Please give us a little background on yourself and your band!
Tell us something about the history of the band from the birth till now.
The whole thing started in early 2000 when Robin moved to Berlin with the intention of forming a new band. He had been writing and recording songs with a 4-track recorder for quite a while, and started looking for people to realize his musical visions, which turned out to be somewhat difficult – even in a big city like Berlin. It was hard to find skilled musicians willing to invest energy and time into a project in which they would play composed music rather than jam around without the opportunity to work in their own solos in every fuckin song. So over the course of the next two years, more than 30 people joined and left the project until a stable line-up of passionate and reliable people was found. In summer 2002, we had our first public appearance. The next year we signed with Make My Day Records and
released our first record "Fogdiver" in 2003. It was entirely instrumental. In 2004 we released our sophomore record "Fluxion", which saw the introduction of vocals and big-scale orchestrations including classical instruments such as cellos, flutes, and trombones. Now it's 2005 and our third album "Aeolian" just came out on Metal Blade; we have played some hundred shows and there's noe end in sight...
And what is the reason of the band’s name?
Robin: 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 present tense is concerned, I guess I'll have to say that the state of the ocean is a category-4 hurricane though... I have a very intimate, personal relationship to the sea, although I have never been living close to the coast. I have spent the most beautiful and the most frightening moments of my life close to the ocean, so it really has a deep meaning for me. I can sit by the ocean for hours and just look at the water, I can't get enough of it... it's an addiction, I guess...
How do you describe your music for all the Metalheads who don't know THE OCEAN yet?
Nils: I would describe our music as proof of the fact that “technical” and “emotional” or “brutal” and “atmospheric” are not the opposed ends of two spectrums but can be combined into a whole and still make sense. Most of our songs are of epic dimensions, sometimes exceeding ten minutes; there's are a lot of weird time signatures and odd harmonic changes. The arrangements seem chaotic at first glance, but in fact the music is entirely composed. Nothing's arbitrary, nothing happens by accident, and the overall picture is a very coherent one. You don't lose your way in the music, you'll always get the feeling, there's always this red thread leading you through our records. They're all conceptual in a way. Though, it might take a while to absorb the whole thing – our music is anything but easy-listening.
What are your influences as a songwriter or rather, which Bands/Sounds are the whole THE OCEAN-Crew listen to?
Nils: We're all into very different kinds of music; we're coming from all kinds of musical backgrounds. Among the few artists we all can agree on are: Breach, Bohren und der Club of Gore, Diamanda Galas, Frank Zappa, Neurosis, Slayer and Tom Waits. They've all been highly innovative. They've crossed borders and have gone to extremes. And they all have that certain integrity to them, they all know (knew) what they're doing and why. As for the actual songwriting, bands that have really had an impact on us are Unbroken, Groundwork, Absinthe, Coalesce, Converge, Botch, Dillinger Escape Plan, The Melvins, Refused, Meshuggah, Lightning Bolt, and more than anything, the mighty Breach. But we also draw upon influences not restricted to the metal context and contemporary artists, but from a larger horizon including film-makers such as David Lynch or Andrej Tarkovski, poets and writers such as Rimbaud or Lautreamont and surrealist artists like Breton or Dali.
The predecessor-album 'Fluxion' sounds realy different, can u tell us why?
Despite the differences, what "Fluxion" and "Aeolian" have in common is that they're perfectly representative of what we are doing as a band. The reason "Aeolian" sounds different from “Fluxion” is that we wanted to show a side of us that was always there, but hadn't been documented on record (only at our live shows): it's the rough, brutal, insane, and seemingly chaotic side, as opposed to the epic, orchestral, and atmospheric one demonstrated on “Fluxion”. “Aeolian” is a brutal fucking
bastard of a record: there are no embellishments, fewer calm passages than in the past, there's no room to breathe for the listener, it's the full-on assault of the senses: technical yet highly emotional, empathetic yet vile. However, the difference between the two records isn't as big to me as it seems to be to you. To me a song like "Dead on the Whole" or "My Principle of Charity" off "Fluxion" could have just as well been on "Aeolian", and a song like "Inertia" or "Necrobabes.com" off "Aeolian" could have just as well been on “Fluxion”. Both albums were cut in one big recording session, and in fact, some of the “Aeolian” songs are older than our very first record which dates back almost two and a half years ago. But of course, there are brand new tunes on the record as well.
Please tell us a few words about the lyrics of "Aeolian", since the promo does not include any lyrics!
Robin: The lyrics use a lot of ocean-related imagery, of course. There is not a major thread going through all of them, some are very personal tales of loves and hatreds and experiences I've been through and in that way they are some sort of therapy I guess - though disguised in abstract images, for the most part. But even with these personal ramblings you will find some sort of recurring... spirit I would say, not an actual agenda, but rather a general feeling that is being transported through most of the lyrics and songs. And this feeling is hard to describe, but it is essentially positive. Our lyrics exude an aura of triumph, the triumph you feel after overcoming obstacles, after defeating the demons in you. The type of illustrious, existential triumph when you realize that everything is possible in life, when you're on the top of the hill of bitterness and mediocrity and all of a sudden you realize that there's a whole fucking valley of dreams right in front of your eyes, and instantly, you feel impelled by your own passion to pursue them, to embrace life, to live it to the fullest while we have it. So we're not a depressed death metal band. Life is too fuckin short to be depressed. Our lyrics are manifestations of the spirit of Rimbaud, or Kerouac...
On the new album are many guest-musicans/vocalists. How it comes this way?
Robin: Our main vocalist Meta sung 95% of all the vocal parts on "Fluxion". With the new one, we wanted to have a larger variety of vocal styles - and this ended up in us completely turning our back to the idea of having a "main vocalist" of sorts like every other band. We kind of tried to expand the idea of the collective around the band -you might know that there is a pool of loosely associated musicians and artists floating around the core of the band who come in whenever expedient and possible- to the vocals. There are 7 different vocalists on the record, and they all sing more than one part or one song. At first we were hesitating, because we were afraid that the album might lose its character with the absence of a main vocalist. People are just so used to having one characteristic single voice, or maybe two, that they can identify the band with. We'd have 7. But we were also thinking that it might turn out as something really special, so we decided to give it a shot. And yeah, who dares, wins...
Will there be a vinyl version - maybe containing some different bonustracks -
or won't there be anything for the vinyl maniacs out there?
Nils: There will, since we're wax nerds ourselves. As a matter of fact, there's gonna be an exclusive triple-vinyl box-set with both “Fluxion” and “Aeolian”. It will have its own artwork and will come with a poster, so it's definitely gonna be worth the wait ...which won't be too long anyway. It will be available end of january, you can pre-order by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking at the future: what are your plans? Any plans for touring?
We're gonna be embarking on a big European tour from mid-March till mid-April. It will take us to Scandinavia for the first time, but also to Italy, Spain, Portugal, Benelux and France. As for what new material is concerned: some 2 or 3 songs are already in my mind, and there are also some ideas for a concept of a new record, but nothing definite yet. I don't want to determine the direction yet, because we want to be free to do whatever feels right to us - and this might just as well be a surf record, or a black
metal album. But as far as I can foresee now, we are not gonna turn our backs on the orchestral, multi-layered approach we have taken with "fluxion". I think there's a lot of new ground to be discovered there...
Who will sing all the different vocals, if THE OCEAN climbs on the stage?
I think it will be hard to become all this guest-musicans on stage at the same time.
Nils: Yeah, that won't work. Most of the parts will be taken over by our main man Meta, supported by Nico. We might be able to have Carsten and Ercü join us for a show or two in their respective regions, we'll see about that. With Sean and Nate, it's gonna be difficult for they both live in the US, but we might hit the stage with Tomas again. We played three shows with him in 2004, and it was awesome.
Robin: With Meta and Nico, we got 2 people in the band who pretty much cover the whole range of aggressive vocals, from deep grunts to high-pitched shrieks. I think in a live environment most people won't even realize. On record it's different, though. That was part of the challenge. We were aware of having to compromise on that in a live environment, but we still decided to go for that approach. If some of the vocal parts are missing live, then there's different aspects to our show that we can't convey on record, so it's always some sort of a compromise.
Are there any bands you'd prefer to tour with?
It's a shame we just had to turn down an offer to tour with Burst. That would have been awesome, their new record is just amazing. Maybe later this year. Other than that, there's plenty of bands I'd like to hit the road with. Meshuggah, Hate Eternal, Mastodon, A Life Once Lost, Swarm of the Lotus, Devin Townsend, Fantomas, to name a few...
What do you do outside the band? Any other work, or is THE OCEAN your full-time job?
Nils: Unfortunately, none of us is able to make a living off The Ocean. We're all students and/or have jobs of various kinds. We'd love to be able to make The Ocean our full-time job, but I'm afraid it's still gonna be a long way to go...
Im sure you didnt hear your own albums all the time. So, what's your Top 5 albums the moment you listen to?
Robin: I'm actually listening to them quite a lot, haha... but this is what's also spinning hot in my players right now:
1.) ULVER - Blood Inside
2.) KNUT - Terraformer
3.) SOLSTAFIR - Masterpiece of Bitterness
4.) VOLT - Romeo K.O.
5.) SACRIFICIUM - Escaping the Stupor
Thank you that you spent your time with answering these questions for METALGLORY!
The last words are yours, so if there's something really important you want to scream out, this is the
right possibility to do it!
Robin: Come to one of our live-shows so we can crush your nose. Go check out "Aeolian"! As metal as your mom's kettle...