Interview: Robin Stapps of The Ocean

I had a chat with Robin Stapps from The Ocean after their support set with the Dillinger Escape Plan.

The Ocean

DistortedNews: Let’s start off talking about the new album, Anthropocentric. Can you tell os the story behind it?
Robin Stapps: Yeah, it’s the second part of this two album thing we started with Heliocentric, both albums are a critique of Christianity, from different angles, with Heliocentric we’ve gone for a more historical approach, starting with original texts from the bible and moving on towards the Copernican turn and the effect of the discoveries of Galilei and Copernicus had on belief and on the power of the church and concluding with Charles Darwin and Richard Dawkins, that was mainly the scheme of Heliocentric, now with this one [Anthropocentric] we’ve taken a more free and loose approach. There’s a lot of influences from Friedrich Nietzsche in the lyrics, some songs like Sewers OF The Soul, are made up of entire Nietzsche quotes. A big role is taken by the novel the Karamazoz Brothers by Fyodor Dostovsky especially in The Grand Inquisitor chapter, which is basically a conversation between an atheist and a monk, we use a lot of quotes in the lyrics and in almost all the songs there’s an allusion to this whole discussion and this whole theme, it’s a more personal and ambiguous approach to the whole thing, but it’s continuing the whole critique of religion, basically.
DN: On the subject of The Grand Inquisitor, Part III is a bit of a departure from the rest of the album?
Robin: That’s a weird track, I agree… Well, lyrically, it’s continuing the line the other two chapters have begun, but it is a weird song. there’s no guitars on it, it’s just drums and electronics, mainly.  It’s my ex girlfriend singing on that song,  that’s something that just happened, like, when I wrote that track I always had female vocals in mind and i had been wanting to do some music with her for a while and I just tried it out and it turned out pretty cool, the other guys all liked it, so it ended up on the album.
DN: Another thing I noticed about the new album, it seems to be a lot more guitar driven than Heliocentric. Was that a conscious decisions or did it just happen as the album came together?
When I wrote Heliocentric, it was clear from the beginning that there was gonna be a second part, because at the same time Jona also wrote some songs that were really cool and that felt like The Ocean, but didn’t fit with the rest of the Heliocentric material. So we decided to make it two albums, they are different musically, Anthropocentric gets by without all the big orchestrations, most of the songs just get by with drums, bass, guitars and vocals. It wasn’t a conscious decision, it just happened. We did want to make an album that let the core band shine, an album that we can replicate live easily. we did play almost all the heliocentric songs live at one point, that is something we can only really do with an extended line up of classical players, we just wanted to have a straight forward rock album that we could play under any circumstances. I actually did try adding bigger instrumentation to the songs but I discarded it because i felt the songs didn;t need much of that, apart from The Almightiness Contradiction. It’s not a general direction, we are going to work with strings again in the future, we’re going to continue along the path hat we have begun with our previous albums, but for this album it just didn’t feel necessary.

DN: A lot of people will have heard about the robbery by now, can you tell us what actually happened?
Robin: We were driving from Bilbao to Madrid, and we got pulled over by a black BMW and the guys inside were showing police badges to the window, we thought it was civil cops and they pulled us over and wanted to see the papers of the car and they asked if we had any money to declare, even then we weren’t really skeptical whether they were real cops because it’s normal in europe, in Germany you have civil cops who just pull you over without a police car and it’s normal to be asked to declare money when you cross borders. We told them we had merch money with us and they wanted to see it and as soon as the window was open the guy just reached and took the bulk of money from the wallet and ran off with it and jumped into the car that was waiting in front of us, they already had the engine running and they just drove off. We have a van and trailer, they don’t match up to the speed of a fucking BMW. We got the licence plate and we filed a police report in Madrid, but they checked on the computer and found out the licence plate was stolen, so, that’s pretty much the end of the story. 6000 euros, bye-bye. We have started a donation program because we are in a really shit situation with this loss, that was the whole amount of fees we got for the whole tour, everything just gone in one and we simply cannot afford that, but it seems that people are really picking up in it and we started the pre order for the new album at our web shop, lot’s of people are ordering it directly from us because we offer some special packaging and vinyl editions that you don’t get anywhere else. And everyone who has ordered the album, has donated 5 bucks, which already helps us a lot. I don’t have delusions of getting anywhere near close to everything back, but everything helps at this point, and everything is much appreciated.

DN: Apart from the obvious bad points, how has the tour been so far?
Robin: It’s been awesome, absolutely awesome! We’ve had really good shows, but sometimes we’ve had to play early, but usually there are people when we play. I’ve been a big fan of The Dillinger Escape plan since 1997 basically, and just to see them live every night, it’s just fucking awesome. More than that, they’re just really really cool, humble guys who don’t have attitudes and just really interested in music. We’re getting along great. We’ve made strong bonds with this band, the whole crew is amazing, we’ve done a couple of tours where it’s not always like that, we don’t take this for granted that they treat us like that on this tour, these guys are just totally fucking awesome and we’re having the best time.
DN: What about the DEP fans, how are they taking to your music?
Robin: I think since they started incorporating clean vocals with Miss Machine, there is some common ground between the two bands, we’ve been going down really well every night. They are headlining, and they get the big crazy moshpits, but people watch us, and we get good feedback. I think it’s a really cool bill, and we’re been going down well and we’ve won over some new fans. That’s what opening on a tour like this is all about, getting new people, so that when we come back headlining next spring, there’s gonna be more people at our shows.

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