OCEANHOARSE hit the storm a couple of years ago, debuting as a live band supporting BEAST IN BLACK on tour. It was already clear back then the band was destined for greatness and finally, the time has come for the band to release their very first full-length studio effort on August 20th, 2021, via Noble Demon Records. We had the chance to talk to singer Joonas Kosonen and drummer Oskari Niemi to talk about all things “Dead Reckoning.” Watch the interview here or read the transcript below…
First of all, thank you guys so much for doing this interview! How have you been?
Joonas: Really good. We’ve been working hard on the album instead of doing shows. You win some, you lose some.
Oskari: We actually just had a band practice today, because we are preparing for the album release show at On The Rocks. It’s going good, back to some metal.
You’ve been around for some years now and I was reading through all the interviews we have done. People have been bugging you ever since you started about releasing a studio album. Then, you kind of tease them a little bit by releasing an EP first, after that a live album, and now it’s finally happening. What made you finally decide to release a studio album?
Joonas: I guess we finally felt that we had the firepower to prove our worth. We had the songs and we had the whole thing going on that people were expecting the album so much already. And of course, we found the perfect people to work with at Noble Demon Records and also our team at Ginger Vine Management.
Oskari: We did the live album first and pretty much after that, the COVID-19 pandemic came. That actually pushed us more to do the actual album, so that was certainly part of it.
Noble Demon is a small label. You’d think that maybe that’s a bit of a risk. Of course, those guys have a lot of experience and they’re good at what they do! However, what made you say yes to this record deal?
Joonas: We had different offers on the table, but basically [we liked] what we’ve heard – through our friends and people we know already in other bands, who were also signed to Noble Demon – about how they work with you. We put so much thought into the decision, so we were confident in it. Basically from day one, it’s been daily messaging, just working on getting the album out and on the singles and their releases, so we’ve been really happy. We’re a starting band so we have the same kind of interest to take over the world, I guess.
Oskari: I think they’ve been really excited about our music, which shows through in the emails, and we are in contact with them all the time. So that was a good thing to start with, that they really respect our music and want it to be released through them. That was kind of the main reason, and I believe that some of the guys have been working for Nuclear Blast, so they have some history doing this.
Joonas: They were so excited about it, so that was a good thing.
Oskari: They were excited to release some proper heavy metal. [laughter]
Joonas: Heavy fucking metal!
They also have a lot of Finnish bands on their roster, so they must really like Finland! Now, going back to the album, of course, we’ve heard some of the songs already, but some songs are new, so what can people expect from the new album in general?
Oskari: New songs, of course! We have released many songs already and even did some remakes. For example, we had released “The Damage” on the live album, but we felt like it should be done in the studio. The song needed it to be like that.
Joonas: Basically, we wanted the whole album to be an experience, so it wouldn’t be a collection of singles, so when you start the album, it can take you on a ride. It’s not just one-off songs here and there, but it’s this ride, you can pick out some songs, but basically the whole album has some elements of what we do live, like for instance, bass solos or guitar parts.
Oskari: So you think that there’s like a storyline that goes through the album?
Joonas: Yes, a sonic storyline!
That makes sense! You’re also releasing it on vinyl. I was wondering if that had any part in how you ordered the songs, with an A and B part, I mean?
Oskari: I think there is something like that, because you can see the A and B side on the vinyl actually.
I watched your documentary series on YouTube. It mentioned that you recorded some tracks at East Sound Studios, then at Scandal Recordings, and then you’re talking about how you build the Hoarse Ranch Studios. Can you elaborate on what that is and why you decided to build it?
Joonas: Because of the whole COVID situation, part of the songs have been recorded the same way we’ve done in live sessions. We did three songs that way, and then the next wave of COVID hit, so we decided to build our own studio, which is basically at our practice place. We’ve been recording – and rehearsing even – a hell of a lot more than usual. The [type of] band we are, we live at the practice place, so we’re really living there now. So we have these sessions to get the best takes of each song live, then we did the drums on top of those best takes.
Oskari: It comes from the fact that all the instruments in Hoarse Ranch are mixed up all the time. I’m demoing everything we do there anyway, so we’ve got a lot of takes of songs, we jam ideas. Then, we found the sound is pretty good, as long as we get a good mixer to actually mix them, and good mastering. So then we just decided to record most of the songs at our place. We first did some demo tapes of the songs that might replace the drums to get a more clean sound, but there is the element of a live band because I play drums to it. So there’s no click track, there’s an organic feel, there’s the rawness. I think we achieved that.
Joonas: We wanted to have that even though it’s differently recorded than before.
So it’s 100% OCEANHOARSE!
Joonas: Exactly! Also a big shout out to Jesse Vainio, our mixer, for catching that.
Why did you decide to go with him?
Joonas: … and an interesting viewpoint to our music and metal because he’s done a lot of different kinds of work with different… he’s not only a heavy metal mixer.
Oskari: He knows how to put some energy to it. He uses this organic sound with some really heavy-pounding studio sounds, so he kind of combines those two elements. That’s exactly what we need, actually. We need some good power, but some lighter elements.
I think that shows. I was listening to the earlier version of “The Intruder” and the one that’s on the studio album – the difference is immense. You also re-did the whole song and the intro also feels different. Why did you decide to re-do the whole thing?
Joonas: For my part, I wanted to have my vocals and my stamp on that song because I love it. It’s a great song on the album, it’s a great live song. I just wanted to put my best effort on that.
Oskari: That song needed to re-made to be able to be part of our sound.
Joonas: Yeah, and of course for the album, because it’s just differently recorded. We wanted it to be sonically the same.
Oskari: It was one of the songs that deserved to be on the studio album for everybody.
When we talked some years ago, you mentioned you had planned to re-record the old songs with Tommy and that they’d be part of the album. It seems like you decided to only include “The Intruder.” Why?
Oskari: We actually have another song there. We re-did “Fading Neons,” it’s on the Japanese album as a bonus track. I’m stoked about that because we love that song but it’s a bonus this time.
Oskari: They will hear it first, you will hear it later!
Joonas: It came out great!
I’m sure it will. At least “The Intruder” sounds punchier this way.
Oskari: Glad to hear that!
A song that sounded really different and stood out to me is “One with the Gun.” What can you tell about that song?
Joonas: I love it! When we think about everything we have released, it’s a different type of song. The riff is like a train.
Oskari: It’s so tanky.
Joonas: Yeah, it’s a tank of a riff. We felt like it was so good and so different that we wanted to work on it and the way it came out was amazing to us, we really loved it. It’s a different color of our band and the riff has that ALICE IN CHAINS sound in it, so we wanted to bring that also to the vocal parts.
Oskari: It’s a slower song, but the heaviness of the riff and the groove make it metal to me. It’s such a joy to listen to and one of my favorites, just because of the fact that I think it hits you. That’s the one single thing I appreciate the most [about music] if some song starts away and then it takes you [by surprise]. That’s what I love.
Let’s talk about the title then! The title of the album is “Dead Reckoning”; how did you end up with it?
Joonas: Basically, first of all, the name “Dead Reckoning” was decided upon even before we knew the songs that were going to be on the album, while we were still writing. We were thinking about what we would call our album. We came up with some names already and just talked about it, Googling some cool potential names, and basically, we found the name and I brought it to the practice place. We had a shortlist of names, but we were all set on “Dead Reckoning.”
Oskari: We just needed something that has something to do with the sea, like OCEANHOARSE.
Joonas: It basically means diving without your gear…
Oskari: … or it can mean navigating the seas blindly.
There is also a story behind the album cover. What can you tell us about that?
Oskari: It’s Ben‘s brother, he made it. I think MASTODON have done this many times; they build some artwork and they take a picture of that and use it as a cover. I don’t know if the idea came from that, but it anyway came from doing something new…
Joonas: … and something physical.
Oskari: Yeah, because then you get more depth to the thing, it looks cool to me. The piece of art looks brilliant, when you put some light on it from the right angle, you can see what it looks like on the album cover.
You’re actually one of the only smaller bands that I know of that spend so much time, effort, and possibly money on the art-side of your band.
Joonas: Well, it’s a good channel to do your thing artistically. If it fits into our theme or whatever it is, we always want to encourage to just try and put it out there,
Oskari: We usually only make time for band things. That gives us time to really do some art and jam with ideas, visual ideas, which makes the thing richer because then you can contribute yourself. You don’t have to use that many artists, even though we use some artists. This time, we wanted to do something ourselves.
Joonas: It’s cool to have that in-house. You don’t have to try and call different artists to do this and that and try to get your vision out of it. Luckily for us, we have talent in the band and so it’s really cool to get it straight from the visionary.
Oskari: For example, so much effort was put building this actual CD package, which is having many colors in it, as you can see, a little bit of green here that just pops, then you have pictures from Japan, which was pretty rad to me. Then you got violet, darkish brown, the actual album cover is green-brown.
Joonas: There’s also different artwork and pictures, it’s like a scrapbook and a story of where we started up and how we got to do this album and get it ready. It’s kind of our whole journey.
It’s really cool actually, but nowadays, many bands don’t really invest in the booklet anymore, it’s just black with white text oftentimes.
Joonas: Yeah, it’s such a shame. When I got this in my hands, I was so excited. Every page gives you something, there’s always those pictures. I remember looking at PANTERA‘s albums or whatever, they gave you kind of a story behind the album, or GUNS ‘N’ ROSES, pictures documenting their story.
Oskari: The current lineup has already been 3 years in this band. So we needed to put some really big effort into this album and give some visual things, give some more.
You guys always have the craziest ideas, like Hoarsefest, for instance. When will you be opening the OCEANHOARSE museum?
Oskari: There’s gonna be a museum at some point. We just need more art. [laughs]
Joonas: More broken drumsticks, drum skins, and broken guitars.
Joonas: For sure. We already got some of that in Japan. It’s in our practice place.
Of course, you’re mostly a live band. What is the track you’re most looking forward to playing live?
Joonas: That’s a good question. Maybe I would say, let’s see… [thinks]
Oskari: “One With the Gun” is my favorite anyway and “Reaching Skywards,” those two songs are a duo. They’re the fourth and the fifth song, they play really well together. I’m stoked to be able to play those two songs. I don’t know if we’re going to play them as a duo during live shows, but those two songs always hit me.
Joonas: I would say “Fight For Tomorrow,” that’s one of my favorites. Just the energy of it is unmatched. It’s really good. I love it.
Oskari: You like the JUDAS PRIEST aspect of it.
Now, you’re also having a release show at On The Rocks. What can fans expect of that show?
Joonas: Straight up OCEANHOARSE! Many new songs and always some gimmicks. Buy your tickets.
Oskari: VARJOLA and THY ROW are playing too, really nice bands, great to have them on board with us. We’re just looking forward to playing new songs and raising a glass with fans.
Alright! Thank you so much for doing this. Do you have any last thoughts you want to share?
Oskari: I’m just filled with gratitude and happiness at the moment. Being here with all these beautiful people and my band.
Joonas: Finally, getting the album out, you know, it’s been a long trip. It’s been such a crazy, 2 years and such a different time. As Oskari said, the gratitude for getting this done and being so happy about the way turned out to be. Everything, from all the parts that we did, all the lyrics, all the playing, all the artwork are next level, so gratitude, maybe that’s the word.
Oskari: We are not planning to stop, we’re already producing and composing the next album, and stoked about that as well. Working hard.