Music Features

Interview: Origami Angel

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D.C. two-piece Origami Angel are taking the emo scene by storm. Drummer Pat Doherty and guitarist/vocalist Ryland Heagy combine a plethora of different styles that make for fun, angsty romps that aren’t afraid to break trends of traditional emotional hardcore. We caught up with them during the West Coast stretch of their first big tour to talk to them about their history, inspirations, and what led their new EP, entitled GEN 3, to be one of the most fun love letters to Pokémon ever conceived.

So this is your guys’ first time in California. What’s the impression been and how does the scene here compare to the one in D.C.?

Pat Doherty: So far from personal experience, the scene has been phenomenal. Every show has been packed, people are singing along with us, the meet and greets have been fun. It’s been awesome.

Ryland Heagy: California has given us such a fucking warm welcome. I didn’t expect it to be like this at all but I think it’s comparable to where the East Coast scene is at or in some ways shines brighter. Every scene has its own unique thing that makes it great, and I’m not going to say one’s better, but we’ve definitely never been received the way we have here.

PD: We’ve been wanting for a while come out this way, and after seeing the turnout, there’s no doubt in my mind that we’re going to be coming back here.

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RH: I definitely second that. As soon as we got to the coast, pretty much Seattle on downward have been stellar shows and nothing short of a great-ass time. We’ve been having a tremendous amount of fun. I never really spent that much time on the West Coast, and I’d say the vibe here is definitely different than where we’re from. People are a little more sociable. Don’t get me wrong, there are people on the East Coast that are very sociable too. But here it has definitely been a very sociable, personal, caring, loving environment so far.

PD: That venue, Gilman, that we just played last night in Berkeley… I’ve been wanting to play there for so long because of the history behind it. My brother was extremely jealous when he found out. Just a little note right there about the West Coast and how badly I’ve wanted to come over here.

You guys have been on tour for a good part of the year, no?

RH: We’ve been doing little runs here and there. We started off 2019 on the road back from a tour. In the winter we did 12 dates where we toured with our friend Sammy Heck, she was a solo artist from our area who’s now with a full band, doing three dates out of her Subaru going through Philly, Pittsburg, and a place called Fallston, Maryland which is close to us. After that, we did a Midwest run on our own, which was pretty sick. It was our first real on-the-road experience.

PD: Before that we were doing for the most part just local shows, nothing extreme.

RH: We’d go a few states over a couple times, but that’s it. In February we did a four-show run with Commander Salamander, who we did a split with. Two short runs in March, one being with this band called Knope and the other on our own. Another two runs in April, just a few shows each mainly, preparing for this big one which is 20-some shows in 20-some days.

Dang.

 PD: But it’s been a breeze so far, extremely enjoyable.

RH: Yeah, this is the best full tour experience we could ever ask for. Every expectation has been met and exceeded. Our friend Alex Martin booked this tour for us and he’s great. Routing, the connects, homies we stay with, it was all locked in and I’ve been having the time of my life.

PD: I think a big part of it too is touring with Stars Hollow. They’re really cool. All of them remind me of my older brother in a way.

RH: Gavin and Tyler, the bassist and guitarist/vocalist, are both a little older than us with more touring experience so they’ve been helping us out.

PD: And shout out to Sage who’s filling in on drums for them. I love Sage.

RH: Sage is a monster, great drummer.

Origami Angel guitar

So how did you two meet?

PD: I was originally in this band called FYK and we were playing our first show at this little barbershop called Archie Edwards. After our set some kids, who turned out to be Ryland and his friend Jacob, came up and said, “Yo, you’re really good. Do you wanna join our band?” I was like, “Why not?” So then like literally the day after we started practicing. Idle Empire was our band at the time.

RH: Idle Empire always had flaky drummers since my freshman year of high school. We met Pat in like late 2015. He immediately joined the band and that was when we were like, “Shit! A real drummer!” A few months passed and Idle Empire kind of fizzled out. I had some songs written and ready to record so I was like, “Fuck it! Who’s the best drummer I know? Pat!”

PD: He’s making me blush.

RH: I respect Pat’s drumming style so much. He learns every part so quickly and then adds so much more than I could have ever thought. I knew that from the beginning.

PD: And from my perspective being asked to be a part of this two-piece, Ryland was the most talented person I knew. I can’t say no. Even talking to my bro and my dad, who both always go wild whenever they see Ryland play, they were like “Don’t let this kid go!” I just had to join.

RH: So then we started Origami Angel, put out our EP called QUIET HOURS, and played a bunch of shows. We then got kind of sidetracked with school, but eventually clicked into a groove and put out another EP named DOING THE MOST last year.

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PD: In my opinion, DOING THE MOST is where we found our sound and what would become “GAMI” in a way.

RH: Rather than being “Go ahead, Pat,” it became more like let’s have this be really rockin’, put in a breakdown, a pseudo-breakdown, shreddy parts.

PD: We’ve really matured as musicians in the past two years. It comes from playing all these shows together and introducing each other to our own music styles. It’s been a pretty fruitful journey.

RH: It’s been sick. Over three years now Pat and I have been playing music together. Every day has been better than the last.

Considering those different music styles, who have been your main influences?

RH: Barenaked Ladies and Yes, my youth was those two bands. My mom introduced me to the Beatles and I was like “songwriting’s cooool!” There’s Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! and Attack Attack! The Obsessives from D.C. are the reason this band formed the way it did as a two-piece. We saw one of the last shows they did as a two-piece in D.C. and they fucking ripped just the two of them. Then Pat and I were like, we gotta do this.

PD: Mind you, I had not listened to any Obsessives music before and I was still blown away by each song they performed. They’re a phenomenal band.

RH: Prince Daddy and the Hyena is a DIY band that influences me a ton. I just love their atmosphere, style, upbeatness, and the way they’re able to introduce real topics with goofiness. That’s rubbed off on me a little bit in a way. Just Friends is really cool. They’re a band who’s pushing boundaries for sure and really inspirational. I love Lil Uzi. I know he quit making music for a bit and lost it for a second but we all go through that. I heard he’s got new stuff coming soon. Ummmm… Ben Folds!

PD: We share a love of Ben Folds.

RH: Sara McLachlan I also really like. Her ability to make even the simplest of vocals really work and how even if she wasn’t speaking in your language you would still completely understand what she’s saying. I admire that from a songwriting perspective. I also have to include the DIY scene as a whole, especially those who we’ve worked with like Commander Salamander and Stars Hollow. It feels so great to be a part of it.

PD: As far as influences for me, when I first started drumming I really idolized Tré Cool and Keith Moon, you know, with those loud, pounding drums. I always wanted to be a rockstar when I was a kid so those were my two ideal rockstar drummers. As I progressed as a drummer, I would look to the more technical like Neil Peart and Mike Portnoy. When I first joined Origami Angel I got really into Touché Amore. I think Elliot Babin is a monster and I watch a lot of live videos just to watch his drumming. He’s really impacted me a lot on what I do with Gami. And, as Ryland said, a lot of our friends are inspiring. Watching Liam and Coleman, the drummers for Commander Salamander and Jail Socks, all the time makes me feel like I have to up my game because they’re so good. Mewithoutyou’s drummer, Rickie Mazzotta, I met a couple times and he’s awesome. I’ve probably seen Mewithoutyou live more than I’ve seen any other band. David Haik, the drummer from Pianos Become the Teeth, grew up in the same friend group as my brother. He was originally supposed to be the one to give me drum lessons, but right when my first lesson was scheduled, Pianos started taking off big time and they were flying out. Honestly, if that worked out I’d probably be three times the drummer I am today. Funny thing, though, he just moved back to my hometown and has been asking my dad about our band. He’s got this amazing feel for music and probably one of the best live drummers I’ve seen. For our upcoming album I’m taking a lot from him and Elliot Babin.

Origami Angel guitar

Where did this connection with Pokémon come from?

RH: I’ve loved Pokémon my whole life. Through a shit ton of car rides with Idle Empire and Origami Angel, I find out that Pat feels the exact same way.

PD: I like Pokémon, especially the games referenced on our EP: RUBY, SAPPHIRE, and EMERALD. RUBY was my first Pokémon game.

RH: It was the first new one I got too. We were both in that age group where Gen 3 was what we grew up on. Pat and I even talked about Rom Hacks, which in school there wasn’t anyone to talk to about.

PD: Rom Hacks are essentially the enhanced versions of the games. Sometimes there’d be more of a challenge or, my favorite thing, you could get all the Pokémon you want.

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RH: Yeah, better storylines too. They’re usually made by people who understand exactly what you want in these games. Trade evolutions could be turned into regular level-up evolutions, stuff like that. So Pat and I would just shoot the shit on that. I had this song written called “Sophie” for a long time, which was eventually renamed to “Ruby” and set to be put on the split with Commander Salamander alongside another called “Sapphire.” That split was scrapped when Salamander went on hiatus, but I even had an idea for a song called “Emerald.” Then (A)Lex Atchinson from Chatterbot Records dared me to do one named after “XD Gale of Darkness” which is… everything.

PD: Ryland shows off his rapping skills on that one.

RH: My bars, there’s some funk in there too. Lex was like do it and we’ll name the EP GEN 3. I said “Hell yeah!” I’m one of those people who if you dare me to do anything, I’ll do it. I brought up the concept to Pat and was like, “This is kind of a lot, but do you want to do a Pokémon-themed EP? If we’re gonna do it, it’d be right now.” And it’s so sick to just finally have it out. A lot of people seem to like those songs quite a bit.

PD: The response for GEN 3 has been amazing. It always feels good to know that people actually care about your music.

So Generation 3 is the be all, end all, best generation of Pokémon?

PD: Yes, definitely. I was kind of turned off by Gen 4 and later but I’ve always been intervally going back to Gen 3.

RH: I think we had this discussion in the car a couple days ago. RUBY and SAPPHIRE versus FIRE RED and LEAF GREEN are almost at an equal slate, but EMERALD is the best Pokémon game ever. Untouched. It’s genius. It’s art. It’s their magnum opus.

I’m sorry to say that I, personally, am a Gen 2 guy.

RH: Hey, Gen 2 is my number two. Gen 2 is perfect.

PD: I wasn’t a giant fan of Gen 2, but it does have some really great Pokémon like Tyranitar and Skarmory. They were pretty dope.

Burned into my memory is the moment that egg hatches into a Togepi and then having it learn Metronome. That’s why it’s my favorite Pokémon. What are yours? 

RH: Dratini is mine. [Ryland has perler bead art of Dratini on his guitar]

PD: I love Arcanine with a passion, the design and it had that move Extreme Speed. I’d level up Growlithe to 49 where it would learn Flamethrower, Fire Stone it, and then learn Extreme Speed, so badabing badaboom, you’d have a Arcanine that’s ready to whoop some butt.

You guys hyped for SWORD & SHIELD?

RH: I was gonna get SWORD up until I saw the legendary designs. I’m probably gonna go with SHIELD because the sword in the mouth does not do it for me. But I’m hyped on Gen 8. I’ve really liked the designs we’ve seen so far. I’m not quite sold on dyna-maxing yet. I get it’s their thing to add with every generation like Z-moves and Mega Evolutions. It could work with raids. Doing co-op in a way that will bring people together that hasn’t been done in Pokémon before might be cool. I’m in love with the starters. I’d love to see some evolutions. I’m thinking I’m going with Sobble. When we get an actual type confirm for final evolutions, then I’ll make up my mind. If it’s Water/Ghost, I’m gonna have to go with it. So yeah, I’m hyped.

Origami Angel’s GEN 3 is out now on Bandcamp, with a full-length also coming soon.

Alexander Larios
Mr. Alexander Ignacio Larios used to own a Sega Dreamcast.

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