About Me

Interview with …And Oceans

When “Dynamic Gallery of Thoughts” was released in 1998, the underground went wild… but then …And Oceans shifted their Symphonic Black Metal into Industrial / Electronic Metal and the underground was a bit disappointed. Now, 18 years after, the Finnish return with a brand new “back to their roots” album titled “Cosmic World Mother”… Timo and Mathias had a long conversation with Metal Imperium… read their thoughts here… 

M.I. - Greetings from Portugal and the Metal Imperium team! Hope you are well, safe and sound. How’s everyone at …And Oceans dealing with this COVID-19 outbreak so far?

Timo: I know that everyone of us is healthy, thanks for asking. I don’t know how they cope with this quarantine though. 
Mathias: I’m getting restless. Was supposed to go to Mexico today and start the festival season for this year!

M.I. - “...and Oceans is back! With a vengeance."” Is a sentence in your official Facebook page… what do you mean by this exactly? Why with a vengeance? Do you think there are people who would like to see you fail?

Timo: It is just a saying, a figure of speech like we come stronger than ever. Of course, there are always people who want different things and are reasoning why some band shouldn’t come back or exist. You just want to ignore them and focus on the essential. 

M.I. - Guitarist Timo commented: "The new era of ...And Oceans has been a long time coming. We've already had a taste of how it would be: the band played a few selected gigs and festivals last year and it was great to see old and new fans welcoming ...And Oceans back with open arms. It feels like the right time to come back with this new album. “Cosmic World Mother” is ready, the release date is set, shows are booked and we have a strong, new line-up. Let's celebrate the new skin!" Why is now the right time to return to the scene? Weren’t you scared of not living up to the expectations considering the cult status the band has achieved throughout the years?

Timo: After successful first rehearsals and gigs we felt that yes, this feels right. New music kept flowing quite easily too. So those were the reasons for us to make this comeback decision. Of course, in my opinion there are not so many old bands that do that 90’s style of symphonic black metal. If I’m honest, yes, we had thoughts if we could really pull this off with new material, etc. Though now, when the album is ready, we certainly think that we made the right decision. 

M.I. - You basically took a 17-year hiatus as a band. In the meantime, you have returned under the name “Havoc Unit” but it didn’t last. Were you confused in terms of what you wanted sound wise? Apart from this, what else did you do during these years you weren’t in the scene as …And Oceans?

Timo: We changed the style quite a lot at the end and thus …And Oceans died and Havoc Unit was born. At the same time, most of the members left. This was a totally new group, not really an …And Oceans continuation. For me there were some major things in my personal life which kept me busy several years. I started the Magenta Harvest band though and did a few records and tours with that. Then we also resurrected our first band Festerday, old school death metal.

M.I. - What’s the biggest difference between …And Oceans in 2002 and …And Oceans in 2020? What will be different for …And Oceans now that you are older and wiser?

Timo: Composing wise not too much. Well, our new keyboard player is really active so that helps, all in all. Of course, one could say that we are better players, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything better. The new lineup is strong so, at least live, one can see the difference. Of course, that is something nowadays that you really have to master your instrument meaning that you have to play as much as possible and be well prepared for the live shows. Of course, in this kind of music, it is not the main thing as it wasn’t back in the 90’s. Doesn’t harm though, haha. Music is different from 2002 …And Oceans, but you never know how the next album sounds like.

M.I. - Now that the band is getting back on track with a new album and all, the corona virus is here and all summer concerts and festivals have been cancelled or postponed… how excited were you about 2020? How are your expectations now? 

Timo: Of course, this affects us also and it is really frustrating to release an album after so many years and then it seems that you can’t really support that as we should. We were excited since we had this trip to Japan coming, for example. We’re just trying to rearrange our club gigs here in Finland at some point. Then plan other gigs and festivals abroad for next year. We just have to make the best of this.

M.I. - You have already released two tracks of your new album “Cosmic World Mother”. How are people reacting to them so far? 

Timo: There are three songs now released. Feedback has been really great. Of course, there are some people who would have wanted the more experimental …And Oceans or more electronic approach. Well, we have always done our own way like all bands should do, otherwise there’s no point in doing this. So, it’s all good! Nice to see all old fans waking up one by one and realizing that we are alive again.

M.I. - Regarding one of those tracks, vocalist Mathias Lillmåns has commented: "'Vigilance and Atrophy' shows the melodic side of ...And Oceans. A song laden with guitar melodies and draped in spacious synths, it introduces you to the more epic soundscapes of "Cosmic World Mother". While being a pretty up-beat song the words were written during one of the darkest times in my life, in a place somewhere in between, in an insomnia fueled trance like state." What can fans expect of the new album? It has been much anticipated…

Mathias: As I said in that quote, there are a lot of epic synths and guitar melodies. Song wise this album is really going more back to the 90’s …and Oceans era, but with a more modern soundscape. The lyrics are still quite surrealistic but, of course, they’re written in my style rather than ripping of the former singer, Kena.

M.I. - “Cosmic World Mother” will be released on May 8th and the world is basically locked down. Do you think this will affect sales? Did the label offer you the opportunity to postpone the release due to the pandemic situation? 

Timo: Well, time will tell how it affects us. Of course, people can order the stuff like before, only some post offices have restricted the shipping, but other than that, it shouldn’t affect too much. Like mentioned before, this affects on our gigs and the visibility so that way it affects on sales for sure. Our promo campaign was already ongoing for so long that it wouldn’t have been wise to stop it and postpone the release. So, we go as planned.

M.I. - In terms of sound, this album is a kind of “back to your roots” album… did you miss your roots and original sound? 

Timo: The sound, yes, maybe a little, in my opinion more like the style of our first albums with the modern touch, of course. I personally really like that sound of 90’s black metal, the feeling is important on the records of that time. Which is quite rare nowadays.

M.I. - In your opinion, and considering some listeners probably weren’t familiar with the scene in 2002, which listeners might this album appeal to? Can you mention a few bands that have a similar “sound”?

Timo: Well, more or less, the majority of the bands around the 90’s. Someone has compared the sound to early Emperor, Limbonic Art etc.

M.I. - The band has been around (again) ever since 2017 and has suffered lineup changes. How do you deal with them? Did they affect the new album in some way?

Timo: “Suffered” is a quite strong word for these. Yes, some of them weren’t something that we planned. Some of them were as mutual agreement, etc. It is always a shock if it comes out of the blue, I mean, all of the members we had before this new lineup were more or less the original bunch. So, it’s not so nice to part ways but, again, in this situation, they were something we had to do. Yes, new members have had their input on the album. Keyboard player for example made two songs with keyboards and I just made guitars on them. 

M.I. - The first lyric video “The dissolution of Mind and Matter” has been out for a few weeks now… why have you opted for this track to showcase the album?

Timo: No bigger agenda in there. We thought it was something that could work. Fast parts and slower melodic parts something that the whole album is about.

M.I. - The whole album circles around themes of energy. What interests you in this theme? Do you believe there’s cosmic powerful energy all around us? 

Mathias: I have always been a person guided by logic and science. According to the laws of physics, all energy is eternal, it just changes form, nothing gets lost. We are all a part of this cosmic energy and will forever be. I am very intrigued what this means to us as humans, both right here and now, and what it means after our death and before our birth. The fact that the energy that gives power to our bodies lives on in another form after we die is a comforting thought.

M.I. - Has experience and maturity helped you create a product you’re proud of? Of all the 11 tracks in the album, which one is your favourite and why?

Timo: To some extent, maybe. Creating new stuff is not easier when more experienced or mature so, naturally and luckily, that was quite an easy task this time. Too early to say any favourites. Normally favourite song is one of those songs which works best live. Now we have played only two songs live from this album. You might have some favourites already, but difficult to say any specific song. Time will tell.

M.I. - The band uses more than one language… how do you manage to fit it all together? How do you know in which language a track should be? So, can I still hope you will come up with a track in Portuguese someday? 

Mathias: You never know what language there will be on the next album! I’m most comfortable to write in English for some reason, have always been. I used a bit of Swedish on this album as well to give the lyrics a bit of variation and Swedish is my mother tongue, so it’s close to my heart. I also think that Scandinavian languages fit really well into Black Metal anyways and has a certain ring to it!

M.I. - The album was recorded in four different locations. Drums and bass at your rehearsal place with gear from Juho Räihä's mobile SoundSpiral Audio studio. Vocals were engineered by Räihä himself at SoundSpiral Audio's main location outside Kouvola. Your keyboard player Antti decided he would do all his parts in his mancave of a studio by himself. The guitars, the mix itself and finally the master was done at Wolfthrone Studios by Owe Inborr. Weren’t you afraid the “essence” of the album might get lost along the way?

Timo: With the equipment today and the fact that we have done albums a bit similar way I wasn’t worried about this.

M.I. - How complicated was it recording like this? Was it something new for you? How complicated was it putting all the pieces together?

Timo: Mentioned before that a bit similar way we’ve done records before. I wasn’t responsible of keeping all strings attached so can’t say how complicated it was. Maybe Mathias can explain more.

Mathias: It was quite a puzzle to get everything to fit together, but we made it in the end and I’m very happy with the end result of it. Owe and I had that 90’s Abyss Studios sound in the back of our heads while recording and mixing the album. Sounds pretty much the way I wanted!

M.I. - The cover artwork was done by Adrien Bousson… who came up with the concept for it? What does it mean to you? 

Timo: It was inspired by one Russian painter and his painting.

Mathias: The rest of the album artwork Adrien inspired himself by the lyrics, so they are all very connected!

M.I. - Season of Mist released the band’s first two albums, then you changed to Century Media and released two more full-lengths… now for your 5th album you’re back on Season of Mist… why have you opted to go back to them? 

Timo: The thing here is that we really didn’t get in touch with the label at all. We got quite a few offers from here and there. So, we didn’t send any demos or anything to any label. We just followed the situation. We weren’t in a hurry to get any deal before we had enough material ready. We were in contact with Season of Mist,  because with our other band Festerday we already had a deal with them. They wanted to hear our new stuff, so we sent them a few rough demos. They were interested, so it was really natural to go with them. Familiar and great people. Professional most of all. So far, everything is top notch. We wait so much from this co-operation.

M.I. - Even though the new album isn’t released yet, Kontio has mentioned the band doesn’t want to wait too long before releasing new material. Is the band being creative in this time of quarantine? Have you been working on any new material these days?

Timo: I might have said so and I meant it. Why stopping now if everything comes so easy? You never know when it stops. Of course, we are not in a hurry to enter the studio, but we can always make new tracks so that we have enough material ready when the time comes. This time the bar is even higher for a new album. Yes, new stuff is in the making as we speak.

M.I. - Have you already decided the setlist for the promotional tour of the new album? Which tracks are you eager to play live the most and why?

Timo: We were about the make the set list for our gigs in Tokyo in May, but corona came. So, not in a hurry with the set list. We have been thinking that we should obviously try every song live. Then we can see what is the optimal set list for us. We have quite a few tracks to choose from. Of course, all the new songs are exciting to play live for the first time. 

M.I. - Lillmåns’s main band Finntroll is also set to release a new album after a long silence. How will you cope with the situation when the pandemic situation is over and tours start coming in? 

Mathias: It will be hectic times for sure! But I don’t mind being on tour. I have always, well at least the 15 last years, juggled at least two or three bands at the same time, so it’s nothing new! Will be cool to be back on the road a full 200% again!

M.I. - Is there an album in …And Oceans’ career that you would like to improve or delete for some reason?

Timo: Not really. They all were the sound of that time. Every album has its moments.

M.I. - What’s your fondest memory of …And Oceans in the early days? Were these memories something you missed and longed for again? 

Timo: Of course, the first gig of our first European tour in ’99 in Marseille was quite a nice experience. Also, getting the deal with Season of Mist was one of the highlights for sure. 

M.I. - Is there anything you would like to share with your fans in Portugal who anxiously wait for your return?

Timo: We were supposed to play there in ’01 with Marduk and Behemoth etc. but, due to some circumstances, that part of the tour was canceled from our part! So, it would be nice to finally go there and play! In the meantime, check out the new album! Thanks for this interview!

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Sónia Fonseca