October 31, 2016

AOTM: November – Oakhill


November’s Artist of the Month are Flint, MI rockers, Oakhill. These Michiganders are making a name for themselves in the pop-punk scene and I caught up with them to see what they’ve been up to. They released their debut LP, The Waiting Place, in October of 2015.

Martin K (Guitar/Vocals/Piano)
Brandon B (Guitar/Vocals)
Erik W (Drums)
Joe B (Bass)

CPF: Let’s get to know you guys a little bit. What are some of your favorite albums of 2016 so far?

Joe: I love Green Day’s Revolution Radio.

I just got done listening to that about an hour ago.

Joe: It sucks their album isn’t selling as well as their others. I will forever love Green Day. Probably my number 1 right now.

Brandon: I’ve been listening to a lot of Bon Iver. I picked up his record 22, A Million and I’ve been listening to that a lot.

Marty: As far as this year goes I’ve been listening to the new Tiny Moving Parts album, Celebrate. I love the track Birdhouse. The way that song ends is just awesome. I’ve also been listening to a lot of folk music too.

Erik: I’ve been listening to this awesome British alternative band called, The Hunna and their album 100. Also a lot of The Ride, by Catfish and the Bottlemen.

Joe: I’ve been listening to Dealer by Foxing. I know that came out in 2015, but I’m still on it. It’s just so emotional. It’s one of the greatest albums I’ve ever listened to. Just based off of the way the music feels. When I’m laying in bed I’ll just play the album all the time.

In reading up about you online, I saw a reference to Oakhill as, “Sad Boy Pop-Punk.” Could you elaborate on that?

Brandon: We kind of started in pop-punk roots. We were influenced by bands like Modern Baseball, The Wonder Years and Real Friends. We set off to sound like those types of artists. So personally when I write the songs I tend to be very blunt. I like to write about the things that I’m going through and I think it helps make the songs more personal. It just so happens that I write sad songs.

Marty: As far as the phrase, Sad Boy Pop-Punk, there’s a story behind that too. We were driving to a show with Jonathan Diener (The Swellers) and I played him the first single on the album, “Novel,” and he branded it as “Sad Boy Pop-Punk.” I mentioned it at practice afterwards and it has just kind of stuck since then. We wanted to take advantage of it and use it to brand ourselves.

I noticed a lot of your songs tend to be over 4 minutes. What’s the process like when writing?

Marty: One of the things we were striving for on the record (The Waiting Place)  was to get a lot of dynamic out of it. We wanted to take it from huge moments down to more intimate parts. That happened with “Losing Safety,” where there’s a huge jam out part at the end and it just happened to be over 6 minutes. It wasn’t intentional ending up with longer songs, we just love to jam.

Brandon: What normally happens is that either Marty or I will have an idea and we help each other add the necessary parts we’re missing. I’ll write a cool part and show it to the band, Marty will write another part and so on and so forth. We weren’t focusing on the length. We felt like if we could get the emotion across and still write good music, people will listen anyway regardless of length.

Erik: The entire album is about leaving the life you once had and striving to be a better person. I think in a way the jam portions were heavily instrumental. For me, that translates to dealing with emotions and moving forward. It’s very difficult thing to admit your faults and want to change. You’re angry at your past mistakes, but excited to move forward. So I think those heavy instrumental parts represent those emotions on a musical basis.

You have a handful of shows coming up in Michigan this winter. Any plans to get a small tour going out in the late Winter/Spring time?

Joe: We don’t really want to do a tour in the Winter. We’re looking at summer. Touring is a lot. You see people referencing their experiences on tour like, “Oh I’m so glad I went on tour,” but those same people also say ” tour was too much.”

Marty: Financially it’s a lot to take on with school and rent. If it’s realistic this summer we’re gonna aim for it. We have a lot of shows in November too. If anything, we’ll stay in the Greater Lakes region and hit up the Mid-West states like Illinois and Wisconsin. We’d love to play with Bonfires out in Chicago if possible.

Erik: We’ve established good relationships with bands in that area and we would like to do a show out there soon.

Setting up those connections is big. Just doing a little Mid-West tour around Ohio, Indy, and Illinois would be a ton of fun and good exposure.

Marty: Going on a short run tour has been one of our first goals since we started. We said that if we could break even on doing a tour, we’d do it.

It looks like you’re keeping busy though. You’re working on a new EP and you just released your new single, The Best Thing. It sounds a bit poppier than your older stuff. What can we expect to hear on the new EP?

Marty: We feel like this next EP, in comparison to The Waiting Place, we figured out what we knew how to do best and do it even better. We wanted to take the sounds we knew would work and push those to the extremes. We want to take that mentality and adapt it to something we love and something we think fans will love. We want to reach a broader audience so we can fill shows with fans singing our lyrics. It’s a sensation we can’t get enough of.

Brandon: I think a couple of the songs on the new EP will sound like they could be “B-Sides” off of The Waiting Place. But, we don’t want to have every song have the same vibes as the last record. When people come and see us we want to play old and new songs. There needs to be a variety there. We don’t want to be stuck sounding like our first record. We’re going to branch off a bit.

It sounds like you want to take the multiple elements you have in your songs (emo, indie, alternative, pop-punk) and focus on just one element for each song for the new EP.

Marty: We have our influences that are hard to hold back when we write, so we try and interpret them differently to give it a new perspective with the same emotion. I think that will show on the new EP.

You can check our Oakhill’s debut LP, The Waiting Place, on Bandcamp and catch them at one of their Michigan shows this winter.

Upcoming shows:

November 11 – Flint Local: Flint, MI
November 18 – The Club Above: Ann, Arbor, MI
November 25 – Counter Culture: Sagniaw, MI
December 17 – Flint Local: Flint, MI

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