Sitting back waiting for a phone call to interview Oceansize, I am bit restless to say the least. The band are running late. Interviewee, guitarist Gambler, has popped out for bag of chips leaving me no option but to drink in the student bar with its plentiful cheap booze.
I look around wearily in the University of Manchester’s student union at the collection of people gathering before tonight’s show. I then spot Charlie Simpson from Busted/Fightstar coming in the door and an evil plot forms in my head. I imagine the headline for my imaginary story: ‘Busted singer kicked to death on stairwell of world famous educational institution. Police glad ’.
Finally I get the call, and have to put murdering failed boy band members on the back burner for now.
Oceansize featuring vocalist Mike Vennart, guitarist Steve Durose, drummer Mark Heron, bassist Steven Hodson and guitarist Gambler have been kicking around making anthemic noise since early 2000.
Having met up as students in Manchester, the band has delivered two exceptionally received albums 'Effloresce' and 'Everyone Into Position', winning themselves a legion of devotees. Oceansize have just released an epic new album, 'Frames'. I meet up with guitarist and part-time road manager Gambler before their spiritual homecoming show at the Manchester Academy.
PB : Describe your sound. I have been trying to pin you guys down for years.
Gambler : 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.
PB : I would describe it as progressive, but not in the Yes sense of the word.
Gambler : Yeah without the capes, Rick Wakeman and 10 minute keyboard solos. We just have the desire to keep ourselves interested.
PB : Where do you think you are right now with the new album 'Frames' ?
Gambler : I have no idea. Whenever we get into the writing period we always try to start fresh. We don’t use any old material. We did that on the last album so this time we have just gone for totally new material. I think really it is just how we feel at the time. We wanted this one.
PB : Where do you come up with your imaginative song titles?
Gambler : A lot of it is just taking the piss. We got accused once in an interview of being too sincere. You only have to look at the song titles to realise we are just a bunch of lads with a stupid sense of humour. Some of them come from cult films, or comedy shoes like 'The Day Today'. Most of the song titles have nothing to with the song whatsoever.
PB : Your music is quite layered, epic. I have to admit it takes a long time for it to grow on me.
Gambler : Yeah. People often say our music isn’t instantly digestible. It always takes a bit of time. People don’t really get it at first but we like that. It just means people are paying attention when they show up at gigs.
PB : I suppose everyone asks this, but where does your inspiration come from?
Gambler : With us, I suppose it comes from the minds of the five guys in the band. 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.
PB : I have always wanted to ask you, being named Oceansize, are you are Jane’s Addiction fans ?
Gambler : Yeah it was our old bass player came up with the name. I think at the time he was thinking what we would sound like. Jane’s 'Nothing Shocking' album, which has the track 'Ocean Size' on it, was definitely a big influence.
PB : What’s your opinion on British rock at the minute?
Gambler : To tell you the truth I don’t really listen to it. I go through phases. At the minute I’m just listening to classical music. Okay, we’re part of the scene I suppose but I have no opinions. The last good album I heard this year was Future of the Left, featuring ex-members of Mclusky. It is an absolutely amazing album.
PB : What about being a Manchester band?
Gambler : Being a Manchester based band? I really hate that whole baggy scene, can’t fucking stand them. You get lumped in with carrying on this great tradition. It is not a great tradition as far as I am concerned.
PB : How did you get Robin Finck (former Nine Inch Nails and current Guns N’ Roses guitarist-Ed) onboard to do the artwork for 'Frames' ?
Gambler : He’s a hero of mine. We saw his art; it is pretty ambiguous and amazing stuff so just asked him if could we use some of his stuff.
PB : Did you meet him?
Gambler : No, we e-mailed him and he was cool with it. I mean if you look at his work. You cannot quite tell what it is. I think our music is a lot like that.
PB : You didn’t by chance ask him when 'Chinese Democracy' was being released ?
Gambler : We thought about it. But judging by the FAQ section of his website entitled ‘When will Chinese Democracy be released’ we didn’t think it was appropriate.
PB : Thank you.