Back in April, The Ocean released their latest concept album, Pelagial, and pretty much ever since they’ve been off all over the world tour. We sent Tom Gibbons down to check out the Hong Kong show of the Asian leg of their world tour last month, and got him to sit down with The Ocean guitarist Robin Staps afterwards for a Tsing Tao and a chat.
So how’s playing almost the entirety of a new concept album live working out?
We just finished a US tour as part of the Summer Slaughter tour, where we played a 25 minute set. That wasn’t really working out too great. I had the feeling the set either began or ended in the middle of nowhere, so it’s now very relieving to present the true sound of this band. I really enjoy playing the new album – it starts of very slow and you gradually get immersed in the music, and we’ve really enjoyed the last four headline shows in Vancouver, Mexico City, Taiwan and here in Hong Kong.
What is the importance of touring territories outside of the traditional safe zones of Europe and America?
Well, our first tour of China two years ago was probably the most fun time I’ve had on tour, and one of main reasons I started this band was because I wanted to travel. We try and go off the typical routes, because it’s more exciting, especially in China and Russia. China will become one of the main tour destinations over the next few years – you have these huge cities that no-one has ever heard of, that have 15 million inhabitants.
Would you say Asian countries differ from each other, with regard to touring and playing live shows?
We’ve done Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and Thailand and we’ve even noticed differences between particular Chinese cities. People in Hong Kong like to go crazy here and go overboard, which is awesome and very enjoyable, but in Wuhan [China] we had a very reserved crowd, standing and watching and when we finished they just clapped for three seconds and then dead silence, but stood there for 15 minutes waiting for an encore, which was fucking weird. And then cities like Gongshuo [also in China] have a hardcore scene with quite a violent and aggressive crowd, which is always good. We’ve noticed big differences in the Chinese cities but not so much between Asian countries.
Tell us about weird shit you’ve seen on your in Asia
In Taiwan, we went to a market selling turtle testicles and a there were jars of this yellow liquid, which was labelled as crocodile cum. They also cut out a live snake’s heart and ate it while it was still beating.
Oh look – it’s the jar of crocodile semen (and a jar of turtle testicles) that The Ocean saw in Taiwan.
Lovely. Your new album is quite epic in scope and the writing process must have been fairly challenging. How does one go about preparing for such an album?
We go to an old large house in Spain, on the Mediterranean coast, which I’ve gradually converted into a studio for vocal and guitar tracking. I can’t really write at home. I need a place with wide horizons and ocean views are very helpful for writing. This place is very perfect, very secluded, and we play music all day and start drinking at four or five in the afternoon.
As we said right at the very start of this article, Pelagial by The Ocean is out now on Metal Blade. It’s bloody good so you should go buy a copy. Or listen to it on Spotify first, if you want to check on what you’re getting. The Ocean will be touring the UK and mainland Europe this Autumn, which will see them making a return to the UK for this year’s Damnation Festival. Check the full dates out below, and head on over to your usual supplier of tickets to buy some now.
The Ocean Autumn European tour dates
03 WestEnd Festival – Germany
06 Progpower Europe – Netherlands
12 Euroblast Festival – Germany
29 Hamburg Logo Hamburg, Germany
30 Haarlem Patronaat, Netherlands
31 RotterdamBaroeg, Netherlands Tickets RSVP Share
01 London Garage
02 Damnation Festival – Leeds
03 Paris Divan du Monde
04 Luynes Le Korigan
05 Barcelona Apolo 2
06 Madrid Caracol
07 Porto Hard Club
08 Bilbao Santana 27
09 Torino El Barrio
10 Rome Traffic
11 Ljubljana Gala Hala
12 Munich Backstage Club
13 Winterthur Salzhaus
14 Belfort La Poudriere
15 Essen Zeche Carl
16 Karlsruhe Stadtmitte
17 Berlin Lido
18 Warsaw Progresja
19 Wroclaw Alibi