In the spotlight – Orange Creek Riders

In the spotlight – Orange Creek Riders

Orange Creek Riders are a folk rock band from Orlando, Florida (USA) consisting of Darren Soto (singer, guitarist and songwriter), Darren Vierday (harmonica), Jeff Jordan (bass) and Jeff Sudbury (drums). The band is influenced by different genres including punk and country.

How did the band form and get started?

“We formed in 2013 to play local festivals in Central Florida. We started primarily as a folk rock band focused on regional themes like cowboys, ranches and citrus groves. We eventually evolved to incorporate indie and beach sounds too.”

Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? 

“Darren Soto came up with the name and three of our earliest songs ‘Orange Kings, ‘Sweet Clementine’ and ‘Down at the Grove’ during a long drive to Tallahassee. When he arrived, he reached out to Darren Vierday about the concept. We quickly agreed to start jamming, adding Jeff Sudbury on drums and Jeff Jordan on bass. We were soon playing live local gigs and continues to do so today. Early influences were Tom Petty and The Lumineers.”

Do you think your hometown has influenced the band’s sound? In what way?

“Both initially and even now, Central Florida, Orlando, and Tampa Bay help define the sound. First, rural areas like ranches and groves were a major themes. Then we branched out to incorporate the regions’ vibrant cities, wild life and beautiful beaches. Our surroundings and local folklore are a major influences along with love, politics and a desire to make people feel happy.”

Who are your main musical influences?

“Each album has had its influences. Two Floridians, Tom Petty and Jimmy Buffet, stand out, as do The Lumineers and Fleet Foxes, in our first two albums ‘Oranges and Grapefruit’ and ‘Back to the Grove’. Add Neil Young to that list for ‘Rockin’ Horse’. The ‘Valentines Singles’ were influenced by British new wave bands like The Smiths, The Cure, and others. The ‘Vision Singles’ saw a similar new wave sound, along with a more beach feel, like The Beach Boys and Jack Johnson, as well as anything on Spotify’s ‘Surf Rock Sunshine’.”

Let’s talk about your newest single ‘Big Wave’. What was the inspiration for this song?

“It is a surf rock / ska song that continues the beach themes we began to explore in the ‘Vision Singles’. It’s inspired by surfer videos we’ve seen over the years, as well as our love of the beach. It’s the first of three ‘Sunny Singles’ we will release this spring/summer 2022. We hope the lyrics take you through a tunnel, up the Big Wave, over the crest, crashing down in a wipeout and back up for more. It features alt-punk vocals, acoustic ska rhythm, surf pop lead, smooth bass and banging drums.”

How would you say that ‘Big Wave’ compares to anything else that you have released? Is there anything different that you would like to explore?

“While we have many beach and tropical themed songs, ‘Big Wave’ is our first straight up surf rock song. Our next two ‘Sunny Singles’ are ‘Sunnyside’ and ‘Sunshine City’ (late August 2022) and will feature ska, reggae and pop rhythms that will similarly exude sunny summer fun.”

“We host a seasonal Spotify playlist, currently INDIE Summer Rocks!, featuring amazing Twitter Indie artists. The songs we are working on for the Fall and Winter will be a little more dark and mysterious. At least two of those songs will incorporate organ for the first time.”

What is your creative process like?

“It’s different each time. Sometimes lyrics or vocals pop in our heads. Other times the instruments come first. In the case of ‘Big Wave’ we started with the rhythm and drums. The theme and chorus back up vocals soon followed. The verses, main chorus lyrics, bass and lead guitar evolved from there.”

How much do you bounce around ideas with each other?

“Our concepts are generally started with vocals and rhythm guitar by Darren Soto. The rest of the band responds with their instruments from there.”

Do you feel the past pandemic years helped or perhaps hindered your creative process?

“It’s mostly helped. We have had a prolific writing and recording spell during the pandemic. ‘Valentines Singles’, ‘Vision Singles’ and some of ‘Sunny Singles’ were written and recorded in 2021.“

How do you decide when a song is finished? Do you find yourself forever wanting to tweak and re-record etc.?

“Like the phrase goes, the song must “spark joy” before we will consider releasing it. Near perfect is ideal, but a few tiny quirks can sometimes add an unexpected dynamic. We are most particular about recording vocals.”

What’s the biggest problem you’ve had to overcome so far?

“Some members of the band were very prolific during the pandemic. The isolation inspired them to create more music. Others struggled more, emotionally, and it took a lot to get them to play again.”

What are you hoping to achieve as a band?

“We hope to continue to play local festivals and other gigs, build our streaming fan base and possibly make a Spotify Editorial Playlist or two. From there, who knows?”

What’s your favourite song from the Cool Top 20 and why?

“‘Ben Nevis’ is our favourite song on the current Top 20. It’s got a sweet, bluesy Black Keys vibe. We have become familiar with The Future Us through the Twitter Indie scene. They are a mainstay on our seasonal playlists. The band even shows up on our Spotify Radio or Similar Artists roster now and again.”

“We are big fans of Fendahlene too, another artist we encountered through the Twitter Indie scene, that’s featured on the Cool Top 20. They are also included on our seasonal playlists. ‘North East’ is another pop rock gem from them, in the vein of Elvis Costello and others.”

What song would you like to add as a bonus track and why?

“‘Kool’ by Bottlecap Mountain is an amazing song we added as the second song on our INDIE Summer Rocks!. It’s a punk pop jam with a nostalgia theme about what they thought was cool as a little kid.”

(Photo credits: Natasha “Tosh” Vierday)

Main social is Twitter: @OrangeCreekRdrs

Facebook: @TheOrangeCreekRiders