Blowin’ Wind with The Oath’s Johanna Sadonis: “We just want the main focus to be on us being musicians. We are not fucking porn stars. We’re musicians.”

1558505_416061058525876_1370229017_nThe Oath is another new band that grabbed my attention thanks to a good friend of mine sending me a message that read, “Check this band out. I know what you like and you’ll love this band.” I found myself listening to the band’s “Night Child/Black Rainbow” 7” and right away they crawled their way into the top tier of my favorite bands. The somewhat dark, occult laden undertones of the songs intrigued me and the passionate vocals drew me in. I also found myself really loving the fine mix of punk and NWOBHM influences I the songs.

When the opportunity arose to speak with lead singer Johanna Sadonis I jumped at it. Johanna is a really sweet, soft spoken person but once we got to talking she really came out of her shell. We talked about the origins of The Oath, what it’s like having the drummer for Angel Witch in her band, the bond between her and co-founder Linnéa Olsson and how she hates Revolver’s “Hottest Chicks in Metal” thing. Johanna was a great person to talk to and I’m sure this is only the first of many that you will see from her. Enjoy getting to know Johanna Sadonis and The Oath.

Johanna, thank you so much for taking the time out to talk to me today. How are you?

It’s my pleasure, Don. I’m doing pretty good. How are you?

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Today has been a pretty busy press day for you right?

Yeah, it is actually. You’ve seen my schedule right [laughs].

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I had never heard of The Oath until my buddy Jon told me, “I know you’ll love this band. You have to hear them.” He was so right. What a great band and a great album.

Thank you so much. That is so cool to hear.

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Johanna, for those that never heard The Oath before, how would you describe your band to someone?12inch_gatefold_v92012.indd

I would say we are a hard rock and heavy metal band influenced by very classic old school heavy metal, NWOBHM bands, and old hard rock from the 70’s. Linnéa has some old punk rock influences and I grew up on the black metal and death metal scene in the 90’s. Of course classic doom plays a big role in our sound as well.

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In a time where most bands are based out of one particular geographic area, The Oath seems to be from everywhere.

[laughs] Well, I mean, we have one Swede in the band Linnéa [laughs]. Our first drummer was from New York, our first bassist was from Paris, and I’m German. The new rhythm section is from England. We have Andrew Prestidge, the drummer from Angel Witch now and we have the bassist from Cathedral so everybody comes from somewhere else.

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You have the drummer from Angel Witch. That’s pretty bad ass. How did that come to be?

[laughs] Our old drummer Vincent Wager left the band. I was looking for a new drummer Andrew and I have some mutual friends and he wrote to me on Facebook that he heard we were looking for a new drummer. He asked if we’d have him and we said, “Yeah, come over [laughs]. He flew in for a bunch of rehearsals and then we went into the studio in Stockholm pretty soon after. We are big Angel Witch fans so it’s really exciting.

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Did he contribute to the writing at all?

The main songwriting core is Linnéa who writes the riffs and me who brings the vocal melodies and lyrics. We write the songs together even though we’re just girls [laughs]. We had written everything beforehand but what made it all easy to have him was that the first time he came here we ran through all the songs we had written for the album. He learned them all in one rehearsal and he knew right away how to get the feeling of the songs. He understood right from the get go so it was really easy to be in the studio and to tour with him.

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You said something earlier that I wanted to touch on a bit. You jokingly said, “We write the songs together even though we’re just girls.” I interviewed Mia from Crucified Barbara last year and she told me that one the things that frustrate her most is when people say, “You play great for a girl.” What is your honest opinion on that kind of outlook from others.

Yeah, it can be pretty hard sometimes. I grew up being a girl in the metal scene so I know how tough it can be at times. I read a lot of reviews about our album these days and some people say, “When I saw the album cover I thought it was just another chick band but when I listened to it, it was really heavy metal.” It does kind of suck because of the whole sexism thing but then again I think because I’m friends with a lot of really good musicians who have a lot of respect for me and they look beyond the façade. Everyone else who is just ignorant and reduces somebody to just a shell I just don’t give a fuck about them because I know the Linnéa and I are very passionate about this music and being musicians our whole lives. I think I am maybe more metal that most guys that I know so I don’t give a shit [laughs]. People are so stupid and so limited in their mind capacity that they cannot imagine that somebody can walk around in leather suits and blonde hair but also be a talented musician. I feel sorry for them.

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I was raised by my parents to know that a woman can do anything and everything a man can do equally if not better.

That’s how it should be but some people just get brought up the way they get brought up and they don’t know differently. It’s really cool that you were brought up that way but unfortunately people still seem to live in the medieval times [laughs].

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The Oath seems to be a band that literally came out of nowhere. When did The Oath form?

I’ve played for the past 20 years in many different bands. I grew up playing in black metal and death metal bands in the 90’s and then all kinds of different stuff throughout my life. Linnéa played in a Swedish band called Sonic Ritual with the guitarist from In Solitude. I was sitting in Germany with my best friend, our old drummer, and we were talking so much about metal and being complete nerds and we just said, “Fuck metal nowadays. We need to do something the way that we would do it. Let’s form a band together.” The next step was to find a guitarist. Out of the blue the guitarist from In Solitude wrote to me. I knew him because I’m a local promoter and I put on heavy metal shows here in Berlin. He wrote to me and told me, “Hey, I have this really good friend named Linnéa and she plays in a band with me called Sonic Ritual. She just moved to Berlin and she’s a guitar player looking to play.” He didn’t even know I was looking for a guitar player [laughs]. He gave me her email address and I wrote to her and we set up a meeting at a bar. I met her there with the drummer and it took us a half an hour of drinking and heavy shots and talking about music to realize that we had to play together. This was about a year and a half ago. We started jamming around and wrote our first two songs. We went into the studio and cut our first 7” last winter.

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It’s a great story that I hear a lot from some bands. It’s like you work many years playing in various bands and then finally you find the right people, the right sound, and the right songs and it just clicks with people. What was it about Linnéa that made you say, “This is who I need to be working with”?

I guess it was that night that she met us in the bar. I mean, we looked almost exactly the same [laughs]. We had on jeans, the leather jackets, the long blonde hair, and old torn up metal shirts. She had on an Angel Witch shirt and I had an old Venom shirt on [laughs]. We just looked at each other like, “What the fuck? Are we sisters?” [laughs] It was like we have been living in parallel universes. We have so many mutual friends but we never had heard of each other before. It was really like very strange. We also had similar backgrounds with what we grew up listening to. It was like, “Where the fuck have you been all my life?” [laughs] We have the same kind of understanding with music. She brings me riffs and we know always instantly if it’s cool. I put my stuff on it and we arrange it around and we just click so well. It was actually effortless to write these songs together. It was really pretty fast. I don’t know whatever magic it was but we just clicked so well like we were meant to play together.

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Some of the songs on the album seem to have a bit of a punk/metal feel to them similar to Motorhead. Is there some punk influence in there?

Yeah, definitely. We are both really big Motorhead fans for sure. Linnéa has a little bit more of a punk influence than me and I think that’s the charm of it. Her riffs are a bit more punky and rough and edgy while I bring in the more emotional kind of part of the band. I think it just all blends in together really well.

So the promo photos for The Oath show you and guitarist Linnea Olsson but there are obviously more people in the band. Why is that?

The thing was at the time our drummer left and then Andrew was brand new when he joined to record the album and we didn’t know and he didn’t know if it was going to be a permanent thing. By the time we signed the contract it was Linnéa and me, the core that wrote everything. We were the ones signing the contract. The bassist, who played on the album, left the band to play with Kadavar. When we went on tour in November with Ghost we got the bassist from Cathedral. None of these guys were permanent members at the time when we were signing the contract but it definitely doesn’t mean we’re not fond of and happy to have those guys. We’ll see what the future will bring but it was just because of the transition for sure.

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Being that you are a female performer, I have to ask your opinion on Revolver Magazine’s “Hottest Chicks in Metal” thing. Do you feel that this sets back women who are trying hard to make it on their creative and artistic abilities?

We hate it. We hate it [laughs]. You know what? I actually just recently had an interview with Revolver Magazine and when we got that request in for that interview we said that we’d do it as long as we don’t end up in the hottest chicks in metal section. I’m not a fucking Barbie doll. Of course we play with our looks but so do Kiss or all the other guys that walk around with their bare chests and their chest hair. Of course we like to dress up for the show and the performance but that’s not the main focus. We just want the main focus to be on us being musicians. We are not fucking porn stars. We’re musicians.

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Do you think things like these set women back who are trying to make it on their artistic abilities?

No, I think that as an individualist that anyone can do whatever the hell they want that makes them happy. I would never judge anybody. There are other chick bands that are talented and have silicone boobs or whatever but they can do whatever the hell they want and I respect them for it. Women just have to be aware that if they reduce themselves to that too much instead of putting it out to the front that they’re musicians then maybe they’ll get that kind of reaction. Lienna and I are working hard on being respected for our music so it’s kind of important to us not to fall into this kind of “babe” thematic. Whatever rocks your boat? Is that how you say it [laughs].

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1901422_432133220251993_675448540_nWhatever floats your boat?

Yes, that’s it [laughs].

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I like “Whatever rocks your boat” better.

[laughs] That is much better.

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I wanted to ask you about some of the lyrical undertones to your songs. There is some sort of dark, and at times sinister, kind of themes going on in the songs touching on what I think is Satanism. Is this something that you personally practice or is it more contrived for the sake of storytelling?

No, it’s not at all storytelling. I’m a very spiritual person and all the lyrics that I wrote mean a lot to me. I know sometimes they sound a little bit blunt like Satan, Lucifer, demons, blah blah blah can be metaphorical as well. For example, you can have your own demons like cocaine, sex, whatever. Some things are metaphorical but I do have a big interest in the occult since I was a teenager. For more than 20 years I’ve been sucking up everything I can about it. Maybe not so much in a classical Satanist kind of way anymore but I do believe in individuality and this is my form or spirituality. I’m also a big metalhead and maybe when we do another record it will be a bit more subtle and less blunt. I just felt that if I had a chance to do this album that I needed to just get it out of my system.

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Songwriting is a great way to really clear out your mind and even share some things that are deep within you.

Absolutely. It’s a very cathartic. You soak up all these things and musical influences and spit it out again in your own way. It’s almost like a musical and spiritual cleansing. You know the drawing of Baphomet by Eliphas Levi? The one where he has one hand pointing up and one hand pointing down? He has something written in Latin on his arms. One means to untie something and on the other hand it says to tie it back together in your own way. This means that you’re taking all of these different influences and whatever and as an individual you get it through your system and then you put it out the way you think is right for yourself.

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So now it’s time to take your messages and songs to the people. I know you did a short tour with Ghost but is The Oath currently touring or anything at the moment?

We were supposed to be on tour right now with Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats who are out label mates on Rise Above but we had to cancel the tour at the last minute. I can’t really talk about why but we have cancelled all shows and we’ve just had to step back from that for a moment but it will all be revealed later.

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Have you ever been to the US before?

Yeah, I actually lived in Los Angeles for three years. I’ve been to the US many, many times [laughs].

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Are there any plans to bring The Oath over here to the US to tour at any point?946107_305023086296341_549041508_n

Yes. When we tour we will go the states for sure.

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Well I hope you make it to Atlanta. So many of my favorite European bands don’t come this way. Hell, we’ll FINALLY get Kadavar here which I’m pumped about.

[laughs] Be sure to say hi to my ex bassist who used to play in The Oath [laughs].

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So what could I expect from an Oath live show?

Well, we don’t have big props like Alice Cooper [laughs]. You will see four very passionate musicians rocking out. You’ll definitely hear the album and then we have a few other tricks up our sleeves. We just recorded a cover the Japanese edition of our album. We recorded “Night of the Demon” by Demon and we have a few other songs too.

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What do you love the most about playing live?

Actually, I prefer to be in the studio [laughs]. I do like once you get over being aware of yourself and it clicks and you turn it into something else. At that point I don’t even see the people anymore and I’m just kind of dissolving into the song. Since the songs are very spiritual to me I feel a very deep connection with myself and my spirituality. All of the sudden, you hear the music and the words so loud that it all sounds so different than on the album. It’s so much more powerful and the songs become something else.

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Why do you prefer the studio over playing live? For many others it’s the other way around.

This is actually a perfect question [laughs]. Nobody has asked me this before. The thing is that when you’re in the studio and the door closes and you’re alone in that room. You’re not attached anymore to what people expect. You have the illusion of being completely alone and not aware of yourself anymore. You kind of become bodyless because it’s just the mind then and whatever you have in your head. When you’re on stage it’s a bit different. You are aware of yourself and you know that all these people are looking at you so you kind of have to cut loose from thinking about what other people think. You have to overcome that but like I said before, once that turns around you become something else where you don’t give a fuck anymore and that it starts to become really good.

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There’s something about playing live that is kind of scary and it totally makes one feel a bit vulnerable.

Exactly. You feel like you’re naked [laughs]. That’s the thing that I kind of hated about playing live in the beginning. It’s like how when Jim Morrison first started he was really shy and used to play with his back to the audience [laughs]. I was kind of like that but I know that you have to entertain people and have to overcome yourself.

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Do you have any advice to offer to any other women looking to play music?

Yeah, don’t give a fuck what other people say. If you’re passionate about something and you do it with all your heart just go on about it and don’t listen to what other people say.

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What are your hopes and dreams for The Oath?

Well, we already have gone much further than I thought we would. Linnea and I had kind of an initial feeling that this really was going to be something and for now I’m just happy that people dig the album and see what we saw in our music. I’m very satisfied with how it’s all going and I’m grateful for all the good things that have been happening.

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Johanna, thanks so much for talking to me today. I really enjoyed getting to know more about you.

Thank you so much for doing this interview, Don. You’re very sweet to talk to.

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Aw shucks. Well if you come to Atlanta I’ll bring wine, beer whatever and we’ll have a toast together.

[laughs] That sounds great. Let’s do that. Let me know if you’re ever in Berlin. I have a really cool old school heavy metal club here called Kill ‘Em All Club. You can be my guest and we’ll get hammered together [laughs].

For more on The Oath, visit https://www.facebook.com/THEOATHOFFICIAL

About The Author

The Brainfart

Don (aka. The Brainfart) has been a heavy metal fan since hearing it for the first time in 1983. Don is also repsonsible for all of the typos, shitty grammar, and kick ass content on this site. Don likes cheap beer, whiskey, Coca Cola Icees, going to shows, and hanging with his kick ass wife, two cats (Drusilla & Coltrane) and dog (Cassie). He originally wanted to name his dog Shandi but his wife said, "No fucking way."