When it comes to touring and performing for the masses, the band known as Orgône (pronounced or-going) can be best described as, well, late bloomers.
This L.A.-based, funk/soul/Afrobeat group has been around for 12 years, playing clubs and other venues all around La La Land, even dropping a self-titled, self-distributed debut back in 2001. However, theyve only been touring nationally for three years. It wasnt really a choice, says Colombian-born guitarist Sergio Rios, on the phone from Savannah, Ga. Its just the way things developed, younowhamsayin.
It wasnt until they released the 2007 follow-up The Killion Floor on West Coast label Ubiquity Records that the possibility of going on the road and performing sprang up. Rios also claims theyve been spending the past decade working on their sound. A band that started out as a five-piece with no horns or vocals took a lot of practice and a lot of influences to become the eight-member collective they are today.
We really wanted to do a lot of Booker T. and the M.G.s and the Meters and all of the J.B.s instrumentals and Parliament-Funkadelic, he says. We were very much into that stuff, and thats really where we initially came from.
Orgône is just one of many throwback soul bands to come out of Los Angeles, a town that has given us such revival R&B crews as Breakestra, Connie Price and the Keystones, and Fitz and the Tantrums. (Tantrums frontlady Noelle Scaggs helped out the boys by doing the vocals for one Killion track.)
Rios has a theory on how this city became a temple for reliable retro-soul: As far as what I think what it was, toward the latter half of the 90s, a kind of a DJ culture this whole 60s soul and raw funk kind of just started blowing up among the kids who were spinning the records, you know. And being the kids who went to the clubs, it just sort of, you know, we gravitated toward that.
He also says people were getting influenced by what was happening on the East Coast, as labels like Daptone Records started dropping releases from such swinging, old-school soul acts as Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings and the Budos Band.
It was maybe even and I dont want to say a reaction, but an immediate kind of parallel to the same kind of thing that was going on in Brooklyn, you know, says Rios, who jokingly says, East Coast people are always a little hipper.
These days, Orgône is making up for all the years of not hitting the road by touring incessantly. They just played the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Tennessee for the second time.
And yet, they still square away some time not only to record music for themselves (a new album is scheduled for a fall release), but for others. If you look at the credits for the latest albums by Bay Area psychedelic-soul group Monophonics and Chicago retro-soul outfit The Right Now, youll find Rioss name listed as a producer.
I use the term production lightly, he says, humbly. Im not so much a producer as a facilitator and a recordist.
As Rios says of the studio-recording process, Were going inside and just really bringing other people into the room and just kind of showing them how to relax and have a good time and just play some music. Not think about red lights, you know.
Much like the groups that aspired to work with them, Orgône hopes people will seek out their music once they see them live.
Says Rios, The best compliment that weve ever heard is, the first time people hear the band, they didnt realize that theyve been missing out on their favorite band.