The Ocean interview (12/2008)
|With:||Mike Pilat (vocals)|
|Conducted by:||Darkside Momo (in person)|
This interview was not really planned. I mean, I wanted to do it, but I had no contact with the band so I had to pester Etienne, the Havana Café metal guy, to be able to do the interview. Take in account, next, that when I was finally able to get hold on Mike Pilat, I was really hungry (and the show was due to begin less than half an hour later), so you can understand that it is a bit short...
Darkside Momo: This is the first interview we do with The Ocean, so can you describe shortly the history of the band?
Mike Pilat: OK. Well, The Ocean has been some kind of a collective rather than a band until now, so there have been many, many members involved; it's not a traditional band where you have just five people you can rely on. I mean, for example on the last record [Precambrian] there were 26 musicians. So it's just a project that has evolved from 2001 until the present day, really.
OK! About the tour with Cynic and Opeth, how is it going right now?
Oh, it's amazing! I mean, Opeth's pretty much my favourite band anyway, I have a massive tattoo of them on my back, that's a kind of proof. And Cynic is a legendary band, I couldn't be more happy with the way things are going. I think it's great.
The audience has been great, so far?
Yeah, a few of the shows have been sold out, and we've been playing in packed up venues like Leeds (1700 people), so it's possibly the biggest crowd we've ever played to, so far.
Except for festivals, of course!
Oh yeah, yeah, sure.
Did you play at Hellfest this year? You, personally, I mean.
Yeah, we opened up... I think it was on Saturday, we were the opening band in the morning...
Er... Sunday I think... Well, how was it?
I was drunk! It was great, it was really cool, there were a lot of people there, considering we were the first band to play on this stage; it was incredible, the crowd received us very well. It was cool, it was a good time. [N.B.: well, in fact, they played Sunday at 6 P.Mů. ;-) ]
Cool! Now, about the last album, Precambrian, you said there where 26 people playing. Why this idea of a collective, and why so many guests? Because I suppose you were numerous enough to do anything you would want to?
[laughs] True, true! Well, the idea behind the collective came... It was Robin's idea. He's the founding member, really, and basically, I mean, not everybody can tour continuously throughout the year... So it was an idea to have: 'Ok, a few guitarists can do these weeks or months and these guys can take over here...' It was just an idea about working out the progress of the band, really, 'cause he couldn't find anybody to commit. Right now we've had this line-up pretty solid for this year, so it's a pretty solid foundation right now.
However, about all the musicians on the record... We had some of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra come to play some parts and, you know, none of us are classicaly trained to play violins, cellos, this kind of things... So we had these people involved. And I guess there are a lot of numbers in there, just as guest vocalists... I can't really comment on that, because it wasn't my decision to have all these guests, it was Robin's idea. He made friends along the way, and I guess he just liked to have their voice on the CD.
OK! Now, about Precambrian's packaging, I heard there have been problems to make it; it absolutely awesome, and maybe difficult to make... Do you know what happened?
Well, basically, because there are like dye-coat holes on the packaging, they had to make this too, especially to cut these holes out and it was really expensive. That was the only kind of problem, really, there were some e-mail going back and to between Robin and Metal Blade, they kind of fought for this packaging! But in the end we got what we wanted, Martin Kvamme, the designer, did an amazing job, and we couldn't be more happy with it.
A friend told me it was the best packaging he saw in the world, and sure it's really great! Another question now: did Robin wrote all the music?
That's correct, yeah.
And do you know why he chose Lautreamont [a French writer] to illustrate a concept album about the Precambrian era? That a strange mix!
Robin takes his inspirations from a lot of different places, and a lot of these places are quite obscure... That's all I can really say about that. He knows what to look for some good inspiration!
OK!! The last question, maybe an important one too: have you already started to work on a new album?
Essentially there is an album waiting to be recorded, which has been composed already between Jona [Nido], our guitar player, and Robin. However, we've all got so ideas, so after this tour, we'll have a little break for a while... We'll go on tour next year with a band called Burst, that's gonna be in February - March...
Great news! Their new album is great!
Oh yeah! But, after this we're gonna have a year off, to write and record, so there'll definitely be a new album, early 2010. That's all I can really say about it, because we're not sure which way the sound is gonna go just now; there are songs written but we know we can write a lot more, so... Look out for 2010!
OK! Any last words to say for our readers on Metalstorm?
Yes: come down, see the shows with Opeth and Cynic and The Ocean, I think it's a really great package and... You know, I think it gonna appeal to almost everyone I think. It's crazy to see how many different people are in the audience, there's the young kids, and there's the older prog-rock kind of generation as well... I think anybody can come and have a good time, so come and check out this tour while you still can! [well, I posted this just a bit late...]
You spoke about the 'old prog-rock generation'... Do you think they can like The Ocean ?
Oh yeah sure! I mean, all you have to do is listen to the longer record on Precambrian and you're gonna discover some proggy moments. Maybe they wouldn't like some of the intense, heavier moments, with lots of screaming, but... I mean, I think, again, that it's an album that can appeal to pretty much anyone.
Many thanks are due to Etienne (Havana Café / Necrocosm) for his kindness and help (without him, this interview wouldn't exist), and also to Mike for the time he took to answer my questions.
A less serious Mike Pilat, with myself as 'the fanboy'
||Posted on 19.12.2008 by Once your regular Hellfest reporter, now retired. I (strangely enough) listen to a lot of metal. And enjoy good beers, comics, novels and role-playing games.|
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