Berlin based trio, Mighty Oaks have crafted a sound that is equally timeless and nostalgic, telling personal stories of friendship, hope, love and life little journey’s. There aren’t many bands that can connect with a listener and an audience the way that Mighty Oaks instantly can. The breadth of human emotion deeply rooted in their music is overwhelming and powerful, the warmth of their vocal harmonies is chill-inducing and their soaring ambient folk-pop is a dream.
We caught up with the band after their whirlwind year that was 2014, to talk about touring, rugs, Berlin, what they’ve learnt so far and more.
To introduce yourselves, can you each give us a random fact about yourselves?
“One of us wears boxers, the other briefs, the other…none.”
You must have seen some amazing things while out on the road, is there anywhere that you’ve travelled to that you never thought you would’ve seen otherwise?
“Træna in the north of Norway. It was one of the most spectacular places that any of us have ever been, and we were up there to play a really special festival and had the chance to explore the island for two days (and one night) of sunshine, imbuing the little mountain, swimming in the freezing polar waters, running around the islands roads, drinking beer and eating everything. It’s a magical place.”
Looking at your Instagram, it looks like you’ve had a wild year, travelling all over the world, playing to much bigger crowds and just having fun. I know it’s hard to pick, but what has been the one defining moment this year that sums up your 2014?
“The one defining moment that we hope will stand the test of time was the release of our debut album, Howl in February. That was a big step for us, and enabled us to hit the road for our headline tours across Europe, to play in the States, to do the big festival run, and to reach more people.”
You spent the most part of 2014 touring the globe. How did your last tour go?
“Our last tour was amazing. Not many bands get the opportunity to go on a 31-show run across 12 countries, and we obviously loved it. We are a live band, and playing live shows is one of the main reasons why we are doing what we do. The energy of the journey, all culminating in each nights performance, is a special feeling. We can’t wait to hit the road again, but it will be some time.”
You had Charlie Cunningham supporting you on that tour. Did you ask him personally to come out on the road with you? I know he played a show with you in early 2014 as well.
“We did. Charlie is a wonderful musician and a fantastic guy. He’s now a dear friend of ours and we wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”
I see that you’ve been sprucing up the stage by bringing along some rugs on tour with you, making it feel that little bit more homely. Is there anything else like that we might not have necessarily expected to see in your live show that’s come along for the ride?
“Yeah, our friends The Knots were kind enough to give us four massive rugs to take with us, so that we could feel at home each night, no matter the venue or stage or have you. It may sound weird, but that really changes the way you feel, when you look down and see the same familiar scene each night and look around the stage and are able to enjoy a similar vibe, no matter where you are. That was more for us though.
We brought a fifth musician with us for most of the tour, Seba, who added another depth to our sound with violin and key arrangements.
Our light setup grew, the whole production grew, but that is normal and it will be bigger and better next time, we hope.”
You’re based in Berlin, a very creative city. What do you think it is that draws people to that city in particular because it seems like a creative hub for a lot of musicians these days? Why did you choose Berlin as your home base?
“We didn’t choose Berlin because of music. Claudio and Ian initially moved there for work and, well, Craig did come for the band, but he basically had to.
Berlin is a vibrant metropolis with people from all over the world. That makes it interesting enough. What makes Berlin unique is a combination of many factors, each likely different for each inhabitant of the city. For us, it is a mixture of high quality of life for low cost of living, mobility in the city (bike-friendly, good public transport), wonderful restaurants/bars/clubs, and proximity to travel destinations (many lakes nearby, the coast is close, and you can fly anywhere from Berlin).”
For many writers, songwriting is a way to express themselves. Their thoughts, feelings, beliefs. What is it for you?
“It is exactly that.”
Is there a particular track on ‘Howl’ that you hold especially close to your heart? Can you tell us a little bit about the track and why it so special to you?
“There are many tracks that are dear to us. Ian wrote the lyrics for HOWL and, as such, a lot of his past experiences are in there. When I Dream, I See and Captains Hill are songs about his mother, whose death in 2012 really prompted the formation dedication to the band. The Great Northwest and Shells speak to past relationships. Brother is a nostalgic reflection upon childhood and those in life that mean something to you.”
What has been the biggest learning curve for you as a band since you started out?
“Everything, really. When we first started we knew so little about writing, recording, performing, touring, interviews, television and radio, and the complexities of the record industry itself, whether that be the legal aspects of a publishing or record contract, or everything that supports the release and promotion of an album. Of course, back then, we figured we knew it all. There is still so much for us to see and do, and learn, but we are already leagues beyond where we were a year ago, and we are excited for where we’ll be a year from now.”
What has being a professional musician taught you about yourself?
“Having a band is like having a company. We employ a team of people and without them, we’d be nothing. We chose our team based upon character, not just talent, and it has paid off more than in financial terms. We now tour around with our dearest friends, and we are proud of ourselves for founding this band on friendship and extending that into our professional connections. We’ve learned to trust our instincts more, and are continuing to learn more about our individual strengths and weaknesses and how much stronger we are together.
We’ve also learned that we all just really love whiskey, and music.”