About Me

Interview with ...And Oceans

...And Oceans are back in full force with their best effort to date! They are here to prove that 2020’s “Cosmic World Mother” was their pinnacle up until the moment that their new album “As In Gardens, So In Tombs” was let out into the world. It’s the sound of a band seizing every ounce of momentum and upping the ante in every way. This is simply fantastic symphonic black metal!
Metal Imperium caught up with Timo Kontio (guitar) and Mathias Lillmåns (vocals) for an interesting conversation.

M.I. - First off, many thanks for taking thew time to answer my questions. The band thinks this new album tops the comeback album in 2020. What are your expectations? 

Timo: Thank you for this interview! Well, like you said we think we have made our best album yet and we are really confident going out to support it. We expect of course getting more gigs, festivals and tours of course. Even tours outside Europe.  

M.I. - The album was released a few weeks ago. How have the reactions to it been so far? The album was fully streamed online and Mathias was available to answer questions from fans in the session. How did it go?

Timo: There were three of us there. Pyry was also with his own profile and I was with …And Oceans profile. I think it went really well. A lot of people from all over the world. Old fans and new fans. It was nice chatting with all of them. 

M.I. - Right after the release of the comeback album in 2020, Kontio mentioned that “…we don’t want too much time between albums now, we’re getting older.” Do you still feel the same way?

Timo: I might have said that and it is still true. Covid took a few years from this whole thing. Of course that is something nobody can predict or prevent, we just had to adapt and now make the best of this. Of course none of us are not getting any younger, but we still have many, many years to come (laughts).

M.I. - Being older musicians brought you more wisdom? Are things easier for you regarding the writing and recording? 

Timo: Maybe we know a bit better how things work and we can prepare ourselves for that. I also like to know a bit more where we are going with everything. Writing might not get easier when you have done this for a long time. I mean you get more critical of your own doings so it might be harder. Maybe recording gets easier since you learn something every time you are at the studio.

M.I. - What inspired this album? Did all the events that occured in these doomed years such as the pandemic and the war affect the final result somehow?

Timo: When the pandemic hit it was quite obvious that we had to do something, so we decided to make a new record. The result itself is not affected by the pandemic. War started after we had already the album ready. It was all ready in December 2021.

M.I. - Was the writing and recording of this album less stressful than the comeback album in 2020? What were the major diferences in the process?

Timo: Yes, it was easier to start writing since we had that “difficult” comeback behind us. Also the fact that riffs kept coming quite easily. Antti did a couple of songs right after the release of CWM so that was like a wake up call for me to start writing too.
No bigger differences in writing. Guitarists make a lot of riffs. Building and arranging songs from them. Antti makes keyboard stuff and even whole songs and then guitars on them. Demoing songs with Antti and guitarists. Then finally trying out the demo songs with the whole band making final arrangements.

M.I. - Where did you inspire yourselves for the title “As in Gardens, so in Tombs”? 

Mathias: Everything that is and that has ever existed abides by the same laws of physics, that was what CWM was all about. Energy is eternal, it can not be created out of nothing and you cannot destroy it. It just changes form. On the new album I look at this from many different aspects, religious, different worldviews and peoples different culture heritages. And the conclusion was that all of the differences in beliefs are just another way to explain the same thing. So one man's ascension to heaven in the afterlife can be another person becoming one with the soil he’s buried in. As in Gardens, so in Tombs. As in Heavens, so on Earth. As above, so below.

M.I. - The cover has a rather mystic artwork with its colours and design in blue and yellow... are all the small details in the artwork connected to the lyrics in some way? Is the theme of the album connected to the artwork? How important is it to have a finished product that is connected in every way? 

Mathias: It’s all connected! Adrien Bousson actually based the art on my lyrics this time and it was really interesting to see all the different nuances in the lyrics come alive in this glorious way. I have always written concept albums and it has been super important that the music, lyrics and art goes hand in hand. That 100% immersive experience is what we were aiming for and on this album it really worked out.  

M.I. - Who designed it and how did the collaboration go?

Mathias: It was awesome to work with Adrien again! I had quite early in the album writing process a couple of lyrics in their almost completed form. I gave him a quick run-through of the concept and also those lyrics with small notes of what they stand for and what the key components are. He then came back with a couple of sketches that we as a band okayed. Then I sent him more lyrics on the way as he was designing different things. 

M.I. - The album features 10 tracks and one is in Finnish. And Oceans’ lyrics are very philosophical as the lyrics tend to tell a deeper story. How complicated is it writing lyrics for the band? Do you share this responsibility? Who’s the main writer?

Mathias: They are actually in Swedish! ;) I have always been writing in quite an abstract way, so this is what most naturally comes out of my pen! As ...And Oceans always have been known for abstract lyrics, I guess my style (although different) fits into the description. I wrote all the lyrics and will do so in the future also!

M.I. - Only Timo and Teemu have been in the band ever since its formation. How different are ...And Oceans now when compared to the original line-up? Would you say ...And Oceans are a tighter band now? 

Timo: Yes, there are only two original members. Of course it has been 28 since the start of this band so a lot has happened. 
Of course we are different from the 25-year versions of us, but people don’t change that much. Though we have new members, but every one of them are more or less familiar faces and friends from a long time so the right chemistry is there.
Tighter, yes. We have a really tight unit now musically speaking.

M.I. - How has the experience of being in And Oceans again been so far? Has it surpassed your expectations?

Timo: It has been a long run. We experienced some great thing back in the 90’s when getting first record deals and first European tours, etc. Now we have the new coming and I have a lot of expectations from it. Back in the day when younger you just went with the flow. No worries and expectations of anything. Maybe that is why it ended like it did. We really didn’t think things any further than maybe the next gig or something like that.

M.I. - The band has been active live in 2023 and it seems it will be a great year for touring and concerts. Any plans already regarding that? Any idea when will the Portuguese fans have the opportunity to see an ...And Oceans live show?!

Timo: Yes, everything should be better now, but still quite isn’t. Covid and ongoing war for example have raised all the costs so that it is really challenging for bands to go on tour and even fly abroad. 
We have a tour planned for this year, so let’s hope that will happen. We might have something around that part of Europe at some point too. Keep your eyes and ears open. We have never played in Portugal. In Spain we played in ‘99. Though we had a gig or two planned in Portugal in ‘01, but that part of the tour was cancelled. I have even seen a promo poster from that gig. It should have been with Marduk, Behemoth and some other bands.

M.I. - Do you have any last thoughts you want to share with our readers and your fans?

Timo: Please check our new album out and hopefully see you at our gigs.

Listen And Oceans, on Spotify

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Sónia Fonseca