In the pantheon of music, many bands become household names and the rest don’t. New York City-based, Orange 9mm (pronounced “Orange Nine” by fans), could be classified as the latter–although they came pretty darn close to the former between 1994-1996. Their post-hardcore classification could be a bit misleading, since they brought various influences (punk, metal, skate-thrash, and even a dash of hip-hop) to the table.
(left: Orange 9mm, the post-hardcore band that just nearly missed becoming household names.)
Orange 9mm’s blessing and curse was–that as much as they had in common with bands they toured with–they were always slightly different than everyone else. They were a little too funky for the Helmet, Quicksand, Sick Of It All set, and a little too hardcore for groups like the Deftones and Korn, who were beginning to garnish some of their material with hip-hop influences. Another possible reason Orange 9mm didn’t reap mainstream success was because following the release of their sophomore effort, Tragic (which initially was given a decent major label push), founding member, co-songwriter, and guitarist Chris Traynor decided to leave the band and join Helmet. It was hard to hate Traynor for his decision, because, damn, who wouldn’t have wanted to play guitar with Helmet in the mid-90’s?
Orange 9mm’s live shows were ferocious affairs overseen by their intense frontman, Chaka Malik (who had some of the greatest stage dives that I have ever seen). Even when the band shuffled their line-up, their stage show still boasted a non-stop energy.
After Tragic, the band veered from their bread-and-butter intensity and released Pretend I’m Human (which included a 7-minute spoken-word jam). The band that was always a little different from everyone else, eventually became too different for their own fan base, and ended up parting ways (though I don’t know exactly why or when this happened).
Orange 9mm’s *Driver Not Included and Tragic still pack a wallop (and I will still try to burn people a copy of these discs if they say they’ve never heard of the band before).
Orange 9mm’s full-length, *Driver Not Included, may also be one of the most literal-named albums of all-time (the song “Driver,” released on an earlier EP, was–you guessed it–not included on their debut disc).