About Me

Interview with Oceans of Slumber

Oceans of Slumber is an American metal quintet, signed by Century Media, about to release a new album. Their most recent work, "The Banished Heart," has allowed Dobber and Cammie, drummer and vocalist respectively, to free all the demons of their lives and the result is quite intense. The band will be touring Europe with Epica and Myrkur, and that was just another reason for Metal Imperium to talk to Dobber.

M.I. - Now that 2018 has started, what can fans expect of Oceans of Slumber?

They can expect a new record and more from us. More making of videos, behind the scenes, an art book, and us trying to survive while being in this band. 

M.I. - What are the band’s resolutions for this year?

Hopefully to make it a bit further in this business and get another day or two on the planet. We’d like to be able to tour a bit and play some festivals. Possibly have a festival of our own in Houston. We’re hoping to push things a bit further and see where we land. On our feet we hope…

M.I. - “The Banished Heart” is the new album to be released soon. The band’s bio mentioned that internal and family struggles were trying to rot you from the inside out. How complicated is it dealing with this? Did you ever consider quitting the band?

Very complicated and hard sometimes. The idea of quitting happens all of the time, but it’s mainly on the business side. Being a musician is something you rarely just up and quit, especially when you’re as passionate as we are about making music. It’s very hard to balance the personal side with the creative, and it often fuels each other. For the better or to the detriment of, I guess. 

M.I. - Supposedly, the band stepped out of the comfort zone for this and went straight for a visceral and very honest approach. This album is an exposition of your heart and soul… did this work as a kind of therapy?

Relationships change, feelings change, love changes. The heart and mind are sometimes so intertwined that you lose sight of yourself and the things around you. And sometimes they aren’t connected at all. A very cold and bitter life with blame is like a time machine. A time machine that takes you somewhere where you shouldn’t be, or want to be at least. Finding some type of resolution and trying to make sense of what life is. 

M.I. - “The Banished Heart is about leaving the void and taking a long hard road to perdition.” Is the road becoming easier and easier as days go by?

Not really, because the answers aren’t always just there. You make changes. You try combinations of things trying to clear a path for yourself. Introspection isn’t always unbiased either, so you spend more time in quiet contemplation repeating yourself or repeating the same actions. Sometimes it takes others. Though hell isn’t unlivable, it isn’t ideal. We regroup and we move forward. Trying to make the best of everything and not live in a world of regret or blame.  

M.I. - According to Dobber, “The album travels through concepts of neglect, death, absolute heartbreak, love and finding peace. The Banished Heart represents the return. The return of life or love after a long exile, when everything seemed lost or hopeless. The Banished Heart is about leaving the void and taking a long hard road to perdition.” Are all tracks dealing with this? Who wrote the lyrics?

To some degree they are all related by this theme which is a large theme. Cammie wrote the lyrics for the record, minus the beginning of The Banished Heart, from an outside and ground floor perspective. She lived many of the same things I have and witnessed many others. She’s had many experiences of her own that have shaped, or warped, her perspectives on life, love, and the end. The passing of her father, the search for love and acceptance, finding purpose in the service of others around us. Some things that every member of the band have also struggled with. Who are we and are we affecting those around us in a positive manner? Are they doing the same for us?

M.I. - How is the process of writing and recording a new album for Oceans of Slumber? Do you jam and decide everything together? Is there a “leader” in the band?

The whole band writes and I arrange and give the final seal of approval. Cammie even wrote a piece or two (the Howl of the Rougarou opening is actually a demo she recorded on her iPhone. It was so good that we used it for the record). The record was constructed around the title track, The Banished Heart, and we wrote around it, thematically and conceptually. Most songs were written in our rehearsal room and I finished the keyboards and string arrangements at home in my personal studio. This album was the first time we employed pre-production demos and fully incubated the songs and process. It was very nice. So I’m the band leader, but my bandmates are incredible musicians and none of this would come together without them. 

M.I. - The album cover for “The Banished Heart” is completely different from your previous releases which were more animated. Is Cammie the girl on the cover? Do you think it fully portrays the feelings on the album?

It certainly conveys what I was envisioning. So much so that the image has replaced what was in my head. Kavan the Kid was the artist/photographer and he did an exceptional job capturing the power and the mood of the piece. It was meant to capture the southern gothic vibe of heartbreak and self inflicted turmoil. Or is it to signify the capturing of a bad heart or love? A persons malice perhaps? When I see it now I see a laborious victory. A reclaiming of sorts. What that’s reclaiming is up to the listener though, because it’s different for different people. And no, that isn’t Cammie on the cover. She wasn’t interested in the pariah vibe that it would’ve given and I wasn’t interested in having it be that personal to me, us, and them. 

M.I. - The album features “No Color, No Light”, a duet between Cammie and Evergrey’s Tom S. Englund. How did the idea of this duet come up?

I have a small checklist of dream collaborations and Tom was at the top of that list. He’s a personal friend of the bands and really good friend of mine. If you’re familiar with Evergrey at all, you’ll know that he’s the epitome of soul in metal and he’s been counseling wayward listeners since the beginning with his lyrics. Haha. “No Color…” was one of the last songs we wrote for The Banished Heart. I wanted an album ender of mega epic and doom proportions. Sean had a riff or two, Anthony had some modifications, and I definitely had a directions. I knew it was going to be something special the moment I heard the last riff get fleshed out. It was going to bridge the gap between My Dying Bride, Dead Can Dance, and 40 Watt Sun. Once Cammie sent the vocal demo I died a little bit. I was so absolutely crushed by the sentimentality of the lyrics and the delivery that I couldn’t contain myself. Once we started vocal tracking I contacted Tom with the demo and he agreed to do it. Evergrey was in Houston for a show and we made a date of it. Picked him up for BBQ and beer before the show and tracked the vocals at my house. It was quite a scenario. 

M.I. - What’s your favourite track on the new album? And the least favourite? Why?

My favorite track is At Dawn I’d have to say. It’s so absolutely vicious and Cammie’s vocals are her fiercest yet. It combines our death/black metal roots with our take on progressive and atmospheric music. A perfect juxtaposition of beauty and violence. I wouldn’t say there is a least favorite for me because they’re all purpose written for the flow of the album. 

M.I. - Your releases haven’t been too far apart… where does all the creativity come from? 

I guess we just have a lot to say or a lot of stored inspiration. One of the two. Haha. The writing process is extremely fast for us. Even having the addition of demoing the material didn’t add much to that. The songs were just finished pictures. You don’t go and re-shoot too much or you’ll lose the original feeling you were going for. Kind of give them what they need and make a conscious effort to pull away when the idea has matured fully. 

M.I. - Considering the intensity of feelings exposed in the new album… do you think it will be more complicated to play those songs live?

Yeah, which makes it even better. To go and relive these moments will probably bring up some negative feelings, it will also bring closure. Knowing this particular story has happened and is mostly over. Maybe. Who knows? We haven’t crossed that bridge yet. 

M.I. - Oceans of Slumber will be opening for Epica along with Myrkur. Do you prefer bills that include bands from different genres or do you prefer the ones with bands that play similar music?

Mainly stay within our realm usually. European audiences are a bit different and like the cross pollinating which is awesome. But a lot of fans don’t cross over. Our similarities on this tour is that we’re all female fronted bands and that’s about it. So it should bring a very mixed crowd for us and we hope that it pays us favor. We can only hope to expand ourselves a little bit further and make it a little bit longer around these parts. 

M.I. - Most of your shows are in the US but this year you’ll be playing in Europe as well. Do you appreciate touring or are you more of a studio band? 

I love playing live. Sean (guitar/vocals), Anthony (guitar), and Keegan (bass) all love playing live too. Cammie is a bit more introverted and enjoys the recording side of it more I’d say. It’s a hard life. It’s hard to express yourself to such a degree and have anything left for yourself or those closest to you afterward. Especially when you normally seek refuge in yourself or your alone time. I’m very much a family oriented person and love the time Cammie and I spend together with my daughter so it shuts me off a bit from the rest of the world. Now that the other guys are all dads I think it changes things for them too. We’ve got to be selective about the right outings for ourselves which is why we’re concentrating on establishing more of a fan base here in the States this year. It’s not neglected by any means, it’s just really hard to tour here. A band killer of sorts.

M.I. - The band has been awarded with the Houston Press Best New Act 2013 and Houston Press Metal Band of the Year 2013, 2015.  How did it make you feel to receive these awards? Did they help the band receive more attention and recognition?

It was cool. The view outside of the city was a bit more coveted than it was to us here in Houston. It was a mildly prestigious award, but those things are so here and now. As soon as you’re out of the public eye in those circles you’re done. The support leaves and you’re left at square one. Your local scene is usually your worst, hahaha. As soon as we were signed we lost our luster. 

M.I. - Your influences are also very down to earth and real: The need to change: evolving into and pushing towards finding our way in life. Channelling emotion through a creative means. Surviving. How much an impact did these influence your sound? What are your musical influences after all?

Very much an influence for me individually and it seems to be universal in the band. It’s as if it flows through your body and then the hands, feet, and head release it. Not to sound all sappy or metaphysical about it, but it is an extension of us. It’s a happening in our world that directly affects the outcome of what we are and do. We’re a band that channels a bad day into an emotion that leaves us in the form of a song. From Soundgarden to Disincarnate to Samael to Rachmaninoff. We’re just students of the game.

M.I. - In the band’s Facebook page, cooking, cleaning, and chores around the house are listed as your interests. Are you joking?

It’s kind of a cynical insight. That on top of being this band entity or whatever we are, we’re mainly battling normal shit and doing remedial things around the house the majority of the time. We work to support ourselves, this band, and our families. Fight, fight, fight to keep the dream alive. 

M.I. - Please share a message with Metal Imperium’s readers. Rock on!

Thank you for taking the time to check us out and listen to our record. Tell your friends if you are so inclined. If not, spread the word about bands you do like. It’s a dying world and there are only a few of them roaming freely around this place. Hails.

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Sónia Fonseca