Splitting their forthcoming album up into a trilogy of diverse and creatively exhilarating EPs this past year, UK rockers Ocasan has undoubtedly provided British rock with some major thrills. It is not the first time the Milton Keynes hailing trio has made a striking and adventurous contribution to the scene, their acclaimed debut album Ricochet one such triumph, but it is fair to say using recent release the Confessions EP alone as evidence, that the band is breeding a new plateau and depth of invention and virulent sound. With thanks to drummer Luke McDonnell, we set about exploring the heart of the band and those recent releases whilst taking in mutual appreciation of a certain band, learning the back ground to particular songs, and simply exploring Ocasan in general.
Hello Luke and thanks for taking time to chat with us.
Tell us about the beginnings of the band and what inspired you to start up Ocasan.
We’d all come from numerous past projects and like most acts shared a love for the same music. When writing we found that songs poured out like vomit from a size nine Friday night slutty binger.
Is there any special meaning behind or influence to the band name?
It’s my family name, well the Irish side. We were the Ocasan’s. It’s also Japanese for ‘Mother’.
And talking of influences what have been the biggest inspirations to the band and personally in sound and musical intent?
We’ve been on a massive journey. Having stayed together for about a decade now, our influences are constantly in flux. We’ve spent many year writing singles and mainly pop oriented tunes but now rediscovered a love for our grungier roots. We’re writing music we’d want to jump up and down and scream along to drunk in a grotty venue. It’s the tits.
One of our all-time essential listens are Reuben and I heard you guys have a taste for their inspiring sounds too?
Well this follows perfectly from what I was saying. We rediscovered Reuben’s Racecar is Racecar Backwards which led to listening to their other latter work. It’s a little obsessive and we’re seeking help.
You biography mentions “abandoned stables, hippy communes and rock and roll pubs” as well as “hot tubs with millionaires” and parties with Russian oligarchs. We can assume the band’s life to date has been something out of the ordinary?
It’s had its ups and downs but some of the ups have been out of this world. What’s incredible is that it has all stemmed from the music. OK, so we’re not a big band. We’ve been trying for years to get a break, but the one thing we’ve taking away from being in Ocasan are some life changing experiences. We’re by no means done yet.
You recently released the third of a trilogy of EPs, Confessions, which comes around three years after debut album Ricochet of 2011. How would you say your sound has evolved between what are to our mind, two rigorously contagious and imaginative releases?
Our first record Ricochet was written with sole intent of breaking the market. We were still writing music we loved but were set on writing singles people could sing along to and record labels would be interested in. As each year goes by the “Fuck that!”s from all of us becomes increasingly louder. Elixir (the EP trilogy) concentrated more on our lives and our story so far. There are mentions of some serious life changing moments that we had to deal with during the record. We thought this would make the album more sincere rather than writing about teenage fancies etc. We think it’s done just that and every song is an honest story. Apart from Confessions….that’s sung from the point of view of a piano. I’m not a piano.
It is easy to see each of the EPs, London Town, Whitey Two Step, and of course Confessions, working perfectly together within Elixir but they also show distinct personalities from each other, especially the last. Was this something purposefully set out or just organically came about?
Organically…When we set out (reluctantly may I add) splitting up the record we found certain songs had something similar in common. EP1 was our ‘hello we’re back’ EP. There are some strong numbers on there and good examples of what was to come on the follow ups. EP2 More light hearted, whimsical and more creative lyrically. EP3 was much darker both lyrically and musically. We figured if we had you sold on the solid, slightly more commercial stuff from the start, you’d be digging this by now. Safe to safe this is one of the most popular records.
So each has an individual theme and is there a more personal intimacy across the EPs than maybe explored before by the band?
I would add that the third is the most personal. It explores a few subjects that were hard to write about. A good friend of ours (our tour manager) had a brain tumour and we expected him to not be with us by the release. Dark cloud was an infamous cocaine dealer from central London that we had some nasty run-ins with. etc. etc. You’ll need to have a listen to pick apart the rest.
Elixir will be released at some point as a single entity I assume?
Yes, we’re looking at early next year once our agent has sorted the next tour.
Will you sneak in anything new or rework tracks to offer another tasty dose of freshness for fans already devouring the EPs?
Yes, there’s a hidden track and some live stuff that we’ve had stored away for a while. We may even put on some new tracks to hint at the new record. We’ve been recording it all live on reel to reel recently, it sounds out of this world!
There is a great eclectic essence to your sound, a persistently varied energy and invention to your rock pop revelry so how does the songwriting work within the band. It is a group effort in ideas and writing?
I generally come up with lyrics and bring them to the other two. They’re both so talented that normally before I have time to blink they’ve written what I was hearing in my head…if not, better. I guess this just comes with working together for a long time.
Parasites from the Confessions EP is one of our tracks of the year, and went down a storm on our recent podcast. Can you give us some background and the spark to the riveting contagion posing as a song?
As discussed earlier, this particular track was about our friend who was diagnosed with a brain tumour. It was seriously traumatic, obviously for him, but for everyone that loved him dearly. I’m delighted to say that he’s still with us today. But yes, that in essence is the ‘parasite’. “these white coats, do they know the ropes” was a stab at the doctors that kept misdiagnosing him and putting him through emotional hell.
All the tracks across the EPs and thus album were recorded with Romesh Dodangoda (Funeral For A Friend, Motorhead, Kids In Glass Houses). How did that link up come about?
We listened to an Attack! Attack! record years back, did a little research and said Romesh was the guy for us. As we worked so well together on Ricochet we figured “if it ain’t broke…” so we went back to do our second album there. We have a big respect for Romesh and would be happy to work with him again.
You have a serious appetite for gigging and have hit stages across the globe as well as nationally. It feels like this is what it is all about as a band for you guys, where you are most at home?
We love it! If we could be out 364 days a year (Fuck gigging on Christmas) we would. So many bands believe that you can do well from making music videos and putting them on YouTube but nothing will beat just getting out and playing to new people. We love seeing the world and making new friends, what a brilliant way to do it.
Are you a band which likes to preview and explore new songs live before recording or vice-versa?
Yes, it’s incredible how much audience reaction can help develop a song.
What is in store for and from the band going into 2015?
We’ve nearly finished writing album three. Most of it will hopefully be demoed this side of Christmas. We’re off to a studio in Italy in January to try out a studio south of Rome. We’ll release Elixir as a whole (with little extras) and hopefully have the third album ready for release shortly after. After that it’s just tour tour tour, music video, tour tour tour, music video – repeat.
Once again big thanks for sharing time with us; any last thoughts you would like to leave us pondering?
If the brain was so simple we could understand it, it would be so simple we couldn’t.
Read the review of the Confessions EP @ http://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/09/30/ocasan-confessions-ep/
The RingMaster Review 10/12/2014
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