Interview: Under The Oak

Interview: Under The Oak

- in Written interviews

Here’s an interview I’ve conducted with Bolverk (ex- Ragnarok), guitarist of the Norwegian thrash metal act, Under The Oak.
The band recently released their debut album called Ripped Up By The Roots, released via Wormholedeath records.

Hi Bolverk, thanks accepting this interview. Tell me a little about the band, how was it born?
Hello and thank you for having us, Carla! The inception of Under The Oak took place in the not too distant past. Initially it was just about friends coming together to honour our speed and thrash metal heroes from the eighties, and we fashioned ourselves being a tribute band of that era. We rehearsed songs from Exodus, Testament, Flotsam & Jetsam, Candlemass and so on, until we had a respectable set. We played some shows doing only covers, but as we were progressing, the thrash-riffs also started turning up. Suddenly we had a bundle of our owns songs and we started putting a few Under The Oak-originals into the shows. The result of this is the album Ripped Up By The Roots, consisting of 10 original songs and 2 cover songs. Make no mistake, we are still a tribute band and will continue paying homage to the eighties, but we will do so both through our own material and through cover songs. A regular Under The Oak show will be a mixture of this.

Ripped Up By The Roots is your debut album as you mentioned and for this you have singed with the Italian label, Wormholedeath. I know that you’re a good friend with label boss, then was easier, let’s say, to get a deal. Of course, the boss liked your music, without a doubt…
Naty and Charly are my friends. I met them for the first time many years ago and have visited them many times since. Charly and I are the same. We have the same attitude, and we get along. We didn’t even shop the album around, we only asked if WormHoleDeath was interested, and luckily for us they were. In hindsight, we are very happy with how they have spread our music around the world. We have seen a lot of airplay and a lot of great reviews has come our way, so we are very satisfied.

What is the album about?
We cooperate on everything in the band. I supply riffs and some words, Jostein supplies words and has a great talent for humming riffs that I can transform and play on the guitar. We have several examples of such riffs ending up in the songs. The arrangements we all do together in the rehearsal room, and we have already started rehearsing the next album that will be out in the fall of 2022.
We have some serious thrashers on the album, like for instance “Tribulation”, “Chaos in the Pit” and “War of Attrition”, but also more experimental stuff like “Total Human Destruction” (which is only represented on the CD as there wasn’t enough room on the LP) and more traditional heavy metal in “The Fountain” and “Wrath of Nature”. The lyrics span from traditional “fist-in-the-air” metal lyrics to more serious topics.

So far, how’s the album feedback from the media and the fans?
The feedback has been great, I think. We have gotten far more attention than I expected. There are so many good bands out there today, who all deserve to be recognized, so the competition I fierce. Again we must extend our thanks to WormHoleDeath records.
The reviews have mostly been great and the album has only been out for a couple of months, so this is still news to a lot of people. Just think how often you haven’t discovered a new band until they release their third album, so there is a lot of ground for us to cover out there.
The video to „Chaos in the Pit” has a lot of views and the numbers are rising on Spotify. There has also been some demand for shows, even if Covid 19 is upon us. They have been micro-shows, but some of them have happend and some of them have been cancelled. We look forward to better times and will grab every opportunity to come out and play for you all.

Speedy and aggresive sound, do you agree? How have you approached the sound?
Starting out, we saw ourselves as a thrash metal band, but as the music progressed it is obvious that there are also a lot of heavy metal influences in our music. The album is proof of that. The music has a life of its own life, you know. You can’t really set out to make this or that, you just have to work hard writing and rehearsing and the music will take its own course. The result is a metal album where you can hear multiple influences, but with a simple recipe of riff-based music and melodic vocals

How the recording went for the album?
As our own original material progressed, we decided we had to pay it justice by investing in a professional production. We rehearsed all the material, then we booked with Devo in Endarker studios for recording, mixing and mastering. Devo is very professional and easy to work with. He knows the music and he knows how to present it in a respectful manner. We just asked him to make the songs sound good, not traditional or old-school or thrashy or whatever….just good. And he did. The album sounds awesome, just as we were hoping for and we will definitely work with him the next time also.

Who’s responsible for the lyrics and music writing in the band?
The songs usually starts wih a pattern of riffs. It can also be a chorus or some words, but usually a pattern of riffs. Jostein does most of the lyrics and I do most of the riffs. I collect riffs all the time, and then I sit down and sort them out from time to time. Some of them are obviously embarrasing shit that I have to throw away and never listen to again, but there are also some good ones in between that I keep. It’s alway good to have a lot to choose from when putting together the songs. Anyway, I try to put a string of interesting riffs together to make up a suggestion for a song. Then I send it to the guys, they listen, and if they like it we take it to the rehearsal room and start arranging. A lot of changes are usually made when we rehearse a song from a meagre beginning to a finished product and everybody contributes in the process. The music of Under The Oak is very much a team effort and we all contribute in creating the final product.

Two of the bands you also covered, Exciter and Candlemass. What can you tell me more about your influences?
There are probably hundreds of different influences musically for all the band members together, but for this particular project, it is thrash metal and heavy metal of the eighties. That was when we were teenagers (apart from Marius who is the youngest member of the band) and where our love for metal was forged. Speed metal. thrash metal, heavy metal bands like Living Death, Venom, Motorhead, Mekong Delta, Metallica, Metal Church, Testament, Exodus…I can probably name a hundred more. The brutal stuff that was fast and furious and didn’t make any compromises…

Do you already have in mind releasing a second album?
We have just started rehearsing the new album in November 2020, we’ll record it in January 2022 and hopefully it will be out in the fall of 2022. Our goal is to release an album every other year. Our other plans for the future is for Covid 19 to go away and for us to play every show, big or small, local or international, that comes our way and to have fun with our music together with good friends.

Thank you for your time and hope to see you sometime on the road. Rock on!
Thanks for the interview, Carla, and thanks for the massive amount of work you put in supporting the scene!

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