Interview: We Are the Ocean

kelly gonsalves goes across the pond…

It has been an eventful summer for the United Kingdom’s Essex-based rock outfit We Are The Ocean, with the band having faced one of its most staggering challenges to date: the departure of lead vocalist Dan Brown. According to their official statement, We Are The Ocean parted ways with their former front man based on a mutual agreement that their musical paths were simply no longer aligned. While Brown has left to pursue band management, We Are The Ocean pushes onward with its remaining four members, redefining their style to represent a sound that both hearkens to the days of their previous album, Go Now and Live, but simultaneously rings truer to the quartet than ever before. We Are The Ocean stands as living testimony that a band is far more than just the sum of its parts.

Having just completed their trip to America this summer with Vans Warped Tour 2012, We Are The Ocean is now rearing up for their next worldwide headlining tour, timed perfectly with the release of their third full-length album. Set to hit stores September 17th in the UK and September 18th in the U.S., Maybe Today, Maybe Tomorrow explores the new musical dynamic of the now four-piece band. Their latest single off the record, “The Road,” gives listeners a taste of the band’s new and more distinctly raw rock getup, complete with Liam Cromby’s front vocals jumping from silky depth by verse to emotive powerhouse by chorus.

Many press releases and band statements to date have noted We Are The Ocean’s strict adherence to their tried-and-true rock sound, despite the change in membership. However, this month Pop-Break caught up with Jack Spence, We Are The Ocean’s bassist and backing vocalist, to discuss the band’s ongoing search for musical identity and the importance of risk and honesty in Maybe Today, Maybe Tomorrow, among many other topics.

Pop-Break: This summer, We Are The Ocean played on Vans Warped Tour 2012. What were some of the highlights of the tour?

Jack Spence: Every day was a highlight in its own right. It was a very humbling tour, and we loved going back to our roots: hanging out around the merch stall, talking to people and introducing them to the band, vying for their attention, and asking them to come and check us out when we played. The whole tour has a great family feel to it as well; there are no egos around as everyone mucks in together and socializes together.

PB: How has the experience been breaking into the U.S. music industry? How is it different from gaining popularity back home in the UK?

JS: We’ve always had home advantage in the UK; we know the cities, and we know the people. Plus, from the beginning, we were able to get in a van and spend months upon end touring the country, playing the same places again and again and again, slowly watching the momentum build. America is inevitably massive – you could spend the entire year touring around playing places and still not hit every spot before the next year starts, and you have to do it all again. In this respect, it’s harder. We’ve always used live shows to push the band to new fans, and naturally there will be a lot of people who won’t get to see us. But there’s also the fact that a lot of Americans are open to new music, particularly music from overseas which might have something different to offer them.

PB: As a band that has travelled to many different countries, you boys must have seen a lot of fascinating cities. If you could live in any place in the world, where would it be and why?

JS: We’re very much city-folk – living just outside of London – so it would definitely be hard to imagine living somewhere out in the sticks. Melbourne and California are two places I could definitely see myself settling down in – they’re similar to where we live in a lot of ways, but also have a lot of pros on top of that. First and foremost: the weather.

PB: Three months ago, We Are The Ocean parted ways with vocalist Dan Brown. What was the context of this decision?

JS: There’s no one answer. It was just one of those things. Sometimes things change, music changes, people’s visions change. We all have to adapt to it as we go, and sometimes adapting means making hard decisions.

PB: Since becoming a four-piece band, how do you feel We Are The Ocean has changed?

JS: It’s equally scary and exciting right now. We’ve all had to step up in a lot of areas within the band, but I think now we feel more comfortable and confident than we ever have. We’re also all 5% richer!

PB: Your new record, Maybe Today, Maybe Tomorrow, hits stores September 17th in the UK and September 18th in the States. Is there a theme or over-arching idea behind MTMT?

JS: Honesty, and positivity. We’ve never been a band who wants to write tragic songs about how bad our life is or the state of the world is or anything like that. Our ethos is, “yeah, shit happens, but it gets better,” and I think a lot of the songs reflect that positivity. It’s also the most honest record we’ve done lyrically, which in turn may make it easier for people to relate to it in certain respects.

PB: When creating new music, do you prefer to take frequent musical risks, or is it more important to We Are The Ocean to stay true to its own sound?

JS: We’ve spent up until now trying to find “the We Are The Ocean sound,” and it’s only through experimenting and taking risks that we’ve been able to hone in on that. Granted, we’ve come up with a few songs that have been too “out there” to put on a CD, but generally we’re pretty open to trying out different styles and ideas. This album is definitely the most we’ve experimented like that out of our discography so far.

PB: What do you think about the current state of the radio music scene?

JS: The radio for the past decade has been very pop/hip-hop heavy, with rock music taking an obvious sideline. There are certain stations – certainly in the UK – that are becoming increasingly open to rock music, and I hope this continues to be the case.

PB: Recently, We Are The Ocean unveiled the new track entitled “Story of a Modern Child” off of MTMT. Can you tell us a little about the song’s background?

JS: In recent years, they’ve started doing a reality TV show based on our town. Ever since its release, 80% of the people we live among have become carbon copies of the characters on the show. It stems from this, but in essence it’s just about being yourself, keeping your originality, and not being a sheep to trends and styles for the sake of it.

PB: With another tour about to begin, do you find yourselves missing home and the luxury of free time?

JS: Yes and no. The last week of any tour is usually the point where we’re raring to get home, see our friends and family, and have a roast dinner. But then after a week at home, we’re itching to get back on the road again. We can’t win!

PB: What does music mean to you personally?

JS: For me, music is the most important form of art. Whether listening to or writing music, it’s perfect for getting your emotions out – happiness, anger, and everything in between. Music is the best way to express yourself.