Kyndon Oakes, Mark Vikingstad and Michael Boris make up the trio known as Lockeland. They were drawn to Nashville by their mutual love of music and have been writing and performing together now for several years.
Each brings a unique music vibe that blends them together as a trio. Kyndon began singing alongside family members before moving to Nashville in 2009, originally to pursue a solo career. Mark says he joined his high school band “because chicks dig it.” He moved to Music City just days after receiving his BA diploma in Music Business from SUNY Fredonia. Michael grew up in Apalachin, NY, but moved to Nashville to attend Belmont University, graduating with a degree in Commercial Music Percussion.
Together they create a three-part harmony that gives them a unique edge in the world of contemporary country music. They are about to break out with their infectious debut single, “Til The Cows Come Home,” coming March 8, 2019. Check out their website here https://www.lockelandband.com/
A couple of days before Country Radio Seminar (CRS) hit town, we met up to talk about their new single and how they make music together.
How did you come up with the group name Lockeland?
Kyndon: When we came together to form the group, we were trying to come up with a name and we kept texting each other with all these different names that we thought would work best. We fell on Lockeland just by chance. Mark and Michael are from New York and I’m from Kansas, and we ‘locked the land’ in between and met in Nashville. Plus it helps that Nashville is landlocked, so we settled on Lockeland.
Looking at your set list, it seems you’re open to playing music from a lot of different genres. What do you think of as your musical influences?
Michael: That’s one of the very cool things I love about this band because we all come from very diverse musical backgrounds. I started playing drums when I was eleven. I played a lot of ‘fife and drum core’ stuff. Then I moved into classical music, then I started listening to hard rock and a lot of punk, stuff like that. When I moved to Nashville, I simply hadn’t listened to a whole lot of Country. But when I moved here eleven years ago, I gave it a try and I was like, “You know what? There’s a lot of really great music here.” So there’s honestly not a musicgenre that I, personally, don’t like. I love R&B, rock, funk, country. I think that’s kind of the same for all of us.
Kyndon: I grew up listening to 90s Country. John Michael Montgomery, George Strait, Garth Brooks, all those guys. But I’d also listen to Goo Goo Dolls. I’m a huge fan of that genre of music as well. And the Eagles and so on, so it’s a wide spectrum of music.
Mark: The reason I even did music was because of Garth Brooks. When I was ten years old, I saw him in Central Park [in New York City]. My mom took me, and I remember saying, “I want to do that!” So from my childhood, and Garth and 90s Country to my high school years of pop, punk and ‘emo’ kind of rock. The kind of music that anyone who’s my age, thirty-one, you know, those bands. After college I got into my songwriting; kind of pop and folk. Taking all those things I was listening to and writing, I kind of brought that with these two guys here. And it made a very cool and eclectic sound that we were able to come up with.
Your new single, “Til the Cows Come Home,” is due out March 8. You all co-wrote that with Renn Anderson. That’s a great title. How did that song come about?
Kyndon: Well, I’m a good ole Kansas boy, and there are plenty of cows in Kansas! You can’t drive through Kansas and not see a cow. I make the trip back to Kansas quite often, it’s a nine-hour drive. You start rolling into Kansas and you start seeing cows. I remembered that saying, “Til the cows come home,” and I thought, that would be a cool song title, and I hadn’t heard it before as a song title. So when we got together with Renn, I just brought that to the table. Every time we write, everyone brings something different to the table. Then Michael came up with the riff.
Michael: Yeah, Kyndon came in and said it would be great to write a song called “Til the Cows Come Home,” and of course we were all, like, “That’s awesome!” It immediately triggered a memory of this voice memo that I’d made a while ago. It was a cheesy drum loop and me playing guitar at home. It was that opening riff and I said, “How about this?” and Renn jumped right on it and Mark jumped on it. It all came together within that one writing session.
Your voices harmonize perfectly. One often thinks of siblings harmonizing. The three of you obviously aren’t brothers but was that something you worked on, or did it just ‘click’ when you first sang together?
Mark: Kyndon and I met six or seven years ago, writing together and appearing in ‘writers rounds’ together. For myself, singing with Kyndon, harmonizing was an easy thing to pick up. Since I was a kid, going through chorus and so on in high school and picking up harmonies was just something that came easy. I guess just learning the ‘blend’ for me, is hearing the lead singer’s voice, to find the nuances in the lead singer’s voice, and to match that as best as I can as a harmony singer. I think what works so well with Kyndon is when we sing together, I can find that really easily. And when Michael comes in, Michael and I, our ears can just hear thatand just latch on to Kyndon’s melody. And, oh man, it just opens up the whole sound and it’s wonderful.
Kyndon: When we met, I was doing my solo career. Michael was a drummer and Mark would come in and sing harmonies. So we’ve been harmonizing for five years now.
Mark: We’ve learned each other’s voices.
That’s an interesting point. You say you’ve learned each other’s voices. That’s a great phrase. Because there are some groups where it just doesn’t work that way.
You’ve shared stages with big names such as Lady Antebellum, Kelsea Ballerini, Eric Church, Brothers Osborne and many more. What have you learned from being with these artists that has influenced your own stage presence or your performance?
Michael: Having the opportunity to be on the same bill as those artists, it’s such a cool thing to watch. It’s one of those things where, as musicians and artists, our goal should be to strive to always be better and better. So watching people who are masters at their craft, just watching their show, watching their performance, watching their energy, how they connect, how they engage with the audience and with each other. It’s just an incredible thing. It’s kind of like standing there beside the stage and absorbing everything like a sponge.
Mark: I grew up playing sports. My dad would always say, “Be a student of the game.” And that’s the same thing when you’re going to shows. You don’t have to perform or open up for these acts. Just going to shows and watching them and being a student of the game. Learning what works and what doesn’t work is what makes you better.
Do you feel a vibe from the audience when you play live gigs?
Kyndon: Absolutely. We can tell. And of course, we know too. We’ve played enough together that we know if we’re feeling it. But when people come up to you after the show and they’re talking to you and giving you that feedback, that’s when you know you’ve had a good show. You can feel that. You can feel the energy. They’re singing along, they’re clapping along, they’re in it. And then there are times when you’re playing and you don’t get that energy back and it’s a little defeating, but you learn from it and grow from it.
Mark: Just to add to that, we just played the Listening Room [in Nashville] recently. Michael and I were talking about how during one of our songs, “Blackberry Whiskey,” during the outro, the guitar licks at the end, people were already clapping and cheering before the song is over. It’s those kinds of moments where we felt, yeah, we got ‘em on that one!
Any upcoming tour dates planned?
Michael: We’re working on some overseas dates. Can’t really say much more at this point, but we are working heavily on that, ironing out the details.
Lockeland have carved out a unique niche for themselves with their faultless harmonies, their creative songwriting and the ever-growing crowds of fans at their live shows. Watch them put their own country spin on a Gin Blossoms mashup here:
Tour dates and music at their website https://www.lockelandband.com/ and on social media https://www.facebook.com/Lockelandmusic/ | https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCb5LB2uv_JJX4gf3rRMzwhw/featured
Story by Preshias Harris