by Rob McLean
About 4,500 miles from Omaha, a metal band with Nebraska ties is prepping for another gig in the United Kingdom.
I met my friend Erin Johnson when we were studying at Creighton University; we both graduated in 2005 and were neighbors during our senior year. While I stuck around the United States, Johnson pursued her graduate education in history at Villanova University and later at University College London.
She took the musical plunge while in the UK when she auditioned for a band that would evolve into Orpheum — a progressive female-fronted goth metal band.
The description sounds very specific: Johnson says the musicians mix heavy, gothic sounds with more melodic tones of vocals and the keyboard. Johnson is on vocals, Mars Martin performs on keys and vocals, Finlay Thomson plays guitar, KT Glitz is on bass and vocals, and Andy Thomson plays drums.
Martin’s musical skills are exceptional, Johnson says. Back around 2008, members of the evolving Orpheum thought their sound was missing something. They brought on the classically trained Martin to play keys.
“Oh my word, the things she does with the keyboard!” Johnson says. “Sorry that sounded quite naughty.”
(Photo by Jade Scott.)
Some songs will start out sounding typically metal, she says, but will then go off in unexpected directions.
“And so we kind of end up with seven-to-ten minute songs, but we don’t view that as a bad thing,” Johnson says.
The band has played three shows around London so far. They waited to debut until their website was ready and other marketing materials were set. Orpheum’s biggest success so far has been fan reaction.
“Because our sound is quite unique, and quite different from your normal, average metal, screamo band, it’s really uplifting and great and energizing for these people to approach us after we play our set and to say, ‘Hey, your style — not normally what I listen to at all, but that was a really great set and I’m buying your album, ‘cause that was awesome,” she says.
(Photo by Jade Scott.)
The music scene in the UK is vibrant, Erin said, and very inclusive.
“Camden is kind of like the goth, and then the hard rock, punk music arena of the world it seems,” she says. You could be into any kind of culture or sub-culture, she said, and Londoners are accepting.
Up next for the band is writing more music, performing more gigs and networking with other bands. Orpheum’s next show is at The Unicorn in London on May 10.
Rob McLean is a Hear Nebraska contributor. He is the editor of Patch.com's Maryland Heights, Mo., publication.