In the Meet The Band spotlight this week is the Oklahoma metal band Blind Oath. Their self-titled debut album was just released. Guitarist Mitch Gilliam introduces us to his band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Blind Oath.
Mitch Gilliam: I am not known for brevity, but I’ll do my best. (laughs) You could say that Blind Oath’s story is micro to the macrocosm of heavy metal itself. Five super fans who have devoted our lives to booking, hosting, and traveling to see the metal faith’s truest defenders. Chance (and life-altering) encounters with our heroes in Night Demon, Manilla Road, and Cirith Ungol inspired us to take up our axes and write our own riddle of steel.
Describe the songwriting process for your self-titled album.
Our songs begin with the foundation of all heavy songs worth a damn: the riff. Riffs and leads from Dr. Rob (Gutierrez, lead guitarist) and I provide the initial spark, which in the presence of the full band becomes an inferno of shifting structures and heavy metal extolations! Also, we just kinda smoke down and pass around whiskey in a garage.
How did you come to work with producer Armand John Anthony, and how was the experience?
This most dangerous meeting stems from Night Demon and Visigoth’s initial assault on Tulsa. Someone had texted me asking if I knew the bands playing a (now defunct Tulsa) bar that evening, to which I replied: “What the fuck, I already have my Frost and Fire tickets! Who didn’t promote this?” I reached out to Night Demon, they came to the happy hour I was bartending at The Soundpony (an essential bar to Tulsa metal lore,) and noticed our PA. They asked to play there the next afternoon, which they did, and it was a certified dong burner of a gig. Night Demon solidified themselves as “Tulsa’s favorite touring band” ( with greetings of “Happy Night Demon Day” popping up on socials every time the boys are back in town,) and as lifelong friends of Blind Oath.
When it came time to record our debut, there was no question it must be helmed by “The Captain” himself – Armand John Anthony. His work on albums by Cirith Ungol, Bewitcher, and Night Demon should let you know just how excellent this album sounds. A band making their first true impression could only be so lucky to have his wisdom, guidance, and friendship, as we did.
How would you characterize the album’s style/sound?
When Tim from Cirith Ungol heard a sample track, he said “you guys are like the new wave of British heavy epic black…thrash?” And we’ll take it.
How did the guest appearance from Cirith Ungol’s Tim Baker come about?
Incidentally, I interviewed Cirith Ungol right after their Frost and Fire performance (their first show in 24 years!) for Invisible Oranges, six years ago. But that had nothing to do with it, besides setting the stage for fate to unfurl. While recording with Armo, we heard a band next door. We asked who it was, and he informed us it was Ungol and we flipped shit, being that they are a prime influence on us. Tim and Rob came into the studio, we asked if Tim would guest. He heard the track, read the lyrics, and got in the booth. I’ll never forget him screaming his iconic “Yeah!” to check his mic; his voice echoing through our headphones.
What lyrical topics do you cover on the album?
Gnosticism, Hermeticism, alchemy, how to cast spells and how to fuck them up, and folk tales ranging from proto-gothic to Icelandic.
How did you come to work with Horton Records?
Horton Records is a non-profit and volunteer ran organization devoted to helping Oklahoma music reach the ears of those that deserve to hear it. He has largely worked in the Americana and roots scenes in town but is an absolute die-hard heavy metal maniac. He’s been a friend to us personally throughout the years, and we are pleased to bring him an Oklahoma metal act to work with. He seems tickled, to say the least, and has pulled out all the stops in organizing the 2 Minutes To Tulsa Festival that features Exciter, Satan, Night Demon, and Haunt along with other ass-beaters.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
We made an album we are immensely proud of, and we only hope every true metalhead gets a chance to hear it. Those with eyes to see, and all that. We just wanna drunkenly scream along to “Necropolis” with friends current and future, in every country possible!
What has been your most memorable Blind Oath live show?
Honestly, our first. Mark the Shark from Manilla Road was a guiding influence to us and informed a few “easter egg” lyrics on our demo (all songs re-recorded by the full band on our album,) and news of his passing shook us to our core. We played our first show with Night Demon and Blood Star, dedicated our set and cover of “Flaming Metal Systems” to Shark, and were floored when Manilla Road singer Bryan Patrick joined us onstage to sing to, and cry for, our fallen brother.
What are your upcoming show/tour plans?
2 Minutes to Tulsa at the legendary Cain’s Ballroom on April 1st is at the top of our list. It’s an all day metal fest hosted by Horton Records, which is a deliberate attempt to lift up the overall scene and throw an absolute banger of a release party for Blind Oath. The lineup also includes Exciter, Vicious Rumors, Night Demon, Satan, Haunt, Night Cobra, Sadistic Force and Hammerhedd. There’s never been an event like it in Tulsa.
After 2MTT, we look forward to doing what we do best, by hosting Tulsa shows by the likes of Anvil, Savage Master, Sonja, and Solicitor, then hopefully destroying the town of one of your intrepid readers who are brave enough to invite us!
What are some of your non-musical interests and hobbies?
Weed, Fromsoftware, the OKC Thunder, Johnsonville Sausage, Vin Diesel’s pop hit “Feel Like I Do,” Simpsons, Dallas Cowboys, succulents, mortgage loaning, Clown Girl OF’s, Wayne Diamond, gulchin’, dogs, cats, horror movies, cooking, and as our bassist Jacob says – “doin’ drugs and fuckin’.”
How is the metal scene in Tulsa?
Through continually hosting all of our favorite bands, Blind Oath is adding to the growing Tulsa scene. Along with the same work ethic from doom dealers Dust Lord and old school death metallers Ectospire– Tulsa is becoming a “must stop” town for bands making that long and lonely trek through the middle of the country. The scene itself is diverse, inclusive, and passionate a fuck..so in words: Heavy fucking metal.
As far as an outside perspective, I will let Henrik, drummer for Sweden’s Screamer talk: “[Tulsa is] a tight music scene in general that welcomes outsiders with open arms, bonding in metal. Die-hard fans are not just a part of the local scene but make their presence known at regional, national, and international fests as well.* (We took this dude and his band to Olive Garden, and it was dope.)
(interview published March 18, 2023)
Watch Blind Oath – “The Flame” Video