“We wanted to take a step into the unknown…” – hmv.com talks to We Are The Ocean
Last time We Are The Ocean were sat down talking about a new album, they were explaining why they’d taken the difficult decision to part ways with their singer and were going on as a four-piece. This time round it’s once again the four of them, but they’ve undergone a very different kind of transformation. Once considered contemporaries with pop punk and emo types like You Me At Six, Young Guns and Kids In Glass Houses, the band’s new album ARK is a major shift, embracing the power of Led Zeppelin, the mystical magic of Black Sabbath and the swagger of The Black Keys.
We sat down with the band to talk about embracing the power of the giants of the 70s..
How long have you had the record ready for?
Liam (Cromby, vocals): “Maybe nine or 10 months. We really took our time with this one.”
Alfie (Scully, bass guitar): “We deliberated a bit more, I think the tracklisting must have changed at least three times.”
Did the album take a while to make?
Jack (Spence, guitars): “I took two years from beginning to end, certainly the longest we’ve ever taken to write and record anything.”
Alfie: “I think we had about 30 songs in the idea. It took a while to get them all from ideas into fully formed songs and then again to choose which ones we wanted to push on with.”
You’ve always been fairly prolific with new material, you’ve lost a singer and kept up the pace, what was different this time?
Jack: “I think it was more a case of ‘This time, when it’s done, it’s done’, we didn’t want to put anything too rigid in place, we didn’t need to rush, we worked until we felt comfortable.”
Liam: “We enjoyed working without a deadline. It gave us time to go down different paths and explore new influences. Normally we’re a one album a year band, or at least one every 18 months, but this time it just felt like there was no need to rush it.”
The album seems like it’s been influenced by the giants of 70s rock, when did bands like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath become such big influences on you?
Liam: “It was the whole vibe of a lot of those records, capturing moments, making things sound as live and as free as they could, we didn’t work within boundaries anymore, we wanted to try and be as free as we could. Nothing was a bad idea.”
Alfie: “We’ve got into those albums more and more as we’ve got older. I appreciate the classics in a whole new way.”
Jack: “We had more time to explore those roots and we wanted to take a step into the unknown. We’d never really had time to use influences like this and try them out and see if they worked. We looked to bands who just wrote music for themselves, not for anyone or for any genre.”
Were there any particular records you looked to in particular?
Liam: “Led Zeppelin I, II, III. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, James Taylor.”
Alfie: “Plenty of Radiohead too.”
Liam: “We’d listen to stuff like The Black Keys too, music that owes a lot to that time.”
How did things affect things lyrically? Zeppelin in particular have a taste for the fantastical…
Liam: “Our lyrics in the past have been quite self-confessional. I didn’t this album to be so heart on the sleeve, I wanted to come up with some mad concepts.”
Jack: “The music a lot more varied, so we wanted the lyrics to reflect that. A lot of these songs are completely different to what we’ve done before. We’ve put so much time into every song.”
Alfie: “I think it’ll always be personal, everything we do will. But I think you can read more into the lyrics this time, they’re more open to interpretation.”
Does this album open you up to new markets? You started life touring with emo and hardcore bands, would you like to go out with bands like The Black Keys?
Jack: “We always want to make sure we keep things diverse and have as many options as we can when it comes to touring. We still want to keep in touch with our roots and we’ll never leave that world behind.”
You’ve just signed to a major label too right?
Liam: “Yeah, just before Christmas, it’s a strange and exciting thing. We weren’t looking to leave Hassle, but the offer got put on the table and it was a very nice surprise.”
Jack: “They signed off us the back of hearing the album, which was a real boost, and it’s great to have a new team with fresh ideas behind us. We’ve heard plenty of major labels horror stories, but we know what we’re walking into and it’ll be nice to have more marketing muscle behind us.”
How much touring do you have lined up?
Liam: “Hopefully as much as possible. We’re really enjoying playing the new stuff out and we want to take it everywhere.”
Jack: “Touring’s the best way for us to get our name out. We can’t wait for festival season and we’re going to be busy, which is how we like it…”
We Are The Ocean’s new album ARK is released on Monday (May 11th) and can be pre-ordered in store now.
The band will sign copies of the album and perform live at hmv Harlow on Monday. Click here for more details.