Ocean Encounters is a metalcore band from Tournai, Belgium.
How would you describe your music?
Pieter (bassist): Because of the tendency to try and squeeze everything into defined parameters we’ve taken to calling ourselves “modern djentcore” to please the plebs (laughs).
No but we kind of came up with that name because it’s hard to define our music along the lines of “normal” descriptions. One of our guitarists love black and death metal, another one likes classic metalcore, our singer is a fan of older metal, our drummer loves djent, and I love the blues. So if you listen to the album, or come to a live show, you’ll hear bits of all of those in every song.
Greg (guitarist): Let me try and paint one of our songs with words. A cryptic intro, going into a jumpy opening section, into a rumbling verse, taking you through chorus valley, and then over the waterfall with a breakdown that’ll shatter your teeth, and then really drive the point home with a sweeping solo, only to carry you to the afterlife with a soft sweet outro. Can you picture it?!
Tell us about how the history of the project?
Quentin (drummer): That story is all over the place as well. We’ve been through quite a bit in the few years we’ve been together. I used to own this little live music bar in town, and so it started off with just Greg (one of our guitarists) and me jamming in the back. Soon we had a mutual friend of ours join who also plays guitar. He knew a guy who could sing/scream, and then all we needed was a bassist.
Pieter: I was a teacher in town and I had one of my last-year students come up to me asking me if I knew how to play bass and if I loved metal. My answer to both of those questions was “Fuck YES!”, and I went to a rehearsal that evening. By the end of it we had 2-3 songs coming together. It was just an awesome fit.
Nathan (guitarist): Yeah but it was all before I joined the band so you guys were all just warming up until my arrival.
Nathan: No I’m kidding. But it is true that we had a few lineup changes over the years. I wasn’t in the OG setup. The first guitarist left because of other projects, so the guys sent me a message about 2 weeks before my first show with the band. Wait, no. My first show ever!! hahaha!! It was a real hitting-the-ground-running moment.
Thomas (singer): Same for me! I joined a little later because the original singer couldn’t devote the time he wanted to the band so had to leave. But these guys also sent me an invite to come along and it was ALSO a small month before a show. Talk about pressure!
Pieter: Sorry but not sorry hahaha! You guys pulled through great! And look at you now!
What are your influences/ musical heroes?
Pieter: Our influences come from all over the place. I’m a HUGE Blues Brothers fan (both the band and the movie). And any musician in that movie is a hero of mine. I’m also a massive Lamb of God fan, and I think Randy is one of the best lyric writers out there. And especially when you know that he never even considered himself a metal singer! It started as a joke for him. And now they sell out at every show they have. Phenomenal.
Quentin: I’m a huge Misha Mansoor fan. Periphery are a great band, but I love him for all the stuff he’s done on the side. Him and their bassist Nolly have done SO MUCH in terms of music hardware and software development that people don’t know. The Dingwall bass, Get Good Drums plugins, YouTube videos on recording, mixing and mastering and song-writing. I think without these guys we’d only be half the way where we are now. Love those guys.
Nathan: Death and darkness are my only inspiration (laughs).
What inspires you?
Greg: Being able to stop waiting for motivation, and just get sh*t done. Too many people wait for the moment they’re motivated or inspired to do something, and in doing so let days and weeks of productive time go by. It frustrates me to now end. Just get off your ass, and go do it.
That feeling of “urgh I don’t wanna” will go away quick, and you’ll find yourself in a rhythm. This goes for anything. From doing the dishes to playing a show. If there’s something you need to do but don’t feel like it, count down from 5, and NO MATTER WHAT, you get up and you go do it. If you wait until you “feel like it” it’s already too late. Just get up, do it, and you’ll be happy you did.
Thomas: Dude. Wait. You just blew my mind. You’re SO right! Wait this is crazy how have we not had this conversation before?! ….
Do you write on the road? Or do you prefer to write in the studio?
Nathan: We’ve never been “on the road” for long enough to have enough time to kill to write songs haha! A big multi-national tour is our dream though.
Quentin: Yeah our writing process varies a little. The last 3 years I lived together with Pieter in a house close to everyone else’s home. It was so awesome. At any given moment there was music being played in that house. At one point there 26 guitars, 12 amplifiers, a PA system, disassembled acoustic drum, assembled electric drum and a 26-channel mixing board in that house. Any musician could come in, pick up any of the guitars, plug in to any of the amps, and play. Plus everything was hooked up in a way that all you had to do was launch the PC, hit record and you could lay down some riffs. The luxury!! We do miss that place.
Pieter: Yeah so it would be quite often that there would be a riff or something open on the PC in the mornings when I woke up. I’d listen to it a few times, then pick up a guitar and start adding to it. By the afternoon there would be the bones of a song there. Then the guys would pop by over the course of the day and evening and by the end of the day the song would be ready for test-runs in the rehearsal space. And then we’d fine-tune it from there.
What is your favourite song to perform live?
Pieter: Disappoint or Mad Captain. Each has these lovely chunky jumpy sections, a machine-gun rap/trap section, chorus that can be sung along to. Yeah those two take the cake for me.
Thomas: I’m a big fan of Painful Chance. I don’t sing as much on that one as on the others, but it has a personal meaning to me that one. And I love putting out there for people to hear.
Greg: I love Count. It’s an unrecorded track so we’ve only ever played it live. But there’s a break down in that song that is just delicious. Whenever that song starts there’s a round of smiles that shoots around the band and we’re all just so excited for that break down to come, and as it’s building up we’ll catch each other’s eye and we all know what’s coming hahaha! It’s fun!
What would be your dream tour to be a part of?
Quentin: Oh man, we’re dreaming right so we can go waaaay out there? I’d have to go Betraying the Martyrs, Jinjer, Polaris, Narthlane and Periphery.
Pieter: I’ll toss Lamb of God and Blink 182 in there.
Greg: Oh and Jinjer! Because we’ve played with them before but we want to do it again!
What are you current thoughts on the music industry?
Pieter: Oh man it’s tough. On one hand it’s harder than ever to make money of the music itself, so supporting yourself and a potential family on just music is very very hard work. On the other hand it’s never been easier to get your music out there, so that’s awesome.
Quentin: Yeah the music making process has never been easier. A guy in his bedroom can make professional quality music. No more need to go into a big expensive studio to get high quality sound. Which is a double edged sword all on its own because it means there’s so much crap and noise you have to swim through before you can get to a place with decent exposure and funds.
Thomas: I have to agree. It’s so double sided all of it. It’s fantastic how easy it is to get your music out there, but it does get a little lost in the noise. But it does allow for people who would otherwise never have a chance to get seen and heard.
Greg: I think the most important part is staying true to yourself. It’s easy to stick to what’s safe and apply the “formula” that works. But to have a sustainable and long-lasting fan base you still have to be unique enough to stand out.
What is the funniest/weirdest experience you have had on tour?
Quentin: Oh boy. This wasn’t on tour per-se, but at a show. Our town has a music festival every year. Several big stages strewn throughout the city for every single genre. From jump-style to French accordion folk, to metal and everything in between. We were set to play the closing slot, on the last day, on the biggest stage, right outside the bar that closes last in the whole city. We had been prepping this for weeks. We got a new in-ear monitoring system and practised with it for weeks. We had new choreography, uniforms for on stage, the works.
Nathan: but as always, Murphy had to pay a visit and whip out his huge law and lay it across the table for all to see. It started during the sound-check. The sound engineer had never worked an in-ear monitoring system like ours, and couldn’t figure out where to plug it into the mixing board. So he had accidentally stuck it into the main out. So when we started our sound check the whole audience got a nice CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK at 80DB right to the face. And it just wouldn’t get resolved. Cables getting pulled out, replaced, that nice painful POP when an active cable gets pulled out of its jack.
Thomas: oh man and this was only the beginning. By this point we were already 10 minutes late. and by the time sound check had finally finished we were 20 minutes late. And we started getting stressed. So the second it was fixed we sprinted off stage to the back where our costumes were. Turns out somebody had locked the door to the backstage and we didn’t know who had the key. So no costumes. And since I do my warm-up right before the beginning of the show I couldn’t do that either. So I’m going into a 45-minute show with 0 vocal warmup.
Greg: AND IT’S STILL NOT DONE! We decide f*ck it, we’ll just go up and play. We start the intro and start playing. But half way through the song we realize the guitars are starting to sound really out of tune. Turns out the room where we had put the guitars before the show had an AC, so it was nice an cool. This was beginning of July in Belgium so outside it was hot, and by the middle of the first song the heat and playing hard sent the strings of both guitars and the bass out of whack, so the end of that song was totally out of tune.
Pieter: Then to top it all off, about half way the set I break a string. THE BASS GUITAR BROKE A STRING. That is very rare, but like we said, Murphy likes showing off his law any chance he gets, and he really sent it to brown-town without vaseline on this one. Just one thing after the other. On the plus side the owner of the bar has experience playing himself so he saw the shit we were going through and offered us a few free drinks each. Which helped process it haha! It was just a huge let-down because of how much we had built it up in our head. Usually the shows we don’t care about go the best, and the ones we build up the most are the worst.
What are your future plans?
Nathan: 100% touring. We were starting to get a few dates together for our album release tour, but then this whole pandemic thing came in and kicked our ass. So that nicked all those plans.
Quentin: Yeah we might have different inspirations for our music, but our goal is collective. Short term is just a week or two tour. Medium term is a whole summer tour, and then long-term ultimate-dream-goal is to get an album-tour-album-tour-album-tour engine going. Spending a whole year writing an album, then go on tour for a whole year. Hell yes. That’s the dream.
Pieter: Exactly! That’s the dream. And also we have no intention for touring to be all rainbows and unicorns. We’ve spoken to a lot of touring bands, and we’re fully aware of what it entails. It’s not all hookers and cocaine on a private jet and hotel suites from city to city. It’s cramped, in a smelly shitty little van, driving for hours and hours, unloading, playing a show in front of maybe 5-10 people, packing it all up, sleeping in a sketchy hotel/motel, then back on the road and doing it all again. That’s what we want. We just want to get our music out there to as many people as we can, everywhere we can.