Sunday Spotlight – Ocean Encounters

Introduce us to your band!

Pieter (Bassist):
What’s up everybody? We are OCEAN ENCOUNTERS and we come from a small city in Belgium you’ve probably never heard of, with a population of less than that of Old Trafford Stadium – and we make structured noise for a living!

Nathan (Guitarist): Wait Tournai has a smaller population than a football stadium?

Pieter: Yeah I even Googled it just to make sure. Tournai has about 60k people. Old Trafford holds around 76k.

Nathan: Wait, this is blowing my mind. WHAT?!

Pieter: Dude, the biggest stadium in the world holds 150k people! That’s more than TWICE the population of Tournai!

Thomas (Singer): This is how most of these go. Pieter translates the question into French for us and before you know it we’re talking about other things haha! Hi everybody – welcome to a day in the life of our band hahaha!

How did you guys start out?

Quentin (drummer): Ok, while they go ahead and discuss that I’ll take over for a second. We formed back in 2015 in Tournai, Belgium. It started off as just Greg (our other guitarist) and me. I used to own a live music bar and Greg would come over often to play video games and to jam. Then one day another guitarist (not Nathan yet) came in and joined us, then a singer, and before we knew it we were discussing starting a band.

Pieter: Yup! I’m a teacher as well, and one of my students knew the band, and knew they were looking for a bassist. So she comes up to me after class one day asking if I play bass, and/or like playing metal, and since my answer is F*CK YEAH to both of those, I went to rehearsal that evening, and by the end of that first rehearsal we had 2 songs fleshed out and ready to go!

Greg (guitarist): Then, about a year after we formed our singer and first guitarist had to part ways because of some creative differences, but before long we had Nathan and Thomas fill up those empty slots, and we’ve been a nice little metal family ever since!

Describe your band’s sound

Pieter: If we’re going for a specific genre – for all the categorizing-nerds out there – we throw around the term “modern djentcore”. But, in all reality, it’s hard to put it into a category because we’re so all over the place in terms of where we draw inspiration from. Like me, my Spotify playlist is literally Chelsea Grin, Infant Annihilator, Eminem, Billy Strings, Deadmau5. Like from the most brutal and technical deathcore, to bluegrass and EDM. And each and every one of those gets my head bobbing, and my feetsies tapping.

Nathan: My musical taste is black and dead – like my soul. No, but for real, I’m huge into black and death metal, sprinkle a little bit of grindcore over all of that and there ya go! Nathan in a can! So whenever there’s a sweepy-fast paced lead plastered over the song that’s those death metal influences coming forward.

Quentin: Greg and I are all about the djenty, modern metalcore bands. Northlane, Polaris, Betraying the Martyrs… Yeah. Big sound, chuggy rhythmic sections, nice big melodic choruses.

Thomas: And, if you listen to the album start to finish, you’re gonna hear ALL of that. There’s a few songs that have all of those influences within themselves. Songs like Disappoint or Mad Captain are packed with all of those.

What influences your craft?

Thomas: Well we covered the musical influences, but there’s also attitude influences. There’s just a ridiculous number of artists out there who just want to get the record deal, get the cash, and get out. The music itself is no longer the main goal. Write the quick and easy hits that get streamed a lot, cash out, and repeat. Those are the guys everyone is hot for for a few months, and then they drop by the wayside. We’re going for longevity. We want to try and put out music that might not explode in a big flashy way, but will have a long consistent burn – like that gas somebody threw a match into in Kazakhstan or something? Been burning for like 20 years non stop. Yeah, that!

Greg: It’s true. We of course have the single-worthy songs off the album that are that little bit easier to listen to, and have those catchy chunky sections come in quick and hard, but if you listen to the whole album, you’ll see that sometimes patience is a virtue. Listen to a whole track and the payoff will be worth it.

Quentin: Yeah bands like Northlane or Betraying the Martyrs put out quality albums time and time again, and the hits kind of ooze out naturally. Plus their drive to keep producing quality content is just unrivaled. Really lights a fire under our butts to go and do the same!

What makes your project different? 

Pieter: The live shows, for one. We treat every live show like it is a headliner at Download. We move, we sweat, we talk to the crowd. We’ve even done shows where it’s only the one other band and the bar-staff in the audience, but we got them to do a mini wall of death. It was f*cking awesome. Even the bartender said he’d never done that before for any other band, and this guy’s been doing this since the early 80s!

Nathan: Music-wise there is SO MUCH out there these days that it’s hard to break through the noise on songs alone. But like we said we don’t want the short cut. We don’t want to take the elevator to the top. We want to climb the mountain. We wanna bleed, sweat and cry our way to the top so when we get there, we remember what it took to get there. So we try to stick to the theme, and work hard to make every show tight and fun.

When introducing people to your music, what song should I show them first? What is your quintessential track?

Thomas: Off the new album I’d say Disappoint. It hits hard from the get-go, thematically relevant (our loss of faith in the people claiming to be the “leaders”), there’s a rap section in there, a breakdown, angelic leads drifting over everything, plus the music video surpassed ALL of our expectations and is a serious banger.

Greg: But out of all of our material a song that seems to stick in people’s minds is Clock. This song has this HUGE chorus, this rumbling train-like breakdown, and this soft jazzy-like middle section that just makes you want to curl up next to your night-terror monsters and hold them close.

What has been the biggest struggle in your career so far?

Quentin: I think figuring out how to communicate properly. You put 5 guys with WILDLY different personalities in close quarters there’s bound to be some tension. I remember Pieter once said “just because you love somebody, doesn’t mean you like them all the time. People have killed for love. Nobody’s ever killed for “like””. And I think that’s very true. We’ve learned how to keep business and personal separate. It took a while, and we’re continuously working on it, but it’s a vital part of being in a band. You have to be able to tell, and be told, that an idea sucks, and move on. You can’t hold grudges, because that just means you’ve moving an inevitable conflict down the road to be dealt with later.

Pieter: Apart from that, I think a LITERAL struggle is the sheer amount of STUFF you gotta haul from point A to point B in order to make some noise on a stage for half an hour is mind-boggling. It’s definitely not something you hear often either. Everybody sees the big touring trucks, and the TEAMS of roadies that professional bands have, well there’s a REASON for all that. A solid 5% of playing in a band is actually playing. The rest is hauling big heavy STUFF. hahaha! But we love doing it, it’s an excuse to skip the gym, and we do everything to be on that stage.

What has been the biggest highlight in your career so far?

Nathan: For me, it’s been either parking our shitty little van next to The Black Dahlia Murder’s tour bus at Durbuy Rock Festival a few years back, or opening for Jinjer. But realising we had parked next to TBDM tour bus was just insanity. I’ve been listening to them for as long as I can remember, and we knew they would be playing that festival, but seeing the singer get out of the bus and just walk by us was the first “holy shit look at where we’ve come” moment of my musical career.

Greg: Yeah I’m gonna agree on all those points. Also, seeing where Jinjer is now, and being able to say we played there just a few hours before they went on was awesome. Tatiana is becoming such a legend, because she’s got it all. Brutal screams, fantastic singing voice, she’s gorgeous, and the band she’s got behind her are all musical MONSTERS that really know how to throw a killer groove together.

Pieter: For me it was going into a real studio to record a full-length album. That’s been a goal of mine since I saw a Queen documentary in the 3rd grade where they went to a studio to record, and we did it for this album! Literal dream-come-true. It was awesome!

Thomas: Me it was somebody singing along to one of our songs! I was just randomly looking out into the crowd while we were playing “Clock”, and there’s somebody screaming their hearts out, singing along with me. It was so surreal to see someone who you didn’t know, singing back to me the words I put down on paper a few years earlier. We gave her a free t-shirt because it was just SO SO awesome.

How bright is the future of your band – what are the plans?

Collectively: TOUR!

Thomas: Definitely. Short-term goals, medium term goals, long-term goals. All our goals are touring. Short term is just DO a tour. Get in a shitty, cramped little van, load it with gear, drive 10 hours to a show, unload the gear, do the show, pack up the van, sleep in a sketchy place, on to the next show, and repeat for however long we can keep that going.

Nathan: Then medium-term is the same, but preferably a little more international. Like just Europe would be awesome. Go as far East as Poland or Russia, as far West as Ireland and everything in between. That would be so awesome. Can you imagine playing our songs for a bunch of Norwegian dudes?!

Pieter: Then THE ultimate long-term goal we all share, without a doubt, is an album/tour/album/tour/album/tour engine running. Spend a year writing and recording an album, then take that album on tour around the world for a year. That’s the life.

Quentin: Exactly. And don’t get us wrong, we have no disillusions as to what it takes to tour. The whole private jet, TVs thrown out the window, hookers and cocaine on an entire floor at the Hilton is more of a false stereotype than anything else. We don’t need that. All we need is a string of shows across the continent, with just a few people who are happy to listen to us play our set, and maybe a few of them buy some merch. Maybe even get a few people singing along to our songs in the crowd. And we’ll be happy campers.

When all is said and done, how would you like to be remembered?

Greg: That somebody goes “remember that show, with that one band, from like Belgium or something like that? You know, with that American-sounding-but-not-American bassist? They had that guitarist with the full torso tattoo? Common you know them, Ocean….. something?” “Encounters?” “Yes!! Dude that show was f*cking awesome!”

Pieter: Yeah that sounds good. Superstar fame isn’t what we’re looking for. It’d be nice, but just to be remembered for our shows and who we really are. That’s the real goal.

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