Singled Out: Executive Order's Wicked

Keavin Wiggins | 11-03-2020

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Singled Out: Executive Order's Wicked

Eclectic-rockers Executive Order just released their new single, "Wicked", and we to celebrate we asked the group to tell us about the track. Here is the story:

Executive Order is an eclectic, genre-defying, new band with a seriously-fun and often provocative attitude. We are a group of pretty mellow fellows that have day-jobs and families. Although we come from such different backgrounds, music bound us together and that shows in our music. We hope that listeners find something they like in the range of themes and sounds in our current and upcoming music. The music features danceable and sing-along original tunes reminiscent of classic rock, funk, and blues from the '60s to the '80s, and alternative rock of the '90s to now. These diverse sounds come from all three bandmates who were, to varying degrees, influenced by rock sounds of the '60s, blues, pop, Motown, and the Seattle scene.

We're often asked how we came up with our name. When we all got together in the rehearsal studio to focus on writing a "one-hit-wonder," we just started bringing riffs, words, melodies and played around with them. Since we had such an organic, non-judgmental, just-play-it-and-say-it approach we were not trying to write and arrange complete songs. We literally just let an idea take us away and we ended up having a few parts of a ton of jams recorder on an iPhone. We had no names for them, so we labeled every little riff and melody by number. By the time we had over 130 of these jams, Joseph and his daughter began playing with band names as we walked the streets of Waikiki. His daughter said, "Well since all your songs are just numbers how about 'Executive Order?'" The band voted on it along with several other possible names and it stuck.

Like our name, each bandmate came to the music with a story that may help get to know them better. It is interesting how their blend of musical and life experiences makes Executive Order.

Joseph Olson, lead singer, and songwriter was born and raised in LA, is living a life-long dream of making music for the love of it. At the age of 13, he was inspired to become a musician after seeing the movie The Rose, with Bette Midler. From that moment on he was hooked on the dream of becoming a "Rockstar!" With earlier influences such as Johnny Cash, Aretha Franklin, Van Halen, Joseph was a part of LA's glam-rock scene while still in high school. Not long after graduation, he felt a calling to lead a flock as a pastor. For almost 20 years he immersed his life into "planting" churches and cultivating diversity within them. During this time, his love affair with music turned toward more to Gospel and Christian rock.

Joseph's ministerial service came to an end with disillusionment and the discovery that his call to lead did not have to be limited to a single belief system. Through his current profession as an Information Technology Director and working for a military mission, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Command, he finds many more opportunities to lead with equity and fairness. His musical experience in the church has influenced him to love choir-like melodies and lyrics that speak on the range of human nature.

After leaving the ministry, Joseph started to find a new way with music that saw him channeling the glam-rock of his youth with reacquainted influences of artists such as Prince, Queen, and U2. His re-emergence into secular music was smack in the middle of great contemporary and alternative artists Alanis Morissette, John Mayor, One-Republic, The Script, and Twenty-One Pilots, to name a few. Those influences and his passion for music led Joseph to front a few bands in Hawaii over the past 10 years.

A Hawaii native, bassist, and backing vocalist, James Anthony Hewahewa Christian, brings a wealth of experience, musical style, and a very chill vibe to the entire operation of Executive Order. Jim is a low-key and super mellow guy who is proud of his part-Hawaiian heritage. Jim first started playing the bass at age 15 in 1965. When asked, he reminisces with his pidgin accent, a grin, and a little chuckle, "Moved to Kailua, HI and there was a band playing up the street. There was drums, guitar, and lead vocals, no bass. So I got a bass and the rest is history." Within a week they were all rehearsing together!

Jim's biggest musical influences came from many of the bands from the '60s like Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, James Taylor, and Leland Sklar. With a vast musical portfolio, Jim is at home in a variety of music scenes. He has played for many blues, country, Hawaiian, funk, R&B, and rock bands over his career.

One historical moment in his musical career came from performing at the Crater Festival at Diamond Head (Sunshine Festival), back in 1972. They were put on as the "local" talent to help warm up the crowd and test the sound system. Jim thought, "I get to jam with a bunch of friends to open the festival." To their surprise, there were thousands of people there at 9:00 AM! Santana and Buddy Miles finished off the day! Jim remembers the mass of people with, "Lots of Love and Peace, and drugs of course!" On a historical note, the Sunshine Festival on Oahu ran throughout the '70s and was dubbed the "Crater Festival" and "Hawaii's Woodstock." The one, then two-day festival featured amazing bands such as Carlos Santana, America, Styx, Journey, War, and Tower of Power.

Rich Elg, guitarist, backing vocals, and the youngest player explained, "My father was the first person to get me into music. He was a huge fan of the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, etc. He introduced me to all that great rock music. I started playing guitar because a good friend of mine, Joey Trisolini brought a guitar to school one day out of nowhere. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. He was just starting out, but he showed me how to play the riff for "Sunshine of Your Love" by Cream. After that moment, I saved up and bought a guitar and was hooked ever since."

Some of Rich's biggest musical influences are the guitar heroes of the '60s and '70s such as Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Tony Iommi, etc. Later on, Rich was influenced by Eddie Van Halen (may he rest in peace), Steve Vai, Paul Gilbert, and Eric Johnson which helped him develop his guitar chops. This old-soul was also hugely influenced by the blues. Players like Stevie Ray Vaughan, BB King, Albert King, Derek Trucks, and Josh Smith are still huge influences on his guitar playing.

Rich is known for given his guitar a voice. His process? "I do a lot of improvisation on the guitar, and that's really how all of my ideas start. I like to start with a rhythm or a drum groove and build on that. Then I'll just play different ideas until I find something that starts sounding like it has potential. I work a lot at being able to play exactly what I am hearing in my head. I like to sing or hum a melody or a riff first before playing because often it comes out more musical that way. I really like writing with a group because we can all feed off each other's ideas in a very organic way."

In Our latest release Wicked, you will hear a little of this and a little of that musically. For those who've checked out our debut release, All Bleed Red, that came out 11 September 2020, they will find a totally different vibe, but with a signature Executive Order thread. By the time our entire album is released, we hope there will be something for everyone to like.

Singer and songwriter Joseph Olson shares, "the song brings to mind how people can blame their behavior on situations, other people, or even some shadowy 'entity.'" This song leans more toward wicked-fun or wicked-excess as in a night on the town leading to a raging hangover or the wicked-goodness of eating a decadent dessert. We wanted to release Wicked during this time as it fits so well into the season of Halloween and the full moon with its haunting vibe. But, we hope it becomes something of a "wicked-cool" anthem or a "wicked-tune" that resonates with listeners year around.

One of the insider jokes about the song, Wicked, has been, "You choose your hangover." Joseph describes how this tagline relates to the song. At the culmination of the song, it states, "Who the hell is this entity, making such a fool of me? In the bright light of day, the discovery is made." The likely answer is "It's me! I chose the hangover that left me dehydrated and forgetful the next day, not some shadow figure I may have invented in an attempt to absolve myself of shame/embarrassment/wickedness."

Often people may behave in wicked ways and blame that "shadow" figure or someone else for their actions. As Executive Order's biggest fan (and partner to the lead singer) summarizes, "You choose your hangover," " is like saying, "You pay the cost to be the boss of your own life, however you choose to live it."

As for the initial inspiration for Wicked, there is an interesting story with this song, and the CW show Supernatural. The concept of Wicked and the initial riff was written when Joseph (singer, songwriter) was watching an episode of Supernatural, that focused on a supernatural being escaping from Purgatory. This entity could take over human bodies and indulge in wicked behaviors that the host would be aware of but could not control.

As key characters of the show, Sam, Dean, and other "hunters," would track and dispatch supernatural beings as the show's basis. Many of the supernatural beings were born "that way" with little control over their destiny or "what" they were. Over the various seasons, they encounter "good" supernaturals as well as those that look "good" and turn out to be otherwise.

During the pursuit of the supernaturals, and throughout the show, the team indulges often, in what could be considered, "wicked" behavior and overindulgent activities of their own with fast cars, great music, fistfights, plenty of drinking with hangovers, casual sex, etc. One of the most interesting things is that "The Boys," Sam and Dean are constantly at odds with what they think is "bad" and doing the "right thing." Sometimes they meet a "monster" that is just a father or mother taking care of their kids or an angel that is trying to subjugate humanity. They appear to be at constant odds with, "What is really wicked?" Aren't we all?

We hope listeners find a variety of ways to just groove with this song and have fun with the moody vibe. We hope they sing to it, dance to it, and discuss it. That's what we think is fun about this song. Listeners may see themselves or apply the word "wicked" in a variety of ways that vibe with them in different contexts and on different levels. It's made even more interesting in that "wicked" means different things depending upon geography as well as context. No matter how wicked is defined, we say, "Own it if you like it."

The production of this song, especially during the pandemic created some unique challenges. The team actually all met up in Hawaii in September 2019 to record the album at Blue Planet Sound. We were fortunate to record all the main parts before Covid-19 made it to Hawaii. A fun piece of trivia is we started recording on Friday, September 13th on a full moon and we released, All Bleed Red, exactly a year later. Also, we get to release Wicked on the cusp of a Blue Moon.

The interesting part of the production pre-COVID-19 and during the pandemic was our producer's process. Executive Order's producer, Michael Cutting, went back home to Brazil to prep all the parts to send to our mix/mastering, teammate, David Zaffiro, in Nashville, TN. While the producer was prepping, he had all of us create mini studios in our homes to record additional solo's, riffs, and background vocals even before the pandemic. Recording at home felt very strange for us all but it paid great dividends for the quality of the entire album of songs.

Promoting music in the time of COVID-19 has been very interesting. We were so excited to perform live and introduce our new sound on our old stomping grounds of Oahu. We have some great little venues on-island in mind with plans for releasing songs to our local community. Now, promoting solely on social media, we have had some initial challenges but have realized the wider reach our music can have to the world community. Promoting on social media, we have made many more connections and new fans in countries all over the world! That is so exciting and eye-opening.

Our situational awareness regarding music promotion has grown exponentially. While we would have loved to have some amazing release parties at some fun local venues, it is humbling to realize how much more reach music can have when we leave our own backyards. As musicians, sharing our music with music lovers is one of the most important things we can do. I am so grateful for the lessons we are learning about sharing music during this time. It is mind-blowing...in a good way.

Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen and watch for yourself below and learn more about the band here

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