The Ocean Interview, with Robin Staps, Sunday 22nd May 2011 at The Famous Cock, By Danny Draper….
It was actually a terrific day for some time in a beer garden, the sun was shining and later in the evening, there was a brilliant prospect of seeing The Ocean and Earthtone9. But before all that, I journeyed to the Famous Cock to have a chat with The Ocean’s guitarist and songwriter, Robin Staps.
Robin: At this moment, very, very good! We’re sitting in this beer garden in London. London is showing us its sunny side! It’s cool!
We’ve had a rough time recently though. It’s gotten better since Glasgow which was the second day of the UK tour. The first two shows were fat because we’d just got back from the US and had an awful 48 hours of no sleep, return trip journey! And then we had a show the same night in Birmingham, which was kind of a lame show. Then Durham was kind of shit too but then Glasgow, Manchester and Bristol were really good!
It took a while to pick yourselves up?
Yeah, but now we’re back on track. We have rose from ruins! We’re all just physically…
Drained! Completely, Jonah our guitarist was really sick and when you get so little sleep your body doesn’t really react the way it should in terms of dealing with germs or viruses. So once you get sick on tour, you don’t really get rid of it. But we’re getting better now! The last couple of days have been good and tonight should be really good and I’m looking forward to that!
Awesome, you’ve just finished touring with Job For a Cowboy and Between the Buried and Me. Did you have good time on the road with those guys?
It was amazing! The best tour we’ve ever done! They were all really good shows, like, five or six-hundred upwards; most of them were like one-thousand people. It was a very interesting package. Obviously Between the Buried and Me are an amazing band, they don’t really do much live expect for playing which they know how to do well! And their fans are really open minded; they have to put up with their proggy-extraviganza, long epic-song monsters! So they were really open minded to our stuff as well, a lot of nights even better than Job For a Cowboy who were kind of odd on that bill because they kind of do the technical death metal stuff which didn’t really fit because of the other two bands but it was cool. It was interesting to have a diverse package and they were really cool guys. That’s another thing that made that tour really outstanding was that everyone was really humble, the guys in Between the Buried and Me had no rock star attitudes. We were treated very well as and opening act, we always played an hour after door to a full house. And those people are really, really cool. We had the best time out there.
How were the crowds like there?
Yeah they reckon that crowds (in America) are easier to excite than European crowds. You know sometimes here you get people standing there and clapping politely three times and that’s it! But there you get people going crazy; we don’t get moshpits or circle pits here. But every single night in America we had fourteen metre diameter circle pits, without even having to anything! It’s just the kids there like to dance there and to move. They’re very appreciative of the band which you realise the moment you get up on stage, even as an opening band. That was probably the best tour; we had some rough times due to our transportation situation, the bus company screwed us! A guy named Keith Gasket from Omni Pass rentals may he rot in hell, eternally! They basically ran away with our money and left us high and dry with a broken bus and didn’t provide alternate transportation system so we had to buy a van. We were travelling with a party of ten people because we thought we had a bus so we might as well bring some crew and make it nice for us! But once we had to get a van it turned out to be not the best decision because then we had to sort out hotel rooms and places for people to sleep for ten people every night. We had to cram ourselves into a twelve seated van with ten people and gear and that really didn’t work out! But, Between the Buried and Me were cool and transported a lot of our gear with them in their trailer and that was the only thing that made this tour work, otherwise we would have been completely fucked basically! So that part was shit but the shows were amazing!
I’ve heard that you were making a live DVD, what is happening with that?
We don’t really know. We’re just collecting material at the this point, we had a documentary filmmaker with us on the whole US tour and also here in Europe now till June 20th, so it’s like one long three and a half month tour. He’s with us all the time; he filmed a lot of shows in the US and a tour video blog or Vlog that you can check out on Decibalmagazine.com. So we’re collecting all of that material and releasing it probably sometime next year along with a full show we filmed in Switzerland where four of the band members are from. That was the record release show for Heliocentric where we played with an extended line-up of twelve musicians. And there’s going to be another show on there, one that we played at the museum of musical instruments that we played in January this year which was a strange kind of occasion. They’ve never really had a rock show there before. They had a collection of Cembalos (German name for Harpsichord) and Stradivari Violins and all this sort of stuff. The audience was seated so it was a very different show and we filmed that as well. And then possibly the London show which we’re filming tonight so there’s going to be a lot of material.
You’ll be playing Hellfest soon, sharing the Terrorizor stage with bands like Ghost and Kylesa…
And Kyuss and Knut which are some of my favourite bands!
Is this a big thing to be playing with bands that you are fans of?
Well this festival is amazing, it always has the best line-up for the last four or five years. I think the day that we’re playing and the stage that we’re playing has some of the most interesting bands. Hawkwind are playing, Kyuss lives are headlining and I want to watch every single band and it’s great to be a part of that. It’s definitely exciting.
The Ocean has been quite prolific with releasing albums since Fluxion in 2004, releasing something every two or three years. Can we expect a new record in the next two years or so?
In the next two years probably, not this year, that’s for sure! We’ve just done two albums last year and I think we deserve a studio break this year! We’re going to start writing in the summer probably and get ready to enter the studio probably sometime early next year. Springtime something like that. But nothing at all has been planned yet, there’s no material written. I can’t write while being on tour, I have to take some time off and find a place where I can find some peace and tranquillity. I’ll just take my guitar and my pro-tools with me and record some stuff. I can’t do that while I’m travelling. But we haven’t really written much new material so I can’t really tell you anything, but this year we’re going to focus on promoting the next two albums so we’re going to be on the road quite a lot. Going back to the US before the end of the year and probably doing another big European tour in the fall as well. This years going to be a live year, 2009 was a studio year as we did only one tour in the spring. The rest of that year we spent recording. So along with last year this is going to be a heavy touring year.
Do you guys still record as the collective or do you record now as the live band?
We’ll record as the Collective, but the Collective is not what it used to be. Right now the Collective is some people playing with us now whenever it fits and for special shows, like the museum show for example or the record release show. And on the albums, I’m still interested in working with all these classical instrumentalists; it adds a layer to our music that I couldn’t conceive. And that’s going to happen in the future again, we’re going to have strings, we’re going to have a brass section playing with us. So in the studio we’re definitely going to record with these people but it’s completely different players now. The players on Anthropocentric are different players than on Heliocentric. We have two people now who are sort of semi-fixed additional members; it’s a piano player with a beautiful name Irakli Mamrikishvili he’s from Georgia. He played the museum show with us and he’s also going to play Summer-Breeze with us and possibly Hellfest. And a Cello player called Dalai Theofilopoulou, an equally beautiful name from Greece. And those people are awesome because they’re not just classical musicians who are doing it for the experience, where you have to mute the screaming vocals that scare them away! They’re actually metal people, they’re classically trained but they listen to metal! It’s really cool to be on stage with them because we’re really used to playing to a click which a lot of these classical musicians are not because their tempos are being interpritated very loosely usually in classical music. It’s very different than in rock music where you have to know the dictation of the click or whatever! So we wanted to find the right people and those two are definitely the right kind of people and that’s why we’re going to be playing with them in the future. Not on usual club tours but on big festivals and one of special shows we’ll play with those people for sure.
Awesome. When will you be playing any UK festivals?
That’s a good question! Maybe Andy knows something about that?
(Metal Blade rep sitting with us!)
I don’t know. I heard that the promoter there tonight is promoting Sonisphere! He needs to check us out; I need to tell him that and to book us! We haven’t had that much luck with UK festivals so far but we’re still building here. We’ve done two really good tours with Opeth and then Dillinger Escape Plan. This is the third tour, we’re still supporting but a bit of a better slot now with almost a full production. We’ll see how it goes tonight; I think this tour was really good for us. Hopefully some festival promoters will start realising that they need to book us now! We’re doing most of the bigger European festivals but we’ve never done Download or Sonisphere. We’ve done Damnation festival last year, which is a really cool underground festival here that was awesome. But we’re yet to do the bigger ones! Hopefully it’s going to happen soon!
Are you guys coming back to the UK soon?
Possibly, but nothing is planned yet. It depends on what type of touring offers we get. We’re headlining now in Mainland Europe. The UK leg of this tour is not a headlining tour. But we’re not planning to come back and headline anytime soon as we’re going to do another good support tour before we come back to headline. But when that’s going to happen I don’t really know yet. Probably in the fall we’ll be back here, one way or another but it’s too early to say now!
Ok, well thank you very much, it’s been great to speak to you!
Definitely check out The Ocean’s music