Q & A With Ocean Encounters

Q & A With Ocean Encounters

XS ROCK: Tell me about the latest band news? Any new projects coming out, live shows, or announcements?

Quentin: Well we released our debut album smack dab in the middle of a global pandemic, so that’s awesome (laughs). Actually the first single off of that album was released the day before everything got shut down here in Belgium. So the tour we were starting to gather dates for, promotional events, interviews…. all of it out the window.

Pieter But yeah so we have our first album “Anchored” streaming on all major platforms, we have a few music videos out on our YouTube channel, plus a bi-weekly vlog that gets released on that channel as well, so head on over there for some behind-the-scenes shenanigans!


XS ROCK: So how long has the band been together?

Nathan: The band in general has been around for a solid 5 years. We started off with a different singer, and I replaced the original guitarist after he left the band due to some creative differences (too classic? Hahaha!)


XS ROCK: What was your main motivation for originally starting or being in a band?

Greg: Well Quentin used to have a live music bar which always had good music so I was there often. One night we got to talking and he said he was interested in playing drums in a band (he had always been the guitarist is past projects) and I was looking to play in a band, so we decided to meet up. I called another guy I knew who also played guitar, and we got to jamming. Soon a friend of Quentin who could scream came to practice and the backbone of the band was there.

Pieter: now I’m a teacher, and one day a student of mine approaches me and says “you listen to metal right? Do you play bass?” the answer to both of those is “Fuck yeah I do!” so she got me into contact with Greg, I went to a rehearsal and by the end of that evening we had 2 songs pretty much fleshed out. Which was awesome.


XS ROCK: What is your music background?

Thomas: All over the place! (laughs) I think our collective experience in upwards of 40 years. I know Pieter and Quentin alone have each been playing in bands for over 15 years. Greg’s been in a few projects, Nathan hasn’t played in any bands but has been playing guitar for a long time, and myself I don’t play any instruments, but figured out a while ago that I can do this whole screaming thing, and I used to play in another band so yeah, pretty extensive.


XS ROCK: What image do you think your music conveys?

Pieter: Size! Most of our songs are about big and epic things. Sea monsters, battles, fear, disappointment. All of it in excess!

Nathan: And we definitely try to bring that forward in our tone as well. We always go for big sounds. Something you can really feel in your chest when we play it live.


XS ROCK: What are your current music career goals?

Quentin: TOUR!

Greg: DEFINITELY! Tour! We want to take our songs on the road! We were so friggin close to making that happen too! Dates were starting to roll in from Germany to The Netherlands, France, we were even starting to talk to a few places in GB that seemed interested in hosting us. URGH, we were so close!

Pieter: Yeah I think the one thing that holds us together as a band is the goal of touring. The ULTIMATE goal is to get an album/tour/album/tour rhythm going. We don’t even need the play the big headlining slots at the big festivals. Just let us make a living off of doing this shit and we’d be ecstatic!!


XS ROCK: Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording or playing for a live audience?

Pieter: Live shows! At least for me anyway.

Quentin: I LOVE playing live shows, but there’s definitely something awesome about a song coming together. Hard to describe though. When something you wrote hits a groove pocket, you see the heads start to bob, the feet start to tap, but the ultimate is when someone’s face contorts into the same expression you have when something stinks. When that happens, you know you’ve done something right.

Thomas: Oh man that’s a tough question. Both are SO different in terms of feeling that it’s hard to choose. But I have to say making big groups of people move with some well-arranged noise you’ve thrown together is amazing. So I’d say both are part of the collective experience for sure.


XS ROCK: What are your songs’ lyrics about? (What specific themes do they cover?)

Pieter: At first glance, the songs are about a bit of everything. Like we said earlier the themes range from being disappointed in our leaders, to battles with ocean monsters, to captains who lose their minds when they accidentally discover the end of the world. But if you dig a little deeper every single song can be traced back to the ocean.

Thomas: Yeah it’s what we try to do. It helps when inspiration runs a little thin to have a thematic umbrella from which you can draw endless inspiration from.


XS ROCK: What is the single most important thing to you as a musician?

Quentin: to stay true to yourself. It’s so easy to go for the easy stuff. Simplistic riffs, formulaic song structure. Don’t get me wrong, they definitely have their time and their place, and it can be so much fun to go with something evident, but that can very easily shift gears into “what will people want to hear” instead of “what do I want to write”.

Pieter: Staying open to ideas. It’s easy to fall into a certain camp these days. If you listen to a particular genre of metal you’re not allowed to listen to other genres and stuff like that. Fuck that. Listen to everything. Go into genres of music and playlists from artists you don’t like, I think some things will surprise you! And it offers some awesome perspective on the music writing process!


XS ROCK: Do you have any outrageous tour stories from the road? If so, please fill us in.

Nathan: Nothing super outrageous, but there was this moment where I was like “oh fuck, this is definitely happening!” We were getting ready to open at Durbuy Rock Festival in April of 2019, and as we parked the van to start unloading our gear a tour bus pulls up right next to us. And outcome the guys from Black Dahlia Murder. I’ve been listening to these guys as long as I can remember. One of my first band t-shirts was these guys. And here they were casually walking out of their bus, right next to our van. That was fucking surreal to say the least.

Pieter: Yeah that festival was awesome because it was the first time we played on a big stage, in front of our biggest audience, and there was a moshpit and everything. It was awesome.

Greg: Yeah we hope to get some more stories if we ever get a tour up and running.


XS ROCK: What’s the strangest request that you’ve ever received from one of your fans?

Thomas: VERY drunk older lady easily into her 60s asking over and over and over again for us to take our clothes off. Started grabbing at my t-shirt during songs and shit. That was unpleasant. Plus you can’t reason with a black-out drunk person. They refuse to listen.

Pieter: Yeah and when she couldn’t get Thomas to do it, she just waltzes up on stage and starts clawing at MY fucking shirt! The bartender was a cool dude though so he gently took her outside, planted a free drink in her hand, and that was the end of it.


XS ROCK: Are your friends and family supportive of your choice to play in a rock band?

Greg: Absolutely! All of us have tremendously supportive friends and family. Me personally my parents are ok with anything as long as I don’t continuously mooch off of them.

Pieter: Yeah same here. As long as I stay responsible and don’t go spending every single cent I have on unnecessary equipment, they’re fine with it.

Quentin: My entire friend group is involved in musical projects of varying types, and the mutual support helps in exposure and always offers a fall-back for is a line-up needs to get filled, it’s a great starting point.


XS ROCK: What advice do you have for new bands trying to get started?

Pieter: Persevere. You are most likely NOT going to be an overnight success, so don’t count on it. Keep playing the shitty empty shows, keep writing new material, keep on grinding and there WILL be progress. These things take time. Finding your sound, evolving in certain directions, learning how to co-exist in a band. It’s NEVER easy, and anybody that offers you a quick and easy path to success is simply not telling the truth.

Quentin: One painful truth we’ve also come to realize, is the age-old saying “you gotta spend money to make money”. And it’s true. You have to spend money upfront to get the merch, get professional recordings, press the CDs, etc. There’s just no avoiding that. Now, it’s ALSO true that you SHOULD learn how to make solid tunes on shitty equipment first. Then only buy new and fancy gear if you know WHY it’s better. Not just because it’s generally agreed upon by YouTube reviewers to be better. But you have to invest.


XS ROCK: What are your favorite tracks to play live?

Thomas: There’s definitely a general sense of excitement whenever our song “Count” starts its sample. We didn’t throw it on the album because it was a little bit outside the general feel of the album, but that one is so much fun to play.

Pieter: Yeah I love that one, but the single off our album “Disappoint” is also one I love to play live. That opening riff is so bouncy, there’s a rap section in the middle that I always love taking people by surprise with, and the chorus is fun to sing, plus the lyrics hit home.

Nathan: Both of those are awesome, but I like Mad Captain off the album. That opening riff is so different from anything I’ve ever heard or played.


XS ROCK: Which band or artist inspired you to perform? Why?

Pieter: For me personally I’ve been up on stages and performing my whole life. Talent shows when I was in kindergarten, plays in primary school. Yeah, I’ve been addicted to the stage as long as I can remember haha!


XS ROCK: If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?

Quentin: Easy. Polaris, Architects, Northlane, Jinjer.

Nathan: Totally agree. Solid line-up.


XS ROCK: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?

Greg: The album. It’s something we’ve had on our minds for a long time. We went to Germany for a whole week to a legitimate studio with a good reputation in the metal community to record it, and seeing it in physical form on a CD was just so awesome.


XS ROCK: If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you would have?

Pieter: I’m already doing the job I’d be doing besides this! Teaching and tour guide in Ypres. I’m a huge history nerd so I love any and everything to do with that stuff.

Greg: Yeah same, I studied to be a dietitian and I was lucky enough to get a job in that exact field. So I help people get and stay healthy. I love it!

Thomas: Yeah I think Pieter and Greg are the only ones haha! The rest of us are just doing jobs so we can make a living, and most of that goes back into the band so that it can become a self-sufficient entity.


XS ROCK: What type of equipment do you use for live shows?

Quentin: We actually just upgraded our on-stage equipment with the thoughts of going on tour. We bought ourselves a rack of gear that allows us to take care of our own monitoring system. All our instruments go into this rack and all the signals get split. One line goes into our own in-ear monitors, and the other line goes out into the sound system of the venue.

Pieter: Right. We had too many issues with plugging in our in-ear monitors whenever we had a show, so we just decided to bypass that and let the sound-engineers focus on just the sound system, and our monitoring will be taken care of. All the levels have bee saved on the internal cloud of the rack, so we show up, turn it on, and our monitors are already taken care of. So that helps tremendously.

Thomas: Besides sound, we also have a light system in place. We have 4 LED bars that we’ve programmed with the BPM of each song. So that packs a serious punch in the smaller venues, that the lights follow the music.


XS ROCK: What do you think of the current music scene?

Nathan: Very double feeling. On the one hand, it has never been easier to get your music out there and to get professional sounding recordings from your bedroom. Which is awesome. You have the ability to bypass the whole industrial aspect of it. On the other hand, since it’s so easy, you have SO MUCH MORE shit to wade through, so getting noticed is a lot harder. It causes the music to be simplified, more focus on the hook/chorus rather than the essence of the whole album. It’s tough.

Greg: Yeah it’s definitely saturated. So all the more reason to stay true to yourself and stick with your guns.


XS ROCK: For anyone that doesn’t know you, what would they be surprised to know about you?

Pieter: I love blues and folk. I also play in a folk/blues band. Love me some Bluegrass too.

Greg: I have a butt-to-neck tattoo depicting a Lord of the Rings tableau. Been working on it for about 2 years and it’s about 70% done. Plenty left!


XS ROCK: Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there?

Thomas: Listen to the entire album. It’s about half an hour. Do that for all albums. Don’t just go for the singles. If you listen to the entirety of every single album you get in front of you you WILL be pleasantly surprised with certain parts.

Pieter: We’ve also got new merch on the way!!

Nathan: And definitely go check out our YouTube channel! We’ve got plenty of new material on there every few weeks!


XS ROCK: Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us at XS ROCK!

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