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Oceansize is a five-piece rock group formed in Manchestermarker, Englandmarker, in 1998. The band consists of Mike Vennart (vocals, guitar), Steve Durose (guitar, backing vocals), Richard "Gambler" Ingram (guitar, keyboards), Mark Heron (drums) and Steve Hodson (bass). To date, the band have released three studio albums in addition to a number of minor EPs and singles. The band can be categorized variously as progressive rock, indie rock, heavy metal and space rock, among other genres.

The band are named after the Jane's Addiction song "Ocean Size". According to guitarist Gambler, the band's former bassist [Jon Ellis] came up with the name: "I think, at the time, he was thinking what we would sound like. Jane’s Nothing's Shocking album, which has the track "Ocean Size" on it, was definitely a big influence."

History

Formation and Early Years (1998-2003)

The band members met each other during college, with the various members performing in a range of different musical acts, stylistically very differently to band they would go onto create. "(The bands were) pretty terrible. We were in a grunge band. When I met Steve I asked him to be the new guitarist. I wanted to be experimental and unusual and still write pop songs. We were terrible at it. We didn't go anywhere for a while. When we got a new rhythm section, we re-thought what we were doing and got better. We had more vision. Although we don't all like the same music and have different tastes, we can see clearly where our music needs the most work" explains Mike Vennart. Over the next few years, the band would release 3 EPs, Amputee, A Very Still Moment and Relapse, titled after a very early composition that had been through many different reworkings.

Effloresce (2003-2005)

Oceansize's debut LP Effloresce was released on 29th of September 2003. The album spawned the singles and subsequent music videos for 'Catalyst,' 'One Day All This Could Be Yours' and 'Remember Where You Are.' The piano line playing on Track 9, "Unravel," is an excerpt of the second piece, Le Gibet, from Maurice Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit.

Music Critic Ben Hogwood acclaimed the debut album, and saying that despite its length, "...with their broad harmonic language and fluctuating rhythms it's difficult to give an alternative to Oceansize, which is always a good sign. If pushed I would say they've taken a good liking to '70s rock but taken on board the works of bands such as Muse and The Cooper Temple Clause, along with the more expansive end of Seattle grunge music".

The album also included the track 'Women Who Like Men Who Like Drugs.' The title was coined by bassist Jon Ellis, who saw the headline of the same name in Cosmopolitan Magazine.

Everyone Into Position (2005-2007)

The band's second album, Everyone Into Position was released on 19 September 2005 on Beggars Banquet.

On 4 December 2005, the band issued a press release, stating that bassist Jon Ellis was leaving the band, but would still contribute musically. On 28 January 2006, frontman Mike Vennart, issued a short post on an Oceansize messageboard announcing Ellis' replacement, Steve Hodson - a member of the Oceansize side-project Kong and also drummer in 'Capulet'.

"Meredith" from the album Everyone Into Position was featured on the popular television drama The O.C., and "Music For A Nurse" became the soundtrack to an Orange advertising campaign entitled Fish during summer 2006. "Music For A Nurse" was also featured in the motion picture The Invisible (2007). Both "Music For A Nurse" and "Meredith" have also been used in the BBC drama series Waterloo Road.

On the sophomore effort, Oceansize have mixed views on the album as a whole. In regards to the singles released off the album, Steve Durose admits that “the singley songs we put out [from Everyone Into Position] didn't do us any good whatsoever. There might be a few songs on the new album (Everyone Into Position) you can sing along to, but they're not our fans' favourite tunes, and they're not our favourite tunes.”

Despite the band's view on the record, critics and fans have generally praised the release. Jeremy Chick praised the album, writing: "...songs seeping into each other, the palpable sense of drama and sounds that will haunt you forever in your dreams. I hate to pander to the whole US vs. UK debate but you can't deny Oceansize are living proof that we have some very special bands over here; making music that is not only thought provoking; but genre defying, original and mind-blowingly amazing!". Pitchfork however gave the album a mediocre rating, suggesting that "(the styles) don't really blend but instead just seem to sidle up beside one another, varying extensively from track to track. There are powerful moments throughout, from intense bouts of noise and vocal wails, to quiet, serene ambience, but tying it all together somehow makes it seem watered down and banal".

New Label (2007) & Line-Up Change

Everyone Into Position marked the final appearance of bassist Jon Ellis. Shortly after the album's release, the band and Ellis parted ways, raising doubt as to whether the band could continue. Thankfully, they found an ideal replacement in drummer Heron's side project, Kong:

"When Jon left, we thought we were really screwed, because when you start gambling with your chemistry, you can come a cropper.
So it’s something we took very seriously.


There was an unspoken vibe that if we couldn’t find the right guy, then we’d have to quit, because there’s no point carrying on if you’re only going to be firing on half your cylinders.

Thankfully, we were really, really lucky and we found Steven [Hodson], who was actually already in a band (Kong) with our drummer.

I don’t really know why we went through the painful process of auditioning people. People came from far and wide to try out, and there were some really good players, but I think we were auditioning simply ‘bass players’, when we were looking for an all-round musician, who could look at the music from lots of different perspectives" - Mike Vennart

After 'Everyone Into Position,' Oceansize decided not to continue recording for label Beggar's Banquet. The band, in getting a new record deal, sought to find one that would better support the band in terms of promotion and financial backing for international (e.g. U.S.) touring. Mike Vennart implied in a recent interview that the record deal was contingent on the band writing two tracks "on order" for the company. These mp3s were released on the band's Myspace page around Christmas 2006 as a band-described gift to the fans. The two songs were "Red Rag to a Bear" and "Siberian Bullshit". In the posting of these mp3s, Vennart described these tracks as "warts an' all," and suggested that they would not show up on the new album.

On moving to new label Superball, Vennart described the move as a chance for the band to move forward: "we reached a point when we’d gone as far as we could [with Beggars’ Banquet]. We needed a new home and these guys [Superball Records] offered it to us on a plate. We’re the only band on the label at the moment, so they can’t do enough for us"

Frames (2007-2008)

Their third album, Frames, was released on 1 October 2007 on Superball Music (home of ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Pure Reason Revolution and The Amber Light). Artwork for the album was done by Robin Finck (Nine Inch Nails, Guns 'n' Roses). Originally titled 'The Frame,' after a song of the same name appearing on the record, the band elected to alter it slightly after an incidental suggestion; "one of our friends, who’s in Future of The Left, said ‘I love the title… Frames, isn’t it?’ We just thought, ‘well it wasn’t, but that’s a lot better. It’s an angular title, it evokes strength and structure and it’s quite cinematic" explains Vennart.

The album features “a lot of songs about grudges and negative energy”, with the song 'Commemorative 9/11 T-Shirt,' inspired by a gift to Vennart by band The Cardiacs, which includes a time signature of "11/8 or 9/8, so when we were naming the song it was like 'it's in 11, it's in 9, it's got to be 9/11",

Unlike the previous two studio albums, 'Frames' took on a far more thematic approach, with an obvious stylistic approach that focused on quality over quantity.

"The last album was all over the place with so many different styles and moods, whereas I think these songs know each other.


It was a liberating experience making this record, because to be quite honest, we didn’t care what people thought of it. We were very insular, doing it six days a week and indulging ourselves, and I think that means it’s not contrived, it’s a lot more us than we’ve done before.

On our second album, we did that classic thing that every band seems to do – try to sanitise who we are to make a bid for airplay and try and trim everything down so it’s nice and concise. I think that worked for some of the songs, but there was a couple of singles that didn’t really suit us. The fans didn’t like them and they didn’t get played on the radio anyway!

So when we sat down to write this one, the only thing we said was ‘let’s not make any singles!" - Mike Vennart

In May and June 2009, Oceansize supported Sydney band Cog on a national tour of Australia, along with other support act Calling All Cars, playing a string of dates which included shows in capital cities Sydneymarker, Melbournemarker, Adelaidemarker & Brisbanemarker. Of the tour, Mike Vennart spoke of the excitement, saying "from the moment (the tour) was mentioned, I was just hammering our manager, going ‘make it happen!’”

On the 1st of August 2009, the band played the Sonisphere festival at Knebworthmarker, joining Linkin Park, Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, Alice in Chains and more for the weekend festival.

On the 21st of August 2009, Oceansize supported Biffy Clyro at the Edinburgh Corn Exchangemarker and Faith No More on the 25th

Feed to Feed & Home & Minor (2009)

The band released a live box set in September 2009, entitled Feed to Feed. The release is limited to 5000 copies.. The live recordings are taken from a series of shows the band performed on three consecutive nights at the Roadhouse in Manchester. The band played each of their three studio albums from start to finish, one album each night, including related b-sides. The boxset contains 3 DVDs and 4 CDs.

A new EP, entitled Home and Minor, was released in October 2009. On the EP, Vennart has explained that the band have taken a stylistic approach on the record; "There’s no big blast beats, no metal, there’s no riffs, there’s no ‘loud loud’ on it. The whole EP is a more gentle affair. There’s stuff on it like Music For a Nurse (from Everyone Into Position ), that sorta stuff....It certainly sounds like us, but it is a bit different.” Vennart added that “the idea of this more-chilled EP is something that we’ve been thinking about way before we got signed. It would be nice to be able to do different albums and EPs, with different flavours. And we thought about how the second album ('Everyone Into Position') was quite scattered, with a million different styles on it and I think that turned a lot of people off in some ways. So we thought if it’s an EP, let’s just do something that is one flavour, rather than try and put in all these different colours into it and freak everybody out, because it’s not going to work for thirty minutes.”

4th Studio Album & Future

According to the band's official website, the band are "writing a new album which we are very excited about. Fifteen songs all under four minutes". On 5 August 2008, Vennart posted on the official messageboard "we're hoping to get it out for next summer, in the meantime there's still talk of a US tour, but finding a suitable support tour is proving virtually impossible" and talked about new songs.

Oceansize are hoping to release a full length album in March 2010.

When asked by Fasterlouder.com.au on the future of Oceansize, Vennart was coy, but optimistic about the band's future goals: "after the second album we stopped trying to make goals. We started getting a chip on our shoulder about not having broken through and being broke. We were getting to the point where if you start expecting certain things to happen, you’re going to be pretty bummed when they don’t. So we’ve got to the point where we kind of literally float through the whole thing. We don’t really think about any long term plans. We really do live for the day. I’m sure that our record company or our manager have some kind of financial expectations of us. All we really want to do is to be able to pay our rent. We really don’t care about anything else. Having this kind of mentality has paid off. We’ve stuck to our goals and made the records we wanted to make and forgot about the fact that everybody is listening to us and just concentrated on turning each other on. And that is a risky thing to do. I don’t think a lot of bands can do that, especially the bands higher up the ladder.”.

Style, Influences and Creative Process

Oceansize have often stated the the bulk of the writing is the product of fruitfull 'jam sessions,' with Steve Durose explaining after the release of Effloresce that "our sound has just evolved really, but right from the first rehearsal, we kind of had it in the bag. We were on mushrooms and just jammed for ages, and then we listened back to the tapes. About three songs from Effloresce were born in that one rehearsal, and we just realised we had something special happening. Everything comes from jams, though. That’s the way we write." In regards to structure and time signature, Durose cites drummer Mark Heron as a key collaborator; "Mark’s very into strange beats, so what will start off as a very simple idea, once it’s been through the Oceansize washing machine will come out as something sounding quite bizarre at the other end".

Guitarist/Keyboardist Gambler continues to advocate a 'no strings' approach with the creative process, saying that "I think we have been tied into the whole progressive thing for quite a bit now. When we formed the band we didn’t think we were going to be this or that sort of band. We’re forward thinking as far as our music is concerned". In regards to influences, Oceansize claim to have an eclectic source of inspiration; "Everyone has such diverse influences. I think it would be a list a mile long. The obvious ones, especially for me, would be Radiohead, Mogwai, Aphex Twin, Nine Inch Nails and Tool; I think I could probably go on all day. I mean if you looked at our record collection you probably wouldn’t think it," attests Gambler

Side projects and collaborations

The band's side project Kong, consisting of Steven Hodson and Mark Heron, recorded their debut album “Snake Magnet” in the summer of 2007 at The Works Recording Studiomarker in Bredburymarker (where Everyone Into Position was recorded). Kong have now signed with Los Angeles based label White Drugs, home of The Bronx, and will release “Snake Magnet” in 2009. Two singles precede this on Brew Records

Oceansize also share a camaraderie with fellow Mancunian band Amplifier, with the bands referring to each other as “brothers-in-amps”. Mike Vennart and Steve Durose supplied backing vocals on two of the tracks on Amplifier's self-titled debut album, while Amplifier's front-man Sel Balamir is credited in Oceansize's song “Sizeofanocean”.

During the recording of Everyone Into Position in 2005 at The Works Recording Studiomarker, Vennart ran into Snoop Dogg, and recorded guitar parts for the rapper's demos. After a phone call from Polydor Records requesting use of the studio, the mystery client turned out to be Snoop Dogg. "This studio is where we have done a lot of our work but it isn't an industry blinged up place, it's just a nice and comfortable basement studio. We ended up being his skivvies for the night literally making pizza and frying chicken for him. He worked out that I was a guitarist and sent me driving at five o' clock in the morning to fetch my guitar because I'm left handed. I ended up playing all these cheesy porn soundtrack guitar riffs to him for about three hours until I couldn't play it anymore. He likes everything really loose, definitely not tight. His grooves are unorthodox. I'll be honest; I didn't appreciate his music until I saw how they do it all. After every gig he does he has somewhere booked out so he can just turn up with about fifteen guys who all have a macintosh and just make beats all night. It was really great watching them work" elaborated Vennart.

Discography

Albums



EPs



Box Sets

  • Feed to Feed (2009)


Singles

  • "Saturday Morning Breakfast Show" (1999) (7" Vinyl Only)
  • "One Day All This Could Be Yours" (2003) (CD/10" Vinyl)
  • "Catalyst" (2003) (Download Single)
  • "Remember Where You Are" (2003) (CD/7" Vinyl)
  • "Catalyst" (2003) (CD/7" Vinyl)
  • "Heaven Alive" (2005) (CD/7" Vinyl)
  • "New Pin" (2006) (CD/7" Vinyl)
  • "Walking in the Air" (Cover version) (2007) (Free Christmas Single, Web Only)


Members

  • Mike Vennart - guitar, lead vocals
  • Steve Durose - guitar, backing vocals
  • Richard "Gambler" Ingram - guitar, keyboards
  • Steven Hodson - bass, keyboards (2006-present)
  • Mark Heron - drums


Former members

  • Jon Ellis - bass, keyboards (1998-2005)


Interviews

Radio



External links



Notes


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