INTERVIEW: Oceanwires

Pic by Niffer Calderwood

* Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Beware The Heartless”?

After we finished recording the album with Steve, we were so inspired to create more music that it prompted us to continue writing more songs. The album was supposed to be finished. But during the next few practices, we wrote several new ideas and sketches. We were all excited and just sort of ran with that and decided to run back to the studio and record three new songs. It was rapid and had a sense of urgency. It was exciting. “Beware the Heartless” was the first of those new songs. Releasing it as our debut single felt like the right way to introduce the new band. -Dave

* Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Loud guitars over Jeff’s pounding drums. – Dave

* How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

Originally we were going to shoot the video ourselves. Total joke. Aaron and I walked into the local filmmaker gear rental store and didn’t even know how to ask the right questions to get what we needed. It was like, “hi, we need some stuff to make a music video.” When they asked us specifically what we wanted, our response was “stuff?” They laughed with us and took the time to show us the basics. But when we got home to start shooting, we quickly realized we had no clue on how to even plug in the lighting. Director Matt Wesson bailed us out and drove over and took over the shooting, videography, and directing. I’ve worked with Matt on many of the Head Like a Kite videos, so it was natural to reach out to him to do the debut OCEANWIRES video. Without Matt, this video would have been a bunch of out-of-focus shots of Aaron’s hand with the lights plugged in backwards. – Dave Einmo

In the spirit of DIY, after our initial video plans fell through, and after just the “right” amount of beers at the Tin Hat, it made sense for us to just go and rent gear and make it ourselves. Of course, we had no idea how to make a video, but we definitely had seen it done in movies. Storyboard? Totally. Let’s make one in a notebook. Stuffed giraffe? Mystery locations? Typewriters? Eggs? Yes. Yes. We can do this. – Aaron Starkey

We intentionally wanted to offer optimism to a song that has what might seem like darker lyrics. So when we created the storyboard for the “Beware the Heartless” video, we purposefully introduced lighter elements such as the giraffe to provide playfulness. It’s surreal so there’s lots of room for interpretation. But our intention was to explore losing and rediscovering things that are important to us. – Dave Einmo

* The single comes off your new album There Never Was A Was – what’s the story behind the title?

When we we entered the studio, the songs were not completely finished. We were still writing the songs, and wanted to use the studio as part of the creative process. We wanted to capture the energy of songs that are fresh and in the moment, instead of rehearsing them to death. So we were still writing parts and changing sections around even as we were recording. After one of the takes, someone said, “when we played it in the practice room we went to a B chord here.” And then one of us responded, “but we’re still writing this song. There never was a was.” It was a key moment where we all paused because it really summarized the whole concept of this album. It was happening in the moment. It’s present in the now. We laughed and said that should be the album title. “There Never Was a Was.” Then someone spilled salsa on Steve’s carpet. But that’s a whole different story and lots of cleaning. – Dave

* How was the recording and writing process?

Rather than bring in finished song ideas. We collaborate as a band. We start with a simple melody and then expand it with each of us adding parts. It’s a process of adding and subtracting as we find sections that work together. The songs evolve into several versions that often sound vastly different from the original melody. Usually, I pout and complain about the broken lamps in the practice studio. Then we continue writing. When we were writing “Beware the Heartless” together, the volume was immense and rattled a bunch of gear off a shelf and it landed on Jeff’s head while he was playing drums. He kept playing. He did not head the warning of “beware.” – Dave

“Beware the Heartless” is where, for me at least, David and I really settled into how our two guitar styles can work together in a way that was exciting to both of us. We stopped trading off parts, and started playing parts, together, to make something that neither of us could have played on our own. It’s subtle, but it was an important process in our songwriting together.  – Aaron Starkey

* What was it like to work with Steve Fisk and Matt Bayles and how did those relationships develop?

Steve has worked with so many of my favorite bands and he was a wealth of knowledge. I absolutely love how he pushed Aaron’s vocals. It has a sort of Motown grit to it. It added to the energy. Steve created a relaxed environment where we could just focus on writing and playing the songs without us feeling the pressure of the studio. But it would be interesting to reverse the question and ask Steve what it was like working with us. During one of the sessions, when we were asking him to make all these elaborate changes to mic pre-amps and compressors, I asked him, “out of all the band you have worked with, how would you rate us as far as demanding to work with.” Given the impressive list of bands ranging from Nirvana to Low to Wedding Present, Car Seat Headrest, Soundgarden, Beat Happening and so many other iconic bands, I figured we’d land somewhere in the middle. Without any hesitation, he quickly said, “10 out of 10.” We still laugh about it. I’m actually kind of impressed. – Dave

Matt is a master of mixing the drums. And finding the perfect blend of crunchy guitars and bass. It was a perfect balance to get to work with both of them to make this record.

* How much did they get to influence the album?

They both pushed us to get the most out of these songs. They were patient while we wrote new sections and added new parts. But they also stepped in to give their input when we asked.

* What role does Seattle play in your music?

Our guitar cases smell kind of moldy from all the rain.

* How all your musical previous background does influences this new project or you guys approach as a whole new thing?

We each have experience leading other bands. This album was a conscious effort to approach writing songs in a new way together. We wanted to challenge each other to get out of our comfort zones and learn from each other rather than repeat the songwriting processes of our individual pasts. Sometimes there are some heated exchanges. But the result is that we get to expand and grow. It’s invigorating. – Dave

* Any plans to hit the road?

We’ll be touring in April. Really looking forward to it!

* What else is happening next in Oceanwires’ world?

We have another video coming out in January and then a third in February along with the full length record, “There Never Was a Was” Feb 15. Then it’s lots of shows. But this band loves to write, so I imagine we’ll be in the studio very soon working on the next record very soon. But first touring. Wish us luck, Aaron’s van makes a weird ticking sound.

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About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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