Levy & The Oaks | The Family Interviews
FYI, Asbury Park is a breeding ground for music, steeped in rock and roll history. HISTORY PEOPLE! Born and bred in NJ ourselves, we are partial to bands based in the Garden State. So, we reached out to Asbury Park’s own pop rock trio, Levy and the Oaks. Peep our conversation with these Jersey boys below — we talk all things inspiration, Paul McCartney, and the ability to fly. Yeah. FLY!
How long have you been making music?
We released our first Levy And The Oaks album in 2016. Levy (frontman) and Lou (bass player) have been writing and playing music together since high-school.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Most lyrical inspiration comes from personal life experiences and simple earthly observations including but not limited to pop culture and social commentary. The music is simply the canvas in which the lyrics are painted upon.
What keeps you motivated to keep on creating?
It's all we've ever known. It's all we've ever done. Music is our passion and it's what keeps us going.
What was the intention with your latest release?
We just released a new song entitled "On The Run". Feel free to read the article below by Levy Okun (frontman, lead singer/songwriter).
Everyone's got a story to tell. This one happens to be mine. Don't let YOUR story hold you back from doing the things you love.
“Giving It Another Run”
By Levy Okun
I had just graduated high school when my band signed with a record label. We were handed a big check and told to buy some musical equipment that would “hold up on the road.” We bought a van and trailer, and on the road we went.
I was in teen-bop magazines, I smoked Marlboro lights, and I was dating the love of my life.
I wrote everything in my journal. That journal was my life. I turned my entries into songs and performed them in front of hundreds of people on a nightly basis. This was a dream come true, but it quickly turned into a nightmare.
The music industry is volatile -- unpredictable. I was young and knew nothing about the business. All I knew was that I was traveling the world, telling my story, and spilling my guts everywhere I went. We went to Japan, Australia, and looped all around the continental U.S. for nearly 10 years.
I would sleep on floors or in the van. It never mattered where I rested my head. I traveled with a green blanket I had since I was a kid. I’m not sure if I ever washed it.
Anyone who’s ever been on the road knows that it involves a lot of waiting. You wait to arrive to the venue, you wait to load in, you wait to set up the equipment, you wait to sound check, you wait to play, you wait for the show to end, you wait to load out, you wait to get to the hotel, and then you wait to sleep.
Most venues understood the hustle and bustle of the touring life style. In their attempt to make bands as comfortable as possible, they provide certain amenities. They offer booze (mostly) and sometimes, if you’re lucky, food. My story revolves less around the latter…
Remember all that waiting I told you about? Well, when you’re already buzzed from the green room and have four hours to kill before the show starts, guess what you do? You drink.
Now the show starts and it’s my job as a frontman to put on a good show, right? No pressure. So you drink more.
People would ask me how I put myself out there. How could I leave it all on the stage every night? The reality is that I never really could leave it out on that stage. I carried it around with me. Drinking became a way to cope with every emotion under the sun -- excitement, loneliness, hope, fear, you name it. It was all the things I wrote about in my journal.
Self-control? What’s that? I was on cloud nine! I was living my dream. I was traveling the world and getting paid (sort of) to play my songs. So what if I’d black out and get kicked out of the venue? So what if I acted ridiculous in front of people? I felt like I would never see them again. It was all part of this “rock and roll agenda.”
I was a shooting star on a crash course to nowhere. I ended up marrying that girl who I wrote all my songs about. Great news, right? Wrong. After years of living the rock and roll lifestyle, I was never able to go back to a "normal life.” It was a real problem.
I had an identity crisis. I had to figure out who I really was. I could no longer be the person everyone wanted and needed me to be. I had to erase that character from my mind and leave him on the road where he belonged. Turns out, he was my worst enemy.
I was angry. So very, very angry. I had to learn to do everything all over again.
I was sober for two years when my wife told me she was leaving me. I was shattered. Everything I knew was once again coming to an end.
Enter the crossroads. How do I cope with this? What do I do?
I want a drink.
I can’t drink.
I’ve come too far to throw it all away.
Even if I was more alone than I’ve ever been in my life, I knew going back to the bottle would just make it worse.
Then came my spiritual awakening. I decided to take back control of my life. That’s easier said than done, but I did it. I washed my hands of my past and was reborn. Countless amounts of doors began to open and the light of opportunity began to shine on me once again.
For the first time in my life, I can sit here and tell you how grateful I am. I have new friends and new music that all stem from me being here and now – being present. It's something so simple but so hard to do. Stop thinking of the past and future and really be present. It's right now, forever.
I still write songs. I still write in my journal. But I’m no longer unhappy. I’m no longer lost. I’m no longer blind and lonely. I know the road is long and bumpy, but I have to stay on track. I owe that to myself.
I live with a new mantra these days: "Just because I'm alone doesn't mean I'm lonely.” Life is filled with wonder and possibility. All you have to do is let it in.
Where do you see you and your music going in the next few years?
We're going to continue to do what we love and release a ton of new music and share our story with as many people as possible.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be (doesn’t need to be music related)?
Everyone in the band would want to fly. Except for Levy, being that he's afraid of heights. Levy would like the power to heal others. Especially those in emotional distress.
What kind of messages do you try to get across with your sound?
Although we're sarcastic at times, the root of our message is always to bring hope and light at the end of the tunnel. Whatever tunnel you may find yourself in, whatever struggles you're going through, there's always a light at the end of it and we want to make sure we're doing everything we can to make sure our audience knows that they're strong enough to reach it.
What was the last concert you went to that really inspired you?
Who is your favorite member of The Family Reviews?
I'm not sure if we've ever met any of the family members but I'm sure you're all awesome!
Any final comments?
We're simply a group of dudes that love what we do and want to help others through our music and expression. If we can help one person get through a tough time, then that's a win for us.