Oceana is an interesting presence on both the Rome and national music scene who, with their first full-length record The Pattern have had an immediate charm on me and pushed me to bring them to our platform with a few questions so we can better get to know them. To be quite fair, what I got to ask them for this interview is only barely even half of what I would have liked to ask them, but nothing is stopping us from inviting them back in the future, especially considering that they’re already working on their second album. In the meantime, you can read about them below and you can also take a look at the review of The Pattern I wrote a few months back that you can find HERE if you haven’t read it already!
First of all, I wanna greet my fellow townsmen. Let’s start with a quick recap of how The Pattern was received; it’s already been a few months since its release and we would like to know the reaction it got both nationally and abroad. And if there’s been any difference between the support it got in Italy and elsewhere.
A warm greeting to you to and thank you for contacting us for this interview! When it comes to The Pattern, all we can say is that we’re incredibly pleased! It’s been doing really well in Italy, even though Covid-19 made it impossible for us to promote it in person… we simply have to thank all our supporters who, even back at preorders, came for it in droves to make sure they could get their hands on a copy and the merch! On the international side, we can say that there was a lot of support online and on social media, but we don’t have a clear picture yet because we’re still waiting on statements from foreign distributors. We haven’t had the chance to meet our fans in person yet, but we don’t think there’s any difference between our Italian or foreign supporters: from what we’ve been able to read on SocMed, they’ve both been incredibly heated in their support and we owe them everything!
Is there a specific country where Oceana have gathered a particular following?
Definitely America, even though we also have a lot of fans in the UK, Japan, the Netherlands, Germany…
By now you’re fully immersed in the making of your second full-length album, how has that been coming along? Can you give us a sneak peek?
In our opinion, this is the most profound and mature album we’ve recorded in our lives: songwriting aside, we often find ourselves saying that it “contains our very blood” in every track… for a myriad of reasons, both personal and not…
Following the release of The Pattern, Francesco Bucci (previously Stormlord) joined you on bass and now Oceana seems to be complete. What would you say is the most precious and important element that Francesco brought to the band?
Francesco is very practical and has great intuitions, both musically and on the organisational side: his entry into the band was a breath of energy that finally let us have that musician and person that we’d been looking for for so long!
Back in May, you did a live soirée all together, a very entertaining and interesting event. During the broadcast, you touched on the subject of concerts in streaming and how they received a positive response during the pandemic. Of course, we’re all expecting concerts the way we know them to come back as soon as possible but in the meantime, online streams have been instrumental to keep going and to keep the fans’ interest running. Do you think this new method could become a parallel to concerts in live venues?
To be quite honest, even though they were a great “substitute” for the traditional concert during the pandemic, we believe that as soon as we’ll be able to go back and play live, the “live streaming” phenomenon will go back to being a kind of live-in-studio we’re used to. It could become useful as a means of promotion on social media, but the air that gets stirred with a set of drums, with three amps for the guitars and the bass is something else entirely. Nothing against those who invested in the live streaming sector, but we grew up being able to look into the faces of the musicians we loved and we’ve broken ribs to be on the front line of live concerts… if we think of the times of the Circolo degli Artisti we start tearing up and there’s a lot of nostalgia…
Still, do you think Oceana might take advantage of this instrument to reach a bigger audience? In Japan, for example, they had a lot of success and a lot of tickets were also sold to foreign fans, encouraging the selling of merchandise that was shipped, like T-shirts, photoshoots, etc.; plus the possibility to rewatch the live anytime by a certain date. I personally think this might be the future of entertainment and the cultural world in general.
If this formula keeps working, we will definitely take into consideration the possibility of doing live streaming events but as things stand right now (especially considering the type of album we’ve been recording), we much prefer the old in-person realm of live concerts. There are a lot of reasons for this, mostly linked to our own sensitivities and our potential for emotion when in front of real-life people. We’re always very uncomfortable in front of cameras. Playing live and in front of an audience is like “making love”, while we think that doing the same in front of a machine and nothing else is kind of like watching porn… there’s watching, and then there’s doing.
Massimiliano is a Novembre alum, one of the most prominent Italian Metal bands with a big following abroad. I would like to ask Massimiliano this: do you think that your time in Novembre has influenced the compositional style of Oceana? And what’s the most important thing you’ve learned while playing and composing for Novembre?
Absolutely yes! Twenty years together is not a short time: you grow up together and you affect each other. Of course, with Oceana, we’re trying to put forth a different “message” (musically speaking), but my method of composing, arranging, managing tonal changes is not any different from what I’ve always been doing with Novembre. The biggest lesson I learned while playing with Novembre is that you have to take and do everything extremely seriously and keep into consideration EVERY single aspect, not just playing the music.
To Massimiliano again: when you were in Novembre, when Oceana was on pause, did you ever think of taking both back up and have two parallel careers? Or did you think it was necessary to make your own way to try and express yourself to the best of your ability?
I simply dedicated myself full-time to Oceana during a time when Novembre was inactive. Right from the moment Sancho (Alessandro Marconcini, the drummer) and I woke the band up from its hibernation, we haven’t stopped once: in a very organic way, we’ve started working hard and in extreme seriousness. It’s what allows us to create an album a year without sacrificing the quality of our songs and our objective.
We are from a time when buying CDs was the norm, we know cassette tapes intimately and we’ve seen them go from friend’s hand to friend’s hand. Music was lived through a social context that felt it a lot more strongly too, in my opinion: there were social groups founded on musical genres (we’re very well acquainted with the gang of Piazza di Spagna, heh!), we would exchange cassettes and CDs, we would go to concerts in big groups and, in all honesty, music as a social phenomenon used to have a completely different flavour. Today something seems to have been lost because of digitalisation, I’m thinking of Spotify where all you need to listen to music is a few cents a month. I’ve always wondered: what does an artist gain from putting their music on digital platforms? Do you think this will lead to a future where music on CDs is completely extinct? Even though I’ve been noticing, as of late, that there’s been a shy return to cassette tapes. Isn’t it, in some ways, a sign of nostalgia for our times?
Speaking about streaming platforms, we can only say that, in the end, back in the times of Napster, Lars had the right idea… we don’t make a cent from streaming, ON THE CONTRARY…
It’s an extremely sad subject that makes us feel powerless. CDs will probably go extinct eventually and most people will be okay with low-quality mp3 files or vinyl, all of this at the expense of the mixing… The only good thing about vinyl is that you can have a beautiful cover in a bigger and enhanced format, but when it comes to sound… meh… so much money spent looking for the best production value just to reduce a good sound to a simple sound…
Nostalgic people will always be there, but they also see music as merchandise, as an object… if they truly loved music, they would be DEMANDING a 24bit 96kHz CD or a file… but no, they want cassette tapes, vinyl…
Going back to your newest work: recording studios have also changed, from Dan Swanö to Giuseppe Orlando. What’s the reason behind this change?
Actually, we only used Giuseppe to record the drums and we’ll be mixing in his studio: the rest we’ve been recording in Massimiliano’s personal studio (where he composes, does arrangements, and works exclusively for Oceana). Once we’re done with reprises, we’ll bring all our materials and our hardware back to Giuseppe’s studio, where he and Massimiliano will be mixing “two-handedly”. It was a specific choice of ours to ensure the best possible result from all points of view.
Staying on the subject: are you also thinking about shooting a new promo video? And how did the idea behind You don’t know – which is so beautiful and so professional, by the way! – come to be? Is there a link between Asian culture, Japanese culture in particular, and the philosophy behind Oceana’s name?
Thank you so much, we’ve very glad you enjoyed the video! Martina McLean from Sanda Movies perfectly understood our “vision” and love for Japan that Massimiliano has had since he was a child. We’re already thinking about the first single from the new album, but there’s still some time… for now, all we can say is that the connection between Oceana and Japan will keep existing with our next album too, but we’d rather not spoil anything, at least for now! 🙂
You started working on the second full album while the pandemic was in full swing and with all the difficulties that posed. How much do you think that affected and will keep affecting Oceana and other artists in general, considering the historical times we’ve been living? We’ve had to deal with a lot when it comes to restrictions, new rules to follow, reduced social relations and everything else, and yet some still see this moment in history as a cue for keeping going. Do you believe in this too? And if so, in what way?
The pandemic has given us both sorrows and also big moments of rediscovery, without even mentioning all the time at our disposal to write music, but we’d rather say a truthful “no comment” than talk about Covid any further. We think it’s time to stop making excuses and to start thinking about tomorrow… We don’t care about Covid. We only want to make music, be with our partners/wives/children/friends and be able to live without being angry at the entire world. Enough with anger: prison is something else, and they don’t let you watch Netflix all day…
What are five words that can represent what Oceana is and why? A question for those who are curious about this interview but don’t know who you are yet!
Good question! Difficult one!
- Passionate: we truly love writing music. More than anything else.
- Serious: we have never taken a break and there hasn’t been a day when we haven’t worked on the new album. Massimiliano in particular. He hasn’t seen his partner in more than 6 months and, between singing lessons, composing, producing and executing his parts, he has never given up. Sancho has also been extremely present, almost as much as Massimiliano. Those two are always like conjoined twins: they haven’t left each other’s side since 1993. The living example of the word “Friends”.
- Empathetic: everything touches us and moves us. We often prefer to avoid certain things because it devours our hearts and Souls…
- Comedic: we have our own way of fooling around and making jokes that very few can understand! (LOL) Only those who truly know us know our true potential for being jackasses, hahaha!
- Punctual: we hate lateness and late people. Even more than tiger mosquitos.
Are there any particular goals that you want to reach with your music? And which ones have you already reached so far?
Our only aim is to keep writing new albums until we’re alive and to be able to live off that. Have we gotten there? We don’t know, but we’re definitely giving it our all.
We’re almost at the end so would you like to leave us with some last words and a message for our platform, for this interview, and for myself (haha, obviously!)? I want to thank you once again for your availability and I hope we’ll be able to talk again soon about the release of your next work, maybe with an in-person interview this time!
First of all, we want to thank you personally, dear Federica (we’ve known each other all our lives!) and we want to thank you for this amazing interview! Then, we can’t leave without saying a heartfelt goodbye to all the readers and thank them and our fans, the real fuel behind our music! You are the most wonderful thing that we have. <3
Thank you so much, guys, you’ve managed to make me smile, especially with your answer to the five words question: I’ll never forget all our evenings spent at Burger King!
Thank you to Oceana for donating some of their time to answer my questions and to Time to Kill for allowing this to happen!
I hope our readers got curious and checked out their music while reading these questions and especially their answers because, after all, that’s what we were trying to do with the interview, aside from my own personal pleasure!