut album.
While the music is new to listeners, it's been a project that has been evolving for guitarist Mike Orlando in recent years and became a ray of light for the musician while recovering from significant injuries suffered in the Adrenaline Mob tour vehicle crash that claimed the lives of bassist David Z and manager Janet Raines last year. Orlando, speaking for the first time since that horrific accident, opened up about his recovery, the role Stereo Satellite's music has played in it and he gives us some insight into the new band, which he confirms is NOT a side project. Check out our chat below.
Let's start with how this band came together. I know you were working with Jordan Cannata in Adrenaline Mob and John Moyer was in the earlier version of Adrenaline Mob and now you've found Lukas Rossi to sing. How did this come about?
It's actually something I had been working on for a while. It was a few years. It started around 2014 or '15. I had just started working on this music, because Adrenaline Mob, when we were off schedule, I would start working on this stuff that is completely different music. So I started it back then and we would get busy with Adrenaline Mob and I would have to just put it aside and get back to it whenever I can. But I just kept working on the music at my leisure and it was something near and dear to me, doing this music in this style.
So fast forward to last year and unfortunately what happened with Adrenaline Mob, and I was faced with just not knowing what to do next, so I delved back into it. It just kind of opened it all up for me. It was a tough thing to go back into music period after what happened, but great to be invigorated by hearing the music again.
So I called up John Moyer who is a dear friend of mine, and yes we played together in a Adrenaline Mob and we're best of friends. But I said to him, 'Hey man I think it's time to start this. I'm losing my mind over here. I gotta do something.' So that's how it became [my project]. All the music was there already and I'd written over an album's worth of material, so that's where it started.
We pressed the reset button and I called John up and that's where it started up again. And thankfully through people in the industry and a mutual friend of John and I, we came across Lukas Rossi, who was ... oh my God ... Looking for singers is tough and we came across Lukas and ... wow! I think it might have been within a day or two of talking to him for the first time, he sent back new vocals on a musical track I'd sent him. It was just like, "Oh my God." I was just so blown away. He was such an amazing singer and that was it. That was the key.
With Lukas, because you had already musically written things in advance, did his addition change any of the songs or approach because now you had a voice to write to?
To be honest, it was such a welcoming factor to hear his voice and his approach to stuff where it was like, "Do what you want with the music?" The music was already written and there was tons of things with vocals on there, but it was like, "Do your thing." And it was amazing. I'd lift the vocal track and then send it over to him and I wanted him to make it his own. I wanted this to be our thing, a true collaboration. Some songs we kept the same from what I did originally, but nah, it was a breath of fresh air to hear him take musically what I had and turn it into what is Stereo Satellite right now. That's the sound is that collaboration.
Each project brings its own set of challenges. You had Adrenaline Mob down, but did Stereo Satellite offer you a different challenge in terms of how you approach music since it is a different sound and somewhat different players?
Well, I feel it's a different kind of music. Adrenaline Mob was a much harder edged band. But I should say I love all kinds of music, I love all genres. But I always did want to do this style of music, a little more mainstream and commercially viable than just the heavy stuff that we did. But yeah, it's an outlet I always wanted to do and I'm so happy at the outcome and Lukas has just brought such an incredible sound and vibe to this vision that I was working on for years. I couldn't be happier.
I'll start off with "Glass Houses" as that's out now. The guitar is strong on that one, my friend ...
Thank you, bro. (laughs)
Let's talk a bit about that song and how it came together.
That's really a special one for me. That was one of the very first songs I worked on from back in the earliest incarnation of this when I was putting it together back in '14 or '15. That's the vibe that I always wanted to go with, with a lot of bass work, heavy guitar but not too much, and some cool passages. It's really not about the guitar in Stereo Satellite, even though that's what I do and what I love. It's really about the song and the big melodies and kind of melding that. This song is what I always envisioned -- heavy, melodic, commercially viable hooks -- and that's what Lukas brings to the song. That was one of the songs that was completed vocally and he just took it and ... Wow! The first time I heard it, I was like, 'Okay, this is the sound of the band.' You've got big harmonies, some big guitar licks and Jordan and John are killing it on the rhythm section. And Jordan Cannata, he's kind of a new guy to the business, but such an incredible talent and John is wonderful.
Speaking of which, you played with John early in Adrenaline Mob and Jordan in the latter version. How fun was it to bring it full circle and see these two talents work off each other?
I will say this. I've been blessed to play with some incredible drummers. It's an honor from Mike Portnoy to the late great AJ Pero who came in after Mike and did the next two albums with us and then Jordan. It's great because they're from different sections of Adrenaline Mob, and even though we weren't around that long John was [on] Coverta and Men of Honor and Jordan was unfortunately with us for this very brief time before what happened.
But I think it's a great marriage. John is a super, real tight bass player that locks with the drummer. He obviously with Disturbed is just so powerful, and he brings that to the playing. We just finished five days of rehearsals for ShipRocked, our first show, and those two guys are the perfect pairing -- Moyer and Jordan. And Jordan, he is so unbelievably precise and incredible with energy and talent and John is just right there with him. What a marriage back there. It's a perfect blend, a thunderous rhythm section.
You mentioned ShipRocked Cruise is going to be your first show. No pressure, just half of rock and metal there and a bunch of fans ...
(laughs). No pressure, right!
So after all you've been through, tell me are there butterflies or nerves going on with getting back up and playing again?
Well it's an honor to be on the Cruise. The bands on there are not only friends of mine in the industry, but there are some great bands. Black Label [Society], Stone Sour, In This Moment, the list goes on and on and we're super excited.
You know, for me, I can't really say butterflies, but being back in this after what has happened and what I've been through in Adrenaline Mob, this is all a challenge to me still at this point. I'm trying to get through it and save face. It's tough, it's tough for me. The whole thing is still tough for me, but I'm diving into it because it's what I do. This is my life and my passion and my heart tells me to go, so I'll never stop. But yeah, it's a little taxing doing ShipRocked and being brand new. I think it's more excitement. The butterflies are more excitement.
We all know about the tragic crash last year that claimed the lives of two members of the Adrenaline Mob family. I remember at the time everyone in the band suffered injuries of some sort. Since this is our first time talking since the accident, how are you doing physically and mentally with everything that has happened?
I've never spoken to anyone about it in the past. You're actually the first person. But yeah, I'm still in deep recovery. I have physical therapy all the time, lots of different things. I have a lot of back and neck problems and broken bones that have healed, but there are some things that unfortunately will never heal that I just have to deal with for the rest of my life. And that's physical. The mental aspect of it is just ... I can't even put it in words. It's just a daily battle to keep those demons in my head at bay. Just dealing with everything is tough to put in words, but it's just unfortunately something I'll have to deal with for the rest of my life.
In the aftermath of this, what did it mean to have music as an outlet during your recovery?
It was tough. I would say for the first few weeks I couldn't move or do much. I was in really bad shape. I had multiple broken bones and neck injuries and lower back. I had head trauma and a whole slew of injuries, so I'm still in recovery. You know, doctors four and five times a week and each a different one from physical therapy to pain management and everything.
I couldn't think of music right away. But when you're sitting there for a month and just losing my mind in my house, because I'm a very active person as far as music -- I'm always writing or playing, so I think it saved me. I've gotta be honest. It saved my mental as well as my physical and made me want to get up and walk to the studio be it down the hall from my bed. That was a challenge at one point. To sit there in the studio and press play and listen to music.
I've gotta be honest. When Lukas got involved in this, he just saved me in a way. I just heard that voice and the connection to the music that I've been working on for years and it was like, 'Wow, maybe there is a light at the end of this tunnel and the darkest period of my life.' It couldn't get any worse than that. I felt sheer black darkness. So yeah, it really did feel like the songs started to shine again. I get emotional just talking about it with you right now.
While we're on Adrenaline Mob, I wanted to ask where things stand with the band at this point. Is there a future with the band?
Right now for me, it's just 1000 percent Stereo Satellite. There's so much pain, just too much. You've gotta remember man, Adrenaline Mob, this wasn't the first incident. We've had so much heartache and pain from the accident tour on the Avenged Sevenfold tour to AJ Pero passing on the bus, who was my best friend of 20 years to this. You never thought it could get worse and it got like 100 times worse. So on this last year of losing Dave and Janet and the whole accident, it's hard for me to even look back. I just can't right now and I don't know if I ever could.
Thank you for the update, and we'll bring it back to Stereo Satellite. One other track that I've heard a bit of is "My Last Words." A little more forceful in sound. What can you share about that track?
It's a great song that Lukas really brought forward. I'm not sure yet, as we're kind of toying with ideas for the first single, cause "Glass Houses," we just wanted people to hear the band and hear what we sound like. But we're unsure right now because that means you've got a lot of tracks that you're excited about. But "My Last Words" is a fantastic track. Lukas brought the track in and I re-produced it and gave it that Stereo Satellite sound with Jordan Cannata on drums and John on bass providing that powerful rhythm section. I love it. It's a bit more mysterious of a track, a little darker than "Glass Houses," but that's what's great about all the songs. Each one is a little different and there's no carbon copy kind of thing. They all have different vibes. But that's a more mysterious and darker track and I think people will really dig it.
At this point, we haven't had a chance to hear the whole disc yet, so I just wanted to ask if there were certain themes or concepts that presented themselves as the music was coming together.
There's stuff. There's a lot of things lyrically that Lukas has gone through. There's a track that we finished that I have a hard time listening to because I wrote it about the accident. I couldn't write the words so I had to tell Lukas in a series of conversations and he would write down what I would say and he would put it in the song. It's a song called "Where Do I Begin," which just sums up ... what do you say? The title tells you what the song is about, and I have a hard time listening to it. There's some really special songs on there, and I've been through hell. And Lukas has definitely had the same with some difficult segments of his life, so I think we're pouring it out on this one on a lot of the songs. And then some of them are just rocking. You've gotta have some of those feel good songs on there.
Absolutely. At this point you are playing the ShipRocked Cruise, but what lies beyond? Have you started thinking about touring yet and is that part of the mindset for this band?
Yes. The one thing about this band is that this is a band. This is not a side project. This is not something we're just going to throw out there. This is something we're going to pour our hearts into and do the best we can to get everywhere we can and tour all over the place. There's nothing more I love than playing to people. It's just that reaction and that chemistry between audience and band that's just life to me. They say music is life and that's part of it for me, so I can't wait to take this everywhere. We're working as hard as we can to get this going and get out there and start hitting the pavement.
Our thanks to Stereo Satellite's Mike Orlando for the interview. The band's new song "Glass Houses" is out now and you can watch the video below. If you like what you hear, both "Glass Houses" and "My Last Words" are currently available to download via iTunes. Stay tuned for more information from Stereo Satellite on their debut disc and touring.
Stereo Satellite, "Glass Houses"