Oceansize - Ever efflorescing

I think a label executive waving a cheque book would scare the hell out of me! - Gambler

Feature by Heather Crumley | 08 Oct 2007

If you want a quick fix, we're not the band for you, assures Oceansize guitarist Gambler. "Like a good film or a good book, you have to really get to know our music. It's music you've got to spend time with. It's... progressive death indie."

For a lot of bands, 'progressive' has become a dirty word, but certainly not for this Mancunian quintet. Returning with a sonic boom of a third album and the weight of a new bass player behind them, the band has never stopped moving forward: 'progressive' fits perfectly.

"It just came naturally," says Gambler of new album Frames, an album which is reported to contain the longest ever recorded instance of the word 'cunt' ever, fact fans! "It's a bit of a departure from what we've done before, something diverse within itself, but you'll know it's an Oceansize album."

Last year, bassist and founding member Jon Ellis left the band, and Steve Hodson, a member of drummer Mark Heron's side project Kong, was brought in to replace him. A new bass player might not seem like a big deal, but Steve's effect on Oceansize has been profound.

"You could tell our old bass player's heart wasn't in it during the last couple of months he was with us, and that obviously affected the other members of the band, so getting Steve in has brought a new vigour to the band," explains Gambler.

And his musical ideas have helped to shape much of album, including lead track Unfamiliar, which grew from a nucleus of his creation. "We don't have a main songwriter," Gambler affirms. "Everyone chips in. It was scary, obviously, because we didn't know what he was going to bring to the table, but a lot of his ideas are on the new album. It was really interesting and really exciting for us, and I think that shows on the record."

Indeed, the band is surprisingly upbeat about returning to a scene that has either killed off their mates (Aereogramme) or seen them change much of what they do for a bit of mainstream success (Biffy Clyro). Aren't they tempted to can the prog and start writing hits to survive?

"I don't think we could, to be honest!" Gambler laughs. "It is pretty scary - quite a few good bands have been dropping recently, but we didn't get into this band to make money, otherwise we wouldn't be writing the type of music we write. I don't think a major label would be able to do much for a band like us anyway - we don't write singles, we don't get much airplay. I think a label executive waving a cheque book would scare the hell out of me!"

It may sound idealistic, but Gambler is under no illusions about his band's situation. "We've always thought 'if we can make a living from this, it'd be nice', and it's alright at the moment, but I really don't know how long that's going to last."

So what can he predict about the future? "We're touring the album, then it'll be back to writing next year. And then a major label will turn up with a big fat cheque book." He pauses for effect, "And I'll run a mile."

Frames is released on 1 Oct through Beggar's Banquet.
Oceanize play Moshulu, Aberdeen on 5 Oct and King Tut's, Glasgow on 7 Oct