In its early days, the group was an outgrowth of singer-songwriter Allen Clapp's fictional band "Allen Clapp and his Orchestra," credited for Clapp's debut album "One Hundred Percent Chance of Rain" (The Bus Stop Label, 1994). Soon after the album's release, Clapp's high school friend Larry Winther reappeared after touring with garage-rock phenomenon The Mummies for four years. Clapp (guitar, vocals), Pries (bass), and Winther (drums) formed an energetic 3-piece in Redwood City, taking the fictional name from Clapp's first album. The orchestra played throughout the Bay Area and worked up new material for a second album, which they began recording at home on a four-track cassette recorder.
Soon after, music critic Jud Cost introduced Clapp to local producer Jeff Saltzman, who took on the task of engineering and producing the record in a double-wide mobile home in Campbell, CA called Mysterious Cove studios. Around this time, Maz Kattuah -- Winther's bandmate from the Mummies -- joined the orchestra on lead guitar. However, with the band's first recording session nearing, it was decided that Winther would be better on guitar, and Kattuah on the drums. The switch was made, but Kattuah's soon left the group due to an increasing tour schedule with the Phantom Surfers.
A session drummer, Bob Vickers, was hired for the initial recording sessions (Saltzman and Vickers had recorded under the name Cerebral Corps. in the early 1990s). The Santa Cruz drummer immediately clicked with the band, and he was soon asked to join as a member in 1995. As sessions progressed, the band received offers from several labels to release the recordings. The group signed with Chicago-based Minty Fresh in late 1996, but the label wanted the band to finish the album with a different producer.
Clapp and his cohort flew to Minneapolis in winter to finish the album with producer-engineer Bryan Hanna, recording several of the songs live in the studio. The renewed energy of the experience transformed the group into a band distinct from Allen Clapp and his Orchestra. They officially became The Orange Peels in the early months of 1997, and their debut album, Square, was released in the late summer of that year.
The album received much critical acclaim, and was nominated for two California Music Awards: best debut album and best independent album.
After touring on its debut record was finished, Clapp built a modest home studio where the group embarked on the recording of its second album. Halfway through the sessions, Vickers left the group. San Francisco multi-instrumentalist John Moremen was asked to join, and the group continued playing live and with sessions until Winther left.
Sessions continued with the three remaining members until the rest of the album was completed. During this time, the band's headquarters moved from Redwood City to Sunnyvale, where Clapp and Pries had purchased an Eichler home. Just before the master tapes were due in Japan for release on Quattro Label, Winther and Vickers both returned with Winther on lead guitar and Vickers on either lead guitar or electric piano.
It was this lineup that toured on the release of So Far (SpinART Records) in the early months of 2001. A blitz of media coverage ensued, with television appearances, radio interviews and shows. It culminated with the band being featured on the cover of the San Francisco Guardian.
Two songs, "So Far" and "The Pattern on the Wall" would go on to appear in the "Happy Birthday" episode of television show "Felicity," and the lead track, "Back in San Francisco" remains the band's most-downloaded song. Vickers again left soon after, reducing the band to its line up in version 4 of the group. This version of the group did considerable touring and led to a more straight-ahead rock presentation, which would be reflected on the songs being written for their third album.
But just as home sessions were progressing, the group disintegrated with Winther and Moremen leaving after a tour of the East Coast.
Having already written most of the third album, Clapp and Pries decided to record the album with Bryan Hanna in Minneapolis. Joining them were multi-instrumentalist Oed Ronne and drummer Peter Anderson, both from The Ocean Blue. Hanna also drummed on the sessions. Ronne and Anderson had played with Clapp and Pries in late fall in New York on a tour for Clapp's second solo album, "Available Light." They met at the Terrarium over Christmas and New Years 2002-2003 to record most of "Circling the Sun."
Overdubs and a few new songs were completed later that year at the Sunnyvale studio with Ronne and with Vickers returning as a guest musician. In 2005, Parasol Records released "Circling the Sun," and the band embarked on West Coast and Midwest tours. While the album inherited some of the rock feel of the band's earlier touring years, it also benefited from a sonic sleekness which its previous efforts lacked. Both the title track and the lead track, "Something in You," received more commercial airplay than any previous release.
This version of the group is currently recording its fourth album in the Sunnyvale studio.
Square 1997 (Minty Fresh)
A Girl for All Seasons 45 rpm single (The Bus Stop Label)
So Far 2001 (SpinART Records)
Circling the Sun 2005 (Parasol Records)
Lineup 1 (1995): Allen Clapp (vocals, guitar), Jill Pries (bass), Larry Winther (drums).
Lineup 2 (1995): Allen Clapp (vocals, guitar), Jill Pries (bass), Larry Winther (lead guitar), Maz Kattuah (drums).
Lineup 3 (1996): Allen Clapp (vocals, guitar), Jill Pries (bass), Larry Winther (lead guitar), Bob Vickers (drums).
Lineup 4 (1999): Allen Clapp (vocals, guitar), Jill Pries (bass), Larry Winther (lead guitar), John Moremen (drums).
Lineup 5 (2000): Allen Clapp (vocals, guitar), Jill Pries (bass), John Moremen (drums, guitar).
Lineup 6 (2001): Allen Clapp (vocals, guitar), Jill Pries (bass), Larry Winther (lead guitar), Bob Vickers (keyboards, guitar), John Moremen (drums).
Lineup 7 (2001): Allen Clapp (vocals, guitar), Jill Pries (bass), Larry Winther (lead guitar), John Moremen (drums).
Lineup 8 (2002-present): Allen Clapp (vocals, guitar), Jill Pries (bass), Oed Ronne (lead guitar).