Black Orchid Empire’s Paul Visser Talks First and Worst Shows, Craziest Show, Dream Show and More

While many bands have bumped back the planned release dates of their new albums in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, U.K. heavy alt-rock trio Black Orchid Empire stayed the course. The band — comprised of vocalist-guitarist Paul Visser, vocalist-bassist David Ferguson and drummer Billy Freedom — recently released their new sci-fi concept album and third full-length overall, Semaphore, via Long Branch Records.

Unfortunately, when it comes to playing shows, the decision is out of the group’s hands, as the coronavirus crisis and resulting social-distancing restrictions have shut down the live music industry. With that in mind, we recently caught up with Visser to look back on some of the standout gigs that he’s attended as a fan and played as a musician. We looked ahead, too, at his dream concert.

 

WHAT WAS THE FIRST SHOW THAT YOU GUYS EVER ATTENDED?
The first big, cool show I can remember is Smashing Pumpkins at the Birmingham NEC arena in 1996. Billy Corgan was the first person I’d ever seen play a grand piano in a full-length leather coat. It was godly.

WHAT WAS THE WORST SHOW YOU EVER SAW?
We’ve played a ton of shit shows, if that’s what you mean! You rack up some horrible experiences if you do this long enough. Although I also saw Lou Reed once in, like, 2003. He had someone doing interpretive dance the entire time. It was goddamn awful.

WHAT’S THE CRAZIEST SHOW YOU’VE EVER BEEN TO?
Slipknot at the Birmingham NEC supported by One minute’s Silence, In Flames and American Head Charge. Literally the most insane thing I’ve ever seen. The upper level crowd tore all the seat covers off at the end and started throwing them at the other side of the arena.

HOW ABOUT THE SMALLEST SHOW?
We played a pub basement before that was maybe 50 capacity, if you were being generous.

AND THE BIGGEST SHOW?
Supporting Skunk Anansie at Brixton Academy — it was sold out at over 5,000.

LOOKING AHEAD TO WHEN LIVE SHOWS RETURN — WHAT WOULD BE YOUR DREAM SHOW?
I’d kill to play with Deftones, Queens of the Stone Age or Tool.