Lyrically, Orthodox is a window into the soul of founder Adam Easterling (right), but the band’s collective musical juggernaut onstage includes (left to right) guitarist Austin Evans, bassist Shiloh Krebs, and drummer Mark White. Photo by Cam Smith
Straight-edge hardcore outfit Orthodox comes from Nashville, Tennessee, where, despite the city’s reputation as country music’s capital, there’s a thriving underground heavy music scene. More unorthodox, perhaps, is that until recently Orthodox weren’t even an actual band.
Orthodox was founded in 2011 by vocalist Adam Easterling as essentially a solo project, with producer and multi-instrumentalist Daniel Colombo providing the soundtrack to Easterling’s rage via nu-metal-esque grooves, twisted guitar tones, and atonal unease. Screaming out of the gate, Orthodox’s 2017 debut Sounds of Loss—with its unrelenting heaviness and lyrical themes about revenge, loss, and punishment—had many fans believing the band had perfected its delivery. But the outfit’s new release, Let It Take Its Course, pushes the heaviness, missives, and raw voltage to the next level. And much of that is thanks to the addition of Austin Evans on guitar.
Evans joined Orthodox in 2018, though his connection to the band goes back even further. “A few years back, a friend and I drove to Nashville from South Carolina to go to a Hanging Moon show,” he says. “I didn’t know them yet, but Orthodox was also playing the show. And ever since I witnessed that, I was like, ‘Dude, I have got to move here.’”
And move he did—but not before a network of scene connections linked him to Easterling for a fill-in spot on an Orthodox tour. That quickly evolved into full-time membership and the chance to write and record for Let It Take Its Course. The guitarist wears his love of Slipknot’s chaotic power on his sleeve, as revealed by Evans-penned tracks such as “Why Are You Here?”—with its feedback intro and relentless, jackhammer riffs.
From Evans’ and Colombo’s sharp-to-sludgy guitar tones to Easterling’s throat-thrashing bark, Let It Take Its Course refuses to relent. The only reprieve is “Cut,” which begins as a ballad before leaping into mayhem—juxtaposing clean guitar and melodic vocals with some of the album’s most massive, fat-grooved moments. Oh, and in a development that probably few in Orthodox’s crowd expected, Let It Take Its Course features a guest appearance by none other than Billy Ray Cyrus guitarist Chris Condon. (More on that in a bit.)
As with so many other bands, things were going great for Orthodox—what with the new album and a successful tour—until COVID-19. They’ve joined thousands of others around the world on indefinite hiatus. As hard as it’s been on the group, it’s perhaps been hardest on Evans, who had just relocated to a new city and was building a new life around a new band.
“As far as playing shows and stuff, there’s nothing going on,” says Evans. “And because I moved from South Carolina to here, I haven’t been able to get any benefits or anything. But I’m ok. I just don’t know how long this is going to be.”
When we spoke with Evans, we discussed Orthodox’s current situation, what it’s like playing in one of his favorite bands, his expanding role in the group, and why, despite everything, he’s still glad to be playing metal in Nashville.
You’ve only been in Orthodox for a couple of years, but you’ve made a big impact. How did you come to join the band?
I saw Orthodox as a fan back in 2016 at a show in Nashville. I didn’t know anything about them. I loved their whole dynamic. They released Sounds of Loss, and I was super, super into that record. It was one of my favorite records from 2017. But I didn’t think I would ever end up in the band. I knew Mike White, who plays drums for them. So one time when Orthodox came to town he told me they were down a guitarist. I confronted him at a show and said, “Hey man, if you guys need a guitarist, I’m not doing anything. Let me know.” He said he would give the word to Adam.
Following that, Adam DMs me on Instagram. I gave him my number, and he texted me this huge paragraph about, “Hey man, we have this tour coming up in November—a full U.S. tour with Left Behind and Spite. If you want to fill in on guitar, that’d be awesome.” I was actually already in Nashville with a few of my friends, hanging out. I thought, “This is crazy!” I didn’t expect it at all. The offer was set. I accepted it. We all meshed pretty well. Things took off from there.
I did that first tour with Orthodox in November 2018. Same for our bassist, Shiloh Krebs. We found out that the dynamic is pretty sick, and we all mesh pretty well together. Eventually, it came to be, “Hey, do you guys want to play full time?” Then, in 2019, Adam asked me if I wanted to start helping him write the new record.
TIDBIT: Guitarist Austin Evans plugged into some heavy horsepower to get his raging tones on Orthodox’ latest: a block-letter Peavey 5150 and a Fortin Meshuggah head.
So you relocated to Nashville, right?
Yes, I moved here in December 2019. But I haven’t really lived here yet, because I moved towards the end of December and worked all of January and February. Then in March I was out on tour with Orthodox. But with this quarantine stuff, I’ve been spending all the time in the world here now. [Laughs.]
What’s it like being a metal musician in Nashville?
I first got into music around 2012 or 2013, in South Carolina. The music scene out there is kind of rough. I mean, you would have maybe 60 or 70 kids come out to a show on a good night. Nobody there ever wanted to tour or take their band to the next level, but this is all I want to do. The first show I went to in Nashville was that Orthodox show in 2016. It was one of the coolest shows I’d ever been to. It was in a house and packed out. Everybody was going ballistic, and everybody’s having fun. I could tell right off the bat that it was a super supportive hardcore scene. Everybody was backing each other up and promoting each other. People take music so seriously in Nashville, and there’s all kinds of music. It’s everywhere. It really is Music City.
Orthodox is known for bringing a nu-metal influence to hardcore. Is nu-metal an influence on your playing, too?
Growing up, I was into all different kinds of metal. I grew up on thrash metal like Slayer, Metallica, Megadeth, and Death. Then there was a time where I visited my mom, and she was seeing this guy who had a whole music collection with all types of CDs. There was a Slipknot CD called 9.0: Live, where they played everything off of the first three records. I went upstairs, put it on, and listened to it all the time. I fell in love with Slipknot. I was into that fast, crazy, insane music.
When I listened to Sounds of Loss, I could tell it was in drop-B tuning, like a lot of Slipknot songs. And it had similar super-creepy guitar riffs. That’s all I need in a band. That’s why I fell in love with Sounds of Loss and Orthodox.
When it comes to writing riffs, I always think of crazy Slipknot stuff. It’s got to be fast, it’s got to be punchy, it’s got to be heavy, it’s got to be something crazy. It can’t be too slow. There are some slower songs on the record, but my take on Orthodox is chaotic all the time. That’s how I want it to be.