Track By Track: Orange Island – One Night Stay

Orange Island

Orange Island has teamed up with Iodine Records for a reissue of their classic “One Night Stay” LP. Chuck Young, a drummer of the band, was kind enough to break down their songs exclusively for Thoughts Words Action.

Pre-order “One Night Stay” HERE


Holy Bibles and Stained Glass Hotel Windows
A Catholic priest in my small hometown had gotten into a literal bar fight over professional football at the local Irish pub. That just seemed like the perfect encapsulation of my experience growing up there (at least its most bitter days) which inspired a version of this song where the main idea was like “I’m trying to feel God in this Chili’s tonight but I don’t think it’s your God.” I brought this version into the pre-production sessions for the album and Matt Squire, who did most of the vocal production, basically told me that these words weren’t my band and we couldn’t use them. That experience informed the theme of this new version that draws parallels between hypocritical religious worship and vapid music scene fanaticism. I believed at the time that the creation of good art comes with a degree of suffering, an element of sacrifice. That lended itself easily to playing with the martyr trope and tying it into a conversation I had had with my mother where she tried to gauge just how far I might take the grief that I was carrying around and had poured into the material of our first full-length. I also remembered playing a show somewhere down in Florida and while we were drinking in the parking lot waiting for load-in, a group of kids showed up and treated us like we were Gods just because we were one of the bands. They were there for the show (the only ones really) and one of them was the opener. When he got up on stage with his acoustic guitar I swear to you he was crying out for help through his songs in such a transparent way that I legitimately thought his friends were going to go up there and swaddle him in a blanket and carry him home for some soup and I love yous (and rightfully so!). Instead after every song they just “woo’d” and clapped. At one point he broke down into tears while screaming lyrics that I remember being something like “I’m serious please don’t just clap. I’m in an awful lot of pain.” And he finishes, wipes snot on his sleeve, and “woo” and clap. Being in a band is like that sometimes.  

Only the Good-Looking Need Apply
My handsome friend started hooking up with one of my pretty friends behind my back and it felt like a betrayal? Clearly she knew that I was more beautiful than he was on the inside! The only thing they knew about each other or could possibly have in common is that they were both attractive. That didn’t seem like enough to base a meaningful relationship on. That’s where the lyrics for this song originally came from but they were more angry Saves the Day type jawns. For this record, I really wanted to take the songs from sincere diary entries to sincere commentaries on elemental truths of humanity. So I would pick little bits from here and there and develop a common thread. With this one, I turned it all into a premonition about where we would end up as a society if we kept consuming meaningless media and only relating to each other on a fake, surface level. It’s a warning that we’ll all end up even more isolated from one another if we only care about projecting the perfect facade version of ourselves. I wrote it while wearing a pointy blue hat with stars on it and a big fake white beard.

Silent Partner
This song is like if you woke up from a blackout, rolled over and saw St. Peter lying next to you smoking a butt. They coyly smile at you and as you embarrassingly roll back to your right, you see, “Was it good for you?” graffiti’d on the Pearly Gates. Being reluctantly raised Catholic and in a tiny town, I was hyper aware of the idea of reckoning. I always felt like I would need to justify choices/experiences to someone, be it romantic partners or heavenly locksmiths. This song is about mining the trite and cliche for depth and what happens when you start learning and analyzing aspects of human nature on your own terms as opposed to the last fourteen years or so of educational practice done in service of someone else’s agenda. It’s about finding meaning in one night stands and street names. It’s about trying to feel and express something so true that you trick yourself into thinking it’s beautiful.

Life as a Series of Addictions
I wrote this one on tour after listening to a bunch of Faith No More. I wanted to get more stream of consciousness and obtuse with what I was writing. I also wanted to be more bold with word choice. I remember listening to band members loudly talking about the debaucherous antics of the previous night. It felt like amateur hour. What was this? Everyone’s first time? That informed the vibe of the song and then I just sort of went where it wanted me to go and it became about the various ways we exploit ourselves on our fumbling way towards adulthood. How we might start believing we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be, doing exactly what we’re supposed to be doing. I remember in the local newspaper after graduation, they’d print everyone’s senior portraits with a little blurb about what they planned on doing with their lives. My freshman year I flipped through that section trying to find the senior I had made out with at a party and who had gone to a neighboring high school. I saw all of the “will enter the workforce” and I was like “what the fuck does that mean?” My senior year, in a high school locker room, a bunch of guys were talking about how they trashed a house party over the weekend and this new kid to the school stopped everyone and went, “Wait a minute. Someone was nice enough to let you come and hang out at their house and you disrespected them like that? That really sucks of you.” And I was like woah this kid rules. And that kid grew up to be none other than hit songwriter Billy Walsh. Shoutout Billy Walsh. You always been a real one.

Knife in Hand, Gun in Mouth
This song caused the most stress during the recording sessions. It doesn’t have a traditional structure and the threat was constantly looming that we’d have to rework it. We didn’t want to. When I first received the cassette demo that Bren (guitar player/music man) had done next door to his parents house, I immediately envisioned it as a cinematic experience (I think I actually pictured a clip from an old movie about carnival people that a friend of mine had used in a music video for 454 Big Block where all of these sideshow types are making their way through pouring rain on some sort of devious mission). So in a fit of insomnia, I penned this story about casually finding oneself a link in the chain of someone else’s trauma and responding to it by brazenly encouraging violent retribution as opposed to being helpful or supportive. My favorite part of the record happens at the end of this song. At the very end it sounds like a female voice explodes into a bunch of birds. I remember hearing it for the first time while listening to the master in Squire’s car cruising the streets of Boston. It felt full circle since that’s basically how my music “career” had started: driving around blaring tunes with my best friends. I had felt then that there was a conversation going on that I desperately wanted to be a part of and now here I was adding my two cents to what it means to be a human being, with hopes of it leading someone somewhere to feeling less alone. Huzzah.

Burn Off Your Fingerprints
This is the oldest song on the record. It was written as early as 2001. I remember playing a demo version for friends while riding out to a going away party for our original bass player who had joined the Marines right after 9/11. Our first time at Salad Days was to actually record a version of this for a split we were doing with Garrison. On our way home from Maryland, the handicap bus we had been touring with broke down and our Philly friends came to our rescue, helping us bump the bus off the highway. We abandoned it in Jersey, which triggered a warrant for my arrest. I still get anxious on the parkway. You’ll never get me, coppahs! While stuck in Philly that night, we got a little wild (as one tended to do at the time) and during a rousing, very un-PC version of “God Gave Rock n’ Roll To You II,” our buddy bashed his forty through one of the panes of his french door. That, of course, triggered a domino effect where we all started punching more panes out until the room was just a beach of shattered glass. I got good and sliced across the OI tattoo on my wrist (we had all gotten them on our first tour in ‘01) so that the lightning bolt separating the letters is forever cock-eyed. Anyway the song is about like fighting against this exact thing. It’s about literally shutting the fuck up and sitting in a corner instead of switching yourself to ON and taking over parties yelling shit like “hey grab that guitar and play some Kiss! Let’s get a sing along going!” 

We Hit it Off, It’s the Shit (or Get Off the Pot)
For my friend’s twenty-second birthday, I met him and his girlfriend out at a Worcester bar. The tab was in her name. We wracked it up by asking the bartender to make the strongest/best shots he knew how and to keep them coming. He hit us with something he called “Red Death.” After the bar we went back to an apartment where I spent a couple hours on the phone with my roommate discussing a budding romance I was experiencing with a mutual friend. He had felt her out and was giving me the greenlight. At this time too I had just learned what la petite mort was and had been watching Leaving Las Vegas quite a bit (which if you don’t know is the most romantic story about someone killing themselves with booze) so I ran with those two things pretty heavily. It’s the first love song we had recorded since our first EP. It basically equates new love with the buzz of alcohol. I remember Poorman being bummed about the cynicism I had injected into it with a line that goes “we’ll toast to a better life, a better lie.” My man wanted to believe in the purity of love! He didn’t want to admit that love requires a bit of deceit, a bit of method acting. Sorry, bud! 

Orange Island
Photo by Dickie Cummings

The Bachelorette, Her Neck, and a Drunk as Joe Millionaire
This is part two of this multiple month love story that actually ended while we were making the album. She said she felt like she was “dating a bum.” Which was fair since she was like paying my way into hipster dance nights across Allston. Still stung a bit. When we finished the record, I burned a CD with these two songs, wrote a burn book style letter that was all, “I’m trying to make you immortal with MY ART” and was going to drop them both off at her doorstep. My roommate listened to me read him the letter and he very generously said, “please don’t do that.” I was living in my own Dawson’s Creek episode! Anyway, when we started hanging out potentially romantically she would fall asleep in my bed wearing like jean skirts and shit so that inspired most of these words. It was also a song that was essentially written on the ride down to the studio. It came out of nowhere. The end cautions her basically not to take life too seriously. Life ain’t that serious, girl! Just have fun with the bum! I must’ve seen the writing on the wall. 

Diet of Worms
I feel like I stole the idea for this song from an Alkaline Trio number. One of my best friends passed away when I was nineteen. Most of the songs on our first full length are me making my way through that or trying to figure out if there even was a way through that. This song is about this new relationship we develop with slabs of stone and frozen ground. I remember one night tromping through the cemetery slush to this makeshift cross that existed at the time with “please leave up I need to know where my friends at” sharpie’d on it and finding like seven other friends there partying. It was immediately all a blur of tears and dancing and madness. The song talks about the ringing in your ears and is a callback to the beginning feedback of the record letting the listener know that the album starts with a death, hopefully now registering that that means the rest of the record is written from the point of view of somebody in the purgatory between heaven and hell. The difference with this song and the other ones I had written about this particular grief is that it ends on a hopeful note. It talks about learning how to live with it, choosing to live with it no matter if every breath feels forced. 

Oh! How Clintonian of Me
This song was written on tour in 2002. That year marked the most extensive touring we had done ever and since, really, now that I think about it. We had paid a booking company a borrowed $3000 in order to jump on shows with, hopefully, the decent sized bands this company was working with at the time. It was explained to us that we’d get $100 guarantees at all of these shows and this was like paying 30 shows worth of these guarantees upfront and we were doing maybe 90 dates. Seemed like a good deal! I think maybe only one of the shows had a $100 guarantee and the promoter tried canceling it the day of. The band we were on tour with called and screamed at them that each of us didn’t have enough money to make it to the next show so they better show their ass up and flash that cash. It turns out it was booked by literal children. They showed up with their moms and gave us each our 100 beans. They had canceled it because they were worried no one would show up and that we’d be mad at them. We felt really bad and wanted to play the show for them but they were all set. The moms also gave us each a bag of groceries. We ate beef log sandwiches for the next couple of weeks. Thank you, corporate-holiday-gift-basket moms! This song is simply about missing home. The title I took from a Bjork line that I loved because it sounded like a tongue-in-cheek apology. That’s what this song is. The urban legend about my town is that it was in the Guiness Book of World Records for most bars per square mile. So being a teen wolf is sort of your birthright. Sorry! 

Four Letter Tattoos and White Flags
A few of my friends were off fighting a literal war (our original bass player being one of them). This seemed extremely fucked up to me so I wrote a song about it. The main idea was basically “shut up if you’re not saying that these boys should come home to us the same way they left.” It was a response to the political discourse I was exposed to at my liberal arts college. I, again, was told that these words weren’t my band and we couldn’t use them. This gave me writer’s block. I couldn’t figure out how to say what I wanted to say and I think I was beholden to maybe some scratch vocals that had been put down by Squire. I remember “surrender” being in there so I couldn’t get away from it. Having to finish this song coincided with a going away weekend thrown for my best friend before he left for bootcamp. Another friend of ours rented a trailer at a campsite in Western Mass. I decided that this was the perfect place to shake off the block. I ended up writing this anthemic thing, between pissing in sinks and fighting over pissing in sinks, about what it means to finally grow up and move on. At its core it’s a shoutout to all of the various identities life-long friendships had evolved into and a decision made for salvation. Later when we would tour with a couple of Christian bands, I would have a great conversation with one of the members about how God is in this sandwich I was eating and in this free beer I was drinking and out these windows looking out on Grand Rapids rain and he would say to me, “I think you should do it. I think you should ask to be saved.” Ain’t no one to ask, my friend. It’s just been me here. Making it up as I go. And that’s been enough.


Orange Island - One Night Stay

Hailing from the suburban mill town of Clinton, Massachusetts, Orange Island were once a household name during the late ’90’s and early ’00’s post-hardcore scene. Though they were often mislabeled as emo, a more accurate description of their sound would be abrasive, yet mature, indie-rock with an astute understanding of pop melodicism. 

During put out albums with Triple Crown and Rise Records and toured with The Movielife, Taking Back Sunday, and other luminaries of the era. 

One Night Stay combines melodic hardcore, complex guitar interplay with lots of pop-influenced choruses and deeply somber lyrics that focus on the darker sides of life. While out-of-print for the last 15 years, the album sees a reissue, and release on vinyl for the first time, via Iodine Recordings on September 30. It is fully remastered and features production by Matt Squire (Taking Back Sunday, Thrice, and The Used). 

“Four Letter Tattoos and White Flags” is the first of the tracks from the record the band and label are sharing leading up to the record’s release. Listen to it . 

Of the song, drummer Chuck Young says, “On their worst nights, townie bars emit a cacophonous symphony of, ‘You think you bettah than me?’ Moving away can feel like a betrayal, ambition: a threat. This was my way of, not only responding to that perceived chorus but also shouting out the various ways the people I loved had gone from child to adult—hometowns feeling more reserved for growing up than for evolving as a well-rounded person. How can you ‘you think you bettah than me’ someone at war, the famous at the funeral home, the committed, the working class?” 

Rumors of reunion shows in ’22 also abound…stay tuned.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.