“It feels good to have the control back in my hands”
It is human nature that relationships are complex. You agree on some things and disagree on others. Relationships of any sort come and go, some more important than others. Within the music industry, relationships between bands and labels continue to be challenged; streaming services don’t give enough financial support for bands, and crowdfunding and independent platforms such as Bandcamp are now used by many bands, both established and emerging. Nevertheless, for a lot of bands having artistic control is far more important than financial gain.
One of those bands is Being As An Ocean. Since forming out of California in 2011, they have built a steady following with their brand of emotional post-hardcore. With three full-lengths to their name, in early 2016, they joined Equal Vision Records, a label with a long history of working with a host of alternative bands. While at first the relationship between band and label seemed normal; a fourth full-length was in the works. However, 18 months on from joining the label, Being As An Ocean bought out their contract from Equal Vision and are now independent.
“I’ll say that we were pumping out stuff that we thought was ground-breaking and we never really felt that same energy back at us from the industry. I think that we had some differences and that the delay was a symptom of those differences; not the cause,” says lead guitarist Tyler Ross when we recently spoke to him about parting ways with EVR.
The delay Ross refers to is their long-awaited fourth album, ‘Waiting For Morning To Come’. Originally pencilled in for a June release, the months leading up to the rumoured release date saw radio silence from the label with BAAO posting the occasional image online. Eventually, it led to Ross using his life savings to purchase the album from the label, and although he admits a risk to becoming an independent band, Tyler, along with band mates Joel Quartuccio (vocals), Ralph Sica (bass), Michael McGough (guitar) and Anthony Ghazel (drums), are confident in taking full control of their career.
“I know the music is good though; I know that people want to listen to it, and so I’m not worried at all. It feels good to have the control back in my hands. I don’t think I’m going to be giving it away anytime soon,” Tyler explains.
Without a doubt, ‘Waiting For Morning To Come’ is the start of a bold new chapter for Being As An Ocean; both “as a business” and creatively. The two songs released so far are a stark departure from the guitar-dominated material of old. ‘Thorns’ is a sweeping, atmospheric number that makes use of a sample of Justice Vs Simian’s ‘We Are Your Friends’. Tyler suggests it’s just one of many samples used throughout the record, “you’ll see stuff like that all over it; some could be more obvious, and some are a bit harder to find.”
While ‘Black & Blue’ could be considered as the bridge between the old and new BAAO; Quartuccio’s emotionally-charged barks and McGough’s soothing melodies are complimented by brooding instrumentation. Nevertheless, from speaking to Tyler we get the impression that BAAO look to challenge listener’s expectations on ‘Waiting For Morning To Come’. “My best advice is to put your headphones in, go for a walk in the city and just play the whole thing,” he explains.
At “the business end” of BAAO, Tyler and company optimistic about what they can do next; “I’m at the point where I’m like, ‘How far can I push it? What can I do here to shake things up?’”
The element of having complete control has also affected their live show. With a return to the UK set to take place in November supporting Stick To Your Guns, Tyler says the band’s show is very different; one that is delivered with more precision. He explains, “we do a full light show wherever we go and we have everything kind of dialled in down to the note. It’s still crazy and spur of the moment, but it’s a lot more impressive now. I want to do something live sonically and visually impressive.
“I don’t want the listener to have to make compromises in their head like, ‘the guitar didn’t sound great but I don’t think they had a good mix on stage…’ I really want it to actually sound impressive every night, and not just be passable. I want to hold myself to a higher standard. My production is getting trickier and trickier these days; the way each song was made might not exactly be ‘easy.’”
Undoubtedly, the shackles are off for Being As An Ocean and their future is certainly one full of intrigue.
‘Waiting For Morning To Come’ by Being As An Ocean is out now (here).
Being As An Ocean will be touring the UK with Stick To Your Guns on the following dates:
27 Rescue Rooms, Nottingham
28 The Garage, Glasgow
29 Academy, Manchester
30 O2 Academy Islington, London
01 O2 Institute, Birmingham
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)