ORBIS MAX – A Pocketfull of Tunes (Q&A)

‘The songs usually start out as a crude phone recording. Just the mic on the phone, acoustic guitar, whatever words you have and a lot of la la la singing of melodies.’, says Craig Carlstrom. 

Writing and recording in the modern age.

Orbis Max knows all about. Orbis Max is an Internet Recording Collective.




Read the story about their new record (buy) and how it came together.

Sweet Sweet Music talked to Craig Carlstrom and Dennis George.




What was the biggest fun during the making of the last album?


Craig: The biggest fun was getting to play with my old pals again. And meeting and collaborating with new friends we’ve met on the internet. I’m all their biggest fan. I love hearing the parts they contribute to the songs. We’re just a bunch of old friends having a laugh writing and recording together.


All the recordings are done from everyone’s various locations via file sharing.


We haven’t all been together in the same room at the same time in decades.



At what point, during writing, rehearsing, recording, did you knew you were on to something special?



Craig: I think we start realizing we may be onto something, as everybody’s parts get added. The song shifts and changes with every overdub. It’s magical. I like to say the songs take on a life of there own.


The songs usually start out as a crude phone recording. Just the mic on the phone, acoustic guitar, whatever words you have and a lot of la la la singing of melodies.


Then our guitar player Don Baake makes a rhythm guitar and drum loop backing track. Once an arrangement is hammered out, he makes a backing track to start overdubbing onto.


A lot of the time the music is ready weeks before the lyrics and melodies are finalized. Once the vocals started getting put on, we can tell if we’ve hit the mark or not.





The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did it bring you? And what not?



Craig: The business has completely changed. There’s no record biz anymore. Anybody can make a CD with an interface and a laptop.


It opened up a whole alternate reality for us. The digital technology has allowed us to record with each other, even we’re scattered in all directions on the map. You can’t make any real big money anymore. But the internet has allowed us to interact with tons of like-minded musicians in a cyber community. Supporting and encouraging each other. We’ve gotten a ton of airplay on internet radio. There’s a lot of extremely talented people out there. The public craves new music by Indie artists that lamestream commercial radio won’t play. The entire scene is pretty much a DIY grassroots trip. So if you have no delusions of fame and fortune, you can enjoy making music and being heard. But if you’re looking to make a living, don’t quit your day job.


Dennis: I love the blank stares I get when I try to explain to people how I’ve been recording music in a band for almost three years now, doing about 16-18 songs with guys I’ve never met face to face! ??? “ Well, it’s all done online, with Dropbox file sharing.” ???


The meaning of ‘success’ has changed over the years. When will the new record be a success?


Craig: When will the new record be a success. Just getting it released is a success as far as I’m concerned. Don’t get me wrong, some sales would be nice. If some people hear it, and it gets some nice words written about it and some airplay, then it’s a success.



Can you still recall the moment music became important to you? What happened?



Craig: Music became important to me the night I saw The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. I was 10 years old. A life-changing moment. Wasn’t exactly sure what I just witnessed, but man, I sure liked it. Was never right in the head after it! Lol.


Got a Sears and Robucks acoustic guitar for Christmas 1965 and never looked back.




Craig: Yes I’m extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished. Especially the way we’ve done it. Via file sharing. I think these recordings sound like we’re in the same room, playing with each other.


We played together so much growing up, that there’s a chemistry between us that kicks in automatically. We know what each other’s going to do before we do it. We trust each other’s musical instincts.



Which is the song you wish you had written every time you hear it? And why?



Craig: Fall Down by Thomas Walsh. Performed by Pugwash. That song kills me every time I hear it. The first time I heard it, I played it 10 times in a row. It’s just a perfect pop song.



Do you feel part of a community, the power pop community?



Dennis: I think we all feel very much a part of the power – Pop community. At this stage of the game, they are our biggest audience, lol. We root for each other with each new song that is picked up by one of our online DJs, who are also mutual friends and a central hub for all of us. We correspond with many of our fellow musicians who become friends, contributors, and co-Conspiracists in this game we’re all obsessed with.



If the budget was unlimited, how would you record the next record?



Dennis: If money were no object, I think we’d find a way to get together for a few weeks to bang out an entire album together, all in one room together, in a creative frenzy, if we’d survive it, lol. Even better if we could buy all the technology to allow us to see each other and play together in real time, from our distant locations, each night after work. We could do a lot of creating that way, cover a lot of material, go with the good stuff when the muse strikes and throw out the chaff.

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