OCEANO "Drowning In Disease"

Interview by Dr. Abner Mality

OCEANO is a pretty good name for a band that hits like a tidal wave. These Chicago bruisers first made landfall with their album "Depths", which established them immediately as one of the most brutal bands from that neck of the woods. Usually tarred and feathered with the "deathcore" tag, a listen to their new record "Contagion" reveals something with a bit more nuance. To continue the aquatic analogies, Oceano can be as heavy as a whale and as voracious as a shark but also as graceful as a manta ray and as slippery to catch as an eel.

Meanwhile, back on dry land..."Contagion" also shows more of a thoughtful lyrical approach than the usual explosion of hate and anger we hear from young bands. Dealing with government conspiracies and the morality of medical experiments on human beings, the words are the product of singer Adam Warren, a physically imposing chap who look like he could tear apart steel girders in rage during his on-stage onslaught but who is pretty soft-spoken when you speak to him offstage.

I did just that recently, so let Adam tell you about all the sea changes in Oceano and the true depths of their disease...

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: There have been changes in the band's line-up. Could you bring us up to speed on that?

ADAM WARREN: Well, we now have Nick and Devin on guitar for us. They came in about two months ago. We know both of them from shows we've played with their previous bands, so they're already friends of the band. We needed to fill up our vacant slots pretty quickly and they were just the thing.

WC: The previous members quitting, was that something that happened in a hurry or had it been building?

AW: I guess it was kind of abrupt. It was while we were in the middle of writing and getting ready to go into the studio. It wasn't something we had time to prepare for but we did have kind of a back up plan. Nick was already filling in, so he was ready to move right in.

WC: What was the inspiration for your concept album "Contagion"?

AW: I'm really into a lot of "BioCorps" zombie movies and things like that. I wanted to put my own take on it so I put in some of my theories on government involvement. I made an exaggerated story with a lot of symbolism and secretve scenarios. It's a combination of stuff that is highly realistic with conspiracies that haven talked about. Not to say I agree fully with all of those theories...I have my own opinions...but that's basically what I was inspired by.

WC: Will you do concept albums in the future or was "Contagion" a one time deal?

AW: It was definitely a challenge. But that's what I wanted to do, I wanted to challenge myself and do something I'd never done before. I think it's something I might dive into again, but only after I give it a lot of thought. It got me thinking and pushed me to do my own research on certain topics. I put the best effort I could into writing lyrics on this album.

WC: Would you do an actual sequel?

AW: I think for the most part, I will stick with a story-telling style of lyric. I'll mix my own philosophies into the stories. Whether we follow up with an overall album concept or just song by song concept, I don't know, but we'll still tell stories.

WC: Would you consider Oceano a political or social commentary type band?

AW: I don't think we're really political. We are conscious with things going on and that sometimes comes out in our music. But that's not our main goal, being a political band. It had a small influence on "Contagion" because of our interest in the conspiracy angle.

WC: Did you accomplish everything you wanted to with "Contagion"?

AW: I think so, yes. Only thing that I would have wished is that we had more time to continue our writing. We had to go out and tour, but we were starting to tap into some really cool ideas. Hopefully, when we get some off time, we can pick up where we left off and continue with that.

WC: ON some of the tunes, there seemed to be a bit more melody. Is melody something you'll experiment more with in the future?

AW: We add it in when it feels right. We didn't think that "Contagion" had as much melody as "Depths". We felt that "Contagion" is faster and more to the point. We didn't say "we want more melody, we want less melody" ...we just wrote what we felt. We had less "draggy" and open parts this time around, but there are times when we put in melody when it fits the mood, when it makes sense.

WC: You guys labelled as a deathcore band. Does that bother you or do you embrace that tag?

AW: I don't particularly consider us a deathcore band. I just consider us metal. If deathcore is the term that's applied to a mixture of death metal and modern day metalcore, I don't have a problem with it. We do have that mixture in there but we just don't sit there and say "let's toss in a death metal part" or "let's toss in a hardcore part". We like to play fast, heavy, aggressive music but we are not a straight oldschool death metal band. So I just like to call us "metal". We have a little bit of everything on the new album, I think. You may not have liked our old stuff or you may have loved our old stuff, but somewhere in "Contagion" should be something you like.

WC: What are the high and low points of Oceano's career so far?

AW: Low points, you have a lot of bad moments while touring, but that comes with the territory. That's the most frustrating thing we encounter. As far as high points goes, it's rising above those setbacks and get on the stage with some of the bands we've been listening to and been big fans of since before we even hit the road. I've got to say that's the coolest thing.

WC: Any idea of how Oceano will evolve? Will you be adding anything to the sound?

AW: Hard to say. I know that every time we write, the sound seems to improve and that's what we want to continue. I'm not exactly sure what the future sound will be, but I'm pretty sure we're going to stick to what we know and also what the fans like. That last point is important...we're not going to flip out on them and change our sound drastically. I think we're going to progress from the sound we have and with the added experience we get from touring and being together as bandmates,

WC: Do you think you may ever change your vocal style, maybe experiment with clean vocals?

AW: I don't see us changing that drastically. When we get together to write the next time, we'll have a lot more time to sit and pick apart things. I don't think we'll get too weird, but we might experiment a little with some techniques you don't hear in our style of music. It'll be an added bonus that makes it a little more unique.

WC: What kind of touring plans do you have?

AW: Right now we're on a headline tour, supporting the new album which comes out tomorrow. Next, we'll have a break for Christmas, but in January, we'll be headed to the West Coast for another headlining tour. We''ll be going out with Photoform Dreams, they'll be the band right under us. We're in the process of getting the other bands all confirmed. Then we've got another U.S. tour in April and right after that, hopefully we'll be going over to Europe to support the album over there.

WC: Do you have a good following over in Europe?

AW: Yeah. We did a pretty big tour over there last year, the "Never Say Die" tour. It was actually real good for being our first time over there. Hopefully we'll be on a pretty solid package the next time we head over there.

WC: What was the last CD or record you got just because you wanted to hear it?

AW: The last record I got was Santana's "Greatest Hits", which I bought from somebody when I was at his house a couple days ago.

WC: What was the last band you saw just because you wanted to check 'em out?

AW: Last band I saw was....hmmm, I went to see was Winds of Plague and Despised Icon. We went up to Wisconsin to check that show out.

WC: In the history of Oceano, is there any Spinal Tap moment you could share with the fans?

AW: I've gotten numb to that kind of stuff on the road, I've gotten so used to it. (laughs) Well, I was in a tattoo shop and a guy asked me if I could sign a spot on his arm with an Oceano tattoo. I told him I could sign a poster but he was no, I want to get it tattooed on me. I went, whoa, you're taking this pretty seriously! (laughs)

WC: I know you used to rehearse with the band Cardiac Arrest in Chicago. What memories do you have of those fellows?

AW: They were in our practice spot, a room or two down from us. When we first got that spot, we'd be in on the weekend and they were in there. I heard them playing their stuff and going crazy, and we were sitting there going, "Oh, man, this is awesome!" Later some of the guys were outside smoking and we hung out with them. It was pretty cool!

WC: Any last words for the fans?

AW: Just check out our new album "Contagion".