Written by Jordan Sibberas
The past few years have seen THE OCEAN touring the globe relentlessly with the likes of Opeth, Mastodon, Devin Townsend Project, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Between The Buried And Me, and many more.
Their unforgettable live show has taken them to the furthest regions of the planet, from Siberia, Russia, USA, Hong Kong, Mexico, China, India, and everywhere in between.
Their current album Pelagial is a progressive and ambitious musical odyssey, written, recorded, mixed and to-be-performed-live as one single 53-minute piece of music, mixed and mastered by
Jens Bogren (Opeth, Katatonia, Orphaned Land) at Fascination Street Studios in rebr , Sweden.
Pelagial is a concept record that takes the listener on a journey that begins at the surface of the ocean and plunging through all five pelagic depth zones: epipelagic, mesopelagic, bathyalpelagic, abyssopelagic, and hadopelagic.
Unlike a detached conceptual idea, this can actually be heard and felt while listening to Pelagial.
Hi Robin, how are you today?
Tired. Been running around all day trying to take care of a whole bunch of shit before I leave.
Right now, you guys are gearing up for a string of shows with Ne Obliviscaris, are they a band you’re excited to tour with?
I’m definitely excited for these shows, feedback on the package has been really great so far… not just in Australia but also in the US, where we just toured, everyone was saying “you gotta bring that package over to the States”… so yes, we’re stoked!
For someone who’s new to your music and seeing you for the first time on this tour, could you tell us a bit about what to expect when you take to the stage?
Imagine you’re diving on the Reef… you’re at about 20-30 meters, abundant marine life all around you, lots of beautiful coral fish in amazing colors… there’s moray eels hiding under the rocks but they are not really dangerous, you’re looking at Parrot fish and Clown Fish and Sea Fans swaying back and forth in the current… all of a Sudden, you’re running out of breath. Your regulator fails. You don’t have a spare. You always bring a spare, but not today. You look up and see a huge water column above you. You panic. And while you desperately ascend in a rush, the CO2 in your blood expands, explodes… the sparkling water effect. You get terribly sick from the CO2-intoxication and you panic even more as you realize that you won’t reach the surface in time. And in the midst of all this, a big fucking shark is closing in…
that’s kind of what we sound like.
Last time you came over here was recently as a headliner, do you approach coming back differently in a supporting role?
We’re going to do a different set list compared to last time, though there will still be some Pelagial material in it which we have already played in Australia before. We have a cello player with us on this tour, and we won’t have the video projections, as we are not playing “Pelagial” in full on this run, as we did on the last headline tour.
Where did the inspiration to draw on the ocean as a “sonic landscape” come from?
It’s just something that happened and evolved. In the very early stages of the band our music was a lot more chaotic with as many weird time signatures as possible and basically just really fucking annoying… I wanted to challenge and annoy people back then. But my personal taste evolved and in different stages of your life you eventually seek and find different challenges. Creating a certain vibe and atmosphere and writing music with a strong emotional impact became more important for me over the years. I guess that is also part of growing up from being a punk / hardcore kid.
A prominent lyrical theme in your music has been religion, do you find in today’s day and age that you ever face opposition or criticism for daring to question religious beliefs?
I was expecting much more of this while touring in diehard conservative countries like the United States, but it seems that most of our fans agree more or less with what we have to say about that topic, so there hasn’t really been much confrontation. In most of central and Western Europe, the role of the church has been relegated to the role of a social welfare institution mainly… I don’t know anyone that actively believes or goes to church. In Poland, in Spain or in the US, that’s a different picture and it always blows my mind when we’re stopping at a gas station in the middle of the bumfuck bible belt and they sell bumper stickers with icons and silly jesusboy-fan-slogans. When you grow up in Germany or in California, It’s hard to understand that there are actually people who out there who actually believe all this shit, that the dinosaurs never existed and that earth is 5000 years old… much like it’s hard to believe that there are people out there who voted for Donald Trump. But they do exist, and they are not even an irrelevant minority… that blows my mind.
Will you get any time between shows here to check out Australia, and if so what do you plan to do or see?
This tour unfortunately is just a scenario of go-in, play, get-out, as we just got back from South America and had some holiday time there, and everyone is on a tight schedule towards the end of this year. But I have already had my time in Australia to see places… I have been backpacking down the East Coast from Cairns to Brisbane a few years ago…and after our 2012 tour, I bought a van in Perth and drove up all the way to Darwin, up the coast to Coral bay and then across the Kimberley… it was one of the most lonesome but most intense and beautiful times of my life, I love this continent and I hope that next time I will have more time to spend here again.
Is there any new music in the works for The Ocean?
Yes. There is a new album coming towards the end of next year which is about 80% written. We’re gonna start working on it when we get back from this tour. We’ve been touring so much since the release of Pelagial that this year, everyone really wanted to take some time off to do other stuff, and it was good that we did. But now we’re getting back into the mode of making another record. I wanted to wait until I’m really starving to do this, and now I’m getting there.
Facebook message from The Ocean
It’s been a killer Australian tour! After close to 300 shows around the globe, last night’s show at the Capitol in Perth marks the end of the ‘Pelagial’ touring cycle… and also the end of the Damian Murdoch chapter. Damo will move on to other shores now, and so will we… we’re stoked to continue working on our 7th album right after we get back from this tour, and we’ve got some other exciting stuff coming up as well… stay tuned