“If you’re not 100% invested in doing what you’re doing, then you may as well be doing something else.”
Oceans Ate Alaska recently released their long-awaited new album ‘Disparity’ via Fearless Records.
A collection of songs five years in the making, it is a statement of bludgeoning intent from a band always a step ahead of the pack. Combining lo-fi chill with savage metalcore brute force, it is a confident, compelling and expertly crafted record that deserves your attention.
As they head out on the road, we caught up with drummer Chris Turner and Mike Stanton to chat about the journey up to this point and what it means to have made it this far…
This has been a long time coming, hasn’t it? How does it feel to be here?
Chris: “We’ve seen people saying it’s been a hard wait, but I promise you it’s been even harder for us. It’s felt long for everybody else but even longer for us. There have been a string of events that has contributed to us getting to hear, and it’s interesting thinking about how long we have been sitting on certain parts of this record. To finally have it out in the world is a huge relief.”
What would you say was the first piece of the puzzle that you put into place?
Chris: “It’s so long ago since we started writing now. It must have been 2017, so we are definitely going back a minute. We did drop ‘Metamorph’ in 2020 as the first track from this record, but before then, we had most of what the album would be written and tracked. The music was fully composed.”
Mike: “Yeah, and when we started working on vocals with James, ‘Metamorph’ was the moment that stuck out the most in terms of something to kick things off with. Especially on the lyrical side of things, it just worked.”
Chris: “Our process has always been like that. Having full songs musically ready before we add any sort of vocals to them. That’s the pattern we have always taken, and we always know what is going to be the tracks that stand out. But we have been working on things for such a long time, and I feel like it really shows.”
What did it feel like with James stepping back into the fold initially? How did it even come about for him to become a part of the band again?
Chris: “Things were at a standstill in a lot of ways, and that’s even pre-Covid. Things weren’t going in a positive direction with Jake, and that’s why we parted ways. But then it was one of those question marks from there. Where do we go from here? If we get another vocalist, that’s three full-lengths with three different vocalists, and that’s not the coolest things. We wanted more consistency. But that’s not to say that it wasn’t a last chance, desperation thing asking James if he fancied coming back. It was the best outcome that we could think of. And it was really nice; we had a catch-up, reminisced on some old tour moments, and laughed. And he said, ‘I really wanted to get back into music, so this is the perfect timing’. It was all organic and pleasant and for the greater good. Then things started moving quicker and in the right direction.”
It must also feel nice to be in a position where it feels like it did at the start of the band again, both in terms of personnel and vision, But you know that it could have been very different if he wasn’t on board.
Chris: “I guess that’s just the way that you take on any hurdle in life. You have to open your arms to every and any change. Because if you’re going to shy away from it at the first challenge, then you’re almost ready to throw in the towel already. We wouldn’t still be in a band if that was our outlook on life. If James hadn’t fancied it, we would have endeavoured to find a solution. This could have happened a million ways. We are glad it went this way.”
What did you want to bring to this new record, reaching the balance between taking things forward and staying true to what the band is all about?
Chris: “When we did ‘Hikari’, we were trying to bring this Japanese influence and combine it with metal, which was a really cool project and way to write. But we knew we had to move on from that, as we didn’t want to make the same record twice. We wanted to make sure that it was an actual progression, though, now just a random jumping between things or themes. Our biggest song is ‘Hansha’, which is a song that we love, but one that we also wrote with a guest writer. That was Clem, who also works on beat production and lo-fi chill-out stuff. That was the vibe of the beat of that track, and we were all felt like it was a progression that would be relevant with these new songs as well. It feels right to mix Clem’s beats with our metal compositions. It also helped to keep us on our toes and not become complacent as we worked.”
And that’s such an important position to be in as well, because, especially with the state of the scene and how crowded it can feel at times, you need to be so focused on what it is that makes you want to keep on doing this…
“If you’re not 100% invested in doing what you’re doing, then you may as well be doing something else. We would have left this alone by now if we weren’t all in.”
So what did this record end up representing for you?
Chris: “When we all sat together and played the instrumentals we had, we all wrote three things we visualised or felt whilst listening. It’s really interesting how powerful music is because these are just sounds. This is a movie with visuals where a lot of senses are being fulfilled. Music just fulfils the one, but that can carry so much. Especially for us, where nine out of ten times, we were all coming up with the same visions for the songs. So when we all landed and hit the nail on the head, we led with that. It was then up to James to bring the poetry of things to life. We are all in this together.”
How does it feel to look at these songs that have been a part of your lives for so long and see the people you are now compared to when you started them?
Chris: “When we are writing music, we do everything digitally. When we make something that we like and think might work, we move over and call it our graveyard. We will pick things out of there and see what we can do with them, but nothing ever leaves it, even if we don’t use it. It’s interesting to go back through it and see how things could have been or what songs could have sounded like. It’s really weird to go through it because there are a lot of things in there that I personally wouldn’t have thought about doing now as the player I am. The same with the other guys. This is why when I listened over the album for the first time, I smiled from ear to ear because it felt like the perfect representation of us as we are now. And it has got us feeling really excited about writing the fourth one, and kicking off the process all over again.”
Oceans Ate Alaska are touring the UK this month.
Here are the dates:
16 – BIRMINGHAM Asylum
17 – GLASGOW Classic Grand
18 – LEEDS Key Club
20 – BRISTOL Fleece
21 – SOUTHAMPTON Joiners
22 – LONDON Underworld
23 – MANCHESTER Rebellion