Could you tell us about forming "Oakeater". When was this music project formed?
A. Barnett > Oakeater started in the basement of MR CITY, a warehouse we were all living in. The "Intrusion"-cassette was a recording of our very first performance, so counting back 6 months this should have been 2005.
Why do you choose to record electronic music - could you name some influences in music?
A. Barnett > We were really into Popol Vuh and the movie "Last House on Dead End Street" when the project first started. Oakeater was about making something meditative and intense; Channeling dark energy. We spent hours and hours in our practice space just zoning out and getting a set to come together out of nothing. A lot of the imagery is desolate and rural, but that worked with our environment at the time. Our practice space was a catacomb under a loading dock in a meat-packing area. Walking around that neighborhood at night was often peaceful and eery. There was a lot of fan noise, giant weeds, and giant rats.
As far as electronic music goes, we were really into cavernous, dark sounds. A lot of the sounds we make are actually acoustic instruments or pieces of garbage through effects or test tone oscillators. The B-side of our first cassette is a recording of us all playing someone's bell collection. We took three tracks of the same recording and slowed it down on three tape machines.
We have all gotten more into making electronic music and that's influenced where we are now. I think a big part of that is just that one can maintain a compact and diverse sound palette with electronics.
There is a new split vinyl with Oakeater and Yellow Swans on Black Horizons records. Could you tell us about it? T
A. Barnett > hat split came out last year, but was recorded around 2008 for both bands. For both of us, it was also right around when we stopped playing many shows. Oakeater was experimenting with shorter songs at the time. Before that, most of what we'd written was just for an upcoming show. It was always a 20 minute plus song. What sticks out to me the most is the really great guitar and modular work on that session. There is a lot of confusion looking back to figure out what instrument is what and I enjoy that. It was also great to do something for a split with Yellow Swans. We played a few shows with them while they were around and those guys always had great energy live and on recording.
I should also mention that we just finished recording a new full length record (first new Oakeater recording in about 5 years). That one should be coming out on SIGE records sometime in 2014.
Artist Demian Johnston created the cover artwork - how did you know him?
A. Barnett > I actually just met Demian in person last November, but we've been talking on the internet for a few years now. He has always blown me away with his packaging and artwork for releases.
What are the live performances like for Oakeater - how does the audience respond?
A. Barnett > All of our live performances have been a single, extended song. We would write songs for the occasion and employ all the sound sources we'd pieced together for that month. Shows happened in basements, warehouses, and bars around Chicago, but it always worked best in dark basements.
We've probably played less than 20 shows altogether and audience response has always been great. People have been on board for us to develop these extended meditative pieces and this really wouldn't work if they weren't. Here is a video from our only daytime performance ever: Matchitehew Assembly in Chicago.
Any band side projects that you wish to tell us about?
A. Barnett > Everyone has been active in other projects since the band has begun. We all have solo projects. Jeremiah has been playing in a power electronics band called "Secular Edict." I'm working in a duo with Faith Coloccia called "Barnett and Coloccia." Seth has been playing in a thrash band called "Zath".
Tell us about working with Faith Coloccia of Mamiffer?
A. Barnett > Faith is great. We have a natural rapport and can usually dive right into making music together. That really helps because we have never lived in the same city.
We collaborated at a show in Chicago back in mid 2000s. We recorded the song “Throes” together around then. We played together on the Mamiffer / Locrian “Bless Them That Curse You”. We recently finished a full-length synthesizer record at OTIC sound in Vancouver. There should be some kind of announcement about that this fall.