INTERVIEW: Tobias Atkins (GLASS OCEAN)
Like their smooth, undulating namesake, prog enigmas Glass Ocean bring ethereal elegance and whimsical sensuality to the progressive genre. Drawing on ambience and nostalgic sonic flourishes, Glass Ocean quite literally glisten with their every move as they imbue soul, prog and nods from every decade of progressive music in a culmination of classy complexity.
Starting life as a side project back in 2013, the Glass Ocean lads have since gone on to unveil two critically-acclaimed EPs, a bunch of eye-candy visuals via some music vids, as well as supports alongside Anathema, Seether, Sleepmakeswaves, Northlane and Dream On Dreamer (plus a thumbs up from the likes of Tesseract and Polyphia to sweeten the already burgeoning resume).
But while their past accolades and releases paint a delicious backstory for this progtastic quintet, 2020 arrives offering both a challenge from an industry perspective as well as a chance for the band to unveil their sonic growth - and the Glass Ocean lads have indeed risen to the occasion, busting out just last week their brand new tune Beyond Us from their upcoming debut album The Remnants of Losing Yourself in Someone Else. And to celebrate the accompanying music video for their new tune premiering on theMusic.com.au thismorning - to share some insights today into the upcoming new tunes, live highlights, plus a musical desert island fave is none other than Glass Ocean frontman Tobias Atkins chatting with Tiana Speter. Full interview below!
BEYOND US (GLASS OCEAN)//directed by Adrian Goleby
TIANA SPETER: Hello and thank you for the chats today! While it’s certainly some bizarre times right now, especially in the music industry, it’s been so inspiring to see bands still forging ahead and getting delightful new tunes out there – and yourselves included, with 'Beyond Us' dropping last week and a new music vid today! Can you talk me through the single a bit, what’s the too long/didn’t read version of how this tune came to life?
TOBIAS ATKINS: Thank you Tiana for hitting us up. Like yourself and others in the music biz, we thought right now is a better time than any to share new music and content. ‘Beyond Us’ is a good example of the band's desire to look past our previous sound and renew our love of exploration and new musical experiences. It was the first song on the album that the vocals were laid down and it functions as a microcosm of what to expect from the new record. In a soundscape sense, taking the best parts of what we had and adding something new to revitalise the structure of our sound.
TIANA: ‘Beyond Us’ is also the first taste of your upcoming album ‘The Remnants of Losing Yourself in Someone Else’…it’s been a few years between releases now, how was the process working towards this album, did you guys go into this with a clear mission statement for what you were after sound-wise? Or did it evolve as you went along?
TOBIAS: It largely evolved as we were going along, although we had set out a very clear mission statement. We had a story written that was to function as the arc of the album. That story changed so much by the end. When we stepped back from it, what we had written was not what we intended. However it was an honest and true version of that story that spoke to us more than what we had set out to write in the beginning. That was a great feeling. Soundwise it was honestly a hail mary ‘in the moment’ thing. We had one rule really, and that was to move past our old sound and get out of our comfort zone.
TIANA: And with regards to how Glass Ocean craft a song, what’s the writing process like for you lot, do you have a sturdy formula now for how you conjure these dreamy tunes? And how (if at all) has that changed since your earlier days?
TOBIAS: I don't think we’ve ever begun writing a song in the same way, however once it's underway we probably are quite formulaic. I guess i would say what dictates the whole process is hearing the voice of the song. Getting the feeling for what it's supposed to be about. It’s all there right at the moment your ear catches something you like, something you know is one piece of a bigger picture. Trying to find whatever that is, has always been the hard part. It means nothing until it speaks to you. From our early days, we have honed in more on our ability to tell stories. We value that more than anything.
GHOST (GLASS OCEAN)
TIANA: In the best possible way, I struggle to define you guys genre-wise. You have this nostalgic proggy pop and slumberous grooves utterly brimming with warmth. But how would you describe Glass Ocean if you were introducing someone to the band for the first time?
TOBIAS: Haha well you're not going to like my answer. When someone asks me what kind of music we play, I always answer with ‘I play in a rock band’. I let other people try to figure that one out because I really don't have a good answer. It's rock, with elements of pop, prog, Jazz, Funk and ambience i guess. And the occasional feeling of Campfire warmth!
TIANA: I’ve been very fortunate to catch you guys live a few times now, and it’s always such an epic experience…in fact, you guys actually played at the last live gig I went to this year, so it was quite a lovely note to unintentionally end on before all the madness took over! And while we’re all desperately missing the live experience, let’s re-live better times - looking back over your pretty stellar touring history, has one live Glass Ocean moment stood out for you, whether it was memorably good, bad or hilarious?
TOBIAS: Thank you Tiana for coming to our gigs foremost. The scene is lucky to have you supporting it the way you do. I think our last 2 tours have been really memorable. Mostly in terms of crowd interaction and dancing. We are a dancing band. Something not that common in the prog scene. It was great to see people swinging their hips to our music. Something I hope continues to catch on at our shows.
GLASS OCEAN, SYDNEY 2020//pic by Angie New
TIANA: On the topic of live shows – take me back in time to the first ever Glass Ocean gig you played. Where was it, who was there, and would you rate it as a success overall?
TOBIAS: The first ever gig we played was this basement show under the Capitol Theatre in Sydney. It was myself and Nic Pettersen, my best mate that started this band with me. Just a two piece playing with a Cahun and an acoustic guitar. Not at all a full lineup but lots of fun and just our friends in a dingy little bar.
TIANA: For someone linked to the progressive music realm, what music did you actually grow up listening to? Was there a particular band or artist who inspired you to actually become a musician?
TOBIAS: I am actually not well versed in progressive music at all. My musical upbringing was largely focused on the like of Michael Jackson, Prince, INXS, Live, Swing music, Musical Theatre, showtunes and Bebop. Also lots of filmic music and Classical/Romantic.
TIANA: And what bands or songs are you currently listening to, I’m always not-so-secretly hunting for new music recommendations and an interview, of course, is the most professional setting to pretend to ask a question but actually steal some music suggestions!
TOBIAS: I am not great at keeping up with the current climate except for my friends in the scene here and overseas. Lately i have really been enjoying Vinyl Williams album ‘Opal’ but that's the most current thing i've been listening to haha. Also this band i got to see in LA called Black Mare, they are very cool! I’ve also been listening to anything from Thornhill to Kylie Minogue and Moby. Also really enjoying the Wes Montgomery trio and Mason Ramsey at the moment.
TIANA: Now to slowly wrap things up here…let’s get clichéd and hit up a desert island question. If Glass Ocean were stranded on a desert island with only one other band (living or dead) for company – who would you choose to join you and why?
TOBIAS: Love a good desert island question. I’m going to go with ‘America’ because I feel like I would never get tired of their campfire tunes….I say that now but maybe it would piss me off after the 1000th rendition of Ventura Highway. They’d probably taste pretty good?....
TIANA: And lastly, slightly in honour of your new single ‘Beyond Us’…if you could journey just beyond all of this uncertainty and travel anywhere in the world to go lose yourself on an adventure – where would you go?
TOBIAS: Definitely to surf a perfect peeling right hander on some remote island where I could catch fish.
GLASS OCEAN'S BRAND NEW TUNE BEYOND US IS OUT NOW ON ALL THE USUAL DIGITAL SUSPECTS VIA WILDTHING RECORDS. PLUS, KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR MORE NEWS ABOUT THE BAND'S UPCOMING DEBUT ALBUM, FOR MORE INFO HEAD HERE.
BY TIANA SPETER