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Impending Doom with WHITFIELD CRANE

Some genres of music just shouldn’t go together – on paper at least.
Thankfully there are a growing legion of musicians that prefer to test different styles against each other by trying rather than analysing and the music world as a whole is becoming significantly enriched as a result.
If someone had suggested to you that the music of Black Sabbath could be set and played to a 35 piece orchestra – with no amplifiers or electronics on stage – chances are you would still be laughing but as the old saying goes don’t knock something before you try it.
Ugly Kid Joe vocalist Whitfield Crane had this same idea a couple of years back and instead of seeking approval from his peers decided to put together a project that combined classical and metal genres with the result being Orchestra Of Doom.
With a full orchestra behind him, Crane put together a musical extravaganza featuring the songs of Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne‘s solo material as well as a selection of Ugly Kid Joe tunes and a couple of his own solo offerings.
It is a unique and bipolar musical project that debuted to sell-out crowds overseas and is making its way to Australian shores with two performances in Melbourne and Sydney on December 3 and 7 respectively.
When asked why he chose to focus on Black Sabbath’s music, Crane’s response was immediate and succinct.
“They are my heroes”, he shrugged. “Funnily enough, and we didn’t know this until we did it, but of all bands to score Black Sabbath is absolutely and utterly orchestral! Who knew, right?”
A labour of love, Crane says one of the key components in the initial success of Orchestra of Doom was the freedom he enjoyed by working to his own agenda without outside factors breathing down his neck.
“There was no horse in the race”, he explained. “There’s no point to it. There’s no label or machine behind it, it was just people drinking beers and talking about their love of music and amalgamating classic music with heavy metal”.
Admittedly nervous about the initial run of shows, Crane enthuses that the response and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
“It made people feel alive”, he gushed. “It made US feel alive. This is only my opinion but fifty or one hundred years ago I don’t think they would have let this happen in the orchestral community and I understand that and honour that, but at this point in the world today – which I think is a good reflection of the world today – it’s okay to do this and in fact to bring younger kids and people in to a classical realm. It’s not a completely dying art form, but it’s a tough place for classical music right now. This is a good thing across the board because not only am I in love with Black Sabbath and it is interesting to me objectively, but it’s good for… even if it wasn’t Sabbath, it could be Pink Floyd or anyone… so it’s a really good idea. It’s dimensional and it’s original and it’s exciting”.
The fact Orchestra of Doom is even coming to Australia is another musical anomaly. Through his friendship with Australian tennis legend Pat Cash, Crane was persuaded to bring his pet project to the land of notoriously harsh critics and heaps nothing but praise on Cash when discussing where he fits into the picture.
“I love tennis”, Crane laughed. “I really, really love tennis. Pat Cash came to an Ugly Kid Joe show maybe in 1991 or 92 – which I don’t remember (laughs) – but when push comes to shove I wanted to go and see the tennis and I was living in Melbourne and my friend was like dude, I’m friends with Pat Cash and he’s a metalhead so hang out with him and he will help you out so I emailed Pat and said come to the Australian Open with me and we started hanging out and found we love the same stuff. We love Priest, Sabbath, AC/DC and Rose Tattoo – Pat has a Rose Tattoo tattoo! – and we ended up at the French Open together not this year but last and we had a lovely meal in Paris where we were swapping heavy metal stories. We were talking about guitars and Glenn Tipton and Tommy Iommi and it was funny. It was like two big kids getting really excited about heavy metal. We had proper stories because we had met the bands and we were so excited. I had a snippet of Orchestra of Doom on my phone so I showed it to him and he watched it with his Pat Cash face and he puts it down and looks at me with this stoic look on his face and goes can I show this to my friend? My friend Sam Righi said if I ever see anything on the ground floor that moves me to bring it to him immediately. I said yes so he did and between Sam and Pat they believe in this thing. I never imagined it making it to Australia; that’s beyond my wildest dreams but those guys really believed in it so there you have it. You have tennis fan me, heavy metal fan me and then you have Wimbledon winner and heavy metal fan Pat Cash believing in this thing wholeheartedly and working together in the most beautiful way to take it to Australian shores”.
In the full interview Whit gives a complete rundown on Orchestra of Doom including where he came up with the idea and how he transformed that idea into reality, introduces the pivotal people in bringing the project to the stage, tells of letting Ozzy Osbourne know he was making an orchestral Black Sabbath live show and Ozzy’s hilarious reaction, how Orchestra of Doom differs to the Metallica stage show with an orchestra, how he tracks the songs vocally, how much reworking the original songs needed to add the orchestral elements and more.

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Written by Kris Peters

Kris has been writing freelance for about 20 years. Kris always found his taste in music a little too eclectic for the mainstream market but has found his niche writing for HEAVY. Based in Brisbane, Kris also runs a promotions company, KSP Productions.

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