2014 Artist Survey: Strand of Oaks Interview | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Tuesday, March 9th, 2021  

2014 Artist Survey: Strand of Oaks

Timothy Showalter on the Day Mr. Hooper from Sesame Street Died, His Childhood Celebrity Crush, Riding Stallions, and His Cats

Feb 10, 2015 Issue #52 - January/February 2015 - St. Vincent Bookmark and Share

For Under the Radar's 12th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2014. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2014 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions.

Check out our Best of 2014 print and digital issues for answers from alt-J, Camera Obscura, Chromeo, The Dears, Death From Above 1979, Deerhoof, The Drums, The Flaming Lips, Glass Animals, Hookworms, Sondre Lerche, of Montreal, Owen Pallett, The Rosebuds, Still Corners, Teleman, Sharon Van Etten, The War on Drugs, Warpaint, Woman's Hour, Wye Oak, Zola Jesus, and others.

Here are some answers from Timothy Showalter of Strand of Oaks.

[A shorter version of this interview ran in Issue 52, the Best of 2014 and January/February 2015 Issue, which is still on newsstands. This is the full version of the interview.] 

Top 10 Albums of 2014

In no particular order:

Sharon Van Etten: Are We There 

Ryan Adams: Ryan Adams 

Eagulls: Eagulls 

Damien Jurado: Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son 

Ice Dragon: Seeds from a Dying Garden 

Marissa Nadler: July 

Earth: Primitive and Deadly 

Pallbearer: Foundations of Burden 

Sun Kil Moon: Benji 

Spoon: They Want My Soul 

What was the highlight of 2014 for either you personally or for the band? 

Playing every show like it was my last moment on earth and feeling the love of people reacting back from that.

What was the low point of 2014 for you? 

Every night when I lie in a bed and I think about all the bullshit I said to everyone and how negative I was.

What are your hopes and plans for 2015?

Shows. More connections. Write new songs, and then play more shows. My only function on this planet is music now. 

U2's new album was downloaded for free into millions of users' iTunes accounts without their permission. Was it a wonderful gift to music fans or an invasive action that devalues music? Also, which artist, other than you, deserves to have their album automatically downloaded to half a billion people more than U2?

People are fucking bored. U2 can do whatever they want. They changed the world in such a positive way. Let them make their own choices. But if one record should be in everyone's phone it should be AA Bondy's Believers.

Did you take part in the ice bucket challenge? If not, why not? Grimes declined due to animal testing issues, was the grief she got for that deserved?

No idea what you're talking about. Is it like when you get Gatorade after the Super Bowl?

The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri opened up a new national dialogue on police shootings and racism in America. Do you think anything will actually change because of it?

Nothing ever changes on a global scale. People need to change in personal and real situations. Neighbors helping each other shoveling snow or telling a joke. Just be good to people.

What's your craziest theory for what happened to the missing Malaysian Air flight?


Mark Kozelek was criticized in 2014 for insulting his audience (calling them "hillbillies" for talking during his set) and for making fun of The War on Drugs when their sound bled over to the stage he was playing. What responsibility do performers have to be respectful of their audiences and fellow bands?

Mark Kozelek, like U2, can do whatever the fuck he wants. You're writing about it for some reason so hopefully it's helping an amazing artist like Mark to sell more tickets. It used to be that music wasn't safe and people had opinions. Artists only have a responsibility to be themselves. If you're an asshole, be an asshole. I would rather see the real person than bullshit.

"Weird Al" Yankovic was back in a big way this year. If he were to lampoon any one of your songs, which one would you want it to be? What would the "Weird Al" version's lyrics be about? 

My song "Goshen '97." Lyric example/idea: my version is "I was rotting in the basement/Buying Casios with my friends." "Weird Al" version: "I was farting in the basement/Eating a big can of beans." Etc., etc., you get the point.

Which common criticism of your music do you most agree with?

That I look like a pregnant Zach Galifianakis.

What's the most uplifting or heartwarming fan interaction you've ever had?

Too many to mention. Speaking to my fans is one of the brightest lights of this year. I cherish every one of them.

What's the topic no one asks you about in interviews that you wish they would? Conversely, if you could get journalists to stop asking you one question, which would it be?

No one ever asked me about Yeezus. It's the biggest leap forward in modern music.

Who from your youth (such as a former bully, an unrequited love) do you most hope pays attention to the fact that you're now a successful musician?

Fuck the past. I can't see out of my rear view because of all the dust my speeding tires are kicking up.

Which musician or celebrity did you most have a crush on as a child or teenager?

James Dean. 

Which subject do you wish you paid more attention to in school?

Spanish. A beautiful language. I have a fantasy of only having Spanish-speaking friends that I ride stallions, laugh, and say awesome Spanish cuss words with. 

Both Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman died in 2014. Did either death deeply affect you and do you find it strange to grieve for a stranger? Which celebrity's death in your lifetime has most affected you?

Both are horribly sad, but it's their lives, not mine. I don't know their pain. Life is a fucking bummer. Mr. Hooper from Sesame Street. Fuck, that was sad. My mom told my brother and I about it in the bath. Will never forget that.

Which well-known filmmaker would you most like to direct one of your music videos?

Spike Lee. 

If you could travel through time, which historical event would you most like to alter the outcome of and why?

When Gandalf beat the fucking cave demon.

What was your most disastrous haircut experience?

Getting a haircut ever. Let it free, broseph.

In which instance did you most sell out and compromise your music?

If I didn't have enough money to feed my cats. I would do anything for my cats. They are living proof that angels exist.

What has most surprised you about getting to know your parents as an adult?

I will never be as good or as decent as them. Just wonderful people.

What quirky piece of band merchandise would you most like to produce for sale to your fans?

A jet ski. Jet skis are the apex of human existence. 

Do you ever long for the days before the Internet and cell phones? If so, what do you think has been the worst side effect of those technologies?

Skynet has downloaded my brain. Say goodbye to everything, y'all. We are losing the battle.

Which 2014 song most got on your nerves?

I dig music.





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