Interview: Oceansize

Steve Durose joined Oceansize under difficult circumstances. The previous bass player had to leave the band because of family commitments. “Bringing up a child when touring at the level we do is impossible,” Steve remarks. He recalls his consequent audition with some modesty: “I think I played three songs but I’m sure I played everything terribly! Fortunately the other bass players were really good but didn’t fit in with the other guys.”

Since musical layering is the bedrock of Oceansize’s sound, the fact that Steve played more than one instrument proved crucial. “It certainly makes you more considerate to what others are playing.” And the other reason why he was chosen? “I was willing to not really get paid much for a while! You’ve got to be in a band for the right reasons. You shouldn’t be in a band to make a living at first.”

The band is currently touring extensively in support of their latest album, Self-Preserved While the Bodies Float Up. Was such a gruelling schedule a challenge for them? “This tour’s not really that much longer than any we’ve done before, perhaps two leeks longer. To be honest the only challenge is the smell of the tour bus! The tour itself is easy. In fact I’d prefer to play a gig every night, since we’re losing money when we have a night off.”

Despite embarking on so many long tours, the band rarely play at festivals. “We have nothing against playing at festivals. I don’t think it’s that festivals are afraid to book us. The problem is usually timing – a lot of festivals only book bands if you’ve got something to promote or if you’re a new band, which is fair enough I guess, that’s how festivals work. To play Reading and Leeds would be good. The rest of the band wants to play Glastonbury, but I hate the place – I went the year after I finished school and it was horrible.”

Oceansize are hardly the most media-friendly band in the world, but the latest record has sparked an upturn in coverage. “I try not to read all the press, though the reviews I have seen have been positive – we managed to get reviews by The Sun and the BBC, which was a bit odd. Obviously someone’s been paying a bit more money.”

The band has an eclectic catalogue of music to say the least, but the latest record is more focused and has a heavier overall sound. “The only real intention was to be more direct and less ‘jammy’. This time we all brought virtually finished music into the studio and then just put words over everything. In the past we’d write riffs and then play it over and over for weeks until we’d got something together.”

The ‘jammy’ nature of some of Oceansize’s music has often drawn comparisons with other so-called ‘prog revival’ bands (The Mars Volta, Radiohead, Muse). Steve isn’t so sure these are true. “I don’t really know actually because I don’t really listen to any of those bands! I listened to the first Mars Volta album and didn’t really get it – it sounded like Santana to me, but sped up!”

So what does he listen to? “I’m more into bands like No Age at the moment, I’m not really into the overly proggy music. It sounds quite odd, since we are often regarded as a prog band. I’m very into 1980s American hardcore, Black Flag especially. That’s why Oceansize is quite weird – everyone tries to force his own style and influences into our music.”

So what about the future of Oceansize? “It’s hard to have long-term plans right now. We’ll just carry on doing what we’re doing, because that’s all we’ve ever done. We’ll record an album, tour it, and just give it a go. Hopefully we’ll see the venues get a bit bigger in certain cities. For example last night at the Koko in London it was pretty full. It was quite a shock, quite daunting. But in Aberdeen, we were pretty much playing in a pub. It can vary so much from place to place.” Wherever they play, it’s safe to say that each and every gig-goer will go home utterly satisfied.