Introducing Indie Punk-Rock Band Poison Oak

Published in Music  
Poison Oak are a five-piece indie rock band from Townsville, Australia. Poison Oak are a five-piece indie rock band from Townsville, Australia.

When life throws you lemons you make lemonade, which is what North Queensland punk-rock band Poison Oak did in 2020.

With a lack of touring and live performance opportunities, the five-piece band got busy writing and recording a stack of new music releasing four singles along the way: 'Start Again', 'Travelling Band', 'Feeling Numb On Sundays' and 'Waiting'. Plus 'The Living Room Sessions' which packaged 'Travelling Band' with bonus songs 'To Say Goodbye' and 'A Little Time'.

Now Poison Oak are readying the release of what they say is their most accomplished batch of songs yet on the six-track EP '1996' (to be released 19 March).

The first sample of the EP is 'Sarah' offering the group's distinctly raw storytelling mixed with their no-bluster approach to making rock & roll that also hints at country-tinged punk aesthetics.



Who is Poison Oak? James: We are a bunch of friends from North Queensland, Townsville, who write, record and play music. We originally started as a casual jam session between Russell, Ray and myself. Ever since then, we have continued to grow and develop, and now it's starting to turn into something we never really expected.

We sound like... Russell: A mixture of guitars, bass and drums all playing at the same time. James: An indie punk-rock band, with some Brit rock flourishes.


Our first gig was... Russell: At the blue light disco in Kirwan (place in Townsville). James: It was actually with the TMPAS (Townsville Music Performing Arts Space) group at the Herbert Hotel Townsville. 


When did you settle on the group's name, and was it a unanimous decision... Russell: We were originally the Rolling Stones, but apparently the name was already taken. James: Our name comes from a Bright Eyes song 'Poison Oak'. I suggested it and we just went with it. After we couldn't be the Rolling Stones of course. 


In the studio we usually... Russell: Drink too much and get into fist fights. James: After that, we spend a lot of time narrowing parts sometimes changing things up, and listening to the latest rant about life from our recording engineer Joel.



If we could tour with anyone... Russell: It would be the Pussycat Dolls. I don't even care if we're on the bill.



Social media is... Russell: Underrated. More people should get involved. James: Punishing.


My favourite app at the moment is... James: There's place called Otto's in Townsville and they sell some pretty great food, and they have an app to order. I'm on all the time, punching through to get a Rueben Sandwich.


To date, our most embarrassing moment was the time... Russell: We accidentally booked the Wembley Arena Landscaping Co. for a gig. Still, we sold it out.

Life on the road can be... James: Tedious, lonely, joyous, adventurous, exciting. Pretty much all the range of emotions.


If you'll have us on your bill, all we ask is that our rider contains... Russell: Three litres of Crisco.




The most scary scenario I've found myself in, was... James: Off the top my head; when I lived in Brisbane nearly ten years ago, I heard a gun shot from up the road, then a man came down the road asking for help covered in blood. It all worked out in the end, but the first impression was full on and pretty heart racing.



What celebrity/ famous person would you love to be spokesperson of the band? Russell: Bands don't have spokespeople. That's not a thing. But the late Ian Turpie because he had the best voice.

Three people you'd like to invite around for a dinner party? Russell: Lara Flynn Boyle, Portia de Rossi, and Mary Kate Olsen, because they don't eat much.

If we were coming over to your place, what would you cook us? Russell: Dominos. James: Buffalo wings, before a roast.



No matter the expense, send me a case of... Blueys.



The last time I saw the inside of a gym was... Russell: I go there for showers since my wife kicked me out and I've been living in my Kia. James: Thursday as well, I had to drop off some soap for Russell.



What's the one chore you dislike the most? Russell: Cutting the neighbour's grass. But someone's gotta do it, and he's been deployed for months.

Do you have any phobias? Russell: Yes. A phobia is an irrational but pathological fear.

Would you ever partake in a reality show? James: I would like to do 'The Amazing Race'. I really like cracking clues and using and learning knowledge of the world to try and solve puzzles.


If you could prank any of your friends, who's your target, and how are you bringing them down? James: I'll go back to a prank I did back when I lived in college. We moved all of one of my good friend's furniture (Michael), out in the middle of the courtyard and set it up just the same, like he had in his room.

For the first hour, he was pissed. However, he came too after a while. Another time, we filled a beer full of hot sauce without his knowledge just before he downed the whole thing.

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