An email interview with Oceana, covering their new sound as heard on the Clean Head EP and what to expect from their next full-length.
Start with your name and duties in the band.
My name is Alex Schultz and I play guitar.
For readers unfamiliar with Oceana, give us a brief history of the band, how you met and how you got to where you are today.
Oceana started in 2008 when I was 16 years old. We were into different music at the time and were heavily influenced by heavier bands like Misery Signals and As Cities Burn. We released our debut album The Tide in March of that year obviously reflecting those influences. After The Tide we did a few support tours including a week of Warped Tour and Cornerstone. After The Tide we parted ways with our vocalist Keith, and our drummer James left the band shortly after. Through our friend Sierra, we found our current vocalist Brennan and soon after our current drummer Denny joined the band. We wrote and recorded our second album Birtheater and released it in mid 2009. After that record we disbanded over personal problems but quickly got back together and wrote an EP that changed our sound and bearing completely. With the new sound came new bass player Kolby Crider and the loss of guitarist Jack Burns; finally leaving us to our current (and permanent) line up.
With your latest release, Clean Head EP, your sound has obviously taken new direction, leaving out the hardcore vocals of past songs. What took you in this direction, and how do you feel about the results?
When we got back together we decided that we wanted to start something fresh, new, and clean. We all had matured a lot since the Birtheater days and were ready to start playing music that we were really passionate about. We are very happy about the results. The album came out exactly how we had envisioned it; raw, emotional, and pure. As for the fans, we’re proud of the ones who stuck by us through the change and are super grateful for all the newfound attention that Cleanhead is bringing. It’s great to finally be able to refer to our fans as “fans” and not “kids.”
That EP was produced by one of my favorites, Matt Goldman. What was it like working with him? How did he impact the character of the album?
Matt Goldman was amazing to work with. We only had a week to record the EP. I think he squeezed out the most on point, pure definition of Oceana at that point in our lives. He had tons of great and creative ideas and really shaped the way the EP came out.
You also have a full length record on the way. What should fans expect from it?
This next album is going to be our first real record as Oceana. We’ve been working on this new feeling and sound since we left the studio with Goldman last year. Fans will still hear the percussive and emotional aspects of the EP, but in a new light. We all moved into an apartment together in St. Petersburg, Florida, about seven months ago and have been non-stop collaborating and creating since. We are all picking up new instruments, new effects or plug-ins and writing. We’re experimenting a lot with this next one so fans should try to go into it with an open mind and remember that we’re not a band who is going to play it safe or keep an identical style through each release. We’re all young and maturing in all aspects.
What we’re aiming for with this next release is to go back to the roots of the music we love; Jazz and Blues. If we can incorporate that influence with the passion, natural rhythm, and a sprinkle of technology from our modern writing style we will have achieved exactly what we’ve always wanted, but never had the capability or balls to do. Now that we have time to craft, create, discard, perfect, and experiment, the possibilities are endless.
I believe this record is also being released independently, correct? If so, what are the pros and cons of doing music this way? Would you prefer to have label support or have the freedom to do things your way?
We are actually in the process of looking for a new record label and booking agency. It would be nice to independently release this next record but to be honest we don’t have the funds.
We have always done things our own way and I don’t think we would sign to a label that would try and corrupt that. But yes, the support of a label is the only thing missing from the equation right now.
I’m not going to ask the tired “are you a Christian band” question, but what I want to know on a deeper level is, what role does faith play in Oceana?
Faith plays no role in the music of Oceana. We play music because it’s our passion. There has been so much controversy over who’s a “true Christian band” and who’s not. We feel that unless you’re singing worship songs that title should not be mentioned. Brennan does talk to and about God in his lyrics sometimes, but only because those are his true feelings. He does not do it to spread the Word of God or to push beliefs on anyone.
Lastly, do you have any tour plans yet to support the new record? When should fans expect to see you on the road in 2010, and how will you be playing with?
We do not have an agent right now but we’re planning to get out sometime soon by ourselves. By the time the record comes out, we will have a full schedule and will definitely make our way around the US and Canada.