Oceansize frontman Mike Vennart talks to eGigs

current tour, favourite gigs, favourite albums, and a dead bat! on Monday 25 January 2010

Oceansize's frontman Mike Vennart is in a cold, rank rehearsal studio in Manchester, with broken windows which are letting in some 'ghastly' drafts. To take his mind off rehearsals for a while eGigs rang him up for a quick interview about to start their tour on Thursday.

Your tour starts next week are you looking forward to it?
We are, we're just frantically practising, we've done a lot of new stuff to play, so, we're trying to get it nailed. Quite a strange thing happened, our drummer was pretty ill recently and we had to postpone the tour, which is a pretty shitty thing to have to deal with, but as it happened it's ended up being a bit of a blessing because we managed to get some more new stuff ready for the tour. Well be able to break it in and make sure it's all working and all that.

And all the tracks will appear on the new album?
What we usually with do every album we've done, is just before the recording of the album, we go out and do nothing but the new stuff for five or six gigs, and then go straight in the studio, and record it straight from the last gig so that we're pretty fresh. The thing is, I've always thought that playing one gig is like playing ten rehearsals, it really solidifies a lot quicker and we really get into the groove a lot faster. Even with a handful of gigs we're then totally prepared to get the stuff down on tape.

With the current tour will the gigs only be a set of new tracks?
Not all of it will be, we'll also be playing our greatest hits (laughs) how do I word this, yeah, some of the old shit will also be in there, it should be good.

How would you describe the new tracks?
In the most part it's a bit shorter, it's mainly heavier, there's one tune that we're just practising at the moment that is just the f**ckin' loudest, most obnoxious, sludgy, horrible, heaviest thing we've ever done. I'm really looking forward to presenting that, it's going to be unbearable, that'll be quite interesting. I've never heard anything quite like it, so I don't quite know how people are going to take to it, it's not particularly catchy. It'll be good.

Are you going to play it at the end of the set then?
No, we're going to start with it actually (chuckles).

Have you got any interesting samples added into the album this time?
I can't really think of anything, Gambler is playing a little bit of keyboards in here or there. On the last album, 'Frames', Gambler's playing keyboards on virtually everything, so I think he's trying to keep that to a minimum this time. There's some stuff that's the fastest, most frantic stuff that we've ever done. The strange thing is that with every album that we do, we try to do something different and keep everybody on their toes, just to keep things interesting for us as well as the audience, but the thing is, it's really hard to change what you sound like. You can bring in all these strange influences and get introduced to all kinds of new music that can instigate fresh ideas but at the same time you're still going to sound like your band. Oh my god I've just found a dead bat. How did that get in here? This place is really strange!

Sounds like it, so you've not done any recording for the album at all yet?
The plan was the when we got back from the tour which was actually scheduled for two months or so ago, we were going to do it then. We thought, "let's not start recording now, let's write some more stuff, and go out and play that on the rescheduled dates, and then we'll have more stuff to put down." We've set ourselves a deadline and it's all coming together, it's exciting.

I don't suppose anything like artwork has been decided for it yet then?
There's some interesting stuff being talked about. I can't say anything about it, because we all haven't actually agreed that it's definitely going to happen. But, there's a couple of things in the pipeline. The cool thing is, that with any of these things, things just fall into your lap sometimes. When you're starting a band out you have to go hunting for ideas, and all that. Then, when you become an established band, well successful/unsuccessful as we are, certain things just fall into your lap, and people start to get in contact with you. So, it should be quite interesting, we're trying to put it all together at the moment. It's really exciting.

Your names comes from that Jane's Addiction track did you get to see them recently when they reformed? What did you think of their live show?
Yeah, I saw them when they first reformed about five year's ago, and quite enjoyed it, but, I went to see them recently, they were on with Nine Inch Nails, and I've got to say, it was a bit of a letdown to be honest.

I don't know if you've ever gone to see Bob Dylan, you'll find even when he does play the songs that you know and love, that he doesn't sing them at all like they are supposed to sound. That was what it was like seeing Jane's Addiction.

The vocal melodies that were written in 1988 were perfectly adequate, and really made those songs come alive, I don't see why they feel the need to sing it completely and utterly differently. I wasn't really feeling it to be honest. Last time I went to see them, they did a couple of old songs, they did 'Then She Did', and 'Three Days', that they absolutely had me by the balls, I was nearly in tears. I still really like those all records, they were a really good band.

You've toured with various big names, who was the most fun to be on tour with?
Band wise? Biffy Clyro were really, really, really, good fun to be out on tour with, especially back in the day when we used to hang out on buses, and all that kind of stuff. They are just such lovely lads, they're just up for the crack, and they've always got a smile for you, really, really good crack. It's always questions like this where I have a complete mental blank I can't think of any other band.

Usually everybody is pretty polite. The ones where you often don't have a very good time, are usually the really big American bands that we've supported, who just don't want to talk to you, and they want to keep you as far away as possible, they'll walk past you in the corridor backstage and not even acknowledge that you're there. Some of them are all right, but we did a spot with the (Smashing) Pumpkins and they wouldn't even look at us, that was strange.

How would you describe the bands like And So I Watched You From Afar who are supporting you on tour?
There's also Vessels as well and a band called Brontide on some dates. ASIWYFA have that instrumental thing that people would ordinarily, immediately put in the post rock bracket, to me they're a balls out, apocalyptic rock band, but with no vocals. They do get labelled post rock, but I think people are all too quick to sort anybody who are instrumental in that bracket these days, but yes, they're damn heavy. Vessels are on every date, and there's a couple that And So I Watched You From Afar aren't doing and Brontide are on those.

We're really chuffed that we've managed to get together this bill, because sometimes you feel like you're going out on tour and taking bands with you that, although they'll always be nice guys, and you'll always have a nice time, you don't have very much in common with them. But, in this case, it's nice to take out bands where you feel like, this is a bill that I think everybody is going to enjoy, and you get much more bang for your buck.

What's been your most memorable gig over the years?
Well, I think it's strange, but last year, 2009, we had just some of the best times ever. There were just some particularly unusual things happened, like doing Sonisphere at Knebworth, which was really, really, surprisingly good. We thought with it being a metal fest that it wouldn't necessarily translate for us but it went down really well.

Whenever we have the chance to play a major festival, like we'll do stuff in Germany or in Holland, it's just great, because people just come out in droves to go and see bands that perhaps they've never heard of, and so we do okay over there. We also got the chance to support Faith No More in 2009 as well which was a f88kin' dream come true, it was really, really good fun.

Are you planning on any festival appearances this summer?
It depends, I think it would have been more likely if we'd have got the album actually ready for release, because we've been a bit pernickety about everything, then I don't think we'll actually get to do anything this year. I hope we do, I'm certainly going to be trying to bag certain things. I'm just going to start begging certain festivals to let us go, because there's certain festivals that I didn't manage to get tickets for, and it's all sold out, so I'm going to start writing grovelling, begging letters to let me in.

What was the last music you bought?
I just went and bought Grizzly Bear's 'Yellow House' album, I'd already heard it but I didn't actually own it, and I saw a good deal, for £6, so I went and bought that. What brand new album have I bought recently? St Vincent is something that I've only just discovered, she's absolutely bent my head, I saw her supporting Grizzly Bear as a matter of fact, a couple of month's ago, and instantly rose to the top of my pile of all time favourite guitarists, she's absolutely incredible. So I've really got into her, and I went to ATP (All Tomorrow's Parties) recently and saw Deerhoof, and The Melvins so I've been buying a lot of their records.

What would be your three must keep records in your collection?
Number one would be 'Sing To God' by Cardiacs, just I've never got sick of hearing it, at least once a week, every week for the last fifteen years, it just absolutely otherworldly. Secondly Disco Volante by Mr Bungle, I heard it at the right time to make me realise that there was more to music than just verses and choruses, and has a more avant-garde tinge to it, and a different approach, if you will. The third one, this is going to drive me crazy, okay, I'm on fourth or fifth ipod now and every single one of them has had 'Laughing Stock' by Talk Talk on it. We rip them off to the nth degree man, we absolutely love 'em. I was going to say they're one of those bands that absolutely all of us like, but that wouldn't be true. There's somebody that thinks they're a load of hippy bullshit.

Last question who would you most like to collaborate with?
Tim Smith from Cardiacs, an immeasurably clever man, I would say an utter genius. I really, really love his work.

Thanks Mike, I hope you get some of those festival slots.
Yup, I hope we do. We've never played Glastonbury, and we don't understand why,they'll never, ever have us, we know they don't really go for heavy bands anymore, but there's a bit more to us than that, you know. We keep hoping.

Oceansize play the following dates:
Thu 28 Jan Barfly (formally Masque), Liverpool
Tue 2 Feb Academy (Manchester University), Manchester - SOLD OUT
Wed 3 Feb Heaven, City of Westminster
Thu 4 Feb Barfly, Cardiff - SOLD OUT
Fri 5 Feb Rock City, Nottingham

To buy tickets, where available, click here.

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article by: Scott Williams

published: 25/01/2010 17:41

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