Getting To Know Mighty Oaks
We talk to Mighty Oaks about life on the Autobahn…
Mighty Oaks is a Berlin-based folk-rock band comprised of three guys from three different countries: Ian Hooper (US), Claudio Donzelli (Italy), and Craig Saunders (UK). It’s early days for us, but we are having the time of our lives touring Europe and writing music about the people and places that cross our paths along the way.
Our debut EP is a collection of tracks that we believe will introduce new listeners to us in a well-rounded fashion. The tracks are rooted in basic human emotion and, whether it is in love, friendship, adventure, or family, there is something for everyone to connect with.
We’re currently listening to Shakey Graves, The War On Drugs, Bonobo, Sun Kil Moon, Douglas Dare, The Felice Brothers, First Aid Kit, Band of Horses, Hozier, Towns Van Zandt, Foals, Local Natives, The Boxer Rebellion, Moderat, so many! We spend a lot of time on the road.
Berlin is home now. It is a great place to be based as a band, as you get a lot of living out of the city for not a lot of cash. The quality of life is high for what you have to sacrifice for it, especially when compared to other bustling metropolises and capital cities around the world. It doesn’t feel like a big city either, even though it definitely is. It is separated into five different areas and each one has its own vibe and flair, which makes it feel like you’re going on a little trip when you cycle around the city. Berlin has changed a lot though, even since we’ve arrived, and we’re not sure how much longer Berlin will be the Berlin that we’ve come to know and love.
We spend too much time on the Autobahn. We’ve been on the road almost exclusively for over a year now, playing solo tours and summer festivals, and the first year of touring for a band is pretty brutal. You do everything yourselves, from driving long hours during the day between cities, to loading in, setting up, tearing down, and then doing the same thing the next day. We love it wholeheartedly, but it is really tiring. We are no doubt lucky to tour so much, because live shows are the reason why we are playing music: we love the energy. Furthermore, we are fortunate that people keep coming out and filling the halls, and that after only a year we are now slowly making our way into the next level of touring with back-liners and bigger busses and drivers. Although we spend the majority of our time our time on the road, we wouldn’t have it any other way and are already looking forward to the next tour!
It might surprise people to learn that we never thought we’d become professional musicians. Claudio and Ian decided to start making music together in their free time, as a hobby. Claudio was writing his PhD in Telecommunications Engineering, and Ian, after a Fulbright in Hamburg was doing Business Development for SoundCloud in its early days at the time. It wasn’t until Ian’s mother passed away nearly two years later in 2012 that Ian decided to drop everything and concentrate everything on music. Claudio and Craig were there every step of the way and Mighty Oaks was formed.
Mighty Oaks release their debut EP ‘Brother’ on Sep 22 via Island Records. Keep up to date with the band on Facebook.
Interview by Bobby Townsend