One day after the 2018 Grammy Awards, Code Orange drummer and vocalist Jami Morgan is feeling pretty bummed, and understandably so. Having been nominated for this year's "Best Metal Performance" award, the Pittsburgh hardcore upstarts were eager to take their place in the spotlight, not only as a band, but as ambassadors for hardcore writ large; instead, the honor went to Atlanta titans Mastodon. "We've got a lot of respect for Mastodon and shit, so it's cool that they won, but we wanted to win!" Morgan tells Revolver. "I felt like this was our moment; I felt like if I was able to get up there with the mic, we could have gotten a lot out of it and really make our message clear. It's kind of just depressing knowing we couldn't do that — so I didn't have that much fun [at the Grammys], to be honest."
That said, Morgan's hardly one to pout — certainly not after music's biggest night, which found him and the rest of his extremely well-dressed band raging to Kendrick Lamar, crossing paths with Ice-T and Lil Uzi Vert, and holding it down for their beloved Pittsburgh. In the following interview, Morgan gives us the full rundown on the band's Grammy experience, and where they go from here.
FIRST THINGS FIRST — HOW WAS THE RED CARPET?
JAMI MORGAN It was cool! Everyone was scared of us and shit; they were all taking pictures on their phones because we just looked so crazy or something.
WELL, YOUR GUITARIST DOMINIC [LANDOLINA] WAS WEARING A SKI MASK ...
Hell yeah, he was! We thought we were about to pull a robbery! So he wore a ski mask — but it turns out we didn't pull a robbery.
AND THERE WAS YOUR CUSTOM FUR COAT, AND SHADE BALDEROSE'S BLUE-HAIR-AND-TRENCH COAT COMBO ...
There's a really awesome older lady who's a costume designer in Pittsburgh; she made that coat for me from scratch. Obviously none of us really have money or anything, so I wasn't going to be able to buy a real one. She met up with me in Pittsburgh and fitted it. Her name is Bonnie Resinski, she worked at one of the colleges; and is fucking amazing. She fitted it to me. It was some Pittsburgh love, pretty much. I knew as soon as we got nominated that I was going to wear it.
I finally got it figured out, and I saw what the rest of the band was wearing, and I was like, "For fucks' sake — all right!" When I saw Shade, I was like, "Well, I don't look crazy anymore; you look like some complete psychopath." That's just him: that's the shit he rocks with, and that's what he wanted to rock in that moment, so I fucking respect that. I fucking love him. He truly doesn't give a fuck.
DID YOU RUN INTO ANYONE INTERESTING ON THE RED CARPET?
I know Shade talked to Little Uzi Vert for a second, but we really didn't see that many people. They kept us away from everybody, pretty much. We chilled with Mastodon, just other bands like that and that was it.
HAVING ATTENDED BOTH THE PRE-CEREMONY AND THE MAIN CEREMONY, WHAT WOULD YOU CONSIDER WAS THE EVENING'S BEST PERFORMANCE?
I liked Kendrick Lamar a lot. He was fucking sick. When he was done, we were like, "Well, this is about to be fun as hell." Everybody else I don't remember what they were doing; it was all pretty boring. But Kendrick Lamar was fucking sick. They didn't even have any rap shit performed which is what I had wanted to see. It was just a bunch of pop shit.
WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE SAID AT THE PODIUM IF YOU'D WON?
I think we're going to get another shot at some point so I'm not going to say the whole thing, but the gist was that there needs to be more eyes on underground music, and on real music; that we are carrying underground music and hardcore — love it or not — on our backs; that that award [Best Metal Performance] shouldn't be given during the pre-televised event, when there are so many people that are co-opting those rules, whether it be clothes or even the actual music. I wanted to talk a little bit about that, and I wanted to show love to the scene that we come from.
I thought it was going to go well; I watched every speech and I thought I had something good, but whatever! Shit happens. I don't blame anyone or anything for our loss. We've just got to keep doing what we're doing.
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF BODY COUNT'S "BLACK HOODIE" PERFORMANCE?
I mean, it is what it is ... Ice-T is the man, respect to him, so I'm not going to start shit with Ice-T. The performance was kind of weird — I don't know if that was them or the Grammy vibe or what — but it was cool. I wish it was us: not in a dick-headed way or something, but I just believe we can make a lot out of these moments. I'll always wish it was us — but that's also just who I am.
EVEN THOUGH CODE ORANGE DIDN'T WIN, DID THE EXPERIENCE GET YOU THINKING ABOUT COMING BACK EVEN STRONGER — WAS IT AT ALL CREATIVELY RE-ENERGIZING?
We are always energized. We will never make a fucking album to try and get on a fucking award show. If you make an album to try and get on an award show, you should just go fuck off in my opinion. But, it's really energizing in that we know we can do it. We've always known that we can do whatever, but sitting there at the Grammys reaffirmed it.
I think that winning would have meant something for a lot of the bands coming up now, and I think it would have been a cool thing, but we don't win very often in general. We've been having a great year, and a lot of it is just blood, sweat and work, and this is what we're going to have to keep doing. We're not going to be handed stuff. I don't think that we were like, "Wow, we can get here again if we do this" — like, no, fuck that; that's not what got us to the dance. What got us to the dance was doing what we like, blasting it loud, and just going for it, and not giving a fuck. It's not for everybody, but it's for somebody.