Catching up with the Oxides in the sumptuous surroundings of the Pentahotel with its lavish chilled areas is a far cry from the all out attack that is an Oxides gig. The Oxides that I was catching up with were front man Jake Bolt and new guitarist Mikey Duncan.

For those that don’t know The Oxides Jake rewinds the clock and tells us his motivation behind the band.

Photo by Fraser Davidson
Photo by Fraser Davidson

‘I was in The Boosts before. I kind of thought that this is my last bash, really giving it plenty in a band, but it all ended prematurely. I spent about six or seven months just writing songs. I didn’t have anyone in mind to be in the band.The first few songs that I wrote had a certain feel to them and I thought this had something.

These were the songs that we play such as In Control and In One Ear and Out the Other. So they definitely had the grungy sort of vibe to them but quite Britpop as well. It’s not really been done before; I wanted to go in that direction.’ As well as the songs he needed a band.

Jake continues, ‘I knew Archie from primary school but we drifted away.’ But back then Jake was learning to play the guitar and he told Archie ‘You’ve got to learn bass! So he actually went away and learnt bass and he went off to university. On his return was when I started hanging about with him again and I couldn’t believe how good he was! Mikey chips in. ‘He’s the best bass player I have ever seen.’

With his bass player in place Jake then set about recruiting his drummer. ‘I then called up Duff. It took me ages to get Duff interested because he had been out of the game for so long. I was in the 28 Jacks with him.

A few months of just talking about it and getting him psyched up to be in it and it was born. I had about eight or nine songs at that point.’ They then released a free EP and gained a lot of press coverage. The reasons to Jake were quite simple ‘I wanted to come out with a bang, and we did!’

Jake and Pel at Belladrum 2013
Jake and Pel at Belladrum 2013

The next stage was bringing Pel on board. The reasons were straightforward. ‘It was the intricacy of the songs. I couldn’t imagine going back to a three piece now. I’d written all the songs with at least two guitars in mind and all the original recordings have at least two guitars. It was impossible for me to concentrate on being the front man and play lead guitar.’

As a band they have had their highs ‘The first night at the Cavern Club, in Liverpool, was fantastic.’ Jake enthuses. ‘I’d played there for three years on the trot and that, the Friday night, on the front stage, the stage with the brick wall and the crowd was just fantastic. GoNorth was really good last year too.’ Jake knows when a gig has gone well ‘The crowd reaction mainly. We try to keep the gigs to a certain standard.’

With the introduction of Mikey they are working on using Mikey’s vocals too, ‘I’d be happy for Mikey to do that. I’ve never told him before. If he wrote any songs that were in the direction of where the band are going, I would welcome that, absolutely.’

But why Mikey? For Jake it was simple. ‘He was the obvious and best choice/only choice! If it wasn’t for Mikey I don’t know who I would ask.’ They are obviously good friends from gigging on the same bill and what Mikey calls ‘some minging nights out in Thurso!’ It was a no brainer for Mikey although, he adds, ‘I didn’t say yes straightaway, I did ask the boys in City in Surveillance’.

New Oxide, Mikey Duncan, of City in Surveillance as well
New Oxide, Mikey Duncan, of City in Surveillance as well

So we have not heard the band play for a while, what are the plans? Jake is relaxed ‘We’ve been out of the game for a while and we are in no hurry.’ Mikey adds ‘There is no point in rushing it’.  Jake continues ‘We stopped gigging in October, we wanted to take a few months off until January and start then but Pel left about November/December so that was out of the question. Getting someone else in, I’d hoped for the end of February but then Archie broke his collarbone. Even without this we wouldn’t have been ready.’

But losing Pel had a further effect on the band as Jake has now taken on the managerial duties. Jake holds Pel in high regard, ‘Pel was a genius at that sort of thing. The stuff that he managed to pull off for us last year was fantastic so I’ve got all that on my shoulders. That’s daunting but it’s not keeping us from getting back out. It’s just being ready. We want to have the nine or ten songs that we were playing last year and the same number that we haven’t played yet.’

But the band changes, and the injuries, don’t tell the full story; the real plans are an album. Jake is adamant ‘I want an album. I want that box ticked. This line-up and the way this band sounds now. You have to be really on it. That’s for the end of the year.’

Mikey is equally enthusiastic ‘We are going to do three singles off the album, and each single is going to be an EP. So each single is going to have two songs which are not on the album, like b-sides. So there will be three EPs before the album comes out.’

They feel that they have a wealth of material and want to lay as much as they can down. Jake is very focussed. ‘We are going to record 18 to 20 songs, and pick the best ones for the album.’ This isn’t as straightforward as it sounds ‘Some of the new ones we don’t really know yet. You can’t be precious about songs you have to put out the best sounding songs. I’m really looking forward to this.’

The feeling that you get from the Jake and Mikey is that their, and no doubt Archie and Duff’s, hearts and souls will be going into these recordings and plans are already being put in place. If half the energy of an Oxides gig can be trapped in there, these will twice as explosive as most other releases.

Check out The Oxides Facebook page for updates on the band.

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Chartered surveyor by day, music reviewer by night, and occasionally I get to use my camera. A strange mix, but one that I enjoy.

A chance meeting in the queue for Bella in 2010 led to the opportunity to write for InvernessGigs; a far cry from the days of writing for a football fanzine back in the late 80s, early 90s. My interests lie between the mainstream, the emerging and the local. Increasingly I find that we have more than enough locally to entertain us to necessitate a trip south. I’m always happy to give a listen, whatever the genre.

Inverness has a plethora of talent, all of which I am more than keen to write about. If it encourages just one person to make the effort to listen to some new music I’ll be happy.

You can contact Frank direct via frankieboyfin@gmail.com