Dunedin four-piece Soaked Oats have just released new EP Sludge Pop, and to celebrate are hitting the road for a 10-date Australia-New Zealand tour. We talk to guitarist Henry Francis and find out exactly what Sludge Pop is.

1 Describe your sound in one sentence.

We've been describing our genre as Sludge Pop for a while now, which is sort of like a sparkly surface with heaps of leftovers on it (like your nana's beautiful china plates at the end of Christmas lunch). The lyrics in lots of our songs aren't necessarily based in pop or commercially friendly, but musically we still follow relatively simple pop structures. So it's just a kind of contrast. (Ed - Strictly speaking that's three sentences, but we'll let it go.)

2 How did the name Soaked Oats come about?


Our close friend and collaborator Jack Hawke actually penned the name. We had the idea to be something Oat-themed and he was designing some cover art for our first song Avocado Aficionado and came up with Soaked Oats.

3 How does your new EP Sludge Pop reflect your evolution as a band?

Musically it's got a bit more going on than our earlier work, with lots of synths deep in the mix that you can't obviously hear but fatten out the sound a bit more. That's mostly down to working with some excellent producers - Tom Healy and Patrick Hill, who both pushed us to develop the songs further than we had initially intended.

4 What is the lead single Shuggah Doom about?

The lyrics were written as if writing a script. The video and song play with each other and are intended to make us look at how we narrativise our own lives and desire to have lives worth telling a story about.

5 Is there an overriding theme or message you'd like to get across in your music?

Soaked Oats, from left, Oscar Mein, Henry Francis, Conor Feehly and Max Holmes. Photo / Michelle Foran
Soaked Oats, from left, Oscar Mein, Henry Francis, Conor Feehly and Max Holmes. Photo / Michelle Foran

The themes running across our songs change as we do, and as such these isn't one thing we're always trying to express. Soaked Oats was born out of close friends enjoying their time together and loving music.

6 The song Coming Up wraps up with an amazing buzzy solo. What's the story behind that song?

I initially wrote a shonky demo which laid out the bones of Coming Up, and then we worked on it together and filled out the song. Oscar had written a lovely poem that he applied to the song, about those tough mornings when you stay in bed a bit too long.


7 You're set to play several dates across New Zealand. What's your favourite song to perform live?

Gum-15 is always fun to play. We often play it early in our set and it's a good one to move around to and settle ourselves into performing.

8 Who are your musical heroes?

I've always really respected the work that Reuben and Kodi Neilson have done - I got really into the Mint Chicks while at high school and was about 16 when they played their last show. Their projects since like Silicon, Opossum, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra are all phenomenal and they both have such a distinct style of play and sound that I enjoy in different ways. Shout outs to my big bro Theo (Ha the Unclear) too, wouldn't be playing guitar without wanting to copy him from a very young age.

9 In the age of streaming, what do you think is the future for albums, and will you one day release one?

I don't think that streaming is going to mean the end of albums. While streaming definitely encourages us to listen to singles and has made music more accessible, music lovers still desire the long format nature of what albums provide. Personally, I love the way that an album can take you through different moods or settings while following themes throughout. It's such a nice way to feel a connection to a band you like, as you get a sense of what they're trying to convey across an album.

Funny you say that, that's our plan for the next 12 months!


10 You're curating a festival - who's on the bill, alive or dead?

Oooh I'll geek out and give you the set times too:

6pm - Khrungabin
8pm - Aldous Harding
9pm - The Phoenix Foundation
10pm - Radiohead
11pm - Aphex Twin
12am - Jimi Hendrix

• Soaked Oats' NZ tour dates include Mount Maunganui on July 5, Auckland on July 6, Wellington on July 11, Christchurch on July 13, and two dates in Dunedin on July 18 and 19.