After a year shrouded in controversy and cancelled shows The Smith Street Band have decided …
Songs had been written and the new German four piece metal collective Oceans had already begun to develop its own style.
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There was one minor problem: they still didn’t have a name. Armed with a list of possibilities, the group decided to solve its dilemma in a most black metal way. They got drunk.
Vocalist Timo Rotten gleefully takes up the story: “We were starting this band, we had a couple of songs we were working on, and of course we started thinking about names. In the end, we just had a list of maybe 50 something names that everyone came up with and then … I would say it’s a funny story, but I don’t remember much!”
He laughs robustly, before going on. “We had this night out, the four of us, and—I forgot the system—but we came out with a system to rule out name after name to come up with one, and it involved a lot of drinking, which is why I don’t remember how we did it. So basically, we invented a drinking game to decide on a name.”
We were looking for something new. And starting this whole new band, that was fresh, with all the experience we had from ten years of being in other bands, that was really helpful because we just had fun with the creative freedom.
[ Timo Rotten ]
As a result of their over-indulgence, their band became known as Oceans. It’s a moniker that has presented a few small problems of its own. Rotten admits with a laugh that they have already been confused with countrymen The Ocean quite often, as well as with Finnish cyber-metalloids …And Oceans, who recently re-activated with Mathias Lillmåns of Finntroll out front. That was no barrier to some however. With the members combined histories in Sintech and Varg, Nuclear Blast was interested almost immediately.
“I don’t know what happened myself actually, it moved so fast,” Rotten says. “We got the deal with Nuclear Blast even before playing one single show, ever. It was just crazy, man. I don’t really know what to say about it. We put a lot of work into it, and that helps of course, but still, we’re just lucky and thankful for anything.”
Oceans released two EPs in 2019, Into the Void and Cover Me in Darkness, the second of which saw them covering Alice in Chains, Radiohead and Deftones. All very different choices for a band with a background in death and black metal, but Rotten says that was exactly the point.
“We’ve all played in bands before. Those bands were all stuck in the bubble of their genres. Often we’d try to escape those already established labels, and it never worked. That’s why we started this new band in the first place, because we were unhappy with what we were doing. We were looking for something new. And starting this whole new band, that was fresh, with all the experience we had from ten years of being in other bands, that was really helpful because we just had fun with the creative freedom. We did whatever we wanted, because no one was expecting anything, we just did anything and everything. After that, we tried to blend it together and it kind of worked.”
Oceans’ debut album The Sun and the Cold features an expansive palette that combines death metal blastbeats and cold post-metal atmosphere with a subtle nu-metal aesthetic, a twist that takes their music in something of an original direction. Rotten admits that the nu-metal aspect came from him.
“All four of us in the band, we all like very different styles of music, and that’s where this mixture comes from, I would say. We have death metal, we have post-metal and we have nu-metal – those are the three main genres we put into the blender. I’m the nu-metal guy in the band. I love those late 90s, early 2000s bands.” He laughs. “I keep telling everyone that it’s true! Those bands from the 90s, what I loved about those bands then, and what I like about them now, is that it’s not at all about being technical or making complicated song structures or anything, it’s all about this raw emotion. That’s basically what I want to do.”
The feedback on The Sun and the Cold has so far reflected on the band’s unusual music blend. Without the time to look back on the album himself just yet, Timo Rotten is glad and perhaps a little surprised that others have remarked on the original take they have brought to the genre.
“We didn’t know ourselves. We thought we had a mixture going on here, but we didn’t think we had made something so original, to be honest. I’ve been doing a lot of interviews now, that they think the mixture of the genres is very original. I’m a little impressed! Because I didn’t know. It didn’t expect that. We just made an album and had fun with it. We didn’t aim to do any of that, obviously, so we’re happy that it happened.”