I was writing lyrics to a song for my other band, post-hardcore three-piece Always Read The Label and I came up with the line: "It's startling to think all of this could be true; afloat on a cloud in this ocean of you." There was something idyllic about that last phrase which instantly made it bigger than the line and even bigger than the song so when it came to putting together a new project I knew straight away that it had to be 'Ocean Of You'.
2. How did this band get started?
For the majority of last year I was front-man of Always Read The Label as well as guitarist and backing vocalist for alt-pop outfit Fluorescent Hearts. FH had secured management and everything was getting very big, very quickly and the stress was seriously affecting my health so I decided to cut my losses (and theirs) and step down as guitarist. Having gone from every waking minute being consumed by an ever-increasing agenda to suddenly having all this freedom, a massive surge of creativity rose up within me and I knew it was finally time to give the sort of material I'd been writing for years (and never showcasing) a permanent, tangible platform. Rather than go down the eponymous singer/songwriter route, I wanted to create something with the potential to be big enough to properly carry all the ideas and sounds I wanted to portray. I started recording demos under the name 'Ocean Of You' and have released a bunch of tracks online to get things started. I have big plans for the coming months and hope to be playing full band shows before the turn of the year.
3. What bands are you influenced by?
I learned a lot in Fluorescent Hearts - my year with them was one of the most intense and prolific in my musical career so it'd be dishonest of me not to mention the impact they've had on me as a musician, as a writer and as a person. As far as popular music goes my biggest influences are Muse, OneRepublic, Angels & Airwaves, Idiot Pilot and Darren Hayes. I've more recently realised some similarities in the dark yet melodic style of Hurts although that's always really been a defining characteristic of my music only now I have a popular act to reference when describing it! Vocally I've always idolised the likes of Matt Bellamy, Thom Yorke, Jeff Buckley and Dave McPherson to name but a few. Darren Hayes and Ryan Tedder too! What voices!
4. If you could tour with any bands, past or present, who would they be and why?
Would love to jump straight on a tour with Hurts right now as I'm a huge fan of what they're doing and they're managing to be relevant and fresh despite drawing upon strong 80s influences in their music. From a more non-musical aspect I'd love to do a bunch of shows with Foo Fighters because Dave Grohl just seems like the biggest 'dude' and would almost certainly be a great laugh!
5. Best food to eat on tour?
I'm a massive eater of meat. Love the stuff. But on tour I like to try new things. The last string of dates I did with Fluorescent Hearts I went vegetarian for a week. It wasn't easy but it encourages a healthier diet and you have more energy which really helps when you're on the road.
6. Why should people listen to your band?
If you've never heard of me before and are wanting a textual pitch detailing why you should lend your ears for 3 and a half minutes to check out a song I'd probably say to you: "Because I think you'd like it, here - have a listen". On a serious note though I think it's probably the reason most songwriter's use. My songs are largely about loss, pain, longing, lost love, jealousy, fear and depression - all real experiences, all personal to me but things a large number of people experience and cope with on a daily basis. Each time I release a song I hope somebody listening to it will find a bit of themselves in there. Even if you don't like the music, the lyrics and the arrangements tell a story so I'd hope it'd be worthwhile just to feel that connection, particularly if you're feeling similarly vulnerable.
7. If you could be any athlete, which athlete would you switch places with?
Probably David Beckham. What bloke wouldn't wanna be David Beckham? Aye, David Beckham.
8. If you won a Grammy, who would you thank?
I'd thank my family and friends as well as the people who'd voted and made it happen for me. That was quite a boring answer really wasn't it?
9. If you could change something about the music industry, what would it be?
The music industry should be more accessible to new talent (and I don't just mean X-Factor and things like that). I guess it's a numbers thing though and sadly a statistically large percentage of talented musicians will go unnoticed. From a struggling unknown musician's point of view though I wish there was a simple way to have my music heard by people who can make or break it.
10. Memorable tour experience?
There are so many. One that always sticks in my mind though was when I played in Chorley near Manchester, we had no sleeping arrangements other than to just sleep in the car but we ended up meeting these girls (as you do) who said we could stay with them. We went back to one of the girls' house with an armful of booze only to be told that her Dad was asleep upstairs and we had to be quiet or he'd kill us. Just as we were planning our escape route the girl who lived there went into her kitchen and proceeded to throw all of her crockery from the cupboards onto the kitchen floor. It was mayhem, smashed plates everywhere!! Not to mention the noise! Long story short we had to lock ourselves in a bedroom to stop her crazed father from committing multiple homicide!
11. What does AP.net mean to you?
Had only recently come across it when a friend posted a link to it. It's a startlingly great resource of information for music makers and lovers alike and I almost couldn't believe that I hadn't been on it before. I'm well impressed! And chuffed as cheese to be featured here.
12. What is your favorite song to play?
I always get a huge buzz from playing a song that I've publicly released and I feed off of that reaction of people who have heard it and are excited that they recognise it. It's my favourite thing when I'm seeing a live act and they play something I know well so understanding how that feels from both sides just equals a massive buzz. It's incredible.
13. What is your vacation spot of choice?
I don't really holiday. Like ever. I take days off to relax and stuff but I never really go anywhere. I've always wanted to go to the Northern Isles of Scotland and in fact I'm going to a wedding in Orkney later this year so I'm really looking forward to that!
14. What music reminds you of your childhood?
Anything my parents listened to. I grew up on everything from Ultravox to The Stranglers to Adam and the Ants. And I love it all. It's all just seeped into me at my most absorptive age and stuck with me. I don't like I'll ever not stop in my tracks when I hear the intro to 'Vienna' or the guitar and bass hooks that open 'Down In The Sewer'. Those songs and others like them made me love music so much so I owe as much to them as I do to the Muses and Radioheads of my later years as a songwriter.
15. If you could have any super power, what would it be? Why?
That's a tough one!! I think reading minds would be a good one (or bad, it depends how you'd react to it). But I spend alot of my waking life self-analysing and constantly worrying how I'm being perceived by other people so if I could just automatically know what people were thinking I wouldn't have that anxiety, I could just know and then deal with it.
16. Any pre-show superstitions or rituals?
A beer. Then water. A lot of water. Then you realise you're human so you have to pee. Always pee. Also bananas.
17. What is something that most fans don't know about you?
Most people probably know nothing about me because I am a NOBODY. (*cries*) Actually though, there are alot of aspects of my character that aren't known to even people I consider my friends. I have pretty bad OCD and sometimes that makes getting through an average day difficult. I won't go into detail but yeah there's a fact some people might not know. I also play drums too!
18. What is your assessment of the current state of radio? Do you think it's a place where your band could flourish?
I am not a huge listener of radio so I'm not too qualified to really be judging it right now. I'm a choosy listener and I guess that makes me a bit of a hypocrite. It's obviously an amazing platform of recognition. There is a term that people use, 'radio friendly' which I can sort of get behind. You can either picture hearing a song on mainstream radio or not. I think most of my stuff is reasonably radio-friendly so it would be a lovely place for my music to flourish I guess, yeah.
19. What do you like to do in your spare time?
The older I get (I'm 25 now!!!) the more I've realised that sleep is good. Days off, days where I don't have writing/recording or just my regular day job I just like to sleep. House M.D is also a fantastic television series that I like to watch whenever I do watch things. When I'm not sleeping or watching Hugh Laurie put on an American accent I enjoy drinks down the pub with my friends. That's like my happy place.
20. What kind of hidden talents do you have?
I'm quite good at maths. I do really boring, fancy stuff with spreadsheets and sales reports and accounts and things at my normal person's job. Oh, I also used to be kick ass at karate before I started playing guitar and being generally more of a 'sit down and write songs' person than a 'run about kicking people and things' kind of person.