I was lucky to be there on the second date of the tour in London’s Camden Town at the compact but awesome Barfly venue (Stay tuned for my live review) Bassist and drummer Jack and Tom were kind enough to put aside some time pre-show for a chat about the new album as well as touring life, their feelings on now being a quartet and the current quality of British rock music. Plus AltSounds got a lesson in nest building...
AltSounds: Hi guys! So you’ve just kicked off a UK tour in support of your new album Maybe Today, Maybe Tomorrow. How would you sum up the album for someone who hasn’t heard it yet? Jack: Have they heard of the band before or never? Give me some criteria.
AltSounds: OK, so if they’ve never even heard of We Are The Ocean.
Jack: In how many words?!
Tom: (Laughs) I’d say it’s the kind of album that keeps hold of you from beginning to end. So you hear one song and then you want to carry on listening...
Jack: It grabs you! It’s a rock album that has some melodic moments; some thrash your head moments and is generally set along a nice rock path. I don’t want to blow my own trumpet but I hope it’s a bunch of well written rock songs that you can sing along to and have a little dance to.
Maybe Today, Maybe Tomorrow album artwork
AltSounds: I’ve already read comments from people saying that they think it’s your best work ever. Do you agree with that?
Tom: (Instantly) Yes we all agree. Before we released it and before anyone had heard it, the four of us knew it was the best stuff we’ve ever written. We were so happy with it.
Jack: Even the writing process felt a lot more comfortable.
Tom: Yeah it was more natural and just kind of ‘happened’. It still took a lot of hard work but it’s definitely the strongest material we’ve written.
Jack: We’ve found what we wanted to be, found our sound and found our feet. We’re proud of everything we’ve done (previously) but as we tried to bond writing as a unit and also decide what kind of music we wanted to write, the other albums have been kind of like stepping stones to where we are now.
AltSounds: How have you adjusted to being a quartet?
Jack: It’s exciting!
Tom: Yeah it is exciting. Like playing some of the older songs feels a bit different...It’s almost like you’re playing completely new songs, when you’re not. The main difference was Liam (lead vocals). He had to step up and be the frontman and we think he’s doing that incredibly well. We’re really proud of him and how he’s getting on.
Jack: And I think he’s loving it.
Tom: Other than that, I guess we’re still getting used to it, but it’s feeling good and we’re all happy with our roles.
WATCH // 'The Road'
AltSounds: Is there a particular track on the album that you’re most fond of at the moment?
Tom: People have asked us this question before. I think for this album, for me... (pause) I’m so happy with all my parts and I’m so happy with how the songs turned out that I find it so hard to pick a favourite!
Jack: It’s like picking a favourite child! "Out of your ten children Tom, which one do you like the best?"
Tom: (Laughs) Ok, I’m going to say the title track, ‘Maybe Today, Maybe Tomorrow’, which is track number...eight.
Jack: So your eighth child is your favourite.
Tom and AltSounds: (Laughs)
Jack: For me it kind of depends on what mood I’m in. ‘Golden Gate’ is one that strikes me because it’s one of the more different songs. We experimented a lot more on that than we have done on the previous albums. Whenever I hear ‘Machine’ though it psyches me up and makes me wanna do something energetic! Whereas the first and last track are subdued and mellow.
Tom: They set the mood for the album.
LISTEN // 'Golden Gate'
AltSounds: That’s my next question actually. Is there a theme running through the album?
Tom: To an extent...
Jack: It’s not a concept album.
Tom: There never intentionally was a theme, was there? (To Jack)
Jack: No, I mean generally the songs are pretty positive. So a lot of is “Ah shit happens but it gets better”. So other than a positive vibe there’s lyrics about escapism, money, the economy...Not that we’ve gone all political!
AltSounds: So it's not on an Enter Shikari political level?
Jack: Haha no we’re not quite there yet!
Tom: It’s more about general experiences and the feelings that you have; quite a close to home album.
Jack: We hope that a lot of the songs are relatable.
AltSounds: Moving onto the subject of touring - You’re heading out to Europe after this UK leg. Is there anyone in the band who doesn’t do particularly well with travelling? Or are you all seasoned pro’s now?
Jack: Yeah we’re all seasoned...er...What’s the word? Veterans! We’re tour veterans now.
Tom: I think the longest tour we’ve done is six or seven weeks. And so once you’ve been out for about a month, you know you haven’t got long left so you don’t let it get to you. When you’re doing a three or four week tour, you get two weeks in and you think “Oh we’re going home in a week!” We don’t really struggle, we all just kind of get on with it and we do really enjoy it.
We Are The Ocean: tour veterans
Jack: I think we all appreciate that this is a line of work that most people don’t get a chance to do. And a lot of people don’t get to see the places that we do, so we want to make the most of it. So outside of the shows we don’t want to be only travelling to and from venues, we want to enjoy as much of it as possible.
AltSounds: Yeah, I was just going to ask if you get time to do much sightseeing when you’re out in other countries?
Tom: It depends really. My mum is always saying “Oh Tom you went there and you didn’t see this or that!” (Laughs) But when you’re there you have to load in, in the early afternoon and you’re just too busy. Some days you can go for a walk and work out some things to do.
Jack: It depends on the venue too. If they’re central enough we can pop into the city and go out for a mooch.
Tom: Every now and then we get to see some cool stuff.
Jack: I think the worst case is like when we just did The Warped Tour in America. We were there for five weeks and went all over the country and didn’t see a thing! We had a few days off and it was just car parks, car parks, car parks! (Or parking lots to our American friends)
Tom: We started so early in the morning and didn’t finish until really late at night and then we were in the middle of nowhere anyway. It was good fun though!
We Are The Ocean Warped Tour merch stall. Not sure about the box marked 'Sex'... Photo credit to wearetheoceanofficial.tumblr.c om
Jack: Our first time in Paris and Rome we made a conscious effort to go and see certain sights. We’ll be in Germany for Oktoberfest so we’ll definitely stroll around and enjoy that!
AltSounds: I bet! So what about tour habits. Can you name and shame someone with particularly nasty ones?
Tom: Ok, I’m going to drop Jack in this.
Jack: (Embarrassed look)
Tom: Jack builds nests in the van.
Jack: Yeah I do.
Tom: And by nests we mean like food and clothes and...
Jack: Not dirty stuff or old stuff!
Tom: Sometimes he leaves it a bit long and it gets a bit minging. But yes, he builds nests.
Jack: I’m not that bad! I have a little bag with a sarnie in, a little bag with some clothes in, a little bag of electronics, my coat, my shoes...And it just piles up. They’re all essentials! I am trying to work on it and wean myself off.
Tom: We have started to do fines. You’re allowed one bag and one...
Jack:...Carry on. Like a flight!
Tom: Yeah, and any more than that or any rubbish and you get fined a pound which goes in the tip jar that’s on the table in the van.
Jack: Other than that we’re not too bad. Every now and then you get the odd pongy foot. Which generally is mine.
Jack: But yeah as bands go I think we’re semi-clean.
Jack's latest nest was getting a little big...
AltSounds: Ok on a more serious note - This year has been a real hive of home-grown talent, including yourselves, as far as the rock scene goes. Do you think that the growing popularity of it comes down to the quality of the music or the public’s perception of UK rock?
Both: I think it’s both.
Tom: The quality has definitely stepped up. There are several bands that have music coming out which is really good and really strong. It helps that with guys like Radio 1 playing the songs, there’s a lot more people who are listening to it that wouldn’t have before.
Jack: I think there’s only so far you can go with just buzz or press without the quality being there. I think there are some bands that have hit that wall. But the bands that have gone through it and gone above and beyond are the ones with quality.
AltSounds: Well said. Now it’s time for my brief Quickfire Round!
Jack: (To Tom) You go first!
AltSounds: Ketchup or mayonnaise?
Tom: Ketchup...Nope. I didn’t mean that! No I’ll stick with ketchup; less calories.
AltSounds: British television or American television?
Jack: British TV.
AltSounds: Vans or Converse?
Tom: (Quickly) Vans.
AltSounds: Festival slot or local pub show?
Jack: (Loudly) Local pub show!! All day long.
AltSounds: Lastly, Spiderman or Batman for a day?
Tom: Spiderman, all the way.
Jack: Well, Batman’s rich but he doesn’t actually have any powers. And so Spiderman could get rich somehow...
Tom: Spiderman gets the girl.
Jack: Yeah I reckon Spiderman. You could get the gadgets anyway; anyone could make gadgets and you’d also have the natural (mimes Spiderman’s web extraction manoeuvre with added sound effect). So a rich Spiderman.
AltSounds: Great, well thank you guys.
Tom and Jack: Thank you!
Maybe Today, Maybe Tomorrow is out now.
To see the list of all of the upcoming European tour dates click here.