The smell of incense floated into the dimly lit room where the four members of The Oakstones sat. Its source was uncertain — the North Delta warehouse space the band uses as a studio has several rooms, all of which give off a somewhat ’70s vibe.
Although he was born nearly 30 years after the start of that decade, Bradley Lambert had an air of the ’70s about him too. The 19-year-old, sitting on the band’s red leather couch with the sleeves of his white t-shirt rolled up around his shoulders, spoke about the future of the band.
|Bradley Lambert (guitar) and Jacob Andresen (bass and vocals), one half of North Delta band The Oakstones. (The Oakstones/Facebook photo)|
“I’d rather make $10 a day doing this and living in a piece of s**t van, than getting up every single morning and listening to the man.”
The Oakstones are perhaps best described as a young group working to bring classic rock and roll back to modern playlists.
Made up of South Delta Secondary graduate Sam Cummings (drums) and Delview Secondary graduates Lucas Davies (vocals and guitar), Bradley Lambert (guitar) and Jacob Andresen (bass and vocals), the group focuses their sound into what they call a “throwback ’70s rock.”
Individually, each musician has different influences. Lambert listens to Neil Young and Pink Floyd; Andresen prefers Metallica, Black Sabbath, Mac DeMarco or The Beatles. Cummings comes from a jazz background, with Weather Report, Tower of Power and Miles Davis; Davies is a John Mayer kind of guy.
“My background is just singer-songwriter. Kind of like acoustic guitar and chill,” Davies said, his crisply buttoned plaid shirt punctuating his words. “So I basically laid that on top of aggressive ’70s rock.”
His bandmates laughed. They’ve worked over the last two years to develop that sound, although when they started out in Davies’ garage they were less of a band and more of a jam session between high school friends Davies and Lambert.
“I was just looking for some people to play music with me,” Lambert said, remembering how he and Davies began playing together. “He came over to my house and we wrote a song that night basically.”
|Lucas Davies, singer/guitarist for The Oakstones. (The Oakstones/Facebook photo)|
The pair spent the winter playing in Davies backyard garage and working on their first three songs: “You’re Fun,” “Chinese Lanterns” and “Victoria.” It wasn’t always pleasant.
“Freezing cold,” Davies said.
“It was the coldest winter ever. It was like minus five,” Lambert added. “Three heaters and the power kept going out because we had all this power going to the garage.”
Eventually friend and drummer Nick Giffen began playing with the burgeoning musicians, and with him came an Italian home-stay student and bass player. The group meshed well, but home-stays don’t last forever and The Oakstones had to find a new bassist.
“That’s kind of where it tips off to where I joined the band,” Andresen said. Of the four current band members, Andresen is another that demonstrates a hint of ’70s. The 18-year-old’s wavy locks paired well with his rounded glasses, and a crystal hung around his neck.
Andresen had come to attend The Oakstones farewell concert for their bassist when Lambert approached him about playing with the band. A few months later, Andresen was writing music for the group.
The final change came in August 2018, when Giffen left the band to pursue football at SFU and Cummings joined the band with only two weeks to spare before his first show.
But before that, in May of 2018, The Oakstones released their first self-titled album and saw their single “Dark Sunday” reach a staggering number of streams online.
Despite heavily favouring a retro sound, The Oakstones are very much modern in how they get their music to the public, and how they measure success.
“We’re almost at 300,000 [streams] total, just through Spotify,” Lambert said. “We’ve been pretty lucky to have online people listening to our music.”
“Dark Sunday” is perhaps The Oakstones’ best-known song, with 160,000 streams on Spotify thanks to it being picked up for the service’s “Discover Weekly” playlist. The online forum Reddit has also played an important role for the band.
“That’s where the [“Dark Sunday”] boom came from,” Andresen said, “when we posted to a subreddit. It got a lot of attention on YouTube as well.”
|The Oakstones drummer Sam Cummings. (The Oakstones/Facebook photo)|
The group said they consistently have around 15,000 people listening to their music. Even though it’s a small proportion of the global online audience “15,000 people is better than nothing,” Andresen said. “It may be 0.0002 [per cent] of the world population, but it still means quite a lot to us.”
Sometime in early 2019, The Oakstones will be releasing their second album. It’s one they’ve been waiting for, one they believe will showcase their more matured sound.
“It just sort of defines us a little more, the sound that’s going to be on the EP,” Lambert said.
The band will also continue performing live, with their first show of 2019 happening at Vancouver’s Red Room (398 Richards St.) on Feb. 2. The four musicians are hoping their burgeoning careers will only go up from there.
“I plan to keep doing this until I either drive myself insane or retire as a musician,” Lambert said. “Because I don’t see any other way of living life. This is what I want to do.”