…And Oceans recently underwent some major changes. From their initial resurfacing after over a decade, to signing with Seasons of Mist, a drastic lineup change, and the release of their fifth studio album Cosmic World Mother, 202 is going to be a very interesting and active year for them.
So what’s going on at the …And Oceans camp right now? Timo Kontio (guitarist), talks about the process that follows the completion of the album. Now they’re focusing on securing gigs and tours both in Finland and abroad, and about to start shooting the video for their second single off the album. Aside from waiting for Cosmic World Mother to be released (May 8, 2020), they have actually even began writing new material, and although Kontio mentions they don’t feel rushed or in a hurry to write another album he says “…we don’t want too much time between albums now, we’re getting older.” Specially since the last album Cypher came out in 2002.
On the subject of the departure of their vocalist Kena “Kenny” Strömsholm, Kontio mentioned they had already been demoing the songs before the decision came to part ways with him, so they were in a bit of a rush to finalize the songs. Luckily, Mathias Lillmåns was able to step in and help complete the album quickly. Lillmåns says that since the songs were pretty much already constructed, the only thing he had to do was write the lyrics and come up with the concept and that luckily he had enough free time to work on …And Oceans material since he was having a break from his other bands (specifically Finntroll who are set to release a new album this year as well after a bit of a long silence). “Half of the lyrics are written while I’m traveling, in airplanes and trains, I have the best inspiration in trains for some reason…”. He states although he was very familiar with the themes of previous lyrics, he went in a completely opposite direction, and although tentative to give concrete examples of the lyrics and themes he hints,“I’m not gonna go too deep into it, people should think for themselves, but the album is kind of about energy and how energy changes”. Kontio also mentions that the album artwork will provide a really good visual representation of each song individually and the concept of the lyrical theme.
Lillmåns has quite a long history with the …And Oceans. Since he is from the same town as Kontio and their other guitarist Teemu Saari, he has known the band and been a fan since the 90s. “We come from a small city, and there aren’t that many bands, specially metal bands, that have made an impact on the metal scene [from there] except And Oceans, and of course, as a black metal fan when I was younger, if there’s a good black metal band from your hometown, of course you’ll get into them and want to support and promote them.”
Lillmåns’s main band Finntroll, is also set to release a new album after a long silence (not as long as …And Oceans but still a significant seven years in the realm of album releases). He says at the moment there wasn’t much schedule conflict between the bands, with writing and gigs and whatnot, but later in the Autumn, he had to strategically plan the tours for the two bands so it would work. When it was just Finntroll and his smaller bands it was easier to work the smaller bands around Finntroll’s schedule, but now its a bit more challenging. “But”, he says ” I think also with Finntroll we’ll try to take it a bit easier now, between 2010 and 2015 we did so much touring, and we’re not that young anymore so we don’t really want to be on tour 180 days of the year… Although I will be 180 days anyway now between And Oceans and Finntroll… But it will be fun because I’ve been friends with AO for a long time so it will be like just traveling with old friends.” Along with taking on …And Oceans, Lillmåns also took Kena’s place in their other band Festerday. Kontio mentioned that they are also working on new material and have a few shows planned.
When asked what they were listening to at the moment, Lillmåns basically said he has so much music around him on a daily basis between practicing and writing …And Oceans and Finntroll that in his spare time he prefers silence or TV or something other than music. Kontio tries to find new and interesting bands but is sticking to old classic black and death metal while also branching out to music like Queen and David Bowie.
With the recent closure of many well known venues in Finland, I was curious what their thoughts were on the live situation. Lillmåns replied, “Live music in Finland is going down, venues are closing and in Finland they don’t pay the bands to come play anymore, no gas money, or accommodations offered. If you go far from your home, you have to pay for accommodation and food and gas yourself. The band might be compensated a few drink tickets and maybe 50% of ticket sales. It’s kind of hopeless for small bands right now but of course bigger bands like Amorphis or something are doing good.”. Kontio adds that one thing herein Finland is also that this system of not getting paid still works to some extent because the smaller bands are willing to settle for those circumstances. “It’s a strange situation,” he adds “for example, Festerday is a small band but somehow, some organizer from London is willing to pay our flight tickets and everything for us to come play a gig but here in Finland we wouldn’t even get gas money.”
As for planned live gigs, they mentioned there will be an album release tour, and dates will be announced soon both in Finland and abroad “Come to the gigs! Lets have a beer!” Lillmåns exclaimed.
The band was recently added to the Turku Saatanalle (March 6 & 7 in Turku, Finland) lineup, to replace Sickness, and promise more live dates to come soon! Stay tunned!