The saying goes that “bad situations breed creativity” and this sentiment certainly runs true for New Zealand band Mild Orange.
Late last year the four piece band’s frontman Josh Mehrtens’ was faced with a serious health problem that forced the band to cancel huge concerts and important media appearances.
“I was recovering from pneumonia and pleurisy back in October 2020, which nearly wiped me out and left me sick for about six months,” Mehrtens explains.
“With sickness came a period where I experienced an inability to do what I love, and it meant we had to cancel some of our biggest shows to date and some important radio and TV appearances. The disappointment in myself, and letting down others (the band, fans, people involved) weighed heavy on me and sent me downward.”
Battling pneumonia, Mehrten reveals that the dark time of his health battle actually inspired him to create music, and the result was their single ‘This Kinda Day’.
“It turned out that my friends, family, and fans were all super supportive and gave me strength,” says Josh. “To me, this song represents a lot of growth in perspective, and I’d love to share that appreciation with others in hopes that it might help some not go down a dark path alone,” he adds.
Though the story behind the creation of ‘This Kinda Day’ is somber, the accompanying video clip is anything but. It’s an adorable and punchy animated video that was created between NZ, LA, and Indonesia. It’s a dreamy clip that is practically impossible not to get swept away with.
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“The song has themes of mental health and the importance of reaching out to your mates, which was a crucial element that needed to be represented in the clip. We wanted the message of normalising reaching out to friends to be included, so that’s why you see the ‘hey’ text to symbolise this, then the character seeing his supportive friends at the end of their turbulent night,” Mehrtens says of the video clip to ‘This Kinda Day’.
The Kiwi band, made up of frontman Josh Mehrtens and lead guitarist Josh Reid, with bassist Tom Kelk and drummer Jack Ferguson have accumulated somewhat of an internet cult following, their music clips have racked up close to 50 million YouTube views.
As part of our Get To Know series and to celebrate the release of their new single and clip for ‘This Kinda Day’, we’ve sat down with the boys for a chat.
Watch ‘This Kinda Day’ by Mild Orange:
How did your artist name come about?
Mehrt: My brother (Sam Wave) came up with the name! We needed a name for our first gig, and it was the title of a song of his. From there we really embraced it. The colour orange stimulates warmth, happiness, and positivity. We try to project that vibe, and ‘mild’, well, since we’re not too over the top with it.
Jack: Jah and Barry are mildly on the ‘having orange hair’ spectrum; Hence Mild Orange
How would you describe your music to your grandma?
Mehrt: It’s music intended to carry with you throughout your whole life, that you will hopefully find something new in each time you listen. And yes, it’s a real job. Her response would be “speak up, I can’t hear you”. Love ya Rose.
Jah: I would probably say something pretty generic.. About us being a classic four-piece that isn’t too heavy, lots of easy listening songs that she would enjoy. Albeit I haven’t heard anything other than concert radio playing at her place. I’m sure she would enjoy it nonetheless!
Barry: I’d sit her down and tell her that I play in a band with two guitars, one bass and some drums. I’d say the music is soft and pensive, but at times will crescendo into intense psychedelic euphoria. She’d probably have no idea what I was talking about but that’s OK, I’ll still love her.
Jack: “We kind of sound like Frank Sinatra and the Beatles, not like those punk rocker teenagers you see on TV.” Disclaimer, we don’t sound anything like Frank Sinatra or the Beatles but they’re probably two of the few artists she knows.
Tell us about a few of your tracks; their titles and what they’re about?
Mehrt: ‘What’s Your Fire?” – It’s a new one coming which absolutely erupts when we play live. It’s about asking ‘who are you, what’s your fire? What do you burn for?”. I’ve been asking myself this almost every day since it was written about a year ago.
Jah: ‘In The Living Room’ is one of the more psychedelic tracks on our first album, Foreplay. It explores the notion of being in the living room physically, while psychologically in a completely different place. The opening line “Hello, come on in”, invites the listener on a sonic journey with us. Definitely one of the most fun to play live too, it can get quite trippy.
Jack: I would say our latest release ‘This Kinda Day’ has the most meaning behind it. I don’t want to speak on behalf of Mehrt’s because I’m just the drummer.. But it sends a message about if you’re not feeling too well mentally or physically it’s ok to reach out to mates for support.
What do you love about your hometown?
Mehrt: I’m from Arrowtown, NZ – population 3000. A cosy mountain town in the South Island. I love the calmness, the clean drinkable rivers, walks up into the mountains, and having space.
Jah: I grew up in Carterton in the Wairarapa (an hour drive from Wellington, the capital). I loved growing up in a rural area. The outdoors are so accessible and in the region you have some of NZ’s best vineyards as well as beautiful beaches. I also appreciate the sense of community that comes from growing up in a smaller town. I still love going back to visit my parents and getting a coffee from the same cafe I’ve been visiting for most of my life (shout out to the French Baker, Greytown).
Barry: My hometown is Dunedin, also the birthplace of the band. I love Dunedin for many reasons. It was an awesome place to grow up, with amazing nature on the doorstep. The kinda place you could ski and surf in a day if you really wanted. My favourite place in Dunedin is Emerson’s brewery. Arguably the best beer in the world. Sit me on the couch at Emerson’s with a pint of Bird Dog and a bowl of chips, I’ll be a happy man.
Jack: Where do I start? I constantly get stick for talking about my hometown Westport, a down to earth community isolated on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. I guess my passion for my hometown stems from my childhood. It was such a fun place to grow up; a good group of core friends, sports, outdoors, a surfer’s paradise, no fast food joints.. a pretty humble place.
Career highlight so far?
Mehrt: Our first ever concert overseas: Budapest, Hungary, 2019. That feeling when we played the first song and everyone knew the lyrics, it was unreal – especially since English isn’t the primary language there. That was such a surprise and I played the entire show with a grin.
Jah: Hmmm, that’s tricky. Our show in Paris in 2019 is right up there for me. This was our first ever sold out international show which was a truly surreal feeling. Knowing that our music resonated with enough people to sell out a show on the other side of the world was a big eye opener and provided a sense of reassurance that we were doing something right. I also met my now girlfriend after that show which was a bonus!
Barry: Playing at All Points East Festival in London. That was really cool, we got to share the stage with the likes of Toro y Moi, The Strokes, Kamasi Washington and many more. That day will forever be etched in my memory.
Jack: Our U.S and Mexico trip in 2019, we stayed in Roma, Mexico City for about 2 weeks although I had to share a bed with Jah the whole time the trip was worth it. We got to experience a night drinking mezcal. Barry wet himself, ate local street food (tacos). Jah shat himself, we sat on top of the Mayan pyramids and talked about Aliens for 3 hours, did a bit of music and best of all played a festival during the Day of The Dead holiday which was pretty sick. Although we didn’t play in the U.S we got some sightseeing done around New York and Los Angeles. A fan of ours who is now our mate, Jake, showed us around his weed farm in California which was pretty loose and we went to a NBA game. I feel like those activities are two important things to check off the ol bucket list when visiting USA.
Fave non-music hobby?
Mehrt: Skateboarding or learning about geography on YouTube. Got such a thirst for random knowledge.
Barry: Cooking for sure. I don’t think I’d go a day without cooking, it is something that rivals the amount of joy that music brings me. I’ve also gotten into baking bread (following in Jah’s footsteps) and am running a very small bakery out of my flat. Check out barrys_bread on Instagram.
Jah: I’m on the same page as Barry here. It would have to be cooking, it’s something I look forward to doing every day. I find it quite therapeutic to wind down the day by cooking a meal for our flat.
Jack: Hmm probably sport depending on the season. If it’s cricket season I hate rugby, if it’s rugby season I hate cricket. Year round I try to get out for a wave, a skate or a round of golf.
What’s on your dream rider?
Mehrt: Green tea with a real mug, no plastic bottles or cups (please festivals, learn to use jugs!), negroni’s and Aperol spritz, a big plate of Yangnyeom-tongdak, chocolate, local craft beers to neck after the show!
Jah: A big plate of sashimi. A bottle of vodka, Kahlua and coffee to whip up a few pick-me-up espresso martinis for the band. Pretty much any beer from Parrotdog.
Barry: Emersons Bird Dog IPA
Jack: My 13-year-old self would say a PS5 with NBA 2k21, a monster energy drink and Thai sweet chili Doritos. But realistically unlimited beers because our roadies (mates) drink them all by the time we get off stage, carrot and hummus, gin and tonic, smoked pepper salmon with buttery crackers, camembert cheese and pear quince paste, mwah!
Dream music collaboration?
Mehrt: To write with Burt Bacharach would be a dream come true. Or collaborate with Nicki Minaj – that’d be wild, love her. I’m also keen on a side-career in country music.
Jah: I’m not sure in what capacity it would be but it would have to be with Kendrick Lamar. He’s my most listened-to artist for sure.
Barry: Doing something with Khruangbin would be amazing.
Jack: Anything to do with Kings of Leon even if it’s just a “shoutout to Mild Orange”
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Mehrt: Playing arenas with the MO boys, our partners and kids all rocking out at the side of stage with us, touring the world seeing beautiful places and meeting awesome people along the way. Probably gonna have like 500 guitars by then.
Jah: Spending most of the year touring and hunkering down in make-shift studios across the world. Headlining our dream festivals (Coachella, Glastonbury, etc).
Barry: Getting up at 4am to bake bread for my fledgling sandwich shop…. Na, we’ll be touring the world, playing big festivals and enjoying New Zealand summers in the off-season, I can’t wait.
Jack: 35.. Shit.. Will probably have a penthouse in Manhattan and be clueless to how much a bottle of milk costs. Ha. yea nah I would like to say I will still be writing, recording and touring music with Mild Orange as long as they don’t kill me by then!
What’s your go-to karaoke song?
Mehrt: Josh Turner – Your Man. “Baby lock them doors and turn them lights down looooow”
Jah: Glamorous – Fergie
Barry: You Can Call Me Al – Paul Simon
Jack: “Drops of Jupiter in her hair he-e-ey” I still don’t know the full lyrics but I give it my all.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Mehrt: You will never lose – just win or learn.
Jah: I was racking my brain for an answer to this and realised I was overthinking it, so with that in mind, don’t overthink things.
Barry: Don’t take yourself too seriously
Jack: The legendary Micheal Jordan once told me “why think about missing a shot you haven’t taken yet,” I guess that applies to a lot of things in life.
What’s one obsession you have that no one would guess after listening to your music?
Mehrt: I can almost name all the countries in the world off the top of my head. It’s hard remembering 196 countries in one go, but I’m damn persistent to crack it.
Jah: Baking bread. I was one of those people that started baking sourdough during NZ’s first lockdown and it was something I surprisingly enjoyed. I kept going and got better and have only bought bread a handful of times since. It’s a magical process.
Barry: Planes – I could no shit sit at an airport all day and watch them come in and out. Bloody amazing machines.
Jack: Photography and merchandise. The guys call me Jack Merchison