Meet: The Quirky, Catchy And Hugely Talented The Outlaw Orchestra

With a covers album out due at the end of September titled ‘Back Under The Covers’, we caught up with the hard working rockers to find out all about your new favourite band.

Give us a potted history of the band

The Outlaw Orchestra;

Rocker Dave: Guitar/Lead vocals

Banjo Pete: Banjo, Pedal Steel, Lap Steel, vocals

Ryan ThunderSmith: Drums percussion

Formed a handful of years back as a fun hang, jamming with musicians outside of our normal bands.  Accidentally, songs started getting written on these sessions and they were sounding pretty catchy. For fun, a gig was played in a local cafe, and it packed out.  A quick reshuffle of musicians and Ryan came in on drums (Dave already being in the band).  A couple more cafe gigs and more reshuffling/firing and Dave now took the lead vocals, lead guitar and roll of all round entertainer.

We went from that cafe to Planet Rock Radios’ Winters End festival, yes that was the jump!  Playing at 12 noon on the Sunday as a wild card and within three minutes the place was jammed.  “We’d recorded a live EP and for some reason had ordered 300 copies…..we sold the lot at Winters End and every t-shirt we had” said Dave.

Another re-shuffle and enter Banjo Pete.  Now the gigs took the band as far as Scotland, playing on bills with Skid Row, Diamond Head, Pete Way from UFO, King King, Kris Barras, Reef and The Dead Daisies.  They graced several O2 stages, Ramblin Man Festival and pulled the biggest crowd to date at the Rising Stage.

Two years of playing at this level allowed the guys to really hone the stage show, polish the songs and find time to record them as the first album ‘Pantomime Villains’. It received such a great response with phenomenal reviews.   Then lockdown!!!

Another reshuffle and the band were now a three piece with Dave taking on the duty of Lead guitar, Bass guitar and Vocals by way of some technological wizardry assisted by Kelby from The Cadillac Three.  This meant relearning the instrument to play a guitar and lay down the bass line simultaneously. 

It appeared that the end of the world was nigh, and lockdown was used to record a bunch of cover songs so that our following had a fun track every Friday night to enjoy with a beer.  These were packaged into a digital EP titled ‘Under The Covers’.  At the same time the trio had written some new tracks and recorded them virtually, sending each other their individual parts online.  With help from their studio engineer (and almost the fourth member of the band) David Evans, the band released the aptly titled ‘Powercut’ stripped back acoustic EP.  This was a taste of dipping the toe into more traditional country and bluegrass rock.

Once the gates were open the trio set out on the gig circuit again and had to find their feet as a trio to fill the stage and make a big sound. A few gigs in and they were back in their stride. The Sheffield faithful welcomed them back onto the big stages and the second the guys had some down time they set to recording their second album Makin’ Tracks.  Again, this had a more rootsy country rock feel.  Guest musicians joined them on the record; Buzzy James the slide guitar virtuoso from Long Beach California taking the solo on the track Rollin Stone. Trish Burke or Janis Joplin reincarnate sung backing vocals throughout.  Nashville’s Rachael Crick played sultry mournful fiddle on the track Sea Legs.  Finally, Studio engineer David Evans laid down beautiful piano throughout.  This gained the band a greater audience as the sound had clearly matured. The country rock circuit embraced the band and they have now played two years running at Stockport’s Buckle & Boots country festival, as well as Wincanton’s Rock and Ribs.

Who inspired you to start making music

Speaking on behalf of the others (Banjo Pete and Ryan Thundersmith) I’d say music has been the mainstay in all our lives.  Pete’s Dad’s has always played at a high level in covers bands and famously never missed a gig even when a child was being born!  He just juggled stage times and deliveries.  Ryan has carried that flame by playing two weeks running at O2 stages whilst waiting on the call “Get to the hospital he/she is on their way”.  As for myself (Dave), music has been the family tradition as far as one can back track.  My Dad and Uncles played and toured Germany with Little Richard and The Beatles through the early 60’s and all of my cousins, brothers have all had varied success in bands over the years.  

In a nutshell all three of us are influenced by 60’s and 70’s British pop/rock bands more noticeably The Stones, The Who, The Beatles and Buddy Holly.  Come the 80’s and 90’s certainly Ryan and myself dived deep into hard rock, metal and southern rock.

And the one or maybe two records that inspired you artistically

Most influential album to date (Dave): Get Yer Ya Yas Out’ The Rolling Stones!  I’m certain it shows in our playing and overall style.

If you’re trying to explain whom you sound like to someone that’s never heard you, what do you say

If folk ask “So who’d you sound like”, it’s tricky but maybe if I said a countrified Rolling Stones with The Who’s attitude, the rebelliousness of Lynyrd Skynyrd and the swagger of ZZ Top.

Tell us about your new release

The new release is called Back Under The Covers.  When backstage hanging with other bands and musicians, we like to warm up the fingers and voices jamming out covers. Everyone joins in, the bottle tops start to collect pretty fast and within an hour we’re stage ready.  This is how we started out, busking around the kitchen table swapping instruments. Someone backstage said, “you guys should record these, they’re great fun”. So with the help of portable technology, we captured the more polished versions of our backroom jams into another collection of our favourite covers.”

It was recently said in a live review “What makes them an Orchestra? They’re a three piece.” It’s probably due to the plethora of instruments they play at any gig, its an Orchestra’s worth of strings; Banjo, Mandolin, Lap Steel, Pedal Steel, Guitars, Baritone guitars and every percussive instrument you can fit in a van. All of these make their way onto the new collection of tracks.

Dave surmises “Its our salute to our heroes and record collections that keep us inspired.”

Where can we get hold of it

Available everywhere ever on the intraweb! 

Tell us how you write

Writing wise, we never stop, I am listening all day to movies, conversations etc and if I hear a great line, I’ll write it down and it goes into the ‘Song book folder’. Pete does the same and when one of us stumbles on a nice chord progression or riff we look thru the lines and sentences we have, and a story starts to form. Some songs take twenty minutes to write, some take months. We have one sat on the shelf at present which is going to be one of our proudest tunes, but it felt like we were pushing to too hard, so we shelve it and at the right time we’ll return to it. I hum it to myself when I walk the dog and I’m still looking for the opening line…it’ll happen but no hurry!

Tell us about your live show and how much have you been missing it recently

We simply love being on stage and interacting with the crowds – its infectious fun.  We tried to replicate some of this through our lockdown cover tracks but nothing takes the place of being up there in front of a live audience.  Its where we belong, and it feels so good to be back out there.

What can we expect from you in the near future

In the near future you’ll find us continuing to tour the UK on every festival stage that’ll have us. A new album won’t be until 2023 so we’ll be keepin’ on rocking out every week somewhere in the country.

Tell us your favourite records that are rocking your headphones/tour bus/stereo

Always a huge selection to choose from, but at the moment its mainly

Way Out West – Marty Stuart

Angel of Retribution – Judas Priest

Skeletons – Brothers Osbourne

Check out the band’s track Done My Time, Below:

Find out more via the band’s Website or Facebook

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