The Orphan The Poet is an alternative band from Dayton, Ohio and if you haven’t heard of them yet, you will soon. This band has been going full speed for a while now, and it’s paid off. With over 13,000 likes on Facebook, numerous EP’s, and a good amount of tours they’ve been putting in the work to get to where they are. They just recently released an EP called Terrible Things, and we got to talk to the band’s vocalist David Eselgroth about the EP release show, the writing process, and what’s up next for The Orphan The Poet.
Check it out, and watch their new video below!
Congratulations on the new EP! What’s the reception been like so far?
It’s really been amazing. Anyone who has followed our band can hear that this EP is a little bit of a different direction for us, and that can be a scary thing. Putting out new material is always an anxiety-ridden process, but combine that with an unexpected tweak in your sound, and you’re instantly laying awake every night leading up to your release. That said, however, our fans are amazing and seem to be ready to move and grow right along with us. We’ve had nothing but support thus far.
I read a a little bit about your writing process in other interviews and you said that you forced yourself to treat writing like a job for this one, sitting down every day and writing even when you didn’t feel like it. Was this EP the first time that you really used that type of process to write?
Oh yeah, absolutely. Prior to this release, writing anything concrete was something that I basically avoided at all cost. I would get so stressed worrying about writing something good that it would totally disincentivize me ever wanting to put pen to paper. It really took me turning writing into a 9-5 job that made me break through that wall. Sure, having to sit down and write something everyday churned out some PRETTY BAD material, but it also led to the songs that ultimately made it onto the EP.
What was the most difficult part of creating this EP?
Oh it was definitely the writing. Maybe that’s because I really felt most, if not all, of that weight resting on my shoulders. I think I re-wrote ‘Bombs Away’ something like 4 or 5 times. There were other songs that we took all the way to completion– demoing them with full vocals, harmonies, intricate guitar work– only to say the song wasn’t good enough and just toss it. All of the work on this EP was definitely front loaded; I felt all the stress in the day to day writing instead of when we showed up to the studio. It’s really a no brainer that this is probably how music SHOULD be done, but hey, you live and you learn!
What about the most enjoyable part?
I think this EP was the first time I actually enjoyed being in the studio. Typically, that’s a pretty stressful experience where I always end up feeling underprepared. This time, however, we walked in with full demos of each song and could reference basically every part we were to record from beginning to end. I want to say we had something like 2 guitar parts we wrote in the studio and I know I finished a couple lyrical lines in ‘Forward’ in the studio, but other than that, we just cranked it out.
What was the recording process like?
Kind of tieing into above, recording this EP was a nice change of pace. Aside from us generally just being more prepared, this was the first time we used a studio space close to home. Getting to put in a full day of tracking and then having the option of getting to grab a drink with my fiancee and sleep in my own bed helped the recording process not turn into the usual pressure chamber of stress that it has typically been for me.
I read that you worked with Machine on Terrible Things. Was this your first time working with him? How did it affect the album?
Hands down, this EP wouldn’t be the same without Machine. First and foremost, it wouldn’t have been an EP. When we first linked up with Machine (I think he had heard a demo of ‘Wild & Young’), we had told him we were just looking to record some singles. He immediately told us not to do that, that we needed to make it an actual release and write a couple more songs. And he was absolutely right; what were we thinking? From that point forward, he really had a heavy hand in the whole process. We sent him demos as we were writing, he told us what was weak and needed re-worked. The production and mixing was a really cool experience too. It never felt like we weren’t a priority, which is insane given his discography (Cobra Starship, Everytime I Die, freaking Fall Out Boy!). He even flat out told us that he doesn’t work with unsigned bands, so it was really flattering that he’d want to make an exception for us.
How is this EP different from the ones you’ve released in the past?
Honestly, it’s hard to think of any way that it’s similar. This EP is such a breath of fresh air for our band. It’s just a really exciting time for us. It’s been interesting to hear what our fans take on the new material is. They always hear it differently than we do.
Does being unsigned make things easier or harder for you as a band? Maybe both?
My answer to this depends on my mood. Sometimes I might say that it’s such a great thing to be a free agent, being in complete control of what we do and when we do it. However, other times, I might be bitching up a storm about how some band that has only existed for 3 months beat us out for the spot on a tour ONLY because they were signed to “label x”. I think the label issue cuts both ways.
Are you looking to get signed?
When the right deal comes around, it could be a cool thing. The reality of the situation is if we really wanted to be signed right now (that is, just wanted to have a contract regardless of the terms/benefit), we would be. We’ve had talks with certain labels and at the end of the day, what they had on the table wasn’t right for us. I’ve proudly said it in interviews before– we operate at the same level as many bands that have labels. So when you consider this, you realize that only specific labels with specific strengths are going to augment our band.
Is there a strong alternative music scene in Dayton? Do you feel like where you’re from has had an impact on the band, either positive or negative? Where do you feel you fit in in the local scene?
The Dayton area was a pretty cool place for us to come up in. We had a really great “band family” when we were just starting out. I will say that I think some of the Dayton scene has suffered a bit over the past few years. I think it was a combination of a lot of larger bands breaking out of the local scene so they weren’t playing in town much anymore, and the closing of Dayton’s large scene-focused venue. I think those things kind of hollowed out the scene and took away some of the energy that kept an influx of young people into music. You are starting to witness the Dayton scene bounce back though, which is amazing to see.
You have over 13,000 likes on Facebook and thousands of Twitter followers. Do you feel like social media is important in getting your name out there, and do you use it to interact with fans?
Social media is absolutely a huge tool for bands. It’s become such a hinge point of how people interact, it’s truly crazy to think back to before it was a thing. For us, social media is just a way for us to continue the conversation with fans after the show/tour is done. We try to keep it fun, I guess. Who likes to be serious all the time?
I see you have some upcoming tour dates in July. Any touring plans for the rest of the year?
Yep, we’ll be hitting both coasts this summer. We’ll be getting down to Texas too, which I’m super excited for. Texas has always been my favorite. We’re planning on staying busy clear through the Fall so definitely keep an eye on our tour dates!
What’s the thing you’re most proud of as a band so far?
Just being resilient. It’s not easy being an unsigned band in a signed bands’ world. It can really eat at your headspace, really make you question what you’re doing. So the fact that we’ve been able to do continue doing what we love is a badge of honor.
What are five or so songs or artists you’re listening to lately?
In no particular order, we have been jamming:
The Japanese House
What are your biggest hopes and dreams for TOTP in the future?
The only thing I want is for Pabst Blue Ribbon to sponsor our band. At that point, I know I will die a happy hipster.
Check out The Orphan The Poet’s music video for “Terrible Things” below, and be sure to pick up the EP right here. Seriously, do it. It’s $5.00 and it’s worth wayyyyyyy more than that.