The Orange Constant has become somewhat of a hidden gem in Georgia since their start in Statesboro, GA in 2012. Now residing in Athens, GA, the Southern-rock-meets-jam-meets-funk quintet has worked hard to garner the attention of local fans. From headlining a packed show at the Georgia Theatre to playing at Atlanta’s Sweetwater 420 Fest, the Orange Constant is picking up speed and making a serious name for themselves. I had the chance to chat founding member and vocalist/guitarist, Andrew Brantley, and drummer Sam Groveman before their show at the 40 Watt Club in Athens to talk about their growth as a band and their approach to van life on the road.
VM: What initially caused you guys to move your band from Statesboro to Athens?
Andrew Brantley: Me and Nickalous [Benson]…he’s the other founder of the band…we just kind of wanted to leave Statesboro. We were kind of feeling like, you know, we had graduated. We were kind of done with that circuit and whatever. We wanted to be in Athens to be closer to Atlanta and closer to our families, and being in a bigger city. In a better music city. So, really three factors.
VM: Do you feel like The Orange Constant’s music is influenced by being in Georgia, and being in Statesboro and Athens?
AB: Georgia absolutely has influenced our styles. You know, my style is pretty influenced by like, Widespread Panic and Zac Brown. Nickalous…he grew up around the guys in Drivin’ n Cryin’. We definitely have a southern rock aspect to our music that’s just because, you know, we’re from the South.
Sam Groveman: It’s constantly changing too ‘cause we have five guys in the band now that all come from different musical tastes, and they bring new songs, and we’re always kind of adapting to their musical styles. Which also helps us as musicians, you know, to learn those new styles, and kind of developing that new sound with this new generation of musicians.
AB: Yeah, for sure. We’ve got that Southern influence, but we don’t adhere to it always.
VM: Do you guys feel like you’re going to be sticking around in Athens for awhile, or do you have any moves on the horizon?
AB: Well, I think for now we’re going to be an Athens band. You know, we like it here; we’ve had success here. We’ve grown in this city. We’ve thrown around the idea of going out west and trying to establish out there as well, but I think for the next, you know, three to five year plan we’re going to be here. And even so, I think we’ll always be a Georgia band. All of us are from Georgia so, you know, no matter how many times or places we might move, this or there, we’re a Georgia band.
VM: Your last album, Point of Reference, came out in 2017, so I know it’s been a little bit, but with five guys in your band, what’s the songwriting process like? Do you guys all collaborate?
AB: So that album was written predominantly by The Orange Constant, like the previous lineup. Which was a different drummer and a different bass player. But we did have our new bass player, Tyler [Walker], record on that album. And Chris [Freiberg], our keyboard player, he recorded on it too. But the material wasn’t necessarily written much by them. A lot of it was written by myself and Nickalous and Lee [Guentert] who was the other drummer, and Will who was the other drummer. Me and Nickalous are the predominant lyrical writers of what you can listen to on Spotify, but it’s still a mixed bag…everyone has their influence.
VM: Do you guys have any new albums coming up, or are you working on any new music? Has the songwriting process changed as the band lineup has changed?
AB: The songwriting process is still pretty similar in the sense that we don’t stick to any kind of formula, or formulated plan, it’s like, “we got a song, you wanna throw something in? You got an idea?” We really try to make it pretty democratic, like, everybody’s got some input. But yeah, we’re hoping to get in the studio October, November, December and release another album next year. But yeah, we have plenty of material.
SG: We’re trying to get with John Keane, who worked with Widespread Panic. We recorded our first album with him as the producer.
AB: Yeah, so hopefully we can get in the studio at the end of this year.
VM: And in the meantime, y’all have been touring a lot. Sam was telling me earlier that it’s been every weekend in a different place. You’ve been mostly in the southeast though, so do you have any plans to expand outward, or are you just kind of waiting to grow your fanbase here and then expand from there?
AB: We’re trying to expand the tour to the greater southeast, you know, trying to get more into Virginia, Kentucky, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, all those. Still, it’s a nice trek. It’s not necessarily South Carolina and Georgia.
SG: It’s nice actually honing in on the southeast, because a lot of bands that we know, they always go to Colorado, and if you only go back there once a year it’s really hard to build a fanbase. And you wear on your van, and you don’t make as much money to live off of, so really working on this market down here is really helping us.
AB: ‘Cause there’s so many big cities, you know? Like, you can sell 200 tickets in Atlanta and Athens, but if you just start going to these places that are really far away, you haven’t capitalized on Charleston, Columbia, Tallahassee and Birmingham. You know, that’s kind of what we’re focusing on now is to really make sure that our southeast market is as good as it can be. Because we’re just a few hours away from markets that don’t know who we are as well as Athens or Atlanta does.
VM: It makes sense. I feel like you guys have done a really solid job of developing a fanbase here. But when you’re touring and constantly in a van with five guys, does it get old? Are you guys sick of it, or are you planning on touring even more often now?
AB: I mean it’s gonna increase.
SG: That’s the goal.
VM: That’s a good thing, right?
AB: I mean, it’s work. It’s definitely hard. It takes a lot of work, but so does everything.
SG: Waking up next to Andrew and then going to sleep next to him for a couple of days in a row gets a little old, but you know, you realize when to let the man be by himself. You figure each other out after awhile.
AB: Yeah, you do. You kind of learn each other’s personalities. I mean, it’s just the way the game is played, I guess. It’s an adventure, you know. It’s fun if you can kind of take yourself out of it and be like, “man, this is a cool story,” no matter how crappy of a situation it might be. And luckily, we do have a nice, reliable van. It’s not like we’re in a little, tiny Volkswagen or something.
SB: A lot of times when you have a bad weekend, you just look back and laugh.
The future is bright for the guys of the Orange Constant. While working towards recording new music, they plan on amping up their already intense touring schedule, with a summer tour from June to July. They never repeat a set and always try to keep their shows interesting, feeding off of each others’ jams and improvising new sounds as they go. Athens fans can catch them at local grassroots festival, Sigh in July, on July 20.