We caught up with Jake Bolt, Archie Stewart and Paul Elliott of The Oxides as they start planning their assault on 2013.
The last time we met with The Oxides was just before their debut gig at Hootananny. With their debut living up to expectations, albeit with a bit of drama, the momentum has continued to build for the band. For those that have not seen them live or heard their EP “Order of the Rising Sun” they are described by the Highland News as “…the all-action, lean, mean, fighting machine, The Oxides…” with Jake describing the sound as having “Indie sentiments with strong melodies and a razor’s edge.”
To be honest it doesn’t start as expected when Jake explains “it’s going to be different [from other interviews] as we don’t really have any tour stories to tell yet”. My heart sinks, but the reality is that with Jake and Paul you can’t get ‘em to shut up although with Archie there comes a reassuring consideration to his words.
The first question has to be about Paul Elliott (also of Iain Mclaughlin and The Outsiders) having now cemented his place in the band after previously being announced as a special guest for the Ironworks Winter Showcase gig. “Pel’s a fully fledged member” Jake confirms. Any illusion that the arrangement was temporary was quickly changed after the success of rehearsals. “You started getting ridiculously chuffed” Jake commented, “as did we… that’s him hook, line and sinker”. A feeling that was echoed by Archie “You couldn’t ask for a better member”.
Rather clumsily I asked “how are you both in the same band again?” This was answered, almost perfectly, by Jake with “why not”. In retrospect it makes perfect sense given the pairs long standing friendship and admiration and, of course, the stint playing together in The Boosts.
Jake was clear that he wanted Paul in the band from the start. Jake reflects “I think it was part of the plan… although it’s taken a little time for Paul to commit”. Indeed looking back at our last interview with the band Jake indicated the possibility of the band expanding in the future. While feeling that the songs lent themselves to it, it was reliant on finding the right connection or as it transpires, Paul finding time. “I was really busy and it wasn’t physically possible to do the two”, explains Paul. Things have now changed pace and subsequently there is more time for Paul to commit to a different project, as he states, “I kinda always knew (I’d be in the band)”, “It was inevitable” confirms Jake.
The initial momentum of the band after an impressive, if challenging debut at Hootananny, slowed down due to a lack of rehearsal space. Now this has been sorted Jake is clear, “it’s rejuvenated things tenfold, we’ve got a battle plan.. instead of fumbling around on the dark.” The organisational skills that Paul has are clearly acknowledged and anybody seeing the line-up of gigs that they have booked in February and March will find it hard to argue against. “He’s a slave driver” Archie comments playfully just out of earshot of Paul.
The gigs are purposefully booked locally to start gaining experience and confidence. Jake is confident that they can win over audiences, regardless of the venue. Also included in the future gigs is a trip to Liverpool for the IPO (International Pop Overthrow) Festival, a regular trip down for Paul and Jake in various guises over the years. The band are looking forward to having some fun at the festival and are full of praise for the festival organiser David (Dave) Bash. Archie in particular is looking forward to the trip to Liverpool as whilst he made the trip last year, he never got the opportunity to play.
On reflecting on the Winter Showcase during the festivities Jake said “We’re a scrappy band and we sounded too polished, maybe it just wasn’t loud enough?? Saying that though… it was a hell of a lot of fun!” They are looking forward to the forthcoming gig in Hoots (with Cleavers and Paws) where they hope to “blow the roof off”, “turn it up to painfully loud” and “put it up to 17”. Although memories of the first time at Mad Hatters still are raw for Jake “what happened at the debut gig was painful”, referring to the pedals breaking down mid set. A bold move playing the gig on Friday the 13th, even bolder chancing fate by claiming “we’ll make our own luck” when asked about the date by Highland News. “Stupid” he says with hindsight. “It was one of those nights” Archie says. Whilst they have addressed the hoodoo by playing the venue again in October they relish the chance to return, especially with such a strong line-up.
At the moment they are getting used to being a four piece and are honing their live performances to be at the “top of the game” and helping them get an idea of which songs may end up on a possible future record. Playing the tracks live “we’ll get an idea how the songs feel and how the crowd reacts to them”, Paul explains. The band have been busy and with a catalogue of twenty plus songs at varying stages of development, getting used to the material will be important. The songs do cross genres and that too, the band feel, will help them define their sound. Despite the new addition, they assure us that the grunge and indie sounds are still very much there.
Jake’s a great guitar player and he writes his song’s with multiple guitar parts and ideas” Paul observes. Although there has been the obvious tweak or two “Pel’s taken it and ran with it”. It’ll be new material like “No Way Out” that will obviously develop to the four piece sound as it was written with the three piece line-up in mind.
Jake’s ethos is clear. They want to continue having fun, “mates having a laugh”. The strength of relationship in the band is one that Jake emphasises, describing it as “a proper unit”. Jake says “it’s the best sounding band I’ve ever been in and the most fun” and that’s very much the balance Jake wants; between lots of fun and being “fucking impressive”.
You can’t help but feel that there is the right combination of approach, talent and enthusiasm to take The Oxides wherever they want to go.
Friday 8th of Feb – The Mallard, Dingwall
Saturday 9th of Feb – The Poachers Inn, Drumnadrochit
Saturday 16th of Feb – Mad Hatters, Inverness (with PAWS and Cleavers)
Saturday 2nd of March – Mackenzies Inn, Aviemore (as part of the MV Festival)
Saturday 9th of March – YNot, Thurso
Saturday 23rd of March – Twa Tams, Perth
Interview with The Oxides prior to their debut.