THE OCEAN (Eng.)

– Hello, thanks for taking the time. How’s everything going in the THE OCEAN’s camp?

pretty good by now. Yesterday we arrived in Boston and we were all pretty jetlagged. We returned from our tour in China and Hongkong on Friday, then had one day in Berlin before flying on to the US for our next tour… so we skipped 12 time-zones in a matter of 2 days and it takes its toll I guess. We’re old men…

– And why did you pik THE OCEAN as the band’s name?

We initially chose our moniker because we wanted to be able to do everything you could imagine musically, from quiet and acoustic tracks to walls of guitars – and the name The Ocean perfectly sums up that range of sound and feeling, the ocean can stand for the cheesy sunset scenery with coconut palm trees swaying in the evening breeze as much as for the raging, man-eating storm-sea.

 

– Since your 2007 album «Precambrian» you didn’t release anything until 2010, when you released two albums the same year. How did you come up with that «serie»? Why not releasing one album per year?

We try to follow our creative workflow rather than sticking to the typical album routines.

 

– Both albums are a critique to Christianity. Would you mind shedding some light on these albums’ concept?

The fact that Christianity has not yet been overcome by cultures which in every other respect are grounded on trust in the rational mind is fascinating – Islamic cultures, for example, have not been transformed by the process of enlightenment as occidental Christian cultures. Our societies have witnessed the rise and the impact of modern natural science. The sets of values and ideologies brought forth by the process of enlightenment dominate our daily thinking and are the foundations of our societies, yet at the same time we still uphold the superstitions that in no way are conformable with the findings of modern science. Because of the prevailing historical influence and power of the church, our culture is based on the peaceful coexistence of preclusive sets of values. It’s time to break this cycle of incoherence, and ‘Heliocentric’ is our contribution: a reminder of Charles Darwin’s legacy. Darwin’s findings are contradicting the most fundamental Christian teachings. He basically proved that some of the very first words in Genesis are wrong: Man was not created by God, but is the result of a process of evolution that can be traced back to the most simple forms of life. The genes of man and pig are to 98% identical, and radically phrased, our ancestors were cockroaches… This is hard to understand for many believers who take the bible literal. I admire Darwin’s courage, passion and exploratory spirit. He was being ridiculed by his fellow scientist colleagues, and it takes courage to stand up for convictions that were completely at odds with the Zeitgeist… and while some of his theses were wrong, a lot of it still holds true and his ‘Origin of Species’ has basically been ‘The Shape of Science to Come’, so to speak…

 

– How was the feedback for the records like? Did it fulfill your expectations?

I go through life without expectations so I cant tell you. The feedback was great, though some people were surprised and confused when we released Heliocentric, this was a new development for the band and a new direction and some of the old fans didn’t like the clean vocals. It seems that with Anthropocentric most people have «got it». People will always have albums they like better than others. It’s a matter of personal taste. For me,

HEliocentric and Anthrpocentric are more advanced in terms of songwriting and stylistic diversity, but I do still like Precambrian and we do still play a lot of these songs live.

 

– Now that is has been a while since they came out, would you like to change something on them if you had the chance?

Not really, I’m pretty happy with how they came out. Maybe some minor issues with the guitar sound that I would approach differently now.

 

– How was the recording process like for those albums? As I read you recorded all the instruments in just one session.

It was great. We recorded all the instruments in one session yes, then finished Heliocentric first with vocals, mix and mastering. In 2010 we went back to recording vocals for Anthropocentric. It was awesome, me and Loic went to a remote house in Spain for 2 weeks and we basically did nothing else but write lyrics, swim in the ocean, drink whiskey and record all night until the early morning hours. We built a vocal booth in one room with matresses and pillows, brought some good preamps and mics and had a really good session. Loic had much more input than the last time around, he was more comfortable this time as he’s been in the band for a while now and his voice has gained a lot of depth and power over these year’s many months of touring. Everything was very smooth and easy-going.

 

– And what about the songwriting process?

I wrote the entire «Heliocentric» material in the summer of 2008, within a rather short time-frame of a few weeks. At the same time, Jona wrote some songs too that I thought were cool but didn’t really fit with my material, or at least that’s what I thought at that time. So we decided from the beginning to make it a double-album. I wrote more stuff afterwards and when we entered the studio to start recording, 90% of the material for both albums was written, so we recorded the instruments for both albums in one big session in the summer and fall of 2009. When that was done, we focused on «Heliocentric» and recorded the vocals for that album, mixed and mastered it and put the «Anthropocentric» material on hold until June 2010. That way we could take some distance after this long studio marathon. But the basic material of «Anthropocentric» didn’t change, that was all written around the same time as «Heliocentric», with the 2 first songs being the exception…

 

– Those were your first pieces with singer Loïc Rossetti. What has he brought to THE OCEAN?

After Mike’s departure we were specifially looking for a vocalist who was not only following us in our development, but who was one step ahead. We still want to play our older material live, so we havd to find someone who is a powerful screamer and a good singer at the same time. This proved to be really difficult, but when we heard Loic’s demos of some of our newer as well as some older songs, we knew immediately: he’s the one. So Loic has forged the progression of this band recently, and also the fact that the band has a steady lineup now, for the first time in years. The new members (who have been with us for 3 years now, so they’re not that new anymore) are also more involved in the whole songwriting process.

 

– Anyway the band has been through several line-up changes throught the years but, is this line-up a steady one?

you never know, but I have found the right people now it seems, and there is no reasons for changes of personell when you have found the right people. We were organized more like a collective than like a band in the beginning, so there was lots of coming and going the first few years. We also had lots of classical musicians that were with us for a while and then moved on to other projects… Other members of the core-lineup played a few tours with us, then decided that they wanna have kids or pursue a carreer job or that the rough conditions of touring as a punk rock band are not made for them and quit… but these days the lineup is really stable and solid. Apart from our vocalist Loic, who joined the band after a long search in 2009, I’ve been playing with the same people for about 3 years now. I have finally found the musicians and the people that I’ve been looking for for a long time, I trust them 100% and this feels like a final lineup for this band.

 

– I know is really impossible to describe your sound, as I guess no one can tagg you into one concrete style but; how could you describe your music?

I won’t. I leave this up to other people. We are always trying to keep it interesting for us and our listeners. We are not the kind of band that looks for a formula for their sound and then sticks to that formula for the next 10 albums, just because it works… We have never conceived of The Ocean as being merely a metal band, we’ve always been open in any possible direction. We do what feels right to us, no matter if this is double-bass attacks and walls of guitars or electronic tunes with female vocals – I do feel that there is common ground between every one of our tracks though, a certain red thread going through all our albums and the calm as well as the heavy songs: it#s hard to pin down exactly what it is; a certain atmosphere, a certain way to treat dynamics, certain chord progressions, etc. and I think that our fans see that common ground even between such stylistically different tracks as «For he That Wavereth» and «She Was The Universe»…

 

– You mix different genres, which makes me think each band member may have its own musical influences so, what are your influences for instance?

My first heavy show was Sick Of It All with Strife in 1994. I got big time into hardcore at that time. the whole straight edge scene, and then bands like Unbroken, Groundwork, Absinthe, Rorschach… I always loved the abrasive side of things..

Nowadays I listen to everything from Ethiopian Fusion a la Mulatu Astatke to Martyres del Compas and El Bicho to black metal to jazz and folk… and lots of Cash, of course.

 

– When you formed the band, did you ever expect you would ever be that successful?

Is it really? I mean we’re touring across the US and CHina, yes. But to be honest, I don’t know any band playing metal that is making any money with record sales, except bands like Iron Maiden. Playing a support tour where you get paid 200 euro per night and don’t get accomodation sorted is hard when you do it for 2 months. we all need to take off work to be able to afford that. These guys stole 6000 euro from us, that was the entire income we’ve had from fees for the whole dillinger escape plan tour, 33 shows. For a few days we were not sure whether we could continue the tour, and considered aborting it. We decided to continue in the end and hoped for people to help out and luckily, lots of people have helped out donating money.

 

– And during all these years of existence for THE OCEAN, what have been both the best and worst moments with the band?

the best: quite a lot of them were this year: our second show at Hellfest was amazing, Summer Breeze, the shows during the BTBAM US-Tour in April, especially, Ashville, Vancouver, Montreal and TOronto and now Guangzhou and Honkong during our Asian tour.

the worst: getting robbed on the highway near Madrid last year, and fighting with a fucked up scam-artist bus company all the while we were in the US in April, and losing 8 grand with that shit. THis is what really kills any motivation to do this.

 

– Finally, what are your near-future plans? What are your expectations for your upcoming UK tour with TEXTURES?

we just got back from an amazing Asian tour, now we are supporting Devin Townsend in the US and then possibly joining another US tour, and then we’re doing the UK with Textures, then finishing off the year with some headlining shows in France and Switzerland. As for what expectations go, I try to follow Buddha here in is advice: «meet what comes with an open mind». I try to live and love as much without expectations as possible. It leaves more room for surprises.

 

Sergio Fernández

sergio@queensofsteel.com

 

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