With Wallapalooza hitting Byron Bay this Friday, featuring Hailmary, Hammers, RedHook, These Four Walls, Massive, and Smoking Martha, Seven got in for a chat with Tobias Atkins of Glass Ocean, who are also featuring as part of the bill at the Hotel Great Northern
Tell me about your major pop influences?
Michael Hutchence, Michael Jackson and Prince. Those guys were my introduction to pop music. My parents were professional dancers and entertainment figures, so these three had it all. My folks handed me their discographies early on and that was that. Their sensuality and self-expression was unique so I just had to become something like that. There was something about how they couldn’t be copied, how their dedication to their art form showed that you could be something more. Those guys spoke volumes of love and light to the whole world and subsequently made it a better place. Call me naive, but that’s what I want to do for the world.
What is your songwriting process with Glass Ocean?
The usual process tends to be that we write the track instrumentally first, and then I scratch my head for weeks trying to come up with lyrics. Our songs are always initially inspired by a single riff that gives us the inspiration to keep going. There’re lots of production/mix elements that go into the writing process too. But we always start with simple ideas and just build. In terms of inspiration, that always is driven from emotion. I need that in my life before I can write any lyrics. Which kind of sucks because when everything’s ‘peaches’ I don’t feel like writing anything. As soon as that changes I’ve got my lyric pad out and I’m a fury of words and vocal melodies.
How does the idea change when you go into the studio?
For me, suddenly it’s all about the execution of the idea, rather than some half-arsed riff you jotted down on your home recording setup that you have hope for. Once you’re in the studio the whole thing is about capturing a moment in time. And with that in mind, I swap my focus to the execution of the idea. I don’t believe that means perfection either; I think it just means justifying what you’re trying to say.
What did you set out to achieve with your latest recording?
Our latest record was all about keeping things REAL. We wanted to show that we didn’t need to hide behind lots of production value and shimmery guitars to still provide people with songs that have impact. It’s a massive point of difference from the first EP, and that’s the point we set out to make. Glass Ocean will never try to do the same thing twice. We wanted to challenge ourselves in the studio and work really hard to achieve the sound we wanted in the takes rather than in the mix afterwards. So many engineers polish audible turds. Our producer/engineer Lachlan Mitchell is very anti-superficiality, so he made us work hard during the tracking process to achieve the sound we wanted just via playing the songs the right way. We are very happy with the result.
What have been the highlights so far for you as a band?
I think one of the biggest highlights within the band is how we have brought this studio project to the stage in a really strong and passionate way. We work really, really hard to sound great live. During 2014 we played all over the place, and generally sucked. But we kept at it, and kept at it, and rehearsed more until we suddenly saw our hard work paying off as we came into 2015. Ever since our January Sydney show with Northlane and our east coast tour with Brisbane’s HELM we have been getting some great feedback from fans who come to the shows as well as from fellow bands.
We want to become an iconic live act, and so any time we improve our live show is always a highlight.
What should we expect for your live show at the Great Northern?
Expect to be dazzled, haha. We are about good ol’ fashioned showmanship. Our live show is about providing you with the highest level of entertainment we can. We really put it all on the line for the crowd and we really love interacting with the audience. To experience us live is to be overwhelmed with deep melody, swaying hips, baritone vocal melodies and buckets of reverb. ’Nuff said!
Hotel Great Northern on Friday.