Interview: Northern Oak [2011]


Hannah nabs Northern Oak for a chat during Bloodstock Festival 2011

Hannah- Hi guys! You’re playing the New Blood stage tomorrow. Have you guys played this sort of festival before, or is it your first time at something of this size?
Chris- It’s the biggest thing we’ve played. I know a lot of people at Bloodstock will just wander around and stop to see a band; it’s pretty rare that you’d get that anywhere else.
Martin- The other thing we’ve done recently is Pagan Pride, but it’s not quite as big!
Chris- Yeah, that was last weekend. It was quite cool, it was in a bandstand in a park, with lots of people standing around.
Catie- I think we were maybe slightly too heavy for that crowd, though. All the other bands were a lot more folky and rocky.
Martin- There have been quite a few people here at Bloodstock that have come up to us and said ‘Ah! You were are Pagan Pride!’
Chris- Yeah, from our acoustic set earlier you wouldn’t have got that we’re quite so heavy. It was very stripped back. We’re going to play one of the songs tomorrow, Arbor Low, and you’ll see it in full power. It’s a lot more…
Martin- The amps are up to 11!
Rich- I’ll actually have room to run around on the stage.
Chris- He needs a runway. We have to actually plan a runway for him to go back and forth.
Digby- And I’ll be playing keys, which will be nice, because I’ll actually know the pieces.
Chris- Yeah, today we amped up the folk side. We’ve got some really talented multi-instrumentalists.
Martin- Yeah, Caitie can play more than one, Digby can play more than one…
Hannah- I must say, I got quite excited when you brought out the recorders!
Catie- They have a really bad press, because people associate them with squeaky primary school children.
Chris- We definitely upped that. We walked past earlier in the day, and we thought it was an acoustic stage, but there were people that were playing metal! Fair enough, but we’re going to ramp up the acoustic. It was a lot more twinkly than normal, we thought we’d concentrate on the cleaner bits.
Hannah- I think it’s good, because it will give people a chance to see the different sides of your stuff. I think you’ve been described as folk, black, progressive metal! Would you say that was fitting?
Rich- I hope not, because I hate prog!
Martin- I’m with Rich there! I suppose maybe in the mix of things, there’s prog.
Hannah- You can definitely see the the folk and the black sides, and I guess you can see the prog in your instrumentals and that…
Chris- I like prog!
Caitie- There are aspects. Normally when people see ‘folk metal’ I think they expect sort of jiggy Korpiklaani stuff, but we’re not really like that.
Chris- I think it’s the lyrics that are the most progressive part of it. A lot of progressive lyrics explore weighty concepts, and I don’t want to speak for Martin’s lyrics, but they’re definitely heavy! The last album was a concept album.
Digby- But thankfully we don’t do dragons.
Hannah- I was going to say, your music is very English in its’ folk sensibilities, because unlike the Scandinavians and their dragons and monsters, English folk tends to be about people.
Chris- I spent some time looking up a lot of English folk stories, to see what we have over here, and it’s not really got many mythical creatures.
Martin- There is a song about Gawain and the Green Knight.
Digby- Having said that, Chris, the one on this album that you wrote the lyrics for is about mythical creatures, is it not!?
Chris- It is! It is, I will admit. It’s Sylvan Lullaby, it doesn’t sound like trolls and elves and that. I’m reading the Hobbit, actually, and I like the bit about Mirkwood. I thought- I’m not going to write about Tolkein, but I’m going to take the thing about being trapped in the forest and trying to escape before dark.
Hannah- So, when you’re live and you’re all plugged in- it’s not just the mics and the bass guitar, would you say that it’s really different?
Rich- Oh, it’s more brutal. I would say so. There’s also the thing when we have four vocal parts in certain songs.
Chris- He’s very proud about his vocals.
Digby- I can’t sing, so I just play the keys.
Caitie- I can’t sing, but they force me to anyway.
Martin- The good thing about doing an acoustic set is we can do things we haven’t really played.
Chris- The first track was the intro track off of our album, and we haven’t played that live in ages. We didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for it- we got told three weeks ago! They rang us and asked if we wanted to do an acoustic set, and we were like great! Now lets work out an acoustic set… argh!
Hannah- No pressure then! It worked out really well, though, you couldn’t tell! Anyway, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me guys, looking forward to seeing you ‘properly’ and plugged in tomorrow.

Northern Oak’s second full-length album, Monuments, is out now.

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