S torm clouds seem to follow indie-rock trio Orangegrass (澄草) wherever they go. In Kaohsiung, Tainan and Kenting the band has been greeted with rain. At a recent outdoor festival in Tamsui, a sudden downpour hijacked the group’s set.
But instead of wallowing in self-pity, the band embraces the gloom of gray skies. They named their first full-length album Cumulonimbus (積雨雲), the meteorological term for towering, puffy clouds that cause heavy rainstorms, and the band is throwing a launch party for the CD with a concert on Thursday at The Wall (這牆).
For lead singer, guitarist and songwriter Klark Chung (鍾體學), rain sets the right mood for their music.
“Of course rain can be annoying but I like the feeling that comes with it, where you don’t have to leave the house,” he says.
Orangegrass sounds like a post-rock band, with electric guitar-centric songs based more on themes and moods than melodies, but there’s one difference: vocals figure prominently in their songs.
Chung formed Orangegrass in 2004 with drummer Larsq Tang (湯宗勳). Current bassist JoJo White (白盛方) joined later. They cite the standard influences among Taiwanese youth of their generation, including Nirvana and various heavy metal bands.
But what really opened the doors for Chung was going to Spring Scream, Taiwan’s first genuine alternative music festival, where he saw pioneering indie bands like Sugar Plum Ferry (甜梅號) and Tizzy Bac.
“What they were playing at the time was trip-hop, like Portishead, and there was no guitar,” he says of the latter. “When I saw them, I thought this was really cool. What is it? I’ve never run into this before … that’s when I wanted to sing stuff that was more different.”
Many of Chung’s lyrics are introspective musings on loneliness, sung either softly or with emo-rocker verve.
“It’s the feel of living in Taipei,” the 27-year-old says of his music. “Taipei has a drifting feeling. Compared to other places [in Taiwan], people’s relationships are more distant … many people pay attention only to themselves.”
But the Ilan native prefers Taipei’s concrete sprawl to the “big family” atmosphere of his scenic hometown. “I think Taipei can be a cold and detached place, but it’s also a place I really like,” he says. “Your [personal] space is bigger.”
For Orangegrass’ show on Thursday, concertgoers can expect to hear all of the songs from the new CD, as well as new tunes already in the works. And even if it doesn’t rain that evening, listeners will be treated to atmospheric storms of a different sort: Chung says he tries to evoke the “humid” air of Taipei with his reverb-drenched guitar sound.