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7th October 2016
METAL DISCOVERY: Can you see yourselves covering a song by The Gathering in the future. Would you like to attempt an Anneke vocal?
DOBBER: Of course.
(Dobber Beverly on the reciprocal nature of his wide musical tastes)
"… why’s it so weird I listen to Mogwai and Swans, and the most extreme death metal on the planet, and black metal? I see all that stuff as interchangeable."
Oceans of Slumber - promo shot
Interview by Mark Holmes
Photograph copyright © 2015 Jeremy Pierson
Oceans of Slumber Official Website:
Thanks to Nina Potthoff for arranging the interview
Oceans of Slumber Official Facebook:
Oceans of Slumber Official Twitter:
Review of Oceans of Slumber live in Manchester, 07/10/2016:
Century Media:
MD: There are so many songs and albums, do you have a favourite? ‘How to Measure a Planet’ is one of my favourites.
DOBBER: Oh, beautiful.
MD: I could listen to ‘Travel’ on loop all day… the melodies in that song are beyond sublime.
DOBBER: [Laughs] Well, for her, I know that everything’s a latter day thing more so. For me, it would be something off the first three. Maybe ‘Confusion’, something like that. But we actually did ‘Amity’ a while back, working on it, but it’s trying to… if you can imagine crossing ‘Amity’ with Swans, like Michael Gira Swans, like super hard electronics. Dead Can Dance meets Swans darkwave into ‘Amity’.
MD: Sounds amazing!
DOBBER: It’s a cool thing. It’s like all these doors are shut and they shouldn’t be. It’s like, why’s it so weird I listen to Mogwai and Swans, and the most extreme death metal on the planet, and black metal? I see all that stuff as interchangeable.
MD: Definitely. Music’s inherently about the emotions and it’s whatever way someone choses to express that. So, going back to The Gentle Storm record, I personally think that Arjen Lucassen is a musical genius. Do you think he’s a musical genius?
DOBBER: I absolutely do.
MD: I shall email him this! We’ve had a few email exchanges and an interview once, where I’ve declared him a genius, but he just won’t have it! He’s said he’s worked with musical geniuses before and he’s not one of them, because it takes him a lot of work and effort to create his music.
DOBBER: Well, the output is genius. I know what he would be saying because the amount of work that has to go into something, if you were considered a genius, it would be nothing. He’d just shit that out and, “oh, here’s a whole Ayreon record.” And you can imagine the time… I mean, the attention to detail for somebody like him. That’s not genius, that’s madman level.
MD: Well, there’s a fine line between madness and genius, which was the theme of the last Ayreon album.
DOBBER: Oh man, Mike Mills off the last record, the guy who played the dad, the Australian guy, what an incredible vocalist.
MD: Have the ProgPower US organisers shown any interest in booking Oceans of Slumber?
DOBBER: Off and on.
MD: They’ve had Oceans of Sadness play there before, the Belgian band, so now they need Oceans of Slumber!
DOBBER: In the US, the genre tag thing is a warzone, because there’s progressive power metal, there’s progressive metal, where people only think progressive metal means technical…
MD: Like Dream Theater and Dream Theater clones, yeah.
DOBBER: And if anyone has listened to our first record, the technical chops – that’s easy for us too. With ‘Winter’, it was kind of honing in on an idea and developing the songwriting and bigger things. So, for ProgPower US… because we were contacted by ProgPower Europe to play this year, and it’s a thing where in Europe, they understand what the progressive term means the in grander scheme of things. In the US, Symphony X is a progressive metal band, and getting anything to do with Dream Theater, that’s what they mean. I’m like, “well, when you had Riverside here, you saw how well that went over”, and that’s a progressive band, to me. It’s a band that has the musical chops but it also has the vocabulary to create these massive moods. And who is more progressive than Pink Floyd?
MD: I guess the term was coined originally because bands were actually progressing something through their music. Now, it has become more widely considered as a sound rather than a mindset and attitude towards creating music. I always make the distinction between genuine progressive and generic progressive. And generic progressive is Dream Theater and all the Dream Theater clones. Technically, they’re incredible, but where are the emotions? I find Dream Theater such a frustrating band as they write some great songs but then shit all over them with too much technical stuff.
DOBBER: It’s cold.
MD: Exactly, yeah.
DOBBER: What’s the fucking point? I like Dream Theater, but it’s the same thing for me. The progressive term is supposed to be evolving and expanding, and new elements and new things, and not a fear of bringing in instrumentation or styles or all kinds of things. It doesn’t mean sitting around and noodle-festing it. If you’ve got the capabilities to, and that’s all you’ve got to say, then fuck yeah, but if that’s all you’ve got to say then it doesn’t make it a progressive band; it makes you a technical band.
MD: You posted something about Green Carnation at ProgPower too, where you were raving about their performance. I’m incredibly jealous you’ve seen them play the whole of ‘Light of Day, Day of Darkness’! How good was that?
DOBBER: They fucking crushed the whole of ProgPower! They crushed the day. You know, in the first couple of movements of ‘Light of Day…’, vocally, he’s better than he’s ever been, which is awesome to say and it’s a great thing to see. They’ve also brought in the original keyboard player from ‘Light of Day…’ now, and he produced ‘Light of Day…’ and did the string arrangements and stuff. They encompassed completely what I was referring to earlier. They get to the centre of the interlude section to where they would have the vocal parts in the original, like the female operatic, soulful Pink Floyd thing, and the guitar player pulls out a bouzouki and he plays this very Middle Eastern, Greek inspired little solo. Then, Endre [Kirkesola] starts with a talk box and synthesizer, and they do this whole mood piece. It’s not on the record and it’s improvised every night that they play it. And so, when you saw that, it’s fucking hair-raising… because, then you’re like, wait a second, I don’t know this; what is this? So now I’m hearing this brand new thing and it’s these guys, and I can trust what I’m hearing is gonna be amazing. What I’m actually hearing is titillating.
So, when you see something like that, that’s what I’m talking about – that’s magic, and there’s still the ability to create fucking magic. You talked about inflections, and that’s what music performance is about, and that’s what personality is about. That performance was full of inflections and you’re like, “well, I know this record, and you guys changed the right things, and you guys made this thing come to life.” Oh my god, what a fucking show that was.
MD: Would you ever be tempted to do a sixty minute song yourself?
DOBBER: Yeah, it’d be amazing. I know Insomnium just did the same thing on their new record.
MD: Oh, did they? I’ve not heard that yet.
DOBBER: Beautiful. The new record’s beautiful. And it charted at number one in the Finnish charts, which is fucking awesome.
MD: My final question then, what’s next after this tour? Is album number three already in the works?
DOBBER: When we finished ‘Winter’, we probably had about seven songs ready for the new record, and then we track all those live or video tape ‘em. It’s like seeing people that you don’t know and you’re like: “Have we played that? What is this? Oh, I don’t even remember that”, or, “that’s genius”, or, “that’s terrible, that’s total shit.” But we pretty much scrapped the whole thing and decided to do a full concept record from beginning to end, and that’s what we’re working on next. But, when we go back home, we do some live stuff… we actually just recorded a live in the studio session of ‘Sunlight’ and the full version of ‘…This Road’.
MD: It’s already around seven minutes long, isn’t it?
DOBBER: Yeah, there’s a whole three or four minutes missing from it. It was meant for live use, which we’ve done live a few times. I’m so heavily into seguing music and so heavily into longer introductions. For me, I want it to be like if I’m sitting in the audience. So, when we write and create, we see it from that perspective, you know. And, if it doesn’t translate to people then it doesn’t really matter that much.
MD: Good answer.
DOBBER: [Laughs]
MD: Right, thank you so much for your time.
DOBBER: Cheers.