London-based multi-instrumentalist Oats is one of the first musicians I interviewed after starting The Third Eye (see the interview here). I was drawn in by the unique kaleidoscope of sounds he makes, so I talked to him via email about the EP he released in 2022, Octavius. Along with being a solid musician, Oats has just as great of a sense of humor, as evidenced by the antics on his Instagram profile.
Oats released a new single in November 2022 called “Clean Claws,” and I had been meaning to do a write-up about it. The song starts with a wave of distortion and is heavier than some of his previous work. The layers of sounds on the track are fun to listen to, especially on headphones. He’s one of many one-man bands out there in the likeness of Tame Impala making inventive jams.
I reached out to Oats again via email to speak with him about “Clean Claws” and what else he’s been up to since last summer. He was kind enough to answer my questions, so sit back, and enjoy the interview!
Interview with Oats
Third Eye: I’ve always loved the sounds you make, which are, to me, the definition of psychedelic music. How would you describe the sounds in Clean Claws?
Oats: Thank you that means a lot! I guess it’s a very guitar-driven song. I was definitely going for the wall of sound formula. Heaps of electric guitars that are heavily distorted and modulated. The drums are quite up front in the mix at first but get buried by the guitar and vocal textures as the song builds. A lot of panning and fx on the echoey vocals. I used an old Boss delay pedal a fair bit for this song, especially during the end section of the song. The pedal has a really nice reverse delay setting which sounds extremely weird and disjointed when you get a rhythm going on it.
Third Eye: What was the songwriting process like for Clean Claws? Did it differ at all from previous songs you’ve written?
Oats: The song consists of three sections that were written a few years apart. The first main section of the song was recorded three years ago. It originally started off as just a rough idea I came up with and I never thought to actually finish it after recording it. I listened back to it years after and really liked the way the guitars sounded, so I decided to add more parts and get it finished. The second build up section of the song is mostly improvised and was recorded the day I rediscovered it.
The final outro section with the vocal harmonies was also from an old completely different recording session, but I felt it went really well with the other two sections and finishes the song nicely as a Coda.I think the writing process was very different from “Octavius” in the sense that the song was formed from three different time periods and then sewn together. As opposed to having everything written and recorded in the same time frame.
Third Eye: I noticed that Clean Claws was a bit heavier than some of the music you’ve previously made. Any reason for the heavier sound, or am I just making this up (lol)?
Oats: No, I think it is definitely heavier sounding, not deliberately though. I guess because the main bulk of the tune was recorded before “Octavius”, which mainly focused on acoustic guitars. My other musical projects usually focus on exploring heavier guitar textures, so this probably stemmed from those regions. I did fear that people might not get on with this release, as it’s a big shift in sound compared to previous EP’s. But I wouldn’t want to be doing the same sounding material for every release, it all depends on what’s going on in my head and around me. I’ve always had a weak spot for horrendously fuzzed out guitar tones and sometimes love to incorporate that into my music. It hits you in a different way compared to acoustics.
Third Eye: I know you’re a multi-instrumentalist and do most of your recording DIY. So, what was the recording process like for Clean Claws?
Oats: It originally started off with a drum pattern I made on my sampler, with this crazy low end sub bass playing the melody, so it was way more electronic sounding at first. I then recorded the electric guitars and didn’t come back to it as I couldn’t see it going anywhere else. Rediscovering it years later, I decided to replace the beat with real drums as it would gel better with the guitars. I don’t think I properly rehearsed the drums beforehand and just went for it when recording. That’s why the drumbeat is quite loose and all over the place, but I think it kind of works? (lol)I then left it for another year before returning to record bass guitars and vocals.
Recording vocals for me is always a tough one especially if I don’t have a particular melody in mind. The melodies either just come to me (they usually turn out to be the best ones) or I try and figure it out whilst playing guitar. For this song I wanted the vocals to be kind of ghostly sounding and to be smothered by the guitars, just to add to that whole wall of sound vibe with a hint of creepiness.
Third Eye: What are you working on now? And have you been able to play any live shows lately, including for your other music projects?
Oats: I’m currently working on a couple of new songs which should be out in a few months. They both have a different vibe from “Clean Claws” so I’m excited to see how they go down. One of them is a very eerie percussion heavy song with all sorts of weird instruments. Imagine a tribal version of a song from The Cure’s album “Pornography”. I’m also looking to start performing these songs soon as possible. Also, my brother and I are reviving our project “Circus Cannon” and have a batch of new material ready. We’re heading into our friend’s studio this weekend and are really excited to get these songs recorded and out into the world. It’s probably our heaviest material yet, as we’re experimenting in lower tunings. I have mostly been on drumming & vocal duties for this project which has been a lot of fun. We’re planning to start gigging this material from spring onwards!
Listen to Oats’ newest single, “Clean Claws,” here.
Support Oats by checking out his Bandcamp or find him on social media (Instagram, Facebook, YouTube).
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