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CVLT Nation Interviews Oak

Several weeks ago, I reviewed Oak’s self-titled debut album, calling it “more metal than any metal record that has ever existed.” I spoke to Robin from Oak soon after. This was the result. 

First off, could you introduce yourselves and tell us what you do in the band?

My name is Robin and I play bass and do some vocals. Alex does guitars and vocals and Carl does drums and vocals.

You guys are from Sweden, a country with a storied history in heavy music, from Entombed to Skitsystem to Bathory. How do you feel that you fit into this musical history? Do you even want to fit into it?

I’m not sure, actually. I wouldn’t say that I feel like we’re a part of it, as few of our influences come from there. We’re not really part of a community where all of those massive bands are all that important, anyway. We’re more of a hardcore band in the sense of where our roots are and what we do as a band. It’s quite interesting that Sweden is what it is, musically. There are quite a lot of bands coming from here, both historical and contemporary, in heavy music, especially in relation to the size of the population. The climate here, with its dark, long winters, combined with a sparsely populated landscape, makes creativity an important way of maintaining a good mental health for many people.


Photo: Yvan Schirmer

 You describe yourselves as a Screamo band. Does this ever elicit some disrespect from more closed-minded metal fans? How do you respond to criticism?

We always used to describe ourselves as a “chaotic hardcore band,” but with writing our new record, we realized that there were a lot of screamo tendencies in what we wrote. We mostly play hardcore shows, but from time to time we play punk/crust and metal gigs as well. I don’t want to sound pretentious or anything, but as our music ranges over a lot of genres, there are always going to be people who are into one genre or sub-genre only who don’t get what we’re doing. Usually, that’s not just at metal shows. In my experience, some metal scenes are more open-minded than a lot of hardcore scenes, musically. I really don’t care that much. Usually, we evoke a lot of feeling where we play. If someone comes up to us after a show and tells us it was the worst thing they’d ever heard (that actually happened to us once), I’m going to be glad, as our music must have had a lot of impact if they’re provoked enough to express that to us personally. Indifference or apathy would be way worse.

I’m very much interested in the lyrics of your album. They seem quite personal and painful. Are they autobiographical?

The short answer would be yes. They lyrics are based on our own experiences and events in our lives that need processing. Me and Carl write most of the lyrics. Some of the lyrics we’ve written on our own, others we’ve written together. In any case, all three of us are involved in criticizing the lyrics and trying to take them one step further. 

The song titles are formatted like chapters in a book. Is this indicative of a unifying concept?

Yes, the chapters indicate differing themes and perspectives, musically and lyrically. 


Photo: Viktoria Torstensson

What does the name “Oak” signify?

It doesn’t have any significant meaning really, but it is indicative of the simplistic approach we have towards creating music. Also, it doesn’t have any connotations to any sub-genre, which we appreciate. We released our first EP under a different name. Back then, we had a vocalist who quit shortly after the release. We then continued with several temporary replacements. After a while, we just decided to go on as a three piece, and we also slightly changed direction musically. So Oak became kind of a fresh start for us. 

Are you a touring band? If so, where and when are your upcoming dates?

Yes. Playing live is what’s most important to us as a band. Since the release of our debut LP this summer, we’ve done two European tours in 9 different countries. We just came home from the second tour. We also have two more European tours in the beginning of the next year waiting to be announced. 

Saetia or Napalm Death?

Jerome’s Dream and Dead in the Dirt. 

Any final words?

I’ll go with a wish for a Christmas gift. A world without borders, where refugees aren’t treated as illegal commodities, would be nice. Other than that, thank you for talking to us!


Written By

Josh is a descendant of dead photographers, failed writers, and pitchy chanteuses. He writes. All the time. Every day.

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