Black Magic Woman
Guitar World|February 2021
A conversation with ORIANTHI: Her new album, “the biggest guitar gig in the world,” trading licks with ROBBY KRIEGER, marvelling at JEFF BECK — and, oh yeah, gear galore!
By Amit Sharma

“WE MADE THE record in about 28 days,” says Australian guitar queen Orianthi, whose new album, O, arrives some seven-plus years after its predecessor, 2013’s Heaven in This Hell. The 10 tracks were produced by Marti Frederiksen, with his 21-year-old son, Evan, contributing bass and drums. “It took a long time to get ’round to it because I was busy with different collaborative creative efforts. And I’m really proud of all the things I’ve done in the time since my last record. There was the RSO stuff [with Richie Sambora] plus writing and touring with all these other artists. But it felt like it was time to make my next solo album.”

The new music weaves through all kinds of guitar tones, from more metallic affairs to country and pop sounds — every bit as diverse as you’d expect from someone who has played for artists as varied as Michael Jackson, Alice Cooper and Michael Bolton. She’s composed for Bollywood soundtracks and can be heard on tracks by Anastacia, Adam Lambert and 50 Cent.

“I listen to a lot of different music, so it is pretty diverse,” Orianthi says. “I was listening to a lot of INXS, Jimi Hendrix and Nineties stuff like Nine Inch Nails, as well as bands like Muse — whose synthy tones probably inspired the heavy octave fuzz on ‘Sinners Hymn.’ I was also listening to a lot of Buddy Guy at the time, like [2001’s] Sweet Tea, so the lyrics were originally written as a poem about a blues band, like a Robert Johnson kinda thing about going into every town, ripping it up and then heading off... a very classic blues story.”

You’re holding your PRS Goldtop Custom 24 on the cover of O. Was that your main guitar for the recordings?

It got used on quite a few of the solos. I also had a Les Paul, an SG, a PRS Custom 22 and this 1970 Tele that Marti owned. It was just there and we liked how it cut through.

It got used for layering because you don’t want the same guitar always in there; you want to harness different personalities. There was quite a mixture of guitars by the end. For “Contagious,” we layered Les Pauls, Teles and a PRS. I think there was a [Gibson] Trini Lopez on there somewhere too. I wanted different guitars that you could hear separately, not just this one wall of sound. It needed gravity and texture.

You became an ambassador for Orange Amps in 2018. What made you decide to switch over?

For some reason, I’d never played Orange amps before then, and I don’t know why… maybe it was the color? Not that I’m against orange! But somehow I’d tried every other company, like Marshall and EVH, and when I got an Orange Rockerverb mkIII, I felt it had some serious guts but so much clarity. I prefer using amp distortion and I was just blown away by the tone of that amp. That’s what got used for the record. They did a custom Rockerverb for me in gold snakeskin, which looks really cool. We’re actually in talks about doing a signature thing.

ORIANTHI ON HOW TO BE A KICK ASS SIDE PERSON

Just play it like you mean it. You have to be present in the moment and be able to harness that energy and also project that energy out at the listener. With Alice [Cooper], for instance, he takes his audience on a journey every night. And I want to be a part of that journey, not just somebody onstage watching it happen. So you have to go out there and give it everything you’ve got. No matter what you’re doing, make sure you’re not doing it half-assed. Doors will open. It’s just a matter of time! — April 2013 Guitar World

Is that a DigiTech Whammy we’re hearing on “Contagious”?

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