2016 has been kind to Texan progressive metal outfit OCEANS OF SLUMBER. Their debut record, Winter, which was released earlier this year was met with critical acclaim across the global metal scene and their reputation performing live is going from strength to strength. Before a performance supporting NE OBLIVISCARIS in Manchester (read our review here) we caught up with drummer Dobber and vocalist Cammie Gilbert to talk about the reception to Winter, opening up the boundaries of sub-genres and the band’s approach to performing live.
So you are a couple of dates into the tour with NE OBLIVISCARIS. How has it been for you guys so far?
Dobber: Phenomenal! It’s been really good, even the middle of the week shows haven’t really been impinging much on turnouts, so that’s pretty good! I think that we have done well enough in the UK, between both bands, it’s kind of like supporting for two smaller on the rise bands and actually we’re really surprised. It’s been really good.
So in terms of the setlist for the tours, how much of it is from your latest record?
Dobber: It’s all Winter material and the only things that are bonuses is that we have a handful of cover songs that we rotate. Nights In White Satin is on Winter, Solitude is on our Blue record, and then we’ve also been, because it’s October, we are doing a TYPE O NEGATIVE cover now. Wolf Moon.
When Winter was released it received an outstanding reception. Have you guys been blown away by how well it has been received?
Dobber: Yeah, I mean of course. We like the record so when we finished the record we were like yeah this is fucking awesome, but that doesn’t really have any bearings on today’s music industry, it doesn’t really hold the same weight you know. Now that everybody is allowed to make and create music and art. Somebody who makes a record or creates a record and they say to themselves this is amazing but people don’t get it, there’s no delusions of grandeur there, we’re happy with it. Our ears are old enough and tuned enough that we thought that the people who gravitate towards the type of music we play, we assumed they would like it and the reception has been greater than we could have expected.
OCEANS OF SLUMBER first formed in 2011 and in five years in you have exploded in popularity. Have you felt any pressure with that, when it comes to running tours and releasing records?
Dobber: Tours yes, records no. Tours aren’t an issue other than kind of getting in the way of life. Some of us are family people, some of us are dads and it kind of takes its toll and ruins lives and relationships and everything. So when you choose this path you choose heartbreak in some form of windfall. The longevity of this kind of lifestyle is never going to be of money or fame to a larger degree. So we have had plenty of stress for that because the only way you can survive as a band is to tour and we have to tour a lot, Europe is our market. If you are familiar with our record at all it is not something that really just resonates for a US metal fan, there’s no careless barbarity or aggressiveness there, everything has been purpose built. And if you don’t do that, you don’t have angsty music, then the majority of the younger market in the US is that. It’s angsty and a pointless violence they need and that doesn’t really cater to a thinking person’s music, and that is what we are into so it is like we shot ourselves in the foot haha!
I really think that with your music, it is quite expansive, and it is quite difficult to pigeon-hole OCEANS OF SLUMBER into one style of heavy music. How would you describe OCEANS OF SLUMBER to someone who has never listened to you?
Cammie: It’s progressive music first, obviously everyone has really intricate backgrounds in other metal genres, other music genres too.
Dobber: I’d say as a whole we have the core value of what we do is that everybody is on the same page, the same shit we all grew up listening to for the band itself. And then, Cammie‘s outreach, her outline influences of what she is into is what made us click and it was the fact she had liked the heavier alternative grunge era like SOUNDGARDEN and ALICE IN CHAINS. Where we grew up with from far back CELTIC FROST and RAINBOW into SLAYER, METALLICA, SEPULTURA, PANTERA thing. Every single one of us has a kinship to TYPE O NEGATIVE and ACID BATH and things like that so it’s the Southern swing, we are from the South and we are legitimately southern. We were doing an interview earlier and it was a thing saying that everybody tries to emulate soulfulness and doing all that, and it is like why not get the real thing? I don’t understand why the boundaries are there for people, I don’t understand why more black musicians aren’t involved in this type of music because if you think about it, if you think about songs like Nights In White Satin or On The Turning Away by PINK FLOYD, it’s essentially a doom metal song. It’s a doom metal song that is soulful and how do those genres not cross-pollinate? Why doesn’t the southern blues or jazz blues hasn’t inter-played into metal. And that is what we do. We’ve been involved with the most extreme grindcore bands, Satanic death and black metal bands and doom but we also love PINK FLOYD. We love TYPE O NEGATIVE and bands like that. For us it is brushes, we have a lot of colours and different size brushes and that makes music creation easier for us.
And do you think by having that attitude of just loving all different styles, it opens OCEANS OF SLUMBER up to people across a variety of styles and genres?
Dobber: It should, how far that goes who knows? But none of the stuff is purpose built, we don’t write a song and say that would cross over to any certain audience. We tell a story and thankfully that is accepted enough now that we have a network of people that push the story for us. If that dries up then so be it but if it doesn’t that would be amazing. Everything we do or create, every record is going to be like our last and our next record we are going to throw the kitchen sink at it. If it fucking flops and we have to go away then we did what we are supposed to do.
And really my last question for you both, is that this tour for the UK ends at Damnation Festival, the one day event in Leeds. That bill is very much a mish-mash of everything under the metal umbrella. What can fans expect from your performance at Damnation?
Dobber: I mean the easiest thing for us that I would tell anybody is that when we play there is an emotional outpouring. It’s a real band, there’s no modernisms to what we do, there’s no click tracks or backing tracks. As a band we are against the idea of that because we like the challenge of re-creating things. So we have synthesizers and all kind of shit on our record so what we do is we re-create it through guitars and bass. So if a person comes out to hear our record played perfectly, the way they heard it on the album, what they are going to get is what an older-school band would do which is a live performance. So it’s an evolution, every time we play it’s a different fucking song. Like the songs are breathing constantly, so we recorded the song in the first place, that was just a picture in time. Now when you see us, it’s like how do we feel tonight, how was your day today?
Cammie: Like each show and each crowd is unique so it’s a different connection made every time.
Well thank you for speaking to Distorted Sound and good luck for the rest of the tour!
Dobber & Cammie: Thank you!
Winter is out now via Century Media Records.
OCEANS OF SLUMBER perform at Damnation Festival on November 5th. Tickets are available here.
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