The Ocean (VO)

interview The OceanRecently signed on Metal Blade, here comes The Ocean & their atypical metal-core. With an excellent brand new album & a corrosive message against our consumer society, Nils (in charge with the visuals) & Robin (the leader) answered a few questions in november 2005.

Hi ! To begin this interview, can you tell us what was your goal when you created this band ? A history of The Ocean would be more than welcome.
N: When we started the band, our main goal was to get on stage asap. We wanted to let the world know that there's music that's not confined to the traditional conventions of hardcore, metal, doom, whatever you wanna call it. We had a musical vision that we wanted to share. Robin had come to Berlin with a pretty detailed idea of the whole thing in early 2000. He started looking for like-minded people back then, and after a number of people had been in and out of the band, we finally had our first public appearance in July 2002. Three years, three albums and almost a hundred shows later, we're on Metal Blade records and more than happy with what we've accomplished so far.

Musically speaking, your style is a mix between metal & hardcore. It seems thrash & death-metal had a huge impact on your songs. Is a band like Gorefest your cup of tea?
R: To be honest, I come from a more experimental hardcore type of background... bands that have inspired me in the nineties were bands like Unbroken, Groundwork, Absinthe, Rorschach, later Coalesce, Converge, Botch, and the likes, and Catharsis, His Hero Is Gone... I'm not really into Gorefest. Just listened to a track of their new album. People tend to compare our vocalist Meta's voice to the Gorefest singer, and it is the same vocal range, I guess.. but music-wise, I don't see many similarities. I got into trash and death later... Darkane's "Rusted Angel" is one of my favorite albums ever.

Where/when did you record your new album Aeolian? The sound is really massive. Who did you choose as a producer?
N: The record doesn't have a producer in the traditional sense. We didn't feel like we needed a non-band member to run around the studio feeling all important and giving commands. We engineered, recorded and mixed “Aeolian” all by ourselves, in our own studio – Oceanland. The only thing that was done externally was the mastering. We went to Sweden and had Magnus Lindberg at Tonteknik do the job. He's among the best sound and mastering engineers in Europe, I think.

What do your texts deal with? Who does write them? Where does his inspiration come from?
R: I write all the lyrics. The bottom line of the lyrics is a somewhat existential dispute with the struggle for passion in a world heading for its abolition, and the manifestations of this struggle in every-day life (that term in itself appears to be incommensurate with passionate living). The essence of the lyrics on the album deals with some of the nasty, hostile excrescences of a society based on commodities, wage-work, material success, individuality... and, increasingly, control. One of these implications is the necessity of leading outlined lives for the sake of career and affluence... we go to kindergarten, to school, to university, t
interview The Oceano work, and by the time we get out of the sweep through the institutions we're old and tired. We're being passed on from one institution to the next and we never actually pause and live life in the present tense, in a rewarding way. A lot of times we don't even seem to know what is rewarding to us, our desires have been crippled so much by the permanent exposure to the billboards and commercials of companies that take great pains to tell us what our desires are (how fucking absurd!) that we don't even know what is ours and what is external, what is real and what is not, that we don't know what we want anymore. And thus it's easy to convince us that we want anything and everything, and of course, everything comes at a price, and here, the cycle closes. The strategy of promise and refusal of fulfillment brings about that we don't even know what we want anymore. Hence we are content with almost everything -- working shitty jobs doing things we don't enjoy in order to earn money to buy things we don't need. The Ocean is the collective voice of human beings that still have burning desire in them. The Ocean is an antidote to boredom and comfort-stable mediocrity.

The Ocean is a collective. What are the differences with another more classic form of band ?
R: We have a core-lineup of fix members that are always there, that keep the band functioning. Apart from that, there's a number of loosely associated people who we call upon when we need them -- there are violin, cello, clarinet and trombone - players, for example. You don't hear a lot of that stuff on "Aeolian", but our previous record "Fluxion" was a lot more orchestral and epic, we used a lot of classical instruments on that record. These people also appear on stage with us at times, mostly in Berlin though, we can't take them along on tour with us because we're already 8 people in the band, so we have to rent a huge van and there's no more room for additional players. Also, there are video and web designers that contribute to The Ocean. We're also trying to loosen the structures of the core-lineup. In the ideal case, we would have 2 bass-players, 2 drummers, 4 guitarists, etc - so that whenever one doesn't have time, there's still another person who's capable of doing the job. That way we wouldn't have to cancel any shows and could be on tour all the time--- or play in 2 cities at the same time... that's a cool idea. But, realistically, it's hard to do that, because it is a part of human nature that we don't like to be exchangeable. We tend to start fighting and behaving like cowboys when we get the feeling that we're not unique in very fucking aspect, when we realize that there are other people capable of doing the same thing that we do. Some people have a problem with that, others don't...

Why this name The Ocean? Do you have any particular message to spread to the masses?
R: The Ocean is the place where everything begins and ends. The ocean can stand for a peaceful sunset scenery as much as for a stirred-up, man-eating storm-sea, swallowing everything in its path. This is true just as much for our music: there are plenty of peaceful, playful, instrumental passages on our previous records "Fogdiver" and "Fluxion". As for what the presen
interview The Oceant tense is concerned, I guess I'll have to say that the state of the ocean is a category-4 hurricane though...

Vocals have a real impact on this new album, they're very varied. Explain us how did you worked them.
N: There's seven people singing on Aeolian, which indeed creates a lot of variation. The idea was to cover the entire spectrum from “growl” to “shriek” and even have different styles within the “growl” or the “shriek”. The lyrics and the vocal arrangements for almost all of the songs were written by Robin. We were lucky to have singers available that didn't insist on doing their own ego-thing. But we'll come to that later on...

Do you have plans for touring soon? Which kind of bands would you like to share the stages?
R: Yeah. We'll be embarking on a full European tour from march 15th until end of april 2006. This will also take us to France, for sure- We're gonna be playing a lot of shows next year, promoting "aeolian". About who we'd like to play with: Damn if Breach every reunited... other than Breach, The Melvins. Meshuggah. Tom Waits. Dillinger Escape Plan. Opeth. Mastodon. There's a bunch of good bands out there who we'd enjoy sharing the stage with.

Generally, how do you compose inside The Ocean? Does a song need to grow very long before being recordable? Isn't it too difficult to include so much musicians in the composition process?
R: no, it's not, because the song-writing is all in the hands of one person... I'm the "creative despot in charge"... we're not a jam-band, jam bands fucking suck, most of the time. I've been playing in this type of bands for years and none of these bands ever really got anywhere. With The Ocean, I have chosen a different approach: I compose all the music from scratch and by myself, I program the drums, write the guitar-riffs, the bass-lines and the lyrics. This was the concept from the beginning and I have been looking for people who are into this idea and who can play in a band with the idea of "the whole" in mind and without strong individual urges of self-realization or whatever. I record everything, from programmed drums and basslines to guitars, string and synth arrangements to vocals in form of a pre-production and play it to the other guys... we then talk about it, discuss which songs we're gonna realize and which not, and then we start rehearsing them.. some things are fix, others might be changed when we realize they don't work the way they were intended. It also happens at times that I come up with a drum-fill that is impossible to play live, then Torge, our drummer, scoffs at me and offers a different fill... but it is really composed music, all the way. You just get more in-depth that way, you're able to realize a high degree of intricacy as for what the arrangements and actual parts are concerned, a degree that you wouldn't be able to realize with a contingent jam-approach.

Last words are yours, thank you so much!
N: All we can say is: watch out, France! Unlike the rest of central Europe, you haven't had the chance to see us live yet. You're not prepared. The Ocean is gonna hit you even harder.

Interview done by DJ In Extremis

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