THE OCEAN Mainman Interviewed By LA MUSIC BLOG

Shannon Joy of the LA Music Blog recently conducted an interview with THE OCEAN guitarist Robin Staps. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

LA Music Blog: This has been an insanely busy year for the band. You released two incredible albums, both inspired by philosophies somewhat challenging Creationism. So how did the idea to base both works on this concept originally come about?

Robin: That's been a very long time, actually. I was first exposed to diehard Creationists when I was about 16 years old and living in the US for about a year doing a high school student exchange. My hostess was one of these guys. She tried to convince me that the dinosaurs never existed and earth was 5,000 years-old and all these things, and I was just struck at that time how someone so young and otherwise really smart was so obsessed with ideas that were obviously not her own. We'd have discussions on a daily basis, and it was the first time that I was really exposed to the subject matter. It was like more than ten years ago. I got back to Europe and studied philosophy for a very long time, and I've always been thinking about these questions. The idea to make an album about that was something I've had in the back of my head for a very long time. And after we finished Precambrian in 2007, I had already kind of decided that this was going to be the next project for me. When we started writing material for "Heliocentric" and "Anthropocentric" in 2008, I basically started with a pretty clear idea in mind of what I wanted to do from a lyrical point of view.

LA Music Blog: When the songwriting process first began, was it your intention to put out so much material, or did you just come up with more than you had expected as the process progressed?

Robin: It wasn't the intention from the very beginning, but it became pretty clear very soon that we needed to do two albums again. I wrote most of the "Heliocentric" material in one rather short writing session in the summer of 2008. At the same time, Jona, our other guitarist, also wrote some songs that didn't really go together so well with what I had written, but still were THE OCEAN and I really liked the songs too. So I thought we could just make two albums and make them different again. Now looking back at it, the difference really isn't so audible, I think. Lots of people say that they can't even tell which are the songs that I wrote and which are the songs that he wrote, so that turned out to be not so important in the end. But we also had so much material accumulated that it would have been too much to push into one album. We asked ourselves whether we should release them simultaneously or with some time in between the albums, and we decided to go for the latter. We had already done the first option with "Precambrian"; that was a double-album, and we released both halves together. I feel that in this day and age, people's attention spans are actually very short, and you're not doing your own material justice when you unleash too much at once because people can only absorb so much. We had the experience with "Precambrian" that people only listened to the first five or six tracks, and we didn't want that to happen again. We decided to make two albums, but to release them with some time in between to make it possible for people to digest the first album first, and then go to the second one with a fresh energy, so to speak. And also, of course, the whole thematic realm is so large that it would have been impossible to tackle everything within even two albums, I have to say. We essentially had to make a selection and choose which topics we wanted to address and what we wanted the lyrics to focus on. Making this selection also meant choosing not to talk about things that were also important, but we could only do so much within the constraints of twenty songs and would not have wanted to do it within the constraints of ten songs, so all this together made it clear very early that it was going to be two albums again.

LA Music Blog: Tell me about your other project, EARTHSHIP, and if we can expect a U.S. release anytime soon.

Robin: Oh, that's probably going to be awhile. We just played our first show ever two weeks ago here in Berlin supporting TORCHE. That was a really fun show. EARTHSHIP is a band that came to light this year. It's my roommate, who I've been playing in bands with for ten or twelve years. I've always liked the stuff he writes himself, and he has a studio here in Berlin where we also recorded lots of THE OCEAN stuff. He just asked me if I wanted to join his band sometime this summer, and I was like, "Fuck yeah, I really like your songs." So I decided to join, and we just had the first show. I actually rehearsed the songs with him for about four days before the show because I was still on tour with THE OCEAN supporting ANATHEMA just before, and we only had about four days to rehearse. So it was a bit of a rush, but it was a cool show. I would say it's completely different than THE OCEAN, but lots of people say they hear a bit of THE OCEAN in that band as well, which cannot be true because I didn't write any of the songs, it's all my roommate — I'm just playing guitar in the band. It's heavy stoner sludge stuff in the vein of ZOZOBRA, or maybe a heavier version of BARONESS, with lots of CROWBAR thrown in. And it's really a rock band with no sampler, no sequencer, no drummer playing to a click — all these things that we do with THE OCEAN. It's a band that you can just get drunk and roll on stage and still play. (Laughs)

LA Music Blog: In terms of touring, how is 2011 beginning to shape up?

Robin: We're going to take a short break now. We were just out for almost three months with THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN here in Europe and then with ANATHEMA — very, very different tours that were both equally great and just because they were different, they were really interesting for us. But now we just got home like a week ago, and we're going to take a short break now just until February or March and then we'll do a couple of fly-ins. And then I think that the first tour next year is going to take us to the U.S. I'm not allowed to officially announce it, but it's confirmed. We're going to be in the U.S. between mid-April and mid-May for a month supporting another excellent band that I'm really looking forward to. I'm very much looking forward to seeing them live. After that, we're going to be touring the U.K. with a band called EARTHTONE 9 that I've also been a fan of for many years, which is going to be very cool. And then we're going to do a short headlining tour at the beginning of June, and then it's festival season. So we'll be out a lot, there will be a lot of tours, and yeah, we're coming back to the U.S. for sure in April and May!

Read the entire interview from the LA Music Blog.

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