Q: If you met Satan tomorrow, what would you say? A: Thank you for the music.
Now, two years later, The Oath is about to release their first full-length album, The Oath, (out April 15th on Rise Above Records), which is a dark, magickal journey that dances on the lines of the classics like Heart and Jefferson Airplane with a heavier, far more aggressive edge that can only come from the new demons that reside in 2014. It’s clear that The Oath are inspired by the ‘70s and ‘80s era, but are by no means a “retro” band; This is a group that has descended upon us with a very clear message of being inspired by darkness in the moment, and the chaos the ensues. Today, Linnéa joins Noisey to chat about their mark on the world and drop off the new track "All Must Die" to stream.
Noisey: What is the music of today lacking that used to be so prevalent in the rock and roll of the ‘70s and ‘80s? Does anyone still have that edge?
Linnéa Olsson: I think that genuine music, music with real intent and soul, has nothing to do with time or place. It exists all over the board. There is a lot of great modern music. But if we're talking modern heavy metal I would maybe say that I get the feeling that there are far more unspoken restrictions and rules now than a couple of decades ago. But then again, there's no way I would know this for sure. But there are not many contemporary heavy metal albums that frighten me even close to as much as Sabotage by Black Sabbath, that I can say.
You were inspired by the darkness of Berlin’s nightlife when you first moved there. Tell me about that. How does it differ from the feeling of Stockholm?
I still live in Berlin, because it's virtually impossible to leave this city. I love it here. Berlin gives you an intoxication feeling of intense liberation. Anything goes. Stockholm on the other hand is pretentious, expensive and fucking boring. Going out in Berlin you will meet people who just doesn't give a fuck. The electronic music scene is strong here and the techno clubs are not only playing top notch music through the best sound system you've ever encountered, but the atmosphere is thick with sexual energy, freedom and chaos. It's a very psychedelic experience. Completely unpredictable. It's can also sometimes be very dark—darker than the majority of metal shows I've been to in my life. Berlin is fearless. Stockholm on the other hand - is anxious.
What is it about the Johanna that made you guys have an instant connection?
Well, the metal scene in Berlin is a lot smaller than the one in Stockholm, so it took me a while before I met people with good taste in that kind of music. Johanna and I became close because of how much we had in common. Sweden is ridden with girls like us, but here it's rare. I think we felt an instant camaraderie because of this.
Are certain people are just destined to find each other creatively?
Yes, it all happened for a reason, absolutely. I think our relationship taught us a lot.
Was there a momentary epiphany where you were just charged with inspiration? What happened?
We had a good run right before we went to record in Stockholm, where two tracks were written in the last minute. The album closer, "Psalm 7," was one of them. I had put together all the riffs—which made sense in my head, but probably sounded messy to everyone else—and Johanna finished her vocal lines literally a few hours before the flight to Sweden, very early in the morning. When we all got there we rehearsed the song twice with Simon and Andrew, before recording it live. It worked out perfectly and I think it's the best song on the album.
I know you guys really don’t want to be associated with the “Hottest Chicks In Hard Rock” thing that Revolver does. Can’t blame you one bit. What advice would you give women who are torn between staying away from that stigma and the perceived money and success that comes from giving in to that image?
Well, if this is something that you're torn between then you're probably not an artist in the first place, and maybe you let your ego dictate the terms of your life too much. I can't speak for other people, but I don't understand what my looks have to do with my guitar playing? Why not the "Best Female Musicians in Hard Rock"? It's at all necessary to make a distinction between the sexes. It's undermining bullshit. Everyone is free to do whatever they want, but one should be aware of the bigger picture. It's also ridiculous, because some of the women featured in this, like Liz Buckingham and Ruyter Suys, are two of the best players within their field.
Do you often encounter people who treat you like you should have that image?
Not very often. At least not in person. I mean, don't get me wrong here. There is a place for sex in this kind of music. Obviously. But you wouldn't reduce Bon Scott to merely a "hot guy," would you? Growing up, one's sexual enlightenment and musical discoveries often happen around the same time. I wanted to be with Izzy Stradlin when I was 14. But I also wanted to be Izzy Stradlin.
That’s the distinction. If people think we're sexy, great. I think it's sexy when people play from the heart. But I didn't choose a life dedicated to music just so I could end up as a footnote in some moron's jerk off-list.
In the track, “All Must Die,” you’re summoning Satan. And the album in general touches on demons rising and all kinds of other dark, occult themes. What inspires the darkness The Oath’s music?
I think both Johanna and myself probably experienced a feeling of displacement since we were small, and since then we've been fascinated by the obscured and unknown. We play heavy metal music because it's the music best suited to channel these energies. And the other way around, we choose classic themes to a classic genre. Johanna's written most of the lyrics on the album and her relationship to death is probably more personal than you would think. As for me, I am into any kind of limitless expression. I like a lot of punk music and the "darkness" that is in a band like, say, Poison Idea, is really appealing to me. It's a big "fuck off" to everything. I love that. In a bigger spiritual context I guess you could say that it's also about following your own path - the left, rather than the right - and not submit to the biggest authority of all; God.
How do you feel about the church burnings and whatnot that have taken place in the lives of your Scandinavian musical predecessors? Do you hate that question?
We sympathize with people taking their personal convictions seriously.
If you met Satan tomorrow, what would you say?
Thank you for the music.
Cat Jones is on Twitter - @catjonessoda