An Interview with OCEANS frontman, Timo Rotten

The frontman discusses how the band immediately turned heads in the metal scene- without playing a single live show.

For countless bands across the globe, the dream of being signed to a monumental record label is something to strive for, with every show and every release aiming to catch the eye of someone who can give you your ‘big break’. 

Yet, for OCEANS, this was far from the case.

Signed to the renowned label, Nuclear Blast, before playing a single show, OCEANS have clearly captured something in their music that sets them apart from the crowds. Now, with the release of their debut album, The Sun And The Cold, earlier this year, the band are already beginning to turn heads in the metal community. 

Receiving rave reviews from already-devoted fans and extensive critical acclaim, the album has pioneered a new sound in the metal scene- bringing an important message of hope into an otherwise downtrodden genre.

Speaking to the frontman, Timo Rotten, earlier this week, the vocalist discusses how OCEANS developed their concept and managed to capture the attention of some of the biggest names in the industry with their sound.

Scroll down to read the full interview!

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Thank you for finding the time to sit and chat with us!

“You’re welcome!” 

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How would you describe OCEANS to someone who had never come across you before?

“Imagine you’re on a boat on the open ocean and something horrible is grabbing you and pulling you down into the darkness and into the void… everything is black! You start to think this is it, this is the end. The worst place you’ll ever be. But then you manage to stand back up and begin to see the silver lining on the horizon. You feel there is still hope, you’re not on your own and you can still make it.”

“That is the feeling that you get when you listen to OCEANS.”

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Who most inspired you? It feels as though OCEANS is a blend of many different genres coming together… is that due to your diverse music taste?

“The four of us have very different music tastes which vary from Black Metal, Stoner Rock, Post Rock to technical, progressive things.”

“I am totally a fan of the 90s-2000s Nu-metal stuff. That’s what I grew up with! Listening to Korn, Slipknot, Limp Bizkit- all the stuff from back then. We don’t stop at metal though! I love listening to electronic music and rap music.”

“This open mind that we all have helps us to be open-minded with our own music. We don’t want to be stuck in one genre and just to be metal… we want to melt three different genres that we love (Death Metal, Nu-Metal and Post-Rock). They’re the three main ingredients that we have.”

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You were signed to the monumental label, Nuclear Blast, before even playing your first show, how did that happen and what was it like to receive the news?

“It was incredible. […] My biggest dream when I was a teenager and we first started playing music was that one day we would be signed to Nuclear Blast! [Laughs].”

“Fast forward 15 years later, we formed OCEANS and of course we had a very good start because we weren’t total newbies anymore. All of us have been in other bands [and] we learnt a thing or two in those past ten years that we could incorporate into our new band.”

“Also I work in online marketing, [so] I now know how to get my way around social media and how I can bring our Facebook and Instagram presence up. We managed to gain a lot of followers in the scene without having a label or playing any shows. Just working our asses off on the digital side.”

“We released three songs on our own without a music label and produced three music videos for them. Basically, we did everything on our own… music production, video production, management, social media, website, webshop. Everything was set up and working so we had something to show off to a label and that was probably why the label said “let’s take a leap of faith and release this first album together… even before you play a show.”

“It’s incredible. It’s like a dream come true and I am really happy and grateful for all of it.”

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You manage to balance the constant juxtaposition between melancholy alongside hope in your music. Is that a factor that you’re aware of, or is that merely a label that you have had attached to your sound?

“From the beginning, it was clear to us that we want to make music that sends a positive message to people. Even though OCEANS is very dark and very depressing at some parts […], in the end, we want to make sure that we send a positive message. Ensure that people feel good about themselves and the situation they’re in and give them hope rather than dragging them further down.”

“That was clear from the start. [Whether] personal or regarding loved ones or even on a professional level, all of us deal with topics like mental health [so] it was important for us to incorporate that into the band and the message from the lyrics.

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When live performances finally begin to reemerge, what can we expect to see from OCEANS live? Will you bring the energy when you hit the stage or will we expect to see a more sombre, emotion-based performance? 

“I think we can do both! Last year we did some shows with Cellar Darling, [so we] toned down our set a little. We made it a more sombre, more intimate experience which we loved. It was really great to bond with people on that level.” 

“When the album came out in February, we toured together with Equilibrium for example. A totally different crowd so we played a lot faster and more aggressively which was also awesome. We can shift our live settings or adjust it perfectly to the setting and situation we’re in. That’s something I love and that I’m really thankful for- it gives us a lot of opportunities.”

“It’s amazing when you stand up there and play your music and play your heart out, you see how you can touch people on such a deep level of emotion. It’s just incredible to me and I’m really thankful for that, that we can have that chance. I hope we can have it back soon whenever it’s safe again.”

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You seem to already be making a name for yourself across the metal scene, what is it exactly that you’d like to achieve with OCEANS, say, ten years from now? 

“What I hope to achieve is that we can live up to all the praise and expectations that we got with the first album. For example, Blabbermouth said that OCEANS might be the ‘next big thing’. Fast forward to ten years from now, if I can look back and say they were right, then I can say that I’ve done everything right [laughs]. I hope we can manage that.”

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What can we expect to see from you in the future? Do you think you’ll evolve your sound and merge into a new direction or really hone in on the unique sound that you’ve captured thus far?

“It definitely won’t be anything totally different because we spent three years working on the whole concept for the band. We really tried to make sure that the style that we capture in the first album is already very much refined, precise and the sound that we want to play- not just for now, but for the next ten years.” 

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You frequently refer to your experience gathered by being a part of previous bands as being a vital factor in OCEANS’ success. What would you say is the most important lesson you took those experiences?

“That it doesn’t matter how well you play your instrument or how technically-complicated your songwriting is or how badass you are as a lyricist- it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you put your own true emotion into the music. If you can manage to do that, people can feel it and people can relate to it. That for me is the most important thing: the magic in making music.” 

“That’s the lesson I learned and it took a while! [Laughs]. There are two ways as a musician to reach your listeners… you can either talk to their brains or you can talk to their hearts. I think that what we do is talk to peoples hearts… that’s what I prefer and that’s what I want to do with our music.”

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The Sun And The Cold is out now via Nuclear Blast Records and available on all streaming platforms.

For more information on OCEANS and why they’re a band to keep an eye out for, check out our feature piece here!

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