With their foodie name and a stone fruit-inspired album, Kiwi band Soaked Oats promise to bring their sweet, summery tasting sound to the stage, as well as the festival kitchen, at WOMAD NZ next month.
One of 10 acts to swap their mics and instruments for pots and pans at OMV Taste the World, where the festival artists serve up their favourite dishes, the indie 'sludge-pop' group are looking forward to their stint creating in the WOMAD kitchen just as much as performing their music.
"It came out of the blue for us," says Soaked Oats lead guitarist Henry Francis.
"The WOMAD crew offered it to us and we jumped on it. It seemed like a pretty unique opportunity to try something a little bit different. I'm not sure if we'll be much good at it though," he laughs.
Former flatmates, the band of four from the South Island have plenty of experience working together in the kitchen, a rapport they hope will serve them well in front of the OMV Taste the World audience.
"We have all lived together in the past, so we know each other quite well in the kitchen. We are really close – as long as everyone does the dishes."
Along with Henry, who is based in Dunedin, Soaked Oats is made up of Oscar Mein (Christchurch) on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Max Holmes (Christchurch) on bass, and Conor Feehly (Dunedin) on drums.
Henry, Max and Conor were living together with a group of others in Dunedin, while in their final year of university, when the foundations of the band were built.
"Oscar was travelling at the time, but he was really good mates with us as well. It just all fell into place. We used to get together and jam and enjoy each other's company, and it all went from there," Henry says.
"That's not to say there wasn't an intention behind it because, after people started coming to our shows, we thought, 'let's give it a go'. It's been a blast so far. Long may it last."
Henry hopes that the audience who come to see Soaked Oats cook at OMV Taste the World will learn a bit about the relationships between the band members.
"Those relationships are an important part of why we play music together and why we are still a band. And I hope they learn a little bit about cooking – maybe just some little tricks that we'll have up our sleeves by then."
Can we expect a demonstration of how to successfully soak oaks or how to prepare stone fruit? One of the band's tunes, Avocado Aficionado, details the best time to pick avocados and how to know they are ripe, while I'm a Peach, educates listeners on the close relationship between nectarines and peaches.
"Oats will definitely be included in the show, but we're also going to draw on our touring and what we like to eat while we're touring and that will form what we make on stage. I can't promise it will be delicious, but it will be insightful."
As for the reason for naming the band Soaked Oats – the cereal was the food of choice during the early days of the band, Henry says.
"We were really keen to have an oat-themed name. It just seemed a good throwaway kind of name, because band names are such funny, fickle things to come up with and we needed a name to release some songs.
"Oats just sort of jumped out. At the time, we were eating quite a lot of them, recording and writing songs, and thought, these are wholesome, keep us full and seemed relatively healthy, which are things we all want to be but aren't very often."
Soaked Oats' OMV Taste the World cooking demonstration takes place at 5pm, Sunday 15 March. The band will play twice at WOMAD – on the Gables Stage at 6.15pm on Saturday 14 March and again on the Gables Stage at noon Sunday 15 March.
With what has been described as "infectiously catchy music and wildly uplifting tunes", Soaked Oats have played festivals in the UK and toured Australasia, becoming known for "endearing live performances and their penchant for joyous song writing".
"We're all really excited for WOMAD. We'll be playing a mixture of songs released over the last three years as a band," says Henry.
"It's going to be the last show of the summer before we get stuck into writing songs for our new album, so it will probably be the last time that some of these songs will be heard in the form that they are in now. It's nice to develop old songs as you move forward as an artist and change the way that you perform them."
OMV Taste the World line-up, Kunming Stage:
Friday March 13, 7:00pm - Ifriqiyya Electrique 9:15pm - Liniker e os Caramelows
Saturday March 14, 1:00pm - Minyo Crusaders 3:00pm - David Fane 5:15pm - Marina Satti 7:30pm - Te Radar
Sunday March 15, 1:00pm - RURA 3:00pm - Joanne Drayton 5:00pm - Soaked Oats 7:45pm - Albi & The Wolves