Ocean Encounters is a metalcore band from Tournai, Belgium. Bassist Pieter very graciously took some time out from the lockdown to answer some questions fired at him. Read about the background of the band, what you can expect when you check Ocean Encounters out, as well as more personal disclosures such as performing ‘A Whole New World’ at school, and his choice of the Blues Brothers as one of the greatest musicals of all time (good choice bro!). Check it out below…
Hi guys! Pieter here, the bassist of Ocean Encounters. We usually like doing these interviews together but it’s just me today so the more personal questions will be just from my perspective 🙂
What are the origins of the band, how long have you been playing together?
So we started back in 2015 in a small Belgian town/city called Tournai. At first it was our drummer (Quentin), one of our current guitarists (Greg) and our first guitarist. I’m a teacher and one of my students knew Greg and asked me if I liked metal and/or played bass. And since the answer to both of those questions was F*CK YEAH I DO, I went to a rehearsal that evening and by the end of it we had 2-3 songs fleshed out and ready to go!
A few years later our singer and guitarist left due to creative differences and so we brought Nathan (guitarist) and Thomas (singer) on board, and they really breathed new life into the band and so now we’re here! Album on the books, almost had a tour going etc. Crazy to think about all this stuff hahaha!
How did you feel performing your first gig? And how was it?!
First gig with the band was in the bar that our drummer used to own. He had a performance space in the back, and we were opening for a few bigger local bands. It remains one of the craziest crowds we’ve ever had. Moshpits, bloody noses, so hot the room was foggy, drinks flying all over the place. Really gave us this boost of momentum right from the start that really got us hungry for more.
My first ever performance was singing a Whole New World from Aladdin at our school’s Parents’ day hahaha! I wasn’t nervous because I didn’t know what to expect, but once I was up there and singing that kick of adrenaline was something I’ll never forget.
What should people expect when they check the band out? How would you describe yourself?
If they’re coming to a live show, we try to break that feeling of “I want to move around a bit but I’m not going to if nobody else is going to”. We try to make it OK to move. Bob your head, tap your feet, get up close to the stage. A mosh-pit is a bonus, but if I just see some heads bobbing and some smiles go around the crowd I’m a happy camper.
For the recorded tunes I’d say listen to the whole album start to finish. Not every song is written with the intention of being a single. Some will be “easy” listens, with juicy, jumpy, heavy bits right off the bat. Others take a second to build up, but when that inevitable drop comes you’ll see that it will have been well worth the wait.. Sometimes you gotta climb the mountain to enjoy the view. And example is “Mad Captain” off our latest album. That song has heavy sections, rap sections, melodic stuff, and crazy lyrics about a captain who accidentally finds the edge of the world. It’s one of our favourites, but we didn’t put it out as a single because it takes a second to kick off.
What are you working on at the minute that people can check out?
We just released our first album a month or so ago, so feel free to check that out on all major streaming platforms. The album is called “Anchored”. And if you want a banger to really kick it off, check out the single called “Disappoint”. That ones gets the heads moving and has a whole bunch of stuff crammed in there. It’s one of our favourites.
We also have a YouTube channel with all our clips, plus a vlog that’s uploaded every two weeks to keep you guys up to speed with the behind-the-scenes of the band, and let you take a glimpse into how we do things. You’ll see the band evolve from songs we’ve been working on, to new equipment, to the occasional free merch giveaway.
The new music scene is bursting at the seams with talent, in what ways do you feel that a band has to stand out from the others trying to build a name?
Perseverance. Everyone is looking for the quick explosive fame, and don’t realise that in order to stand out you have to devote and sacrifice a solid chunk of your life to make the music, play the shows, get your name out there. You’re gonna have to do the free shows in front of nobody but the staff of the bar, you’re gonna have the shows you gotta do even though you’re sick, there’s gonna be the 5 hours round-trip drives for a 30 minute show, there’s gonna be the nights you don’t get home before 5am, and then STILL have to unload the van. But that’s what it takes. Once you’ve been on the scene for a few years then the name will start becoming recognized and the name gets out there and the size and frequency of shows will start picking up.
You can try and do it with costumes or out-there music style, or even write the formulaic “easy” songs. Those will get you noticed, but you have to build the base of the building before you can start construction, and the base of the building never looks like the finished building. It’s messy, it’s dirty, things go wrong. But if you can power through that, then building the rest is a cakewalk because you’ll have a solid foundation.
What band out there at the minute do you feel that you would be best suited to open for?
Oh man, if we get the chance to pick we’d love to go for Betraying the Martyrs or Polaris. Those are two bands that keep coming back in our collective playlists over and over. Great music, great work ethic, and we once got to drive Boris (drummer of BTM) home after a festival when their van broke down. It was awesome hahaha!
Who do you feel is the next band to break out?
Well I’d say Jinjer, but they’ve been on the up-and-up for a while now. We opened for them about 2 years ago which was really cool. Tatiana is a fuggin BEAST on the mic. Her range and skill is just astounding. And she’s got some seriously talented musicians behind her as well, so yeah they’re definitely going places.
What are your first musical memories? And what was the light bulb moment that made you go “I want to do that”?
Oh I can give you an exact year and address where it all started hahaha!! 1993, New Rochelle, New York.
I remember my parents playing this song called “The Obvious Child” by Paul Simon. The track starts with these big big drums recorded in a big space, and then these horns come in when the song really kicks off. I remember the song being on repeat for hhoouurrrssss! My brother and I would always hide behind the furniture when the song starts, and then when the horns kicked in we’d run from behind the couches, pretend to wave at the crowd, then pick up our imaginary instruments and play through the whole songs. Then we’d stop the song, put down our instruments and bow, thanks the crowd and blow them air-kisses, the works hahaha! Then we’d just go right back and do it all over again. I can pinpoint those days as the exact moment where I remember thinking that being on stage and playing music for people is what I want to do.
What was the last gig that you attended as a fan?
Thy Art is Murder at Alcatraz Music Festival 2019. My brother and I do all the recap clips for the festival every year, so we get to go back-stage and everything, and we got to talk to the guys of TAIM and everything. All of them were super cool dudes who loved to joke around. Add to that that their set was blistering, and the crowd was crazy, so that was lots of fun.
Plus that festival has such good vibes year after year. Well organised, guaranteed fantastic lineup, and awesome food selection besides just fries and pizza!!
The album that you have in your album collection/spotify playlist that would surprise most people?
I’ve got a whole collection of Billy Strings albums. He’s an absolutely insane Bluegrass player. Check out a live version of “Dust in a Baggy”, his solos are mind-blowing because of how fast, how complex, and the fact he straight picks all his notes. Very little hammer ons/pull offs etc. He’s a genius.
I’m also gonna go ahead and add the Blues Brothers soundtrack to that. Blues Brothers is (in my humble shitty opinion) one of the greatest musicals of all time. The jokes are hilarious (Illinois Nazi’s?! hahahaha!) and the musicians they got for that movie are just insane (Aretha Franklin, Cab Calloway, James Brown, RAY CHARLES, the list goes on….)
What are your plans for the remainder of 2020?
Shows, shows, a few shows, then if we can; a show or two-three, and if at all possible, get a few shows and throw some shows in the mix. And if for some reason that falls short, we’d love to get a show together. Hahahaha!
No all jokes aside we want to play shows. We had a bunch lined up and even had the beginnings of a tour coming together, but COVID came and kicked that in the unmentionables. So 2020 is all about picking that momentum back up as soon as we can, and aiming for a tour in summer 2021.
How active are you on social media and where can people connect with you?
Very active! Like a mentioned before we try to get a vlog up every two weeks on YouTube to stay active in the feeds and to keep people up speed with what we’re doing. Every now and then there’s a giveaway, and we’ve always got our show info and stuff up there as well, plus all the clips and videos and all that good stuff!!
Thanks for reaching out, guys!
Connect with Oceans Encounters here.