Orange Blossoms in New York: Florida Band’s Dreams Come To Fruition
As kids, they used to rock out with tennis rackets. Now the members of Orange Park are living out their childhood fantasies, rocking out in clubs in the East Village and awaiting the release of their first full-length album.
When Jeff Moore was 6 years old, he happened to see a Beatles movie through some static on television. “I heard the music. … I was like, ‘Oh, that’s awesome. That’s what I want to do. I’m starting a band,’” the 26-year-old said.
Jeff’s brother, Justin Moore, 25, recalls telling people in elementary school that he would become a famous singer. “There was never a time when I didn’t think that that’s what I was going to do,” Justin said.
The brothers and a cousin, Jaye Moore, 26, used to gather at their grandmother’s house and pretend they were in a band. “They had this picnic table in the back, so we would treat that as a stage. We would have sticks for guitars and sticks for drumsticks. One guy would sit on the bench part and play, and the other guys would stand up there. And we’d do little fake concerts for our relatives,” Jeff said.
These days, the three men, along with a high school friend, 27-year-old Chris “Harv” Harvey, are living out their dream in New York City as Orange Park — the name taken from the Florida city where they used to live. They have played in venues like the Mercury Lounge, Pianos and Arlene’s Grocery. Jeff and Justin play guitar and sing in the band. Jaye plays the drums as well as sings, and Harvey plays the bass guitar.
Although their first full-length album has yet to come out in the United States, Orange Park has already gained a number of fans due to some lucky publicity. A profile of Justin, written by a customer at the Mailboxes Etc. store where Justin worked, appeared in the “New York Times” Sunday City section in October 2003. At that time, the band had only released some demos and an EP titled “The Extended Play.”
The producers of a Japanese documentary series noticed the article and decided to feature the band. A half-hour segment on Orange Park was broadcast in Japan a few months after the “New York Times” article was published, and the band’s fan base expanded overseas. Orange Park toured in Japan in September 2004.
The pursuit of their dreams, however, has not always been easy or fun. Only toward the end of last year did the band start to bring in enough money so that its members could quit their day jobs. “Work wasn’t working for us,” joked Jeff, who used to deliver apples. “We’re still broke, but at least we don’t have to work and be broke,” Jeff said. Now they spend their days managing band business, writing songs and rehearsing a few nights a week.
They have focused so single-heartedly on reaching this point that they have no backup plans should the band fail. Jeff dropped out of high school in his junior year, and none of the other band members went to college for more than one semester. “Pretty much all that we think about is music and ways to make the band better and make ourselves better and get to where we want to be. … It’s kind of obsessive,” Jeff admitted.
Jeff and Justin grew up listening to music, from their parents’ Beatles and Rolling Stones records to heavy metal, punk rock and alternative music. “We’ve always been a big fan of good songs. It didn’t matter what type of music or if this music was considered cool or not. If it’s a good song, it’s a good song,” Jeff said.
Orange Park is actually the second band the four men have formed. When they were teenagers in Jacksonville, Fla., they were in a band called the Lysergic Garage Party. “We kind of got known for our stage antics,” Justin said, including lighting stuff on fire onstage and playing naked. Lysergic Garage Party broke up when Jeff and Justin had a falling out over the direction of the band. Jeff, Jaye and Harv continued to play together while Justin pursued a career on his own.
The four eventually regrouped, and now Orange Park’s first full-length album, “Songs From The Unknown,” will be released in the United States by the label Young American Recordings in late April. To acknowledge their roots, the band recorded the album in Florida at the home of their producer, Peter Thornton.
When the music video for U2’s song “Gloria” came on television during the interview, Jeff said, “This is what I meant about being into ‘bands.’ … These same guys have been together, doing it. And they’re still here now making a huge impact. … Besides the music, that’s the thing that inspired me, just being a part of something like that.”