Berlin based Alt-indie outfit, Mighty Oaks, return with a brand new track ‘Mexico, lifted from the band’s forthcoming album due this summer through Howl Records.
Drawing on a myriad of influences from indie, pop, folk and soul, the disparate trio, hailing from America, England and Italy respectively, deliver an escapist, positive message on new single ‘Mexico’, offering us the perfect respite we all need right now.
They say: “2020 brought out the best in some, and the worst in others. People across America (and across the world for that matter) stockpiled guns and ammunition, threw punches over toilet paper, pushed racist bigots and ideologies in politics, and put a “me first” attitude on full display. While we firmly believe that turning away from problems does not at all help to get at the root of solving them, this song is a sort of mental escape when things heavy.”
Their last record, All Things Go, was released a year ago, and they spent February and March 2020 on tour through Europe. Then – silence. “Corona was on our heels the whole time”, singer and lyricist Ian Hooper recalls. “We had just returned from Norway and a few days later, boom, lockdown!” For Hooper, this was the perfect moment to realise his dream of finishing work on his home studio. “It was the first time since our debut album that I had the time to just write a whole lot of songs for this album”, he says. “And I feel like it sounds so much more like one album than say the last one did – or the one before that.”
Together, the three bandmates and long-time friends decided to record the songs in Hooper’s home studio, together with their producer Nikolai Potthoff and their drummer Joda Förster. Recording at home, in this make-shift basement studio, was a little adventure in itself. How would it sound? “It was a total shot in the dark to record at my house. I had never actually tried it out, to record drums down there, and to track people together. Everyone was nervous, myself included. But it ended up being the best thing that we could have done. There is something about recording at home that brought us back to that very beginning, when Claudio and I started making music at his apartment together”, Hooper says. “I’m the most at peace with myself as a musician than I ever have been before. Recording at home takes the pressure off: our time was our time, we didn’t have to hire a big studio, nobody was expecting anything from us, because we were in a pandemic. We just had time for us.”
And so, MEXICO brings together the best from both worlds: it is as intimate, personal and direct as Mighty Oaks have sounded since when the world first fell in love with them. Yet, at the same time it is a more grown-up record of these three musicians who have found their voices, who have lived life with all its highs and lows, and who do not need to prove themselves to anyone. “The past few months were not easy for anyone. Music has been my outlet”, Hooper explains. His new parlor guitar, tuned a step down and sounding dark and jangly, has inspired many songs and can be heard on almost every track. They chose to rely much less on computers, and more playing together. Fewer plug-ins, more tape, more of a live-sound feeling – back to the roots. Hooper swoons: “The saturated, analogue harmonics sound like a fuzzy blanket, warm, and just somehow more pleasing. It inspired me to keep writing and creating”
Darkness and light, happiness and desperation, they go hand-in-hand on the album, as do they in life. With MEXICO, Mighty Oaks show once more what they do best, and where they are headed. “This is the best I’ve felt about an album of ours”, Hooper says. And if you listen to MEXICO once, you exactly know why.