Robin fromThe Ocean introduces us to band, influences, what has changed since they first started out, how the tours have went and their plans for 2012!
Why did you pick the name The Ocean and what does it stand for?
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.
How did you come up with the idea for The Ocean Collective?
It was just something that happened. In the early days we had lots of changing members and at one point we decided to turn the problem into a principle and be organized more like a collective… at times we had 4 guitarists in the band but usually only 2 of them would play a tour, depending on whoever had time to do it.
The positive aspects of the collective became obvious when we gathered more musicians from different scenes around us, people that were into Jazz and classical music. That’s when we managed to expand our musical horizon beyond the stereotypes of metal and post-rock and became open towards untypical influences.
How would you describe the band?
I usually leave that up to journalists….
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”…
What are your musical influences?
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.
What has changed since you first started out in 2001?
But nowadays, The Ocean has transformed from a collective of ever-changing members into a band. This has come naturally, as I have finally found the right people, the ones I have been looking for for many years. The current line-up has been consistent for about 2 years now. We have toured around the world together (more than 130 shows in 2008 alone), spent months in a nutshell van infested with the smell of farts, feet and rotten food… this has been really intense, we all know each other very well and we are good friends that stick together. This is the strongest lineup this band has ever had, and I dearly hope it will last… well being aware of the fact that priorities change in everyone’s lives as we grow older, and any band constellation usually only works for a limited time. We will try to make the most of what we have now, while we have it…
You released 2 albums last year Studio Albums, how did your fans react to these releases?
Really good, I think most of our older fans have followed us with these 2 albums, although especially Heliocentric was quite a departure for the band, and we have gained a lot of new fans on top with all the constant touring since the release of Heliocentric.
There’s always gonna be people who complain when a band is doing something different. And it’s nothing new to us really: when we released “Fogdiver”, people complained that it was instrumental. When we released “Fluxion”, people were complaining about the brutal vocals. When “Aeolian” came out, people were lamenting about the lack of big orchestrations… you see, I can understand how some people that only liked our “Aeolian” stuff feel let down now because the newer material is not metal enough for them or not sludge enough or whatever… but then again, those people who only like our heavy side never really understood what we’re all about in the first place.
We’re trying to institutionalize change to some degree. Without delusions of grandeur and without comparing ourselves to any of these bands, I have utmost respect for bands who managed to reinvent themselves at one point in their career, and tried something completely different – bands like Radiohead, Breach or Refused, for example.
What is your favourite album and track and why?
You mean of our own albums? Hard to say, I guess I wouldn’t be able to choose between Precambrian, Heliocentric and Anthropocentric. I connect different times of my life and different emotional states with each of these albums and the songs on them, and they all mean a lot to me somehow.
There are always a few tracks you are happier with than with others I guess, but this is also changing with time.
What do you like the least and most about today’s music scene?
Most: the fact that everything is connected more than in recent years through the internet that you can find out about bands you would have never heard about 10 years ago.
Of course there is a downside to the rise of the internet as well, most people’s attention span is short and the idea of the album has somehow been forgotten, to mention just a few.
Least: the fashion aspect of it, the fact that bands like Bring Me The Horizon get so big.
Gig wise what kind of response did you get from your fans?
That really depends where we play. We just got back from a crazy tour in China and people go apeshit there. In the US it was the same when we toured with BTBAM this spring, we had huge circle pits at some of the shows and lots of stage-diving, which doesn’t happen as much over here in Europe… except for Eastern Europe, where people are generally more excited and more violent, in the most positive way.
I guess it really depends on the city. I mean, in the UK we’ve always had great shows in London, and in France, even on this tour, Nantes was amazing but then in Martigny it was a crowd of fish, ground-dwellers to be precise, that didn’t move at all and just stared at us for the whole show.
Any particular gig story or memorable experience you would like to share?
Our second show at Hellfest was amazing, despite the fact that I destroyed my amp by jumping into the crowd with my guitar and pulling the amp off the cabinet with my cable. Been using wireless since, duduh!
Summer Breeze festival was awesome as well, 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 experiences: 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.
Do you prefer to play big open airs or club-tours?
I like both. If open airs are like Hellfest or Summerbreeze, this is really hard to beat, especially if you get a night slot with good lighting. But generally I think that shows lose sty if they are over a certain size, they lose intimacy and integrity somehow. I am not a big fan of the idea of watching a band from 200 meters distance… so I would always prefer a packed, sweaty club atmosphere to a huge open air stage at day time
How has the tour been so far?
It’s been great. We started out beginning of September in China and Hongkong, had an amazing time there and some of the best food we’ve ever eaten.
Then we flew straight to the US to support Devin Townsend, and added a number of last minute headlining shows afterwards to get back from Vancouver to the east coast, that worked out really well too.
The UK dates with Textures were fun, especially London… good shows, but sometimes boring crowds (as elsewhere in Europe). France has been really good for us and now we are finishing off the touring year with 3 shows in Switzerand.
Looking forward to the remainder of the tour?
Almost over now! But yeah, the last 2 gigs should be great and then everyone’s really looking forward to getting home after 3 months on the road!
What are the plans for the rest of this year and 2012?
For the rest of this year: sleep, enjoy my girl, cook good food, sleep, watch movies and do NOTHING ELSE for a while.
2012: touring India, Venezuela, Russia (1 month) in February, then a tour with our side-projects Coilguns and Earthship (hitting the UK in March / April as well), then Thailand, Singapore and Australia in May… and then, off-time to record the next album!
Also, we will finish our DVD next year. The project has grown tremendously over the course of the past months. We have filmed the Heliocentric record release show in March 2010, the show at the museum for musical instruments in Berlin in January 2011, the show at the London Garage on our last tour and Summer Breeze Festival in their entirety.
We’ve also had our documentary filmer Alex with us most of the time, and he has pointed his one eye on everything we’ve been through, the good, the bad and the vulgar… We have collected so much quality material by now that we’re thinking about turning everything into a documentary movie more than a mere music DVD.
We will spend the first half of next year editing and finalizing the 120 hours of material we have filmed between Guangzhou, China and Los Angeles, California.. to get an idea of what to expect, check out our US video tour blogs on Youtube and the China trailer…
Are there any messages that you would like to pass on to the readers?
Thanks for your support guys, keep it up and if you’ve never seen The Ocean live, make sure you do when we come back to the UK
Heliocentric / Anthropocentric 4xLP box now available at