Guitarist Jack Svendsen – Black Oak County
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Fernando Reis at Mighty Music for setting up the interview
Thanks to Mighty Music for the promo pictures of the band
Promo pictures taken by: Jakob Muxoll
Additional promo pictures taken by: Rasmus Alenkær
Mighty & forceful trio Black Oak County comes from Esbjerg Denmark and are about to release their second album, THEATRE OF THE MIND. It will hit the streets at the end of April 2019. I don’t think the band has been featured in Metal-rules.com before, so when opportunity knocked I grabbed it and had a chat with guitarist Jack Svendsen. I asked him everything I could think of about the band. They recently became a trio, so we handled that matter as well as the creation of THEATRE OF THE MIND and how what it was like to record in Hansen Studio (owned by famous producer/musician Jacob Hansen). The band’s mostly tasted success in Denmark thus far, but it’s now time for the rest of the world to get to know them! Read more below…
Hi how are you guys doing today? Ready to kick off the interview?
Great thanks! Of course, always fun to do interviews.
Well, first off all, your lead singer Niels Beier recently left the band. Why did he leave and was his departure expected?
He left the band because he didn’t want to play music anymore. At some point we were expecting it a little bit because of the vibes we got from him, but we were always hoping that we would stick together.
Are you guys still friends with Beier? What is he up to nowadays?
We are friends. Well he told us that music wasn’t for him and not his dream, but we don’t know. He is living in Greenland.
At the time of his departure the band secretly headed into the studio to start pre-production of the new album with bass player Rene Hjelm on the mic. How was it to record an album with Hjelm singing lead?
It was fun, hard, emotional. A lot of feelings came through that time, but we had a great time doing it. It was so easy because we know each other so well, after spending a lot of time together.
Someone Else (Official Music Video)
Beier also handled guitar, were there any plans on searching for a new guitar player?
We did not search for a new guitar player, but maybe it will happen someday.
Today the band is a trio. Has the loss of a member changed how you create your music in any shape or form?
It’s actually pretty much the same as before, we are just having a great time and love making music.
We have moved from the more Heavy/southern rock to the more melodic/classic rock side in our own opinion and trying to make it a little bit “simpler”, and don’t overthink it. In the end, it’s just about choosing how you want to form the songs. Who knows, maybe we do something crazy when we are coming up with new ideas at some point.
You all come from Esbjerg Denmark, do you all live there today?
Yes, we do.
You list bands like Black Sabbath, Motörhead, Black Label Society, Metallica and Megadeth as musical influences, have those bands been a common source of inspiration to you all?
No, we just listed bands that have inspired us individually.
We have a lot of bands that we all love, so that list is so long it would take too much space.
Where does the band name Black Oak County come from and who came up with it?
Original we were named Great White Buffalo, but we had to change because of trademark rights etc.
Well, the band name came from a long brain storming, and I (Jack) came up with “Black County”, but we love names made of 3 words so one of us (can’t remember who) just yells “how about OAK” and we chewed on it throughout the day, and we all loved it.
New album THEATRE OF THE MIND
When did you begin work on material to THEATRE OF THE MIND?
A lot of the ideas were written a long time a go, but we started to work and write the album in August 2018.
Who writes most of the lyrics and music?
We all have input when it comes to the writing of music and lyrics, but René takes care of the lyrics and I (Jack) take care of the music with my brother Mike (drums), so when I have the idea in my head, I can get it jammed out and recorded immediately.
Does everyone have a saying when it comes to the material?
Yeah, all the ideas get a try, sometimes the idea that sounds crazy might be the thing that the song needed.
At the end of August last year the video to “Pretty Pistol” was released. What did fans think of it and who is the woman featured in many of your videos?
We got a great response to it, people liked it a lot.
She’s a pretty woman, that the director knew.
Pretty Pistol (Official Music Video)
Your debut album was released in 2017 and got some great reviews. Did you feel any pressure to re-create that success with the new album?
Why make the same thing twice? We knew the we couldn’t make that album again because of the vocal change, so we wanted to keep a lot of the things we are known for and add some new stuff and vibes to it.
Were the songs featured on THEATRE OF THE MIND written for the album or did you use any older material that you had laying around?
Some of the songs were written as individually songs and some was written for the album. For example, “Sychophanitc” was an old live song we have played for some years that was written at the time Niels was in the band.
How come you named the album THEATRE OF THE MIND? What’s the thought behind the title?
The album title came from me (Jack) seeing a Nikki Sixx radio show on YouTube called “Sixx Sense”. He was talking about life in general, how all the things we go through is some time making a “theater of the mind” and it was just the overall title for what we just have deal with, both as a band but in our personal life, and combined with the lyrics it was just like putting the last brick on the puzzle.
Who did the cover art work this time?
The artwork is made by David Troest, he is a fantastic painter and tattoo artist.
The album contains 10 songs and clocks in on 40 minutes which is a pretty decent amount of time for an album. When you write songs do you ever think of how long you want a song to be?
Yes and no, we think about how we want the song to be, to us we don’t think about if its 2 minutes or if it 10 minutes, if the song is great and sound like we want it to then is the right length for that song.
What are the longest songs “Sycophanic” (4.14) and “I Know You’re Lonely” (4.27) about?
“Sycophanitc” is about when people are telling you one thing but doing the complete opposite and “I Know You’re Lonely” is about being on the edge of a break up but not knowing if that is going to happen.
How would you describe what kind of music Black Oak County plays?
Do you think the band has changed anything music-wise compared with your debut?
We have changed to the more melodic side of rock music.
Do you think that the following lines written in the biography reflect the band well? “Black Oak County is now a hard hitting catchy and hooky power trio. The band now focus their sound even more upon melody and song mixed to great effect with the big and meaty riffs for which the band is known and loved.?
Yes, we do, but if some people have another meaning about it they should feel free to say it to us.
How did fans handle Beier’s departure and your decision to continue on as a trio?
Some fans got sad about it and some was happy, it was a lot of mixed feelings, but we were giving the best support when we decided to continue.
Have you read any reviews of the album in the media?
Yes, we read them all. It’s funny to read and we love to hear what people think about the new album.
Do you think there’s any differences in how the Danish media writes about the band compared to other European press?
There is a difference between mainstream media and more rock/metal medias but not between Danish and European media or press.
Do you care about what media and critics write about you?
We use it when we write new stuff, see if we can turn it to some useful instead of just dust it under the carpet
You’re going to throw a release party in Esbjerg at the end of April for the album, is the band going to perform live? Are you looking forward to the party?
Yeah, we are going to play live! it’s going to be one hell of a show and we are really looking forward to it.
The band is compared musically with bands like Nickelback, Stone Broken, and Volbeat, what do you think about that? Does Black Oak County have anything in common musically with those bands?
We don’t think that much about it, but it’s great being compared with big bands that have made it in the music industry.
Maybe the way the first record sounded? Some kind of the way the music was formed.
Which bands do you consider being close to musically?
Somewhere between Shinedown, Sixx A:M and the Danish act Dizzy Mizz Lizzy.
Do you think fans of the debut album are going to like the new one as much?
We think that there are maybe some fans ther will say it’s bad and stick to the debut, but the fans are going to like and love the new record.
“We feel the making of this album have made us the band we want to be, focusing on the songs, and always working harder to achieve new goals” can be read in the bio, could you explain a little more what you mean with those words?
Well just all the things that had happened over the present and making the new album, we just got reborn as a band.
I think the new album is amazing and are really enjoying it, are you happy with the outcome of the album? Are you satisfied with your efforts?
We are happy, satisfied and can’t wait to start working on new tuns.
Studio and production
THEATRE OF MIND was recorded in the famous Hansen Studio, how was it to work in that studio? And what makes Hansen studio so special to work in?
It’s always fantastic to inter that particular studio and the vibe you get from the rooms. I don’t think it’s more special than other studios, it’s just a great studio with great and awesome people working in it.
Who produced the album?
We produced the album, and Jonas came with inputs to the songs, and sounds.
Jonas Haagensen took care of the recording, mixing and mastering, has he worked with any other well known bands before?
He has helped Jacob with some well-known bands.
Is the album also mixed in Hansen Studio?
Yes – and it’s mixed by Jonas Haagensen.
Were any of the band members part of the mixing process?
We are all a part of the mixing process, actually we are all have a say in everything in the band and the process there comes with it.
Is it correct the album was completed in January? Why has it taken you until April to get it released?
There is a lot of planning, and the album needs come out on CD and LP so there is some copy time, and the press should get it to, so it takes time to put out a record.
How long did it take to record the album all-together?
About 2 weeks or so.
Label and management
Are you happy with the work your label Mighty Music have put into the band and album so far?
Yeah, if we were unhappy, we would not be there.
Do you have any idea how many copies the debut album sold?
It has sold a great amount of copies but the number we can’t remember right now.
What did Mighty Music think of the band turning to a trio?
Maybe that’s a question you should give to Michael, haha. at first it was difficult to imagine how it would be and sound, but when the record was don it was, awesome.
MM is releasing the album in Europe, South America, and Russia, but what about North America and Asia?
hmm, maybe something about distribution we don’t know.
Are there going to be any limited version of the album released? Like a colored vinyl etc?
Not at the moment, but maybe it will come.
The album is released on both CD as vinyl, are you guys fans of the vinyl format?
Yeah! We love to kick it old school and we all love vinyl, so we need to have it.
Why do you think that the vinyl albums are being so popular these days?
I think is about the sound of a vinyl, in my ear it just sounds better.
Is the album available to listen to at Spotify, iTunes?
Yes it is!
It’s not easy to find albums released by Mighty Music online in Sweden, the one I can find is Electric Boys why is it so do you think?
That we can’t answer on, because we have no clue about it.
What do you guys think of the meet & greet trend that is more and more up and coming where fans are charged crazy amounts of money to meet their idols, is that something you see Black Oak County doing in the future?
There are pros and cons about that thing, and we can relate to it, they are spending a lot of time on it, but on the other hand it’s a lot of cash. right now, no we love to hang and talk to fans, but you never know in the future.
Do you currently co-operating with any management?
Not at the moment.
Past and present
Why doesn’t the band have a proper website?
Well if you have used Google you would have found it. blackoakcounty.com so we have one.
You got about 1,800 likes on your facebook page, are you happy with that or are you keen on gaining fans with album?
We are happy to have all the fans and support we have, and hopefully more will join when the new record is out.
Is the band active on Twitter and Instagram, what are the most common question you get from fans on the internet?
We are most active on Instagram, but we also have a Twitter account. most common question must be about merchandise and how it’s going with the band, gear etc.
Tweets by BlackOakCounty
It’s pretty hard to find any info about the band on the internet, why is it so?
There are some reviews and interviews, but we are not that famous to have a Wikipedia yet.
You’ve played quite a lot of shows in Denmark but what about the rest of Scandinavia?
We have recently played in Norway, and hopefully are we coming to Sweden in 2019.
In January you played in Copenhagen, Danmark was this the first show with Hjelm behind the mic?
Yes, that is correct, and it was dam fun and a kick ass show.
In March you’re supporting Suckerpunch, are you excited?
We love to play live so yes, we are!
You’re also featured at the Nordic Noise Festival at the beginning of May in Copenhagen, are you looking forward to that?
So much!! It’s a great festival and we can’t wait to be back.
You performed at the festival back in 2017, how was it?
it was just like a rock show should be, loud, great audience, a lot of sweet and happy times.
Any plans on doing any touring now that the album is out?
We are trying to play as many shows we can.
Do you have any festival shows booked for the summer so far?
Not at the moment.
Which territory is your main priority at the moment, Scandinavia or Europe?
Well we have to go with both. We are trying to put a EU tour together, but ther is a lot of thing that needs to fit in.
With three words how would you describe a show with Black Oak County as…?
Aggressive, Awesome, and good time.
Soon the single/video to “Wasted Life” is coming out, what can you tell us about the song and video?
It’s a rocking song about not wasting time on things that don’t get you anywhere.
Wasted Life (Official Music Video)
What would you like to say to the ones who haven’t heard the music of Black Oak County before?
Hear it, and just crank the volume and have a good time ore a party.
Could you give them three reasons why they have to buy THEATRE OF MIND?
It’s straight from the heart, Rock music in its best shape and it’s a record that you will love and keep in your collection.
That was all for me today, thanks for making the interview and I wish you all the best in the future. I really hope to see you live on stage in Sweden soon!
Thank you, hopefully we see you sometime in Sweden!!
Any words of wisdom to share with the readers and fans..?
Be how you are and stay true to that, because that’s was cool!