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THE OCEAN (English version)

THE OCEAN (Robin Staps)
(η συνέντευξη αυτή έχει δημοσιευθεί και στα ελληνικά ΕΔΩ)

Greetings from Greece! It’s been 5 years since your previous release “Pelagial”. Why did it take you so long to release new music?
Well, we played close to 300 shows with “Pelagial”, so we've been quite busy.... and by the end of 2016 we all felt like we wanted to take a little break and focus on other things for a while, which was necessary for all our individual and collective well-being.

Do you think that for a musician “taking his time”, is essential for him in order to create high quality music?
Yes, for sure! Being in a band and touring, is something we all love to death and we didn’t want it to become a routine. Sometimes you just need to take a step back and ask yourself if you still want to keep doing this, why and how much. We all needed to confront ourselves with that question, we did, and by the end of a very idle year 2017, we all came to the same conclusion: that YES, we do want to keep doing this and that it’s about time for a new record. So there was a really good vibe between all of us when we started rehearsing before the recording session in early 2018, we were starving to play music again.



Your music is versatile and satisfies listeners of different subgenres of metal music. Do you think this diversity has helped you stand out as a band and made people get easily attached to your music?
I usually leave this kind of question for journalists to answer. As individuals, we are all coming from different musical backgrounds, but can also agree on a lot of things obviously. But yes, the diversity of musical taste is definitely quite wide within the band and I think that shows in our music also. There are elements of all different kinds of styles of music in what we do, not just rock or metal but also other influences that are maybe less obvious, coming from film, from soundtrack and ambient music and even from “dark” jazz and experimental electronic music.

Your latest record “Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic” received great reviews. Was it something you expected?
We're surprised by how positive, people react to some of the newer songs, even only a few weeks after the album was out, people who came out to the shows of our recent European tour seemed to know the new tracks very well. I think the new album “reconciles” the old, The Ocean of “Precambrian” times, with the newer, The Ocean with Loic Rossetti on vocals (since 2010). The album has a similar vibe as “Precambrian”, but at the same time it features Loic' s vocals. I think it is the album that is closer than any other to representing how I always wanted this band to sound.



Which one of the recordings that you have released so far is your most favourite and why?
The latest record is closer than any others to how I always wanted this band to sound, and that makes me quite happy. But all albums mean a lot to me, they are all testimonies of a certain time in my life and the person I was at that time. There is no album I would regret, or like to erase from our catalogue. They all belong where they belong.

So, is it just “The Ocean” or “The Ocean Collective”? Which one do you prefer?
It is both, and has always been both. The band has a fix lineup now, and it's the best lineup this band has ever had. This is what you see on stage, but then there are also a lot of people off stage that work for us and are equally important. Like Martin Kvamme, who designed all of our album artworks ever, since Fluxion & Aeolian. Or Craig Murray, who did the “Pelagial” movie and the Cambrian video clip (and another one coming up soon). Or Dalai, who recorded cello for us since 2010 and played with us on many tours, but not all of them. These people are part of the great whole that is The Ocean Collective, and in order to honor them, we decided to put the “Collective” on the album title this time around.



Do you think that you have managed to have the desirable evolution in The Ocean’s sound after 19 years?
Yes.

I would also like to talk with you about your recording label “Pelagic Records”. You have released many records on this label throughout the years. How do you get around with the band and managing “Pelagic Records” at the same time?
We've been very active with “Pelagic” in the past 2 years, the label has grown a lot and we now have a catalogue of 128 releases. So this is taking up more and more time, and the reason why we could be so active in the last 2 years is because there was less activity with The Ocean. We took some time off after the “Pelagial” touring cycle, and that made space for “Pelagic”. I have to balance it. “Pelagic Records” wouldn't exist without The Ocean, but the label is becoming more important and more time-consuming. I run it with Paul, who is also the drummer in The Ocean. Luckily, we can work remote, from our laptops, so we can still keep up with things when we're on tour. Steve and Dennis at home, take care of the logistics while Paul and I are on tour.



“Phanerozoic” is a double concept album. Or maybe a triple? Tell me more about it.
The Phanerozoic eon is subdivided into 3 eras: Palaeozoic (title of part 1), the Mesozoic (title of part 2) and Cenozoic (title of part 3). These eras are further subdivided into periods (song titles), 6 in the Palaeozoic and 3 each in the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras. So altogether, it is 3 parts and a total of 12 songs (reflecting the periods). Part 2 and 3 – Mesozoic and Cenozoic – will be released together in 2020, but it will be 2 separate vinyl.

When is the second part coming out?
Some time in 2020. Drums and guitars are already recorded, we just have to track bass and vocals. But it won't be easy to find the time slot to do that this year, as we will be touring a lot on the first part.



Tell me about the process of the composition of “Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic”. Υou've done an awesome job, with the orchestration, once again, too.
I wrote most of Phanerozoic by myself in Spain in a house by the sea, where I wrote everything since the -centrics. What was different this time was that we actually rehearsed before recording the record. We rehearsed for a month straight, every day, and really tested the songs in the room, and fine-tuned details, so that by the time we entered the studio in January, everything was 100% clear and ready to go, and I think you can feel that, when you listen to the record. It feels less constructed and more immediate somehow. “Pelagial” was a studio album. We never played that record as a band, before we recorded it. We only started rehearsing for the tours after the recording session was done.

Can you remember your first concert in Greece?
Of course, it was at Gagarin 205, a year or so before we played there again supporting At The Gates.



Will you come back to Greece to give a concert as a part of “Phanerozoic” tour?
Yes of course, we are working on that. Hopefully still this year.

If you could dedicate one of your songs to your Greek fans, which one would that be? 
Well, we have an entire album title making reference to Greek culture, and mythology, an album titled “Aeolian” ;-). So obviously, it would have to be a track of that album. My first thought was “Inertia” and first thoughts are usually never wrong, so let's do this. It's an old track that we haven't played in a long time, but that I would really like to play live again at one point.



Thank you so much, it was a pleasure talking to you!
Thank you!

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