Soaked Oats Make Shoulder-Pop For Your Earholes

Soaked Oats are a semi-aquatic shoulder pop band with a strange fetish for stone fruit. They crawled out of the murky depths of the Otago harbour earlier this year and began writing and recording songs that would make up the Stone Fruit Melodies E.P. 

The E.P was released to much acclaim and the Oats become a fast favourite for drunken soirees in Dunedin. We interviewed for them for Issue 1 of Hello Zukeen, exclusive only to the pages of the mag. Buy it here, you cheapskate. 

Last week the band released, No Slip Ups, their sophomore E.P. It's damn good. We caught up with Oscar Mein, the band's vocalist, for a chat about the music, the West Coast and my life in the Truman Show. 

 

Hey man, how are you doing?

Not too bad dude, lil cloudy out at the bay, how's town?

 Yeah man town is super warm. I was imagining you sitting up on a deck chair out the front of your house with a cup of tea looking at the harbor, but I guess it's all a bit foggy.

Sick, it'll clear, morning fog has been heavy every morn the last few days. I'll take it for a heat wave. 

For sure man. The heat wave has been unreal. Not a bad spot out on the harbor right? I went for a dive the other day near the harbor mouth. I told Connor I’d get him a fish and drop it to you guys on the way home. But that never happened because I got chased out of the water by a Sea Lion. So I kind of owe you guys a fish.

Holy shit! You need a spotter Don't sweat the fish, sounds like the lion's got it in for ya. 

Yeah maybe. They're not dangerous, just a little unnerving, shake you up for a while. I think I'll be staying out of his neck of the woods for a while.

Those teeth say otherwise but alright

The teeth are scary, but I don't know. I think they just mess with us for fun. Let's talk about your music. 

Sounds good man.

So last week you released the No Slip Ups E.P. Congrats! It’s tight. Your first E.P Stonefruit Melodies is an album about stonefruit among other things. How has it been writing music that isn’t about stonefruit?

Yeah dude thanks! It's been tough, had to dig deep to break away and left a lot of stone fruits untouched. I'll get em later. 

Yeah I imagine you would become fairly attached to stone fruits after writing a whole album about them. Did you ever think about choosing another theme to write a bunch of songs about? Cats? Sea lions? Dinosaurs? I think an album about dinosaurs would be cool.

Nah I'm fookin done with the fruits, maybe a mango one. I think I'm done with concrete themes for albums now, it's a battle fitting shit in. But dinosaurs eventually, who knows.

Fair enough man. A mango tune would be cool. A wee tropicana number perhaps. Same goes with dinosaurs. If that ever eventuates I'll take royalties for the idea. Thank you very much.

Get me a fish first.

Deal. 

Haha.

So Gum-15, the first single off the E.P. Tell us the story.

Started with a jam I believe. I began mumbling harmonies and "3000 light years" were the first words that came out. Ran with that as the direction for it and it kind of became a song about speed and ease. Heaps of ways you can read light years, or 'light' - used it to describe years that fly by but years that are easy, not too heavy. Youth wasted on the young, all the bullshit. Makes you feel guilty. There's an underlying theme of pressure on the EP so the pressure to enjoy and be as present as possible in our youth. It’s something I struggle with for sure.

That's interesting man. I dig the concept. Is it one of those things, where you don't know what you have until it's gone, like you're trying to be conscious of it, so when you're older or whatever you're not thinking 'damn' ?

I guess so, the pressure gets in the way for sure. Youth is wasted on the young is such a brutal thing to say to someone young

Yeah man for sure. We could talk about the idea for quite some time.

Oh definitely. I would love to. But alas. 

Well on the topic of Gum-15 we might as well plug the video for it. What was the idea behind that?

Ah yah! The video was something made to represent the whole EP, we had the idea then it was like 'what song to we put behind it?’ Gum-15 seemed to work the best. 

So how does the idea of the video - a retro'd trip around central Otago in the winter represent the EP?

I think the costumes were the things that made it Gum-15, young boys old outfits - but ‘no slip ups’ is the idea.


I think I get what you're getting at.

It's the ice man, you try walking on a curling rink - on ice - you feel like each step is gonna be the one you eat shit on

Woah, so it kind of harkens back to the whole theme of time and wasted youth as well?

Yeah totally, among other things.

Shit. I'm looking forward to listening to the E.P again.

Hell yea. 

Wait, ‘Gum-15’. What’s Gum-15?

Gum-15 is a nebula 3000 light years away. Just a beautiful cloud of dust

So you guys missioned to the West Coast to record it all?

Yeah dude, we really wanted to see how we'd go doing it ourselves. We ended up getting some big helping hands - Henry's older bro Theo of Ha The Unclear came and produced it pretty much, Tom Bell gave us a shit tonne of gear from Chicks, Tom Healy from the Lab up north gave us gear and so did the Katikati mythic man Bugs. Got hooked up

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Good buggers all around. So the recording was done in some old West Coast building? It sounded super hip. 

We recorded in a place called Cape Foulwind, 30 mins out of Westport. My dad's family is from there so we have a house over there and Kay who owns the local - the Star Tavern - gave us free reign to record in this old french villa she was fixing up. It’s one of the first houses I think to be built on the cape. It has this huge old RImu-clad gentlemens' room that we lost our minds in for a week. 

That's incredible. The West Coast would be a good place for it. So isolated, quiet, no one around, kind of melancholic. It's a good place for a breather.

Yeah it's glorious- pretty wild and rugged but very juicy. Blimmin breathers. 

And sandflies.

Yup

Well it came out nicely. It’s a tidy mix of textures and feelings you know? I think every song has it’s own wee vibe. 

Thanks dude, it's been a a rad one for developing the sound. Hen [Soaked Oats guitarist] described it as teething the other day, which I think fits.

Do you know what my favorite song of the album is?

Shiet. Festina?

Nope

Don't make me do this.

I will.

Ya bastard.

I'll give you a clue. It starts with 'H'.

Ah ha. Houdini.

Congrats! You got it. It’s a beautiful piece of work. It kind of makes me want to cry and melt at the same time. I think my dad would really love it.

Hahaha rad. Yeah that's just full sentiment man

I think so. ‘Fantasize of escape, although I do it most days… run, run, run’

Yeah, more pressure, the escape thing. 

The tune gets me wondering what the I’m still doing in Dunedin after arriving six years ago to get drunk and get a degree in arts or law or whatever it was. Did you write the song about me?

Hahahaha. the EP is about you, Sam. Truman Show.

I knew it. You bastard. Let me out of this TV show world.

Haha. Escape's an easy thing to do - I think hard to differentiate sometimes between wanting escape and needing change

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Totally man. Are you into conspiracy theories?

Kind of? Less and less

What's your favorite? Don't say anything about the Truman Show.

Haha. Oh Truman Show is legit. Man I was in the states last year, working on a lil weed farm with some veeeery paranoid people. Height of trump election time...chem trails, 911, poisoned water, mind control etc. Maybe that put me off them. 

That's a trip man. 

But yeah weed farm, trump time, conspiracy theories were fucking flowing. It was kind of hilarious, but everyone had guns and a deeeep mistrust of most things. 

Yeah I kinda can't be bothered knowing that Illuminati or whatever control us all and we're doomed etc. Ignorance is bliss. A lot of is far fetched, but if it is true, whatever. 

Ignorance is bleeeeees. you're in control sam

Knowledge is power! You guys have been gigging like shit. Hasn’t it been like 50 gigs this year or something?

Insane eh?

Give me the lowest low and the highest high.

Oh man. Both could've been in one day actually. We had celebrated stone fruits release the night before and got reeeeealy really cooked. Henry told us that night we were playing the next day at the library, twice.

Love it. 

So we did two sets the most hungover we've ever been - one in between some bookshelves then one outside on the library courtyard. Henry went and threw up then came played. When we got told about the courtyard one we ran across to the attic, grabbed all our shit and set up a full thing in the courtyard. We played to a bunch of people for half an hour on this beaut afternoon, and that could've been the highest. 

Rock and roll man. 

Last little serotonin spurt. Something like that

Let's not romanticise too much. Because you know what? Next minute there will be all these Soaked Oats rip off bands popping up and you guys will have to quit the game in a disillusioned artistic statement of defiance. It could be the end of the Oats and it would be all my fault.

Ahahahaha. Don't think so dude. 

You never know. It would make great TV. 

Truman show fits in this whole conversation somehow

I'm getting nervous...

Ever had a Truman Show moment high?

Probably the moment I realised that everyone around me are actors and the lady mowing the lawn each day isn't really mowing the lawn. 

Right

Hey now, I’m interviewing you. 

Push and pull

Sneaky bastard. You're doing a wee tour across the ditch in Straya in December. Shall we plug your fundraiser show for it?

This Friday. Soaked Oats. Koizilla. The Attic. $10. 8pm.

It will be a ball. We're having beers at mine before if you guys aren't busy sound checking. 

Hell yeah, sounds good dude

Woo! Any final words?

If everyone's in the Truman Show...no ones acting… or is everyone acting like they're not in the Truman Show? Find out this Friday

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Interview by Sam Fraser-Baxter

Will Meehan