Fred Oakman is a local musician from Meadville, Pa., who has performed with three different bands, as well as played solo shows for over 10 years. With a new group and record under his belt, Fred tells us all about the life of a musician, what it means to do what you love, and the sound of sticking your head outside of car windows.
Q: Let’s start right off the bat and talk about the new record – In the Fire of My Youth. Where did a lot of the lyrical themes of the record come from?
A: I wrote the lyrics for this album over a very lengthy timeframe. Three of us came from a band called Signal Home (SH), and some of the lyrics were written towards the end of that band’s lifetime. But, some of them were written after Signal Home called it quits, and some written after OIBL had already formed. I only ever find myself writing lyrics when I feel like I’ve got to get something off my chest, if I’ve been dwelling internally for too long on something.
The song “You’ll be Missed” deals a lot with the grind of being a musician and my realistic point of view at the time, in fact a lot of the songs on the album are rooted in what I was dealing with after SH broke up.
“You’ll be Missed” may come off jaded to some listeners, but those lyrics are angry for me and I don’t usually get too rattled. It’s pretty much me telling everyone, ‘I’m done with music. I’ll miss this, but I really can’t put life off for too much longer.’ But at the same time feeling like ‘I really wish I could still do music…’ You can hear the same theme in a lot of the songs on this album.
Q: How does One if By Land differ from other projects you’ve been involved with? What kinds of bands influence OIBL?
A: The main difference between OIBL and every other project I’ve done (with the exception to my solo stuff) is that we truly don’t care what people think about us. We’re not trying to impress anybody, and we’re literally just out there doing what we love to do. A lot of bands say that, but over the years I think that most bands don’t truly mean that. We just want to write the best songs we can right now, record them as fast as we can, and get them out to people.
Other bands that have influenced us really fluctuate. I don’t listen to a whole lot of music anymore. I need to. Troy listens to everything under the sun. Paul and Jim, I have no idea what those dudes listen to anymore.
We really don’t talk about other bands when we get together with the exception of when we write. That’s how we communicate. It’ll be like, “Let’s do something like you’d hear on a Fat Wreck album, or let’s do something a little more spacey.”
Q: Do you have anything in the works for the near future?
A: I’ve been trying to get my ducks in a row to release my first full-length solo album. I have well over 20 songs written, and I just haven’t been in the right scenario to record them yet.
We had to keep it a secret for a while, but OIBL is going to be featured on the “20 Years of Hell” 7” subscription series that A-F Records is putting out. We’ll be featured on Vol. 4, and it should be out this February. We’re really excited to release a previously unreleased track on that, as well as one from our full-length album. Those two songs were re-mastered and sound perfect on vinyl in our opinion. We’re super excited about that.
Q: How long have you been playing music?
A: Every single dude in the band has been playing for over 10 years now. That’s not just playing, that’s touring, writing and putting out albums. I started guitar when I was like 14, and I’m 32 now, so… quite a while.
Q: What advice would you have for future musicians?
A: Well, set your goals, stay focused, and know that it’s really a trial and error experiment – all of it. Being a musician in a band is a wild ride of learning, writing, playing, losing money, sacrificing a steady job and just having a blast. If you set out with the goal of getting signed, or getting money, or being on TV or the radio, I personally feel like that’s the absolute worst way to approach music. Do it because it makes you happy, not because you’re trying to impress someone or prove to people you are good at something. Do it for you.