Interview With Oceansize - 2nd February 2010
Photo Of OceansizeBen caught up with Mark Heron from Oceansize to talk about being a Manchester based band, what people can expect from a typical Oceansize show and much more.

Firstly, for anyone who doesn’t know of Oceansize, can you just tell us a bit about who you are, and what you do?
Well, we’re a Manchester based, but not Manchester originating band. We’re play slightly progressive, rocky, but changeable music. We’re a three guitar line-up, bass, and drums, a bit of keyboard. It’d quite non-commercial music really, which is our own fault! We’ve been around for about eleven years, three albums, loads of EPs, hopefully another one coming. We’re one of these background bands that you hear about that have never really broken through!

Your music is made up of many different elements, how do you go about writing songs?
When we started out we were literally in a room just making noise, just like a conversation, like I’d say something, and then you’d say something and we’d see how it worked. We used to take everything and just listen back, and there would be a minute where you’d be like, “that sounds really good!” and then you’d grab that, rework it and just build things up organically. Nowadays, people can come in with almost a whole song in demo form, so whilst there still is an organic side, there’s now an element of bringing in almost realised pieces. So it’s definitely developed over the years, everybody’s involved in the whole process, we all put our own stamp on our instruments, it’s generally a five way thing.

Unsurprisingly, tonight’s show is sold out, what can people expect from an Oceansize gig?
This time, people will be expecting songs that we’ve been playing for ten years, but we wont be playing songs like Catalyst or Amputee which seems to get a few noses out of joint, but we’ve got to play new songs. This was an EP tour that got postponed because of my illness, and we’ve been getting new songs ready for the album, so we thought we’d highlight more album songs, I don’t think this is a normal Oceansize gig, it isn’t what you’d normally expect. We’re using these shows as a bit of a gauge for the new album, once you play them live, they take on a completely different edge, you get a feeling that they sort of exist somehow, other than just in a practice room.

Do you still get the same kind of buzz from playing songs off earlier albums such as Effloresce as you did the first time around?
Oh yeah, definitely! I do personally, some people in the band don’t! I still get to beat the shit out of things and that doesn’t change! I suppose if you’re singing words you’ve been singing for ten years you might get a bit bored. We have arguments about whether we should or shouldn’t play certain songs, purely because we’ve played them at almost every gig for eight years.

How has this tour been going so far?
Well we’ve done four gigs, which all went really well, the European leg went brilliantly, except I was fighting some weird recurring infection throughout the tour. The day we got back I ended up in hospital, so we had to cancel the next lot. So the first leg went really well, and the British ones are living up to it, there have been a couple of sell outs, one of which was Glasgow two nights ago, which is always great, it’s always good to play Scotland. These gigs are a lot bigger, London’s sold out, which is 850 capacity, I think that’s the biggest gig we’ve ever done in London, Cardiff’s sold out, Nottingham’s sold out, so yeah, it’s all going pretty well!

You’ve had a fair bit of distribution not only in the UK, but also around the world, is there anywhere that you love to play?
Amsterdam! Only because of the venues though! The crowds are also good. Germany’s great as a whole and gigs in Holland are always good. Groningen in the north of Holland is always good, there’s a venue there called the Vera which is run by a load of volunteers, I think there are 180 of them and only five paid staff. The volunteers do maybe three nights a month, but because they work there they can get down to see any band for nothing. So there’s a guaranteed crowd of thirty to forty people there already, it’s really well run, and really well maintained, they do all their own posters, all their own marketing, everything. It’s all purely voluntary, and it just has a great community vibe about it. We have played in some amazing places, the Astoria in London was brilliant, here’s not bad, we sort of grew up in this place, sometimes it feels like we haven’t moved beyond the Academy 3! One of our first gigs was here, I hired it out and put on a gig with us, Amplifier and another band. Eleven years on you’d hope that you’d have moved on, but at least it’s selling out.

You are a Manchester band, and as tired as that tag may be, what do you think of the current so-called ‘scene’?
Well, you tell me what it is and I’ll comment on it! (After a minute of head scratching, we finally decide to settle on indie-dicks The Courteeners) Yeah, I’ve heard them and it’s not my bag at all. Twisted Wheel also seem to be doing something right too, but they’ve just got mates in high places, and to be honest, no matter how much you ram something down the public’s throat, it’s either going to take off or it’s not. We’ll see two years down the line if they’re still around. I believe Delphic are making a bit of noise at the moment, I’ve heard a couple of their songs and they’re pretty good, they’re the best out of the lot. I was quite impressed with Dutch Uncles who I saw recently, they’re pretty good, quite glitchy, a little bit like Battles and Biffy but with a really super camp singer! He might not actually like me saying that! I don’t really know if there’s a scene anymore, when we started out there was a little bit of a scene, there was a night called Chairs Missing at the Roadhouse and various other places, it was a comment on a load of bands like Elbow, and I Am Kloot who would sit down when they played a gig, and the rule was that nobody was allowed to sit down whilst playing a gig! So there was a little bit of a scene back then, but I don’t know if there’s that community thing anymore. There are a few bands that I’ve seen that are alright, but they’re kind of out-weighed by the bands that aren’t alright! Everything sounds like New Order with a bit of something else to me. I don’t think it’s Manchester that makes that happen, I think they’re just aware that New Order were from Manchester, and it’s just using the history of where you are, which I don’t think is a very natural thing to do, it’s not coming from you, it’s coming from what you know.

In the latter stages of last year you released a live DVD, who came up with the idea of this, and can you describe the concept?
Well we did a live DVD the Frames album, and the whole idea of that was playing the album from start to finish, completely live, and that turned out brilliantly. So this was our ten year anniversary thing coming up, and we wanted to make a bit of money for Christmas! So we thought we’d play these three gigs, and then we thought that if we played them, then we might as well document them, so the whole idea wasn’t thought up at the same time, it was in bits. It’s just a shame we didn’t have quite as many cameras as we had from the live Frames one. I think we had eight or nine cameras for that, and only five cameras for the box set. It still captures what it was; a shitty, sweaty gig! We weren’t going to get great wide shots or anything like that, it was all rough and ready, which does sum up ten years!

You also released an EP Home & Minor, where people can hear a gentler side to Oceansize, is this just a little taster of what’s to come in 2010?
Not at all. It’s like two ends of a spectrum, we’d thought we’d hang around at the bottom for a while, we could’ve got a lot more chilled, Gambler (guitar, keyboards) has done a solo album, and that’s super chilled, it’s brilliant, bit annoyed that we didn’t get some of those songs for ourselves! I think some of the songs will be heavier, faster and louder than anything we’ve done before. As soon as I take the van back on Monday, we’re in the studio from there, finishing and recording, we’ve written maybe two thirds of the album so far. It’s got to be finished by May, otherwise we’re fucked! We’re a bit behind because it’s been three years since our last album

After 12 years of being Oceansize, would it be possible to name any highlights, or any regrets?
I can’t actually think of any regrets, we’ve not made any stupid decisions, we’ve not had any fall outs, we did lose a member, but he left for reasons which were moral, he couldn’t support a child. You can’t contribute to a family when you earn as little as we do, he wanted to be a better dad I suppose. So no, no regrets! In terms of highlights, there are loads and loads, you can’t pick out one. It seems every year we do something more buzzing than the last. I think the first time we went to America was in 2002, we’ve been to Australia, Russia, Scandinavia, all over Europe, everything’s a bonus because we never thought we’d get a record deal, let alone be around eleven years! Very, very few bands are around for eleven years with three or four albums, especially a band who has never really broken the mainstream, there’s a niche market, and if you can tap into that then you can get by, and that’s all you need! At times I thought I’d regretted giving up my job, because I was earning shedloads of money, but I gave it up to go to college and study drumming, but that’s a personal thing that I thought I might’ve regretted, but there’s much more to life than money, much more.

Interview By Ben Connell
 Band Members

Mike Vennart
Steve Durose
Mark Heron
Steven Hodson
 Latest Releases
Oceansize - Home And Minor
Release Date - 26th October 2009
1. Legal Teens
2. Getting Where Water Cannot
3. Monodrones
4. Home & Minor
5. Didnaeland
6. The Strand
 Band Related Links
Oceansize Myspace