Under the Big Oak Tree Interview
On a beautiful August night Under the Big Oak Tree released their latest album, The Ark into the world. Kimmy sat down with the band moments before the show started, we sat on the back patio of Mike Kelly's Westsider. We talked about the band and the new album to the soundtrack of summer night insects. The first band started playing so we headed into the venue for a night music. I still had a few burning questions and we were out of time so they sent me the rest of the questions in an email, those answers are below the interview on SoundCloud.
Kimmy: Your last album was Local Honey and on The Ark your song “For the Love” mentions honey bees. I was curious where the love for honey/bees comes from?
Kristin: I will let Simon and Doug answer this one since hey penned those two songs. You got me thinking though. On our first album in the title track written by Simon, (Under The Big Oak Tree), there is a line in the song that goes, "and the honey bee dances with the flowers in the valley below". I have a dear friend and a sister who both keep bees and harvest honey. It's a fun topic to sing about!
Doug: The song actually dates back very close to the time we did Local Honey so thematically it fits with that record better in some ways. The title of the second album is, for me, more metaphor than anything- we were joined by a number of local musicians in collaboration on several tracks, and those folks are the 'local honey' I would refer to, along with ourselves. The notion of environmentally being compassionate- caring for/about the smallest of creatures who are easily overlooked, but who are critical to the cycle of life is one I would align myself with. And, in our processed artificial world, I am minded that our forebears made do with so much less detritus and debris in their lives- they were actually able to park the car IN their garage!! So, simplicity, natural, - these attributes a lifestyle that we have moved away from in our zeal to conform to consumerism- we are hunters and gatherers, so it doesn't surprise me that we acquire more and more "stuff" but, we should know better than to focus on the collections of crap and just our closets full of things we'll never use or need. The bees do what they need to do to survive, and produce a beautiful, useful, and healing product as a result of their labors...can we all say the same about our efforts in this life? Thank for the use of your soapbox!
Simon: I had a wonderful grandmother named Bea (Beatrice). She was very allergic to bees! But we (grandkids) always associated them with her anyway.
Kimmy: One of the big parts of making an album is writing. Where is your favorite place to write?
Kristin: I tend to write on the run. I jot down thoughts and little bits of songs on the back of check books, receipts, napkins etc. I also use the notes app on my phone a lot. Songs usually end up coming together for me while sitting in my car at the school pick up line waiting for my children. Melody comes to me when I have a quiet moment to sit down with my guitar or occasionally while driving down the highway on a beautiful day.
Doug: In the Autumn, I like to be up in the river bluffs just soaking up the world around me- listening to the trees going to sleep and the looming stillness of nature as it prepares for winter. In the Spring, out on the porch as the birds return, the world wakes up from it's slumbers and the trees greet each other in the returning warmth. At night, just watching the stars wheel overhead, or watching the clouds. or listening to a good rain soaking into the earth.
Simon: The dining room table.
Kimmy: I just love the song Day Time Moon. Could you tell the story behind it?
Kristin: I started writing Daytime Moon on the plane ride home after losing my brother to brain cancer in NYC. I was in deep mourning. I decided to read a little bit of a book given to me by my brother titled "Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die: Musings from the Road" by Willie Nelson. I was touched by the stories he shares of his family and friends and suddenly found myself laughing out loud at some of the many jokes sprinkled throughout. After you've been through a traumatic experience like I had, that first laugh can seem a little strange. I wondered if I might feel guilty, but instead I felt really good about it; as if it was a gift from my brother. I looked out the window of the plane and spotted the daytime moon and a feeling of gratitude came over me. For some reason, catching sight of a daytime moon has felt special to me since I was a young girl. I started writing the song in the back pages of the book.