With band members coming and going all the time, many groups struggle to survive. However, overcoming this issue, Perth rock group Oakland has gone through major highs and lows and still come out the other side. Forming in high school, the group has gone on to perform in WA’s best hotspots. Playing at this month’s Lights Out Arts Festival, the group is hitting Perth stages before their debut EP comes out later this year. Music writer Tom Munday chatted to the group about the positives and negatives of running a band, touring, and the Perth music scene.
How did the band come together?
I don’t think there was ever a conscious “let’s start a band” moment. In fact, Matt is the sole survivor of the original line-up. James used to drum, now he plays guitar, Alex came in to do some keyboard parts, now he sings and plays bass. It was all over the place! In a good way, of course, we just wanted to keep jamming and writing music. Before we knew it, we had a potential set on our hands.
How did the group form its signature sound?
I think the more music we wrote, the more we honed in on what we considered to be musically interesting and worthwhile. We went through a lot of little trends, some embarrassing, some not, all the while taking what we liked and throwing out what we didn’t. I think it’s only very recently that we’ve started developing a sound which we can proudly call “ours”. Somewhere between The Rubens, Cloud Control and The National.
You’ve played major venues across WA, what makes our music scene so vibrant and diverse?
It’s always struck me as strange and brilliant that I can head out on most weeknights and watch people enjoying themselves on stage, whether that’s professionally or just open-mic nights. It’s a great scene for young bands, everyone we’ve met so far has been so welcoming and encouraging and I think that maybe fosters the confidence necessary for bands to step into unexplored musical territory!
What have been your tour highlights and lowlights, so far?
Lowlight: Alex forgets a lot of things at gigs. Keys, wallets, shoes. Don’t give him anything!
Highlight: Honestly just meeting new people and hearing new music.
What will you bring to the Lights Out Arts Festival? How important are these events to Perth’s music scene?
We hope to bring a sizeable serving of good vibes and energy as well as a brand new sound! Chris will probably also wear a funny hat. If Perth’s music scene is to keep on growing and producing great artists (Foam, Bedouin Sea, Tired Lion), then events like these are a godsend! Events like Lights Out afford a degree of exposure that doesn’t offer itself up very often, as well as providing bands and music lover’s a chance to meet and talk and, of course, have a good time.
Picture this: you’re on a desert island, and you can only take a cd with three of your songs and three of any other musician of your choice. Which songs do you pick?
Ours: (1) Into the Sea (2) Slipping with You (3) Radio Dreams
Other musicians: (1) Ain’t it Time – Rainy Day Women (2) Elephant – Tame Impala (3) Heart of Gold – Neil Young