Genuine congratulations with the mighty new album ‘The Banished Heart’! We did an interview for previous album ‘Winter’, but now let’s have an update of things what happened next. How are you doing?
Hi, I am doing well. I’d like to apologize for the delay on getting this interview back to you all as well.
We can say that ‘Winter’ got a warm welcome by many people. How did you experience the reception of that album yourself?
It was very exciting. Here we had made a lot of changes and where going out on a limb that others would appreciate the new direction. To have such engagement and interest in ‘Winter’ was very reassuring.
To support ‘Winter’ you did several tours. Can you go a bit deeper into the tours you did, some memories you have about travelling or things that happened and how you experienced being on the road for quite a long time as a band?
Touring can be very demanding. As the best way to connect with fans and share our music, it is also the best way to ruin your home life and relationships. The longer the tour, the harder it gets. It’s so incredibly fulfilling doing what you love every night and connecting with so many people, but the sustainability of that kind of routine is mentally and emotionally grueling. You create this entirely different kind of family on tour. It consists of the other bands and techs and crew; together we make this magic every night and travel and break down and build each other back up. Oceans Of Slumber had the pleasure of touring through the UK, Europe, Greece and the Netherlands with our album ‘Winter’. We were on the road with My Dying Bride, Enslaved and Ne Obliviscaris. After the last tour, which was very lengthy, we all came home to turbulence and personal life changes that needed to be made. This subsequently went into the creation of our newest album.
Indeed, I found out that you have gone through strenuous days, which turned into the main inspiration for ‘The Banished Heart’. What happened?
So many different experiences in life accumulated to a point where they couldn't be contained anymore. We did the only thing we knew how to do with those turmoil and made an album. Several of us walked away from relationships and had other introspective moments that we decided to chronicle into ‘The Banished Heart’. We came to moments in our lives that we knew changes had to be made. For ourselves, for our music, for those around us. Hard decisions. Upsetting decisions.
I think we can see the making of this album as a kind of catharsis and a way to learn to get along with the sadness/troubles you had in your lives, isn’t it?
Absolutely, it has been incredibly therapeutic to translate these experiences into our music. Without that outlet I don’t know how healthy our hearts would be.
But the good thing is that you grew together much more, you and Dobber…
Yes this band that we share has given Dobber and I the opportunity to share something most people do not. From home to the stage our love encompasses every aspect of who we are and what we do. Out of everything falling apart, we were lucky to fall together.
Can you go a bit more into details about the lyrical contents of the songs, if that is not too painful? Isn’t it also a reflection of all stadia of getting along with loss?
Yes, the lyrics were born directly from writing and journaling that I did while going through the last couple of years. As an avid journal writer, I have many pages filled with my introspective feelings about my life. I decided to go directly to the source and use this writing to make the lyrics of the new album and an exclusive new tidbit. I haven’t made it public yet, but I plan to release a poetry book of the writings surrounding the time from the conception and release of ‘The Banished Heart’.
Overall the album shows a fine progression of instrumental (and vocal) craftwork, but I have the impression that it is heavier (ponderous), more emotive and way much darker. In a way more doom, so to speak. Do you agree with that?
Yes, we most certainly have gone in to a heavier, darker, and more doom latent direction. Given my southern vocal styles and the bands heaviness and emotive direction the two married to form this doom sound found throughout the new album.
How do you look back at the recording process this time? Did you experience any important differences in comparison with earlier studio works?
Oceans Of Slumber writes music very quickly. We had the opportunity to slow this process down and expand it in ways that we did not do, studio wise, with ‘Winter’. We had a much more cohesive and congruent outlook when recording this album and that made the studio process feel more meticulous. Also Dobber took on spear heading more of the production process which really helped keep the integrity of the changes to our sound.
In the beautiful ‘No Color, No Light’ we enjoy a duet with guest appearance of Tom Englund (Evergrey). How did this cooperation come into being?
Tom and Dobber have been good friends for a few years now. As huge fans of Evergrey and Tom’s vocals, we had talked on several occasions about possibly doing a duet. When I first heard ‘No Color, No Light’ I knew right away it would be the perfect song. As it worked out, Tom would be coming through Houston in time to record his parts with us. It couldn’t have gone smoother and it has been a heartbreaking delight to have him on that song.
You did already a fine job in making three videos! Can you tell a bit more about this visual eye-candy for ‘The Decay Of Disregard’, ‘The Banished Heart’ and ‘No Color, No Light’?
We are very proud of where we come from. We have a lot of pride in Houston and its surrounding forest regions. We had talked at length about shooting our videos in a black metal style out in the native woods of our home lands. ‘The Decay Of Disregard’ is shot in the barn attic on Dobber’s family land. The piano burning got very hot and out of hand with some winds kicking up between shoots, but we managed to have some really good footage. ‘The Banished Heart’ was shot along the roads leading out to the family land and in a reven here in Houston. ‘No Color No Light’ is a spectacularly haunting animated video shot by our friend and animator Costin Chioreanu. He had complete creative freedom and we were so pleased with the result.
Who did the artwork and can you tell a bit more about its symbolism?
The cover is a beautiful photograph by a photographer that goes by Kavan the Kid and the model is lovely woman by the name of Talia. The cover serves to integrate the complex layers of love, loss, trust and relationships. Her expression can be perceived in so many ways. How she is holding the heart reflects how the viewer is feeling. It allows the cover to be depicted as a living thing.
What are the plans and hopes for the near future? What about touring? I see you will come over to Europe for gigs with Epica. Any more details and/or further plans?
Yes our tour with Epica went well, it was throughout the UK and the Netherlands. We hope to venture to Europe again further along in the year. In June we will be out on the road in the US with Insomnium.
If there is something you’d like to add, feel free to do it here…
Thank you for taking the time to interview us and again I apologize for the delay in my response.