Interview is up with Metal Blade Artist The Ocean
1. I'm late to the show it seems but I just got Anthropocentric and its amazing mix of prog, death and classic thrash metal. Can you give us a bit of history of the band?
I started the band in 2001 in Berlin. Initially we were more like a collective than a band, we've had about 40 members in and out of the band over the first 7 years and the first 200 shows we played - until I met Jona, our current guitarist. He joined us in 2007 and then our drummer and bass player left shortly afterwards and Jona brought all the other dudes of the current lineup into the band, all friends of his from his small Swiss mountain town that is for some reason a haven of good musicians. I guess it's because people don't really have anything else to do there than eat cheese and play music. Our former singer Mike Pilat left us after the Opeth-tour in 2009 and we have been looking for a new vocalist for about 9 months, until we found our current vocalist Loic Rossetti. He was one out of about 120 people we audititioned, and as soon as we did, we knew that he was the one.
In the 9 years of our exisence we have released 5 studio albums, plus our new album "Anthropocentric" which is coming out these days...
2. The Ocean being from Germany did bands like Kreator, Sodom, Destruction play a big rule in the formation of the band or was other bands that brought you to the sound The Ocean has now?
Not at all. I come from a hardcore background, my first show was Sick of it All and Strife in 1994 and I haven't ever been listening to traditional trash metal. Bands that shaped me were early / mid nineties progressive hardcore bands like Refused, Breach or Unbroken and of course Neurosis.
3. I know there have been a bunch of line up changes are the older albums in a very different sound from Anthropocentric?
We have tried to do something different with every album. We're not one of these bands that seeks to develop a formula for their sound and then sticks with is for the next 5 albums. We wanna keep it interesting for ourselves and for our listeners as well, and that means trying something new every now and then... and I think most of our fans really appreciate that and see the red line tat goes through everything we do, from our music to the album art to the visuals...
The main difference between our older albums and the new one is probably the vocals - in the past it was mainly screamed vocals and we had more of a collective approach here with up to more than 10 guests per album and a different voice on every song. With "Heliocentric", we stepped away from that approach in favour of a more traditional approach to vocals. When we were looking for a replacement for our former vocalist Mike Pilat, we agreed from the beginning that we wanted someone who would not only follow that path of evolution that we all saw ourselves entangled in, but someone who would be one step ahead of said process. We are now in a position where everything is possible, we are not limited by anyone's abilities anymore, nor by a preset idea of what we want to sound like - we just do what feels right to us.
4. You have been with Metal Blade for yrs now the partnership must work well. Do you feel they are the best indie label for The Ocean or do you feel the band could hit a larger label?
I wouldn't see the point, unless someone would want to blow money up our asses, which no label is doing anymore these days. Metal Blade can do whatever we need a label to do for us at the moment, they believe in us and have been doing a good job for us so far promoting and selling our records and that's why we just renewed the contract with them.
5. Your sound is so complex is it hard to pull off the sound live or do you change the songs up live to perform them?
No, you get live the same thing that you get on CD, PLUS added visuals and a customized light show. We can't take all the extra musicians that are playing on some of the albums - mainly Precambrian and Heliocentric - on tour with us, but we run the studio tracks of the classical instruments from the sequencer, so it sounds live like it does on CD. Obviously it's best to do as much live as possible, so whenever possible we bring a cello player and / or a piano player with us as well. This year we filmed the record release party for "Heliocentric" with an extended lineup of 13 musicians on stage...
6. I ask most bands and would love your feedback. Whats your thoughts of the Digital age (mp3s, webzines, web radio & Myspace) do you feel this is a major plus for exposure does it hurt the artist? as the CD sales over the yrs has dropped in a major way...
I do not generally object to myspace, we have our own page there, and neither to the internet as a platform for music. The general idea is great, since it is essentially the users who keep the whole thing running and working and who make a band popular, in complete disregard of promotional budgets, so it's kind of a grassroots promotional tool, and I think that's great. However, myspace no longer works as a medium to share music and attract people to a band in order to make them pick up their records and dive into their art then, when they enjoy it - it has become an end in itself.
The very structure of the site itself, allowing no more than 6 or 7 songs, in terrible streaming sound quality, essentially means that something is being compromised in the end. And more than anything, it is the idea of the album. I am a huge fan of the idea of making an album, rather than a loose assembly of songs. All albums that mean something to me are albums have this cohesion, this inevitability, where you don't wanna skip a single track, where you want to listen to the whole album all the way through. This whole realm is being lost these days, with everyone's attention span being reduced to 4 songs and a few clicks, with bands spending too much time trying to write the one perfect song and neglecting everything else. And this is what we stand up against, by releasing a concept double-album in a slick packaging with immense artwork and a tie-that-binds, that hopefully offers more than just a few good songs, to the people who care.
7. What newer bands are impressing you Metal or Not?
Newer bands... not too many, but I'm not really following what's happening too much I have to say. Baroness and Khoma haven't been around for too long I guess, Black Mountain recently blew me away, and so did the good old Swans, which happened to play in Manchester the same night at the same venue a few days ago... I had no clue, went upstairs and the fucking SWANS are on stage! I couldn't believe it, and these old man put on the most epic, heavy show I have seen in years. So I guess I stick to the old school..
8. Your sound is so much more then just Metallic do you see a cross section of fans. I feel your more in tune with bands like All That Remains, Isis or even Mastodon in that manner...
I don't really know All That Remains but I have subconsciously tagged them as "metalcore" in my head and that genre bores me stiff. Isis were an influential band for us for sure, bummer they called it quits this year. And Mastodon, along with The Dillinger Escape Plan, is the best existing band on the planet, so thanks for the flowers ;-)
9. If there was one song the band could cover , alter or make there own what would it and why would you do so?
Cover: "Sheer Heart-Attack" by Queen.
Make Our Own: "Valid" by Breach or the entire "It's Me, God" album.
Alter: hmmm... difficult. There are probably a number of tracks that have really awesome riffs but some average and improvable ones as well... would need to think more about that.
10. Do the members of The Ocean have other projects they work in?
Our bass player and drummer have another 2-piece band called Kunz, abrasive garage / stoner stuff. Our vocalist plays in a stoner band called Sons of Neptune. I play in another band called Earthship, we are releasing our debut album on my own label Pelagic Records this month. Its heavy stuff somewhere between Crowbar, Baroness and Iron Monkey... check it out at www.pelagic-records.com/shop.
Pelagic is a small label devoted to releasing music we love with extensive packaging and art. We're also releasing a combined version of our "Heliocentric" and "Anthropocentric" albums in a silver-foiled box with 4x 180 grams vinyls, a set of cards, star map and 2 gatefold covers inside; each with 3 revolving transparent silver-foiled PVC dials depicting the sun/earth and the planets orbiting around it... the same is available as a 4xCD box as well including instrumental versions of the albums.
11. The Artwork for Anthropocentric is so original does it tell a story for the new Album?
yes, of course. "Anthropocentric" is continuing the all-encompassing critique of Christianity that we begun with "Heliocentric". Where the former was approaching the subject more from a historic perspective, focusing on the copernican turn and the effects the scientific discoveries of this time had on Christian belief and the power of the church, the latter is approaching the subject from a more philosophical and personal angle. The central question is the contradiction of the theodicy-problem: if God exists and has the 3 main attributes that Christians want Him to have: omniscient, omnipotent and benign, then there could be no evil in the world. If you agree that there is evil, which is not too hard to get anyone to admit I guess, than at least one of those 3 attributes cannot be true: for if He was benign, he would not tolerate evil. And if He was omnipotent, he would have the power not to tolerate evil and be able to change it... the album orbits around this problem, the relation between man/reason and God.
The artwork depicts an image of man at the center of the universe, with the planets and the sun orbiting around him, alluding to creationists and other Christian fundamentalists who still believe that earth is 5000 years old and that man is the epitome of God's creation.
12. Your website http://www.
theoceancollective.com/ heliocentric/ is an adventure and challenge to navigate why was it made so abstract in style?
to make it interesting and different.
13. I hope all is ok after your robbery on tour . Did all get back you ok or was all the merch money lost for good?
We lost the entire sum of fees for this whole tour, 6000 euro in total, and no, nothing has got back to us. However, we are overwhelmed by the support we've been getting from fans from all over the world. Everyone who orders our album directly from us (at www.pelagic-records.com/shop) can donate 5 bucks to help out, and most people who ordered these past 2 weeks do that. We are very thankful for that, and though we don't have delusions about getting anywhere close to getting the money we lost back, everything helps at this point. People can also donate directly via paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org.
14. Thank you for the interview any closing thoughts here..
cheers for the interview!