Kyndon Oakes, Mark Vikingstad, and Michael Boris make up the up-and-coming country trio Lockeland. I got the chance to talk to the guys about how the band got started, which music artists influence their sound, the story behind their debut single, “Till the Cows Come Home” and so much more. Keep reading to see what they had to say!
For those who might not have ever heard of y’all, can you give us a brief history of the band and how it culminated into what it is now?
Kyndon Oakes (KO): Mark and myself were doing solo deals and then Michael is a professional drummer, so he was on the road with other artists. We met a while back, had written together and become friends. I actually had a show and we were all going to perform. And we were sitting there singing three-part harmonies, and were like, “Man, this is so cool. This is so fun.” And we kind of just said, “Why don’t we just do a trio? Why don’t we actually do something with this and work on it?” So that’s kind of how Lockeland came about.
So how many years have you guys officially been a trio?
Michael Boris (MB): Honestly, Lockeland itself has been in existence since last April. But again, like Kyndon said, we’ve been friends for 6 years. So we’ve been writing and performing music together for a long time, but Lockeland has been an entity just since last April. But since then, we have been hitting the ground running pretty hard, working pretty hard to get things off the ground.
Who came up with the name Lockeland and where did it come from?
Mark Vikingstad (MV): All three of us together. We are in a group message and we were going through names left and right, just throwing them out there, going, “How about this? How about this? How about this?” Lockeland came around since Michael and I are both from New York and Kyndon is from Kansas, Lockeland was kind of like we took the two lands and locked them together and we came together to form this group. That’s the origin of the name and it took a while to get to it. We had a couple of different variations of it at first with the trio idea, like Lockeland Trio or Lockeland Three. But then we decided to stick with just Lockeland.
I’m always genuinely curious about what artists want to convey to listeners with their music. So I know you guys would typically classify yourselves as a country trio, but how would you describe your sound without using genre names? What kind of music do you produce?
MB: We’re like 90s country with a modern twist. Because our lyrics are good storylines; we’re not really catering to anything, we’re just writing the songs that we’re passionate about. We really value that.
KO: Kind of comparing us to The Eagles a little bit, we all play our instruments, we all sing, we all work together and have that same kind of vibe. It’s funny because we actually are all very different when it comes to our choice of music. I grew up on 90s country, you know good ol’ Kansas boy. But I also grew up listening to Goo Goo Dolls, The Eagles, Don Henley, so on and so forth. I’ll let you guys talk about your taste in music, but we’re all very different. It’s kind of funny how we all work so well together coming from such different backgrounds.
MV: We bring such different vibes to the table because of our influences. Kyndon said 90s country and I grew up on Garth Brooks. But then after Garth, it was a lot of pop-punk/emo stuff from the early 2000s. That was my jam. But I also used to listen to what my dad listened to, [like] The Beatles, Boston, all classic rock bands. Having an eclectic musical childhood has shaped my musical influences, so when we come together in the studio, you can hear it with the guitars and how the rhythm guitar comes in and different things on the track. You can really see all those influences shine in our music.
MB: Chiming off what you just said Mark, it’s kind of fun listening to our latest single, “Till the Cows Come Home,” that track is a really good intro demonstration to our three individual styles, cause you have a little bit everything. You have the songwriting, the little bit of classic rock edge, and all the vocal harmonies; it’s really cool. As far as my musical influences, honestly I’m a huge mixed bag of musical influences. I started playing classical music early in high school and through college. But at same time, I also loved hard rock and like Mark listened to the pop-punk/emo kind of stuff. Then, when I moved to Nashville, I started listening to country and was like, “Wow. This is pretty awesome stuff.” But I love everything from R&B, Earth, Wind and Fire, all that kind of stuff. There’s really not a genre I don’t like.
So you guys just mentioned your debut single, “Till the Cows Come Home,” which I love by the way. What was the inspiration behind that song?
KO: Given that I am from Kansas, there are a lot of cows there [laughs]. I’d actually been driving back from Kansas and had seen some cows; I thought of the saying “till the cows come home” and I thought, “Man, that’s such a cool line for a song. I haven’t heard that before.” So we got together with a good buddy of ours, Renn Anderson, to write, and we were like, “How are we going to put ‘till the cows come home’ in a song?” So we decided to make it a love song.
Yeah, I love that phrase especially because growing up in the South it’s super nostalgic for me. So you guys were just talking about how you wrote this song with a friend, do you guys typically write your songs by yourselves or do you guys do a lot of co-writes with other writers/artists? What is your songwriting process like?
MV: Before we started the trio, Kyndon and I would write a lot together and we would bring other songwriters/artist friends in on our co-writes. So [for Lockeland] the three of us will write together, but we’ve also had other writes where we’ve brought in one other artist to come write with us. We like getting that perspective and other inspiration from that one person that’s not involved in the trio and I think we can come up with some pretty cool stuff, in terms of lyric, when we do that. It’s nice to get that other outside perspective and outside source, coming into the trio and helping us get what we want to convey out and on to paper. When it comes to getting melody and chords, with “Till the Cows Come Home,” Michael, I think it was you that had that guitar riff and Kyndon brought the idea. Once we got that out, it was a really cool process of getting that song done.
MB: Piggy backing off what Mark just said, the fun thing about co-writing, too, is that it’s such a unique process. It’s funny how you’ll have writers block when you are by yourself, but when you bring in someone else, it triggers something else that just opens up a floodgate of ideas. So Kyndon said the phrase ’till the cows come home’ and I instantly thought of an old voice memo I had on my phone from a long time ago and I said, “Oh my gosh. What about this?” I pulled it up and it was just a cheesy little drum loop and my guitar. And I was like, “Okay, let’s do that.” So it’s cool cause it’s a process, it’s a team effort. Everybody truly is an equal part cause without one person then someone else’s idea might not happen.
When you guys went into to record this song, were there any major changes made once you got into the studio, whether it be lyrically or something sonically?
MB: Ummmm…. No, not really. There’s always a couple little tweaks that you’ll make like, “Oh, let’s change that to the” or something like that. But no, there were major tweaks.
KO: I think it was more like, “We need more cowbell” [laughs].
I know you guys are working on an EP. Do you have an solid concrete plans on when that might come out?
KO: We’re kind of still working on that. We’ve been in the studio a lot lately. In fact, we did a vocal on a track last night. We’re going to release a few singles [first] and then kind of figure out when that EP is going to come. We’re thinking maybe fall. But don’t hold me to that.
I won’t. I promise. So last question — we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner nerd so what is something that you guys are currently nerding out about?
MB: I’m huge nerd [laughs]. I am a nerd about so many things. I’m a music nerd, first and foremost. That’s just a daily part of my being. I’m a history nerd too. There’s a tv show, it’s off the air now, but it’s called Turn: Washington’s Spies. It’s about the revolutionary war and yeah, I’m nerding out about that. It’s a great show.
KO: [laughs] You are nerding out pretty hard. That’s awesome. I wish you could see him.
MB: It’s called Talk Nerdy With Us, I’m just talking nerdy.
MV: I’m thinking, I’m trying to rack my brain. If anything, I’m maybe not a nerd for Disney, but a fanatic for Disney. We’ll say Disney, Marvel and Star Wars. All of those things are Disney now anyway. Avengers, I am extremely excited for. I’m extremely excited for Captain Marvel. Every time they release a new preview for one of these movies, I’m like, “I got to go see it.” So I would say I’m definitely nerding out on the Disney movies coming out this year.
KO: I’m kind of like Michael in the sense that I love history. I visited Boston back in September and fell in love with that city because there is so much history. But I collect old rare coins and currency, so I nerd out on that on a regular basis. So I have coins [that go] as far back as a 1700s on some of the coins. It’s just crazy to think that it’s last that long.