Rock Sound catches up with Oceansize vocalist Mike Vennart in this brand new interview.
Rock Sound caught up with Oceansize vocalist Mike Vennart recently to discuss new music, building studios and getting Etch-A-Sketched, check it out below…
Things on the Oceansize front have been quiet for a while, what have you been up to?
“Well, I haven’t done an interview in ages so I’m not probably the most articulate I’ve ever been. You’ll have to give me some pointers to get the wheels rolling...”
Well, we know you have a new EP coming out, tell us a little bit about that…
“It’s called the ‘Home and Minor’ EP. The record company were getting pissed off with us for not getting our arses in gear and finishing the fourth album, so we made a deal with them and said, ‘Okay, we’ll give you an EP’. The direction we have gone in is a little bit more reserved. I mean, there’s this one song, ‘Legal Teens’, it sound likes a weird, sci-fi, cocktail tune. We’d usually counterbalance that with loads of riffs and psychedelic weirdness but we thought we’d try and make a mini-album of more reserved songs that have something in common with each other. It’s our acoustic-like record, only there are no acoustic instruments and it’s not an album!”
How have you gone about making it more reserved then?
“There are four songs and then two little bridge-like pieces. It’s quite different for us because it covers a lot of ground. There’s a bit of pumping electro on it, some pedal steel guitar, a really nice girl singing on it, trumpets… We’d never even dreamed of using brass instruments in the past! So yeah, there are a few firsts. I’ve got that healthy apprehension about releasing it because I just know that some of our fans are going to throw up as soon as they hear it. In about two years time they’ll think it’s the best thing we’ve ever done. That’s the kind of curse we have, that of constantly trying to keep ourselves interested, as well as everybody else…”
What was the recording process like and what label are you releasing it on?
“It’s on Superball and it’s going to be out in October or November, I think. We recorded it all ourselves because we were lucky enough to build our own studio. We realised that the money we were spending on actually making records, for about half of that we could build a decent studio. We found this place and knocked a few walls down, ripped out a few toilet cubicles and built this lovely little studio. There are mice everywhere but it’s got a really nice vibe to it. We spent about a month gluing carpets to the walls and getting high off the fumes!”
Interesting! Apart from sniffing glue and recording your EP, what else have you been doing in your new studio?
“Now that we’ve got the studio, we’ve written literally tonnes of new material and it’s weird being in a band where every day is play day. Now that we’ve had virtually two years of this kind of pissing around and having fun making tunes, it’s time to really knuckle down and whittle it all down because, to be honest, we could go on forever like this. Every single day I would go home with a new tune on my iPod that had only been born that morning. It’s not frustrating, but we’ve got to get a bit of discipline, stop enjoying it and get the actual hard work done… which is making a record out of it!”
That’s good to hear. Can we expect a new album next year then?
“Yeah, for sure. I mean, we’ve set a target so hopefully it’ll be out in the spring. It’s for our own good. We could quite happily keep fannying around with this record and it wouldn’t matter to us because we’re having that much fun! I suppose it’s not really fair on everybody, though…”
You’re a bit busy at the moment, you’ve just played Sonisphere, you’re doing a show with Biffy Clyro, you’re releasing a box-set, and EP and then hopefully an album, so do you plan to tour at all soon?
“We’re meant to be going out in October, November and bit of December, as well as doing some of Europe. Sonisphere… I’ve still got a headache from that! It was the first festival we’ve camped at for years. God, it was amazing, I had a really good time. We were lucky with that gig because we didn’t know how we’d get taken, we didn’t think people would be that receptive. We deliberately pulled out the riffy ones, and everybody was really positive! We felt really lucky, we couldn’t quite believe it. We thought people would just run away!”
Was playing at Knebworth a special moment?
“There’s a bit of prestige with Knebworth, isn’t there? It felt like we were at one of these great, prestigious events and gatecrashing the party! We couldn’t believe they’d actually had the balls to ask us to play. To be honest, we don’t get a lot of these offers, especially metal festivals, so we thought, ‘Right, we’d better not fuck this up’. I had a great time the next day, watching Nine Inch Nails… they absolutely Etch-A-Sketched my brain, it just erased everything. I’ve never seen anything so amazing. Alice In Chains took me by surprise completely. I was quietly cynical but they absolutely bent my head, they were just incredible. I watched Mastodon too, but I think that was it. I tried to watch Rolo Tomassi but I’d just finished the gig and I was absolutely brain dead. The last thing I wanted to watch was Rolo Tomassi, even though I totally, utterly love them. I couldn’t handle it!”
Finally, what’s the deal with this box-set you’ve released? Is it the end of a chapter?
“Maybe, it certainly feels a little bit too soon for a greatest hits album. We did three nights at the Manchester Roadhouse last year to celebrate the fact that we somehow managed to make it to being a 10-year-old band. We recorded it purely for our own enjoyment but when we saw the footage back and got it mixed properly we decided to put it out. It was an epic project and I’m glad it’s over. It’s not healthy for anybody to be looking at pictures and videos of themselves for hours on end. It doesn’t get any easier and you don’t get used to the way you look – it started to drive me crazy. I’ve removed all the mirrors from my house because I just can’t bear to see any other image of myself ever again, it’s really horrible! I guess it does feel like a bookend, but I can’t say that the next record is going to be stylistically completely different. The trouble with us is that we try to sound really different but we still kind of sound the same. We progress in our little world but it still sounds like us. That’s good and bad I suppose, depending on who you ask…”