The Okee Dokee Brothers cover “a lot of ground,” by design, in their winter-celebrating video for “Blankets of Snow,” premiering below from the duo’s upcoming Winterland album. But the group’s Joe Mailander hopes the clip — which finds him and Justin Lansing engaged in a variety of cold-weather recreations — doesn’t give fans any indication that the Okee Dokees are worthy of the Winter Olympics.
“I wouldn’t say we’re accomplished at this stuff,” Mailander tells Billboard. “We grew up in Colorado. We skied a ton in the Rocky Mountains as teenagers and whatnot. Then when I moved out to Minnesota, that’s when I started cross-country skiing more. I’d say we’re beginners to intermediate, definitely not great at it. But when it comes to snowshoeing, I think anybody can get the hang of that pretty easily.”
Mailander says he and Lansing, who resides in Denver, mostly wanted “Blankets of Snow,” as Winterland‘s opening track, to set a tone for the 16-song set. “We wanted to show some outdoor fun,” Mailander says. “One of the big things we wanted to show was a big winter party with a fire going and have a bunch of friends come over and have a dance party. It’s the whole idea that part of winter is celebrating in doors, and then part of it is celebrating outdoors. We wanted to show both those sides of it.”
As a follow-up to their Adventure Album Series, the Okee Dokees envisioned Winterland as a different kind of winter album, one not necessarily tied to well-worn themes of the season. “We felt like there was a little gap of content that hadn’t been quite filled in the winter genre — a tribute to the season without being holiday music or without being necessarily religiously affiliated,” Mailander explains. “We wanted to make a record that was more a secular celebration of the entire season from November to April, and songs that didn’t just end on Dec. 26. We wanted to highlight the fact that if you approach winter in the right mindset, it can be a really warm, cozy, life-giving season where you can get closer to your family and closer to nature.”
The Okee Dokees mine traditional folk and roots music throughout Winterland, using it as a source for their songs — a good case in point being “Keep Me Warm,” a spin on the Irish traditional “Whiskey in the Jar.” “We’re always walking that line of taking traditional folk tunes that are in the public domain and kind of reworking them,” Mailander says. “I’d say about 20 percent of the tunes on (Winterland) are reworked in that sense, and the rest are completely original.”
Mailander and Lansing are playing their usual mix of family-friendly shows as Winterland comes out but they’re also in the midst of their next album, too, though no specific theme has been locked just yet. “We’re writing a lot of songs right now about childhood,” Mailander reports. “My son’s a year and a half (old), so seeing life through the bright eyes of a child and what that looks like is inspiring. So I think we’ll be touching on themes of growth and new life and that kind of thing, but we haven’t honed in on what (the next album) is just yet.”