The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world



Linnea Olson


APRIL 2014




Welcome to The Oath ...

Mark: Hi, thanks for taking the time to speak to The Rockpit. We’ve not really heard a lot about The Oath in Australia, can you tell us a little bit about how you guys met, and how the first EP came about?

Johanna: Well, I was sat down with a friend of mine, a guy from New York, Vincent Wager, he’s a drummer, and we were talking about metal, and we both have previous histories in our countries, he grew up in New York, me in Germany, with various bands. So, we decided to form a band, we had the name and the concept together, and then we were looking for a guitarist, and all of a sudden I got mail from Henke from Solitude. He said that his best friend, who he plays in a band with, called “Sonic Ritual”, has moved to Berlin and is looking to play guitar, and the funny thing was that he didn’t know that I was looking for a guitar player. So, I got her e- mail address, and we set up a meeting at a bar, we looked the same, same hair, black leather jacket, old metal shirts, and it was very funny. It took us half an hour of vodka shots and talking about music and it became pretty clear we wanted to play together! We started jamming straight away, the three of us, and then Simon joined us, from Kadaver, he’s not with them anymore, he joined us, and moved from Paris, and he was my boyfriend at the time. We wrote a few songs and went straight in to the studio of the Kadaver drummer, and recorded it there, and that was just a few months after we met. We became “band of the Week” by Fenriz of Darkthrone, which was a blessing, because I grew up with Black Metal of the nineties, and so that was really cool for me.

Mark: It’s a great album, I don’t really know how to describe it, it sounds like a very honest album, and it’s not seeking to be anything other than what it is! You can see the “punkier” elements of metal, and old school stuff. How would you describe it yourself?

Johanna: I would say The Oath is a Hard Rock/Heavy Metal band, and we are all very inspired by the old, classic, Hard Rock. I love seventies Hard Rock, old eighties Heavy Metal, old Black Metal, and we are big Sabbath, Motorhead fans, and yeah, the punkier thing, we love bands like Destrage, and so on. The reason why it sounds so honest is we only had two weeks in the studio, and we did this on purpose because we didn’t want to over produce it. I always think if you keep the original spirit pure, and unpretentious, and that works if the song writing is good, I hope it is, and it’s honest because it’s not a sleek, super perfect production, myself, I like this kind of old, organic production from the seventies and so on. I guess we achieved that goal at least.


Mark: What sort of equipment did you use? Did you use vintage equipment in the studio as well?
Johanna: Yeah, we recorded in a studio in Stockholm where ‘Solitude’, who are friends of ours recorded their last album, and they recommended the studio and producer, Martin Ehrencrona to us, and he turned out to be such a blessing, and cool, and a really sweet guy to work with. He has his studio decked out with all these vintage amps and instruments, and weird instruments we’ve never seen before. We recorded the bass and the guitar, and later on put on the overdub and vocals and so on, and we did it all on an old tape machine, it was funny because you can only use these tapes three times or something, before you have to throw them away, and the band that recorded on that tape before was Solitude, so you could actually hear them between the songs!

Mark: We actually spoke to Kadaver a few months ago, when they toured Australia. As far as the album is concerned, which was the next step, did it all come together pretty easily, did you have a lot of the lyrics and ideas ready to go before you went to the studio?

Johanna: Yeah, we had lots of material, and we threw some stuff away. But one day before we flew to Stockholm, Linnea and I wrote two songs, she came over to my house and we were completely hung over, after pulling an all-nighter! We had to go to the studio the next day, and we thought we don’t have enough, we have to have two more songs, so we sat down on my floor and worked out the songs, so other than that, we had everything.

Mark: Ok, I read somewhere that someone described your music as “Death, Doom, Drugs and Dreams!” do you think that’s a good description?

Johanna: That’s Linnea’s description!! But for sure, death and doom, sex, drugs and rock and roll, that is of course what our music and rock and roll people revolve around, so yes it is definitely an important chorus of the band.

Mark: It’s a fantastic album, I like the freshness and I like the feel of it, but I like the honesty of it too. I think there are a lot of bands that are taking that vibe these days, and it’s really refreshing to find bands that are not just following that whole genre pathway, where they are trying to sound like other bands. The songs are fantastic, “All Must Die”, the opening track is great, you must have been happy with that song?

Johanna: Yeah, completely, of course there’s a reason why we picked the first one, and referring to what you said, we grew up with so many influences in the early nineties, with classical heavy metal, but also Death Metal and all Doom. All the influences over the years develop within you, and Simon from Kadaver came from a more psychedelic background, he didn’t know anything about metal, I taught him a lot, but then I think it gave it a nice twist, Linnea with her punky stuff, him with the psychedelic stuff, and me with my big love for the late seventies hard rock, and Andrew the drummer, from Angel Witch, he’s a big prog fan, but he knows what’s going on with the N.W.O.B.H.M. So, I think there are a lot of influences.

Mark: You do get a lot of that psychedelic element, especially on songs like “Silver & Dust”, and that reminded me of a doom laden Jefferson Airplane type vibe! “Death Delight” also sounded a bit like Blues Pils who toured with Kadaver.

Johanna: Yes, I know them. “Death Delight” is one of my favourites, they wanted to kick it off the album because it was too seventies, but I really pressed for it, I really wanted it, and it’s one of my favourite ones.

Mark: Yeah, it’s definitely my highlight, but also the ballad is quite a departure, “Leaving Together”, whose song was that?

Johanna: Well that was the bassist Linnea jamming, and me singing over it, and this became the most emotional song, it was about a friend of mine who died, he was my best friend when I was a teenager. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of people pass, over the years, but this one touched me the most, I have a picture of him here on my desk, he was a metal kid and we grew up together very innocently, and the song is about the heaviness of melancholy, and sadness when somebody goes. It provides comfort, because I feel like that a lot, but it is a very emotional song, and it means a lot to me.


Mark: The final song on the album, “Psalm 7”, is that more akin with your live shows? Do you have those epic jams?

Johanna: We actually play this song every night as the last song. This was one of the songs we wrote the day before we went to Stockholm, and the quiet part we actually made up in the studio! That one was a little bit odd for me, when we recorded, I was a little bit insecure about it, and it’s very different when we play it live, it’s very gloomy at the beginning, and very spiritual for me, and the audience goes really, really quiet! Then all of a sudden it kicks off, and the last part of the song for me, is one of the catchiest parts, of the whole album.

Mark: It is a great song, and sometimes it’s good to have that departure on there. One thing that really struck me when I was listening to the album, and I hope you don’t take offence, was that, you do sound, especially with the phrasing, like Lita Ford!

Johanna: That’s funny; I haven’t heard that one yet!! Don’t take offence, I love The Runaways. But, I would say the influences for me are Grace Slick, from Jefferson Airplane, and I love Stevie Nicks from Fleetwood Mac, and I am a huge Heart fan!

Mark: Yes, that was another name we mentioned in the review, Ann Wilson. It’s not so much the sound, because I think you’ve got a far better voice, and vocal range than Lita, but it’s more the phrasing because there are some songs on there, where the way you approach the lyrics is just like her! You seem to be very busy live at the moment, playing plenty of shows, have you got much more lined up for 2014?

Johanna: That’s a little bit difficult to answer, because we were supposed to be on tour with Uncle Acid by now for six weeks through Europe, and play a lot of festivals, and we had to cancel for personal reasons. So, we’ll see where that goes.


Mark: You’ve already touched on some of your influences, but taking it back to some of your first memories of music, what was it that really made you want to be in a rock and roll band?

Johanna: It’s difficult! My mum, she raised me on old songs, Velvet Underground, David Bowie, Pink Floyd and stuff, and I had a brother, who was eleven years older, and he listened to The Cure and all that stuff, and my rebellion was to go in to metal and rock! I think one of the first bands I listened to when I was about twelve, was Guns n Roses, and old Metallica, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, I started my first band when I was fourteen. As soon as I started to listen to metal, was at thirteen, and I had all these posters on my wall of guys playing guitar, and I was such a big fan, I wanted to be one of them! I have to confess when I was about eight, I’d sing in front of the mirror to Madonna!! So, I always wanted to play music, I was brought up with a lot of music.

Mark: If you could have been a fly on the wall for the recording of any great album, what would it have been for you and why?

Johanna: “Exile on Main St.” by the Rolling Stones! I would have loved to have been there in a big mansion in France, and hang out. I saw this really amazing documentary about it, the whole album was recorded in exile, being away from England, I think that would be the one. That’s as rock and roll as it gets, and I consider myself a rock and roll woman!

Mark: Yes, I think that would have been one of the craziest ones out there! Finally, our easy one! What is the meaning of life?

Johanna: The meaning of life? Well, that’s a tough one; I think I’m still looking! But then again, I think because I am an extremely emotional person, and it gets heavy on me a lot, I have a lot of ups and downs, and then I ask myself why do you actually get up in the morning? I think of life itself, and I do thing things happen for a reason, you can always die, it’s a confronting thought, to know you have the emergency exit of Suicide Solution as Black Sabbath would say. So, if you know that, then you are going to be dead forever anyway, and so not to get really heavy, you just stick through it because life itself is so interesting, and you’re going to die anyway!!

Mark: The album is wonderful, we love The Oath, it would be great to see you come to Australia. I understand the album’s out on vinyl as well?

Johanna: Yes, Rise Above Records, make a lot of effort in putting out vinyl records, with beautiful packaging and so on, there’s so many different versions, we actually made a limited edition that has a bonus track on it too, it’s a cover of Demon’s “Night of the Demon”. We focussed on the vinyl, of course there are CD’s as well, but I DJ a lot and I prefer to do it with vinyl, the 7” only came out on vinyl.

Mark: That’s great, something for the fans, I think people who love that kind of music, it’s hard to call it retro, because I don’t think it is, I think it’s people finding the spirit of the late sixties/early seventies music, but you are doing something new with it, and that’s the important part for me.

Johanna: Yeah, it’s like a catharsis, you have all these different influences, and our goal was never to sound like one of those old bands I am very happy, I don’t like that word, retro, but I’m glad there’s a lot of bands with us, rather than like having nowadays another nineties sounding band like Nightwish!! I think there’s been good development on the scene for sure.

Mark: There has, and it gives people a chance to not only listen to the new stuff, but delve in to the past and listen to that sort of music, and see what inspired it all. I think it’s the next scene that we needed, so thank you so much for speaking to us.

Johanna: I think so, I must say the older I get, the more I go back in time! So, I listen to old man’s music, honestly!!

Mark: That’s a wonderful thought to leave us with! Best of luck with the album, and thank you again.

Johanna: Thank you so much, Mark, nice talking to you. Goodbye.



Linnea Olson spoke to Mark Diggins March 2014





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