More or less summing up a whole genre and musical movement that prides itself on being incomprehensibly deep and introspective, Oakes makes sure the nonchalance stops there. While he and his fellow band mates may partake in the so-called cliché, the Appearance's music is certainly anything but typical.
As far as which of the aforementioned girls was most frequently the muse for the band's upcoming album, Lost in Aurora , Oakes says, “I have to admit, a lot of this album is about relationships and the hard times. Not every song is about relationships, but by listening to the record you can tell it was a rocky time in my life. It's a lot easier to write a song about being brokenhearted than it is to write one about being in love. When you come across a bad relationship, you seem to be able to disclose a lot easier.”
Though already sounding like a potential lead up to more angst-filled clichés, Oakes balances by adding, “It's great. It's kind of like a journal.”
While the thought of opening one's journal and presenting it in musical form is anything but appealing to most people, Oakes wouldn't have his work be any other way.
“A lot of my songwriting is very personal, depending on what I'm going through and what stage I'm at in my life with relationships, work and my music,” he says. “With each album I write, you can tell where I was because I get so personal. There are a lot of repeating themes, and I do come back to certain subjects, but it's a progression from one album to the next because you mature, and you have to express that through your music.”
While Oakes may thrive on being cathartic with his songs, that's definitely not to say it makes it any less difficult to be emotionally invested in something so open to criticism.
“It's always weird because you're not sure if people are going to relate to it,” he says. “You put yourself out there lyrically and show people what you've gone through, and you always wonder if people will accept it, reject it, think you're cool, think you're strange, but I just try to concentrate on expressing myself the way I know how for the people that do respond to it.”
At the core of all music that has any kind of lasting resonance, regardless of genre or style, are the artists who throw caution to the wind and bare themselves for all their strengths and faults within their craft. Needless to say, Oakes has been learning from the best long before he even knew he'd be putting that talent to use.
“I've always been a fan of music, growing up with my dad's old records. He'd be playing Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, and he really got me attracted to all that stuff,” he says.
While this does much to explain his subdued and controlled vocal style, his instrument of choice was another beast entirely.
“It wasn't until I was about nine or 10 that I started playing guitar. What really got me into wanting to be a musician were the hair metal bands from the '80s,” he says. “Mötley Crüe, Guns N' Roses, Skid Row, Poison … watching Slash, I was like, ‘I want to be that guy,'” he adds with a laugh.
While listeners may find the Appearance's music something of a far cry from some of the influences cited by Oakes, he promises that hearing the band's album and seeing the members play live are two intentionally very different experiences.
“If you hear the record, I think we come off as more pop oriented, but live we just try to play as loud and aggressive as we can. We're definitely a heavier band live than we are on record,” he says.
Given the subject matter Oakes admits to having an affinity for, many bands might struggle to walk that fine working line between being ridiculously contrived and suffocating in seriousness, both of which extremes can ruin a song. So how do Oakes and his band mates approach this daunting challenge?
Well, maybe that nonchalance didn't quite end in that first paragraph after all.
Lost in Aurora will be available on iTunes May 8 and in stores May 22. For more information, visit www.theappearancemusic.com.