INTERVIEW BY ANTHONY MURRAY
COMPLETING a coast to coast tour of the USA and playing the European music festival scene doesn't phase Manchester-based band Oceansize – in fact the only thing they want to do right now is play music and have money for a bit of food.
The five-piece rockers are Mike Vennart – guitar, lead vocals; Steve Durose – guitar, vocals; Gambler – guitar; Jon Ellis – bass guitar and keyboard; and Mark Heron – drums.
Fresh from a 13-date tour of the USA the lads are now busy rehearsing the tracks on their new EP, Music For Nurses, at their make-shift studio in Ancoats, Manchester. Released on 11th October, on Beggars Banquet, it contains some of the most complex material they have played to date.
Singer Mike says “The music off the EP is a lot harder to play, but we've got there. It is much rockier in places with certain songs and it is quite complex, compared to how we normally play together.”
A full playing of the EP will be given at their upcoming UK tour starting at Josephs Well, in Leeds on 14th October and ending at Stoke Sugarmill on 30th October (2004).
But before the tour starts it’s back to their “9-5 job” said Mike: “At the moment we’re just jamming and getting down some ideas for the new album.
“I’d say we're about half-way through the album and just to confuse things a bit, there's a new track on the album that has a working title of Music For Nurses – that doesn’t have anything at all to do with the EP.
“It is fair to say that the EP is a good preview to what’s coming up on our next album. The last album was a selection of our greatest hits that have been with us since the beginning, but our next one, which we're hoping to get out next spring (2005), is more of a challenge.
“What we've done for the album so far is more concise and to the point. A couple of our heavier b-sides are quite typical of the envisaged album.”
Described by some critics as a more brutal, original, darker and dirtier version of bands like Elbow, Oceansize have been hailed “cataclysmic” by NME; The Face said they were “one of the finest from the new guitar breed”; Kerrang described them as “simply spellbinding”; and that was all from their debut album.
The album Effloresce, which was released last year, has grabbed people’s attention in not only the UK but in record stores across Europe and in the USA.
Selling out a show in New York during their June tour of the USA with three-piece rockers Mclusky proved that they are well received in the states – and Oceansize plan to go back at the start of 2005.
“It was nice to play some different crowds,” adds Mike. “One of the best places we went to was Las Vegas - it was weird because we were driving and I had an urge to go on a rollercoaster and then one just appeared as we stopping for a toilet break.” Steve quips: “Only in America can you stop for a piss and a rollercoaster – but it was one of the scariest ones I’ve been on.”
After the US tour the band played some dates in Germany and Holland. Guitarist Steve elaborates: “It's great in Europe there's such a vibe with the crowds. It was especially impressive at the Obstwiesenfestival in July where we ended up headlining the festival – albeit by a technicality – but we were still up there.
“It was our first outdoor gig and it started to get breezy, the heavy storms and torrential rain moved in quickly and forced it to close straight after we finished – I just hope it wasn’t our fault it rained!”
Despite being based in Manchester they are far from just being a ‘Manchester band’ with members ranging from Scotland to Birmingham, Mike muses on this point : “I don't hate it when people call us a Manchester band, it's just we don't even sound like a Manchester band, so I don't want people to think we're something we're not and be disappointed.” Drummer Mark Herron drums up the adopted Glaswegian / Mancunian line : “Manchester is a great place to be with the band. We had all been to Manchester & Salford Universities and it seemed right to start here.”
Mike adds: “We were working on a lot of stuff for a year when we first started, until we got our first gig and our first review on ManchesterMusic.co.uk. and some time after our first distributed CD with its sister label Soviet Union
“From then things started to progress slowly, until we got signed to Beggars two years ago and since then we’ve been quite busy.”
Their only formula for success is to “keep things interesting”, according to guitarist Steve: “I think just so long as we keep things interesting then we’ll start to get noticed more. At the moment we’re just thankful for a bit of cash to pay the rent and get us food. We seem to be on a creative upper now so things seem to be going well.”
Mark adds: “The best thing too, is that we’re not just relying on Manchester or Britain to play our music. We’ve been selling albums in the USA and Europe as well. I think we’re making the type of sound that can be spread wider than the UK.”
And what would happen if they somehow managed to take control of all the record companies in the world? Well the guitarist Gambler says all of the radio stations would be silent and a lot of people would be dropped from labels.
Mike reckons there would be a total revolution: “All record companies would probably go bust with us in charge. I think I would put all the money into releasing the whole back-catalogue of the Cardiacs – and I’d get them out on the road too.”
But for the time being they are focussing on the new album, the October UK tour and paying the rent. So next time you see them at a gig be sure to bring some food and carefully place it on the stage . . . . .
words: Anthony Murray Oct2004
web: http://www.sizeofanocean.com/ Official Beggars Banquet Artist Page
pictures: (c) : Adie Nunn (live photo strip / collage) :: Michael England (main portraits) :: Tina McClelland (live / chairsmissing gig)
respective images, logos and trademarks & (c) oceansize / beggars banquet
"Music For Nurses" is out now on Beggars Banquet
October 2004 Tour
Leeds Josephs Well
15 - Manchester Academy 3
16 - Newcastle Archer
18 - Edinburgh Venue
19 - Aberdeen Kef
20 - Glasgow King Tuts
21 - Sheffield Fez Club
22 - Liverpool University
24 - Birmingham Academy 3
25 - Southampton Joiners
26 - London Garage
27 - Bristol Fleece
29 - Cardiff Barfly
30 - Stoke Sugarmill
For early reviews of Oceansize, info on the legendary CHAIRSMISSING live events and details of their debut CD "A Very Still Movement", visit www.music-manchester.co.uk , www.manchestermusic.co.uk , www.chairsmissing.com .and www.sovietunion.co.uk - Tina McClellands website chronicles the very early days right up until signing at www.photo2000.co.uk
(c)(p) oct04 - musicdash / manchestermusic.co.uk 2004