Oak is Keeping
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Oak is Keeping

Austin, Texas, United States | SELF

Austin, Texas, United States | SELF
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"Pop meets passion"

It's not uncommon to leave a local show feeling disappointed. Many bands fall short of what this "live music capital" should offer - they're arrogant, unoriginal, image-conscious and unspectacular (Gibsons don't always compensate for mediocrity, pal). However, the up-and-coming band Oak is Keeping, a name taken from a Robert Frost poem, is an exception.

For starters, what makes this indie rock group so different? Is it their blatant passion on stage, their intense sound, their musical skill or their attitude?

"We just do what we do and have fun," said guitarist Hannah Durham.

It's really that simple. Too much self-consciousness ruins the vital connection between the performers and the audience. Similarly, for drummer Mastin Kirksey, contributing to the whole "for a room full of people is a thrill." Clearly, the passion is there.

"I speak for all of us: We really get high off playing music with each other," frontman Shay Isdale said.

How do they sound?

"I think we walk a delicate line between beautiful and melodic and dark and heavy," Robarge said.

The sensitivity of Kirskey's drums is uncanny when juxtaposed with his heavy style. Kyle Robarge, who also plays bass for local garage pop group the Murdocks, drives the band with zeal and power. Guitarist and singer Isdale admonishes fans in a McCartney-esque manner, whose guitar textures, along with those put forth by Durham, are both ethereal and raucous. They employ a mixture of dense, pounding drums that let up at the right time, an army of guitars powered by might and chemistry but rooted in the blues and classic rock, vocal harmonies that soar and lyrics that intrigue. Oak is Keeping is like Cream conducting the marriage between Spoon and Queens of the Stone Age.

The band, featured on Public Access Community Television last summer, didn't just appear. Isdale and Kirksey conceived of it after taking a rest from their seasoned careers in other bands, particularly from Plinko, who opened up for the Burden Brothers, once upon a time. After experiencing "a revolving door of musicians," Oak is Keeping rounded out their current lineup about a year ago.

So where and when can you check them out? Here lately, the band's place of emergence is Red Eyed Fly, Red River's own dive venue, which fuels the indie rock scene. Raw Deal productions is currently hosting its eighth annual Battle of the Bands at Red Eyed Fly, which started Oct. 7 and continues each Sunday evening until Nov. 4. Oak is Keeping will be combating with other forces of rock there at 10 p.m. on Oct. 28. This energetic and appealing band has refreshed Austin's live music scene and is a must-see.

Raw Deal Production's Battle of the Bands continues through Nov. 4. For more information about this event, check out www.myspace.com/redrumbattleofthebands.
- Daily Texan


"Oak is Keeping"

INsite Magazine
By: Ana Wolken

In the modern music era the Internet has taken a hold of listeners around the globe and expanded their auditory palates with a smorgasbord of non-traditional sounds. Some of the music that has resulted is good and some is arguably bad, but I still maintain that what is defined as good music has not changed. It's just become a lot harder to find amongst the throngs of eager bands on MySpace.

One local band, Oak is Keeping, is carrying the torch for what some would now call radio rock. Their mix of modern rock hallmarks along with classic rock and blues influences sounds fresh and would be at home on stations such as 101X and KLBJ. In this millennium, modern rock has unfortunately become synonymous with repetitive sounding hits from bands like Foo Fighters and Weezer. However, Oak is Keeping is proving that modern rock can still be fresh and new and that you don't have to have a keyboard and a glockenspiel in your band to make it in the indie world.

The band was formed in 2006 by vocalist/guitarist Shay Isdale and drummer Mastin Kirksey. The band has gone through various lineups, settling in back in September with Seattle natives Zac Bogart on guitar and Adam Keeling on bass and backing vocals.

Originally known as Dead Leaves, Oak is Keeping were forced to change their name due to a conflict with a now defunct metal band from the early 2000s also called Dead Leaves. "It was a really stupid situation," says drummer Mastin Kirksey, "but to avoid more difficulties, we changed the name."

Kirksey says the band drew its new name from a Robert Frost poem called Reluctance. "We didn't initially search out Robert Frost poems," Kirksey explained, "but we wanted a name that was artful and organic." After a selection process that involved, "a little help from MySpace friends and a case of beer," the name Oak is Keeping was chosen.

Lyrically, the band's songs focus on murder, love, betrayed and a host of other themes, with lead singer Shay Isdale taking primary lyric writing responsibility. The rest of the band does contribute lyrically from time to time, as Oak is Keeping takes a team approach to their songwriting. "We come up with a riff, and build on it from there," said Kirksey, "We believe a good solid riff is what makes a good rock song even better."

The band's reputation for solid, straightforward rock has carried them across Texas, frequently returning to the Dallas – Fort Worth area, where they (then known as Dead Leaves) first performed in 2006. "Our first show ever was a Friday night in Dallas," said Kirksey, "There was a huge storm coming to town, threatening us with tornadoes and lightning. The sky was scary dark, the power almost went out in the club, but it passed over just in time and we had a killer crowd and a killer set. The place was packed."

After solidifying their songs in clubs across Texas, Oak is Keeping released their first EP in 2007, aptly called Dead Leaves as most of the songs were recorded under the band's previous name. The band's second EP, entitled MURDERdeathKILL was released earlier this year and further enhanced the buzz surrounding the band's reputation as one of Austin's finest modern-meets-classic rock bands.

Oak is Keeping records with producer Jason Sewell of Nebulost Productions. Sewell has also recorded the likes of One Eyed Doll, The Van Buren Boys and Dax just to name a few. Kirksey said they've got a great partnership with Sewell. "He's the perfect fit for Oak is Keeping," Kirksey explained, "We can tell him what we are looking for in a song and he can push us in the right direction until we find that perfect spot." Kirksey continued, "We love the studio because it gives us a chance to create and add new elements to the songs we have written and practiced."

Overall, drummer Kirksey says that the future looks bright for Oak is Keeping. "I believe the songs we write are something that can connect with people who listen to all kinds of genres," he explains, "but at its core, it's just good, solid, riff-driven rock and roll." Future tour plans include expanded regional touring and more recording. "We hope all the effort we put in the music is seen in our shows and recording," said Kirksey, "That can take us to farther places, bigger crowds and more fun!"

Oak is Keeping is playing INsite Night at Red Eyed Fly on December 12th along with Mike Truth & The Replacement Killers, Distant Lights, Little Triggers and Mansfield. For more information on Oak is Keeping and other upcoming tour dates, visit them at MySpace.com/OakisKeeping.

- INsite Magazine


"Animal Style"

Throughout mythology, there have always been bizarre creations, amalgamations of disparate elements that should never be able to exist together. The part-man, part-bull Minotaur; the part human, part horse Centaur; the complete mishmash of animal parts that is the Griffin. Compelling for their juxtaposition of animal parts, these creatures have captured man’s imagination. In music, rarely does such an incongruous hydra come about, fusing completely disparate elements into one living, breathing, beautiful creature.

Oak is Keeping is one such hydra.

With a body sturdily composed of riff-heavy, bass massive Black Sabbath, a brain derived from the harmonious melodies of the Beatles, and two thunderous paws, one crafted from Seattle grunge a la Alice in Chains, the other bearing the beefy imprint of swirling psychedelia, and a tail composed of the best distillation of post punk indy rock, Oak is Keeping is a band to capture the imagination.

And once they've captured you, they hang onto for dear life, ensnaring you into their drooling maw and carrying you off into a mythical sky of fierce, chugging, yet infinitely melodic and listenable rock and roll. Anyone who calls this stoner rock is stoned. Go beyond the power of the Sabbath riffs, lose yourself on the magic carpet ride that is the melody, sing along to the sweetness of the harmony vocals, marvel into the Alice-drops-down-the-rabbit hole psychedelic madness, that swirls and dances, yet never loses itself in its own madness. Melodic Psych? The Black Beatles? Who cares what you call it, labels are for small minds, and this music is all about expanding minds, erasing boundaries, exploding dimensions.. In the end, it’s just rock and roll and it’s simply marvelous.

“SiNk,” feedbacks and thunders it’s way into your consciousness before dropping into the mother of all Alice in Chains riffs, just as quickly to mutate into a snarling, beastly ugly Sabbath thud. Heavy? Hell yes, but it’s not metal. No way. Listen to the vocals as they come on, incredibly smooth, yet still impassioned. And what’s that he’s singing? By God, it’s a true melody, deep and, dare I say it, lovely. A melody that could easily grace one of the latter Beatles albums, married to the density of a Sabbath plodding footstep. Stuttering guitars, layered harmony vocals. Damn, what is this. It’s not prog, but it’s complex. It’s not metal, but it’s ominous and heavy. It’s not pop, but I’m singing along, joyfully, my soul rising with the soaring chorus. It’s a bowl-full of contradictions all thrown together, and I got me a spoon and I’m digging right in.

If “SiNk” didn’t fully ensnare me in the Oak is Keeping lair, “No Kiss,” completed the capture. Big, choppy riffs, stop and start like the thundering step of a mythological creature. Stepping heavy, plodding closer. Alice in Chains sounds heavier here, in the use of harmony vocals, the rising crescendo of the vocal bridge, the tone of angst as they sing, “They say that animals need their space/inside we’re cannibals/the human race/cut off our nose to spite our face.” But then that chorus comes along, as sweet and addictive as pop. Vocals soaring to higher registers, smoothly, melodically. The Oak is Keeping Griffin lives, many different parts all living together in perfect harmony.

Then “How We Treat Girls,” swings into gear throwing me for another, glorious, swirling ride into unexpected territory. The guitar tone here is pure indy rock, perhaps like the tone that we’d always hope The Killers would one day find. Sabbath is gone, instead the guitars shimmer and shine, the bass runs high up the neck, the vocals ride an intense melody highlighted by a hook destined to reside for years in my brain. The chorus is another masterwork of melody, a stark contradiction to the lyrics that spit and snarl with sarcasm and snot. More than any other, this song runs back to the past, like Spirit or Love, or some other psychedelic pop band that captured lighting in a bottle.

Getting the picture. This beast shouldn’t live, it shouldn’t exist, and it definitely shouldn’t be so compelling. Check out the knock em dead chorus of “Tell Me These Things,” with it’s choppy “Stab me in the front/don’t stab me in the back/stab me in the front/use a dull blade,” lyric. Not something you expect to find yourself singing out loud at two in the morning, but there it is. Arm it with an ugly Sabbath riff that mutates into a near Lizzy guitar attack, ending in a swirling maelstrom of double-fisted piano and you’ve got another winner. “Tempt,” then takes all this mythological fusing of elements and creates a beast that will forever exist in it’s own universe. Charging harmony guitar launches things forward into a neo Alice in Chains riff . . . but it’s not. The guitars swirl too much, like who? Early Cult maybe? I don’t know, but I do know that it moves quickly into a grungy chorus, before the whole thing builds and builds to . . a total drop out of all that is heavy. Suddenly the guitars are gone, piano trods delicately, the vocals floating into a psychedelic Beatles melody, for two measures before the guitars roar back, heavier than before. If this is an acid trip it’s one for the ages. Harmonics sing and dance. Counter vocals leak from separate earphone channels. Guitars swirl. Where is reality? Where is my desk? Who am I? Oh, yeah, I’m Racer, and I’m listening to some seriously intense, fantastically wild stuff. And the ride in this animal style is just beginning.
- The Ripple Effect


"Album Review"

Released back in April, Oak Is Keeping’s Animal Style is the debut from what could be the next big hope for Austin rock. They’ve got a great sound, well-written lyrics, and some staying power on the Austin scene.

I met drummer Mastin Kirksey a few years ago backstage at ACL (I was there for INsite and he was working with 101x). He told me about this new band he had formed. It was the same day I met Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age. I mention this only because upon the first listen of this album, OiK reminded me of QOTSA.

Shay Isdale channels a deep baritone voice, much like that of Homme. Zac Bogart emits hauntingly dark tones from his guitar on each track. The back beat of Kirksey’s drums and Adam Keeling’s bass chimes in perfectly to make some beautiful music.

The epic rocker “SiNK” that leads Animal Style off with… well.. style. Songs like the Adam and Eve tinged “Tempt” and “No Kiss” and are definitely the type of stuff that will have your horns in the air contemplating a mosh pit.

They reach into their inner Stone Temple Pilots in tracks like “Burn It All Down” and “Devil In The Truth” and it’s a good thing.

“How We Treat Girls” which is a lighter jam that has somewhat of a timeless hippy rock sing-along feel to it. It kind of reminds me of some old Jellyfish-style song with a heavier twinge.

I’d have to say my favorite track on Animal Style has got to be “Tell Me These Things.” It’s a straight up rock song that has a cocky swagger. “Let me show you / how to beg and steal and cheat / What would you do? /‘Cause I get what I take and I break what I love.”

As you may have noticed in my intro, I’m expecting big things from these guys in the near future. If you’ve not heard them yet, introduce yourself to them at http://www.oakiskeeping.com/ or check them out live September 3 - INsite Magazine


"Austin's Oak Is Keeping Makes It...."

Austin’s own Oak Is Keeping is generating quite the viral buzz these days. Here in Austin they have been played on local rock radio, been featured in The Austinist and Austin Insite Magazine amongst many others. Oak Is Keeping is now making their national push in effort to not only grow their fan base, but to win Airwalk’s “Unsigned Hero: Road To Austin” contest. I know what you’re thinking. This is a bad PR attempt. Well it's not. There’s actually something really newsworthy here that Austin should be quiet proud of. Oak is Keeping has been voted into the top five out of the thousands of nominations that were received at the contest’s beginning. So yeah, now I’m actually impressed.

I always knew Oak Is Keeping was one of the better modern rock, alternative bands around town. After a releasing a couple of EPs, they finally released a full length album entitled Animal Style earlier this year. Animal Style is a ten rack album that does have a few songs from those earlier EPs, specifically the local favorite “How We Treat Girls”. Other Standout tracks off Animal Style include “Burn It All Down” and “SiNk”.
- DoubleStereo


"Band Review"

There is no shortage of musical talent in Austin and Oak is Keeping is the latest local outfit to grab our attention. This past April, the band dropped Animal Style, an impressive collection of pummeling rock songs, chock-full of irresistible melodies, layered vocals, and standout guitar wizardry. Per founding member Shay Isdale, “We have a very unique writing dynamic. I generate riff and melody ideas and present them to the band. At that time we literally pick apart the whole song idea and analyze it until everyone agrees on the finished product and puts their own touch on their respective part. It’s amazing how democratic we are, and we somehow never get into any arguments about writing. I think that sets us apart from most bands. We truly enjoy the whole process, even as collaborative as it is.” Comparisons to Queens of the Stone Age are inevitable, for even Isdale’s vocals harbor a hint of Josh Homme. Oak is Keeping nurtures a similar bludgeoning sound powered by ingenious licks. Sizzling six-strings mark “Tempt” and “Tell Me These Things” while our favorite “Burn It All Down” chugs along at a steady pace before blazing into a memorable chorus. Even gentler fare like “Book Of Matches” and “So Sweet” are not sans moments of eruption. Recommended for fans of modern day hard-rock, the album ends with the thunderous “What We Live.”

Isdale (vocals and guitar) and Mastin Kirksey (drums) formed the band as Dead Leaves in 2006 but were forced to change the name after receiving a cease and desist order from another act with the same moniker. The duo was working with a number of other musicians at the time and decided it was best to reorganize as Oak is Keeping (taken from a Robert Frost poem). Zac Bogart (guitar) and Adam Keeling (bass) had honed their skills as session musicians in Seattle for the likes of Stone Gossard and The Shins and were recruited via Craigslist. After a couple of EP releases, the band recorded Animal Style with Jason Sewell (Nebulost Productions), also a Craigslist connection.

Oak is Keeping is in the running for a spot at SPIN’s shows at SXSW 2010 (Airwalk’s “Unsigned Hero: Road To Austin” contest) and they are currently second in the SPIN/MLB 2K10 competition where the winner’s song is included in the next edition of the game. Oak is Keeping is already working on material for a new EP; until then, rock out to Animal Style and catch them live tonight at Red Eyed Fly.

- Austinist


"Oak is Keeping - Animal Style"

Animal Style locks Oak is Keeping into a steel cage death match with itself. From "Sink", to the thunderous drumming of "What We Live", the recording sways back and forth between lilty stoner rock and the natural evolution of Alice in Chains. Animal Style sports a beautifully polished set of songs tied together through the production, although diverse in songwriting and style. "No Kiss" pays homage to early Queens of the Stone Age and Masters of Reality, while "Devil in the Truth" sports a riff that would make Jerry Cantrell swoon.

Oak is Keeping is hedging their bets with Animal Style, hoping to snag modern and stoner rockers alike. Because of that, the recording never establishes a strong identity for the band. However, the vocal melodies, racy riffs, and punchy drums will provide any headbanger vagrant enough reason to pump their firsts and throw up the horns.
- Hail to the Riff


Discography

Doom Rainbow - EP (2012)
Animal Style - (2009)
MURDERdeathKILL - EP (2008)
Dead Leaves - EP (2007)

Photos

Bio

Oak is Keeping is the outcome of mixing heavy, guttural guitars with astral harmonies and brash lyrical content, about everything from love to the human condition. Think of the modern edge behind Queens of the Stone Age mixed with the grunginess of Alice in Chains.
Oak is Keeping have been playing around Texas and its surrounding states for several years promoting their debut release, Animal Style (2009).
The band recently release a new EP, Doom Rainbow, in late 2012 - and is preparing to release a new full length album in mid-2013.

OiK has been featured on Local Licks on 93.7 KLBJ-FM, appeared on the 101X morning show w/ Jason & Deb, been the featured artist of Austin INsite Magazine and the subject of many blogs and reviews. This is what people are saying about Oak is Keeping....

"Oak is Keeping is like Cream conducting the marriage between Spoon and Queens of the Stone Age."
-Michal Durham (The Daily Texan)

"One local band, Oak is Keeping, is carrying the torch for what some would now call radio rock. Their mix of modern rock hallmarks along with classic rock and blues influences sounds fresh and would be at home on stations such as 101X and KLBJ."
-Ana Wolken (INsite Magazine)

"I love this, its what you can call heavy. The double guitar attack is great!"
-Loris Lowe (KLBJ-FM / Local Licks)