Within one year, the heavy metal act OCEANHOARSE has changed quite a lot. The band not only changed their lead singer, but they also played a lot of shows, put out a lot of different music, had shows in Japan and were recently announced to support the Swedish melodic metal act CYHRA.
We had the opportunity to chat with Joonas Kosonen and Oskari Niemi during Rockfest about what the band has been up to, and what their plans for the rest of the year are. Read the entire interview below.
Hi guys! Thank you so much for meeting up with me here, how is it going? You just played an amazing set at the Kivi stage. How did it go?
Joonas: It went really good. This is actually the biggest show we’ve ever played. It went great, there was a lot of people and I noticed a lot of banging heads.
Oskari: We’re feeling celebratory after the show. We are taking it easy now. We were really excited before hitting the stage: “Now we’re gonna hit the stage, the sun is shining and there are a lot of people out there”. We played, and it was good.
Joonas: We earned our beers.
Oskari: We feel relaxed now.
You’re talking a bit about the feeling before the show. I just saw an Instagram story where you were exercising before the song. Is that something you always do to get ready?
Joonas: You have to warm up, to get loose before a show. It’s just so physical to be on stage, especially for him, even more so than for me.
Oskari: I’m warming up every time. Because when I warm up, I can get like at least 40% of the heat going, but the real heat comes on stage. The stage heat. It’s insane, it’s something you can’t even reach before the show, but we try to get there of course. We can only get it halfway going before the show.
Joonas: There’s no question about the fact that you can’t get on stage without having warmed up. You have to do something whether it’s pushups or squats.
Oskari: That’s why when we play we want to get heat between the audience and us.
Joonas: Well put! (laughs)
Nice line for the title (laughs)! So, for you Joonas is this personally the first festival you’re playing at?
Joonas: Yeah, with OCEANHOARSE it’s the first festival. With an older band of mine, I once played at Metal Camp, I guess it’s called Metal Days now, the festival in Slovenia. We got to play there through a competition, which we won. But it’s nothing compared to the size of Rockfest. This really is a milestone for us.
Joonas, as the new singer, how has it been so far to be a part of OCEANHOARSE?
Joonas: Well, talk about having good luck, and the best possible crew behind me. It makes me push myself that much more. This is actually the first time I’ve pushed it professionally in music, and it really pays off. It’s hard work, but seeing all this happen bit by bit, makes me so much hungrier to get further and get more of this going on.
Oskari, what was for you guys the reason behind picking Joonas? What made him rise about all the other candidates?
Oskari: The one thing that we aim for is a huge energy. Joonas has that energy, he has power and a great sound, and he is the best and nicest guy we know.
Joonas: Thanks, that’s cool. I love you guys too! (laughs)
Oskari: When he first came to our rehearsal place, we just know it. The energy and intensity were just that good. After that, we really had to work hard on rehearsing songs, and creating new ones, getting the sets ready, but we knew it’s possible with Joonas.
So when you think back about your application, Joonas. Was there anything special you did?
Oskari: You sang “Fading Neons”.
Joonas: I just practiced a lot. I love the songs they already had, and “Fading Neons” was the one that really hit me. So, I decided to use that one. I was waiting to just push it energetically, and the guys really loved it!
“Fading Neons” definitely was also one of the highlights today. It’s like that song was meant to be sung by you.
Oskari: We always celebrate that song. We love it, and we feel that “Fading Neons”, especially live, is great for the audience as well.
Joonas: It kind of has all the elements that make it an OCEANHOARSE song. You know, there’s the speed, clear lyrics, and there’s a certain roughness present. It’s a perfect OCEANHOARSE song in my opinion, and there’s a lot of them, but this was the first choice for me.
You have been in the band now for approximately a year, but already there has been quite much pressure. You already went to Japan with the band and had some shows there. How did the shows go?
Joonas: Insane. The fans… The people there… I can’t believe it.
Oskari: They were really welcoming.
Joonas: Yeah, so welcoming. The audience is just crazy. The first show – the first show we’ve ever played there – the energy was incredible. People had their hands up all the time, they were trying to sing songs with us. Both shows were really good, and I couldn’t have dreamed for more for my first trip to Japan.
Oskari: It also really showed us that Japanese organization skills are great.
Joonas: We can’t thank the organizers of the whole tour enough.
Oskari: We are forever grateful, and we’re hoping to go there again soon.
Was it also your first time to play there, Oskari?
Oskari: Yeah, definitely. Japan, to me, was a new place, and a new world. We fell in love.
Joonas: It’s definitely something else.
How would you compare the audience there with a Finnish audience?
Oskari: One example is that the Finnish audience makes more noise in between the songs, while the Japanese audience might be louder during the songs. They clap really loudly, but after that everyone is silent.
Joonas: It’s like hitting a wall. We heard this already from Ben’s history. He had been there before. You kind of have to have an A-game going on when it comes down to your speeches. We kind of knew it already, and we were prepared for it.
Oskari: We really can’t wait to play there again!
Do you have any prospects to play there again?
Oskari: Well, maybe if the organizers organize something we could play there. We are trying to get bigger and bigger all the time.
Joonas: We’d play whatever show.
Oskari: But I feel it inside my heart that we are going to be back someday to play there.
Joonas: It felt like the right place for us. We have the whole monster thing going on, and they have Godzilla and anime. I think the audience really fell for our character there.
I also noticed on social media, that a fan had made this cutesie drawing of your guys. Did you get anything else?
Oskari: We got some gift there. I always knew it’s super easy to draw our band because we all look so different. I was actually waiting for it.
Joonas: It does look like us. I feel like she really hit the mark.
Definitely, it’s a super adorable version of you guys!
Oskari: Everyone looks so cute and innocent
The drawing makes me wonder whether people already had heard of your band before the show. Was there a lot of fans?
Joonas: There were a lot of new people. The first show there were about 500 people present. There were even some people singing with us, singing our songs. There were also a lot of new people because they promoted it so well. I’m sure that people because of that had found out about our band.
Oskari: People were singing along to the lyrics, and shouting. So, I think people had been listening to us on Spotify because there’s no album out yet…
And no lyrics out…
Joonas: On a couple of songs we have the lyrics there, like for example “Death Row Center”.
Oskari: I know for sure that they were singing because as a drummer I can see everyone’s face when the lights are on. It’s so nice to see people, but of course, not everyone does it.
Joonas: … And they had such good manners. They get in line to take a picture with you and get your autograph, shirts, and all that. They’re just super nice people. I love them.
How important is it to have these kinds of shows abroad for you at this stage of your career?
Oskari: It’s great material for social media. We get pictures, and videos from the shows. We get new fans, and the most important thing is that we can show the world that we have seen the world. It’s great content.
Joonas: Even though it takes a lot from us to play these kinds of shows. You have to put in your own effort and money. You basically have to invest money and time, but it’s worth it. I don’t think it’d never be a question of it we are going to do it. With our enthusiasm, we just want to do this full-on. We wanna go there anywhere.
So, apart from doing the concerts. What’s next for you guys?
Oskari: We are super ready with Joonas. We are at our top-level right now. We are super ready to play even more shows and release new material.
Joonas: Or an album…
Oskari: We are composing new music all the time. We are excited about new music, our sound. I think we have now found our sound even more.
Joonas: Yeah, we kind of know what we are all about, and what is our thing. Even more so than before. The next big thing for us would be to sign with a label, get an album out, and go on a tour, after that just tour tour tour.
I remember that Ben mentioned last time that you were mostly going to release singles before an album would come out because you wanna release it the right way through the right label. Is that still happening?
Oskari: If we get a good deal, and we’re now negotiating, we’ll see if there is going to be an album this year… Maybe…
Joonas: But if not, there is going to be a lot more content. If it’s not an album, it’s gonna be something else…
Oskari: We are now pushing to get an album out. How we release it and with whom is still a bit uncertain, but we are mentally pushing because we want to have an album out for our fans.
Joonas: It doesn’t even matter if it’s an album. Nowadays bands just release singles. But, whatever it is, we are going to bring the people more content, whether it’s singles or an album.
What about the songs you did with Tommy Tuovinen? Are you going to re-release them with Joonas singing?
Oskari: They are really good songs. We have been demoing some songs with Joonas, they sound better. We’re not sure when to release those. But we still love the old songs. We wanna put them on the album. I think some of the old songs are going to appear on the album.
Joonas: Hopefully, they’re good songs. I love them.
Is the plan to have a lot more new material on the new album?
Oskari: Yeah exactly, we are working on that right now.
I remember that Ben told me it’s a collaborative process. How did the writing process change when Joonas joined the band?
Joonas: We always start with an original idea for a song. Then we kind of play around with it. We take it to the rehearsal room and we grind it. All of us just put our effort in, we grind it at the practice place, then we grind it at the studio, then we get those ideas back to the rehearsal room. Each song basically has a long process behind them before we have the finished result.
Oskari: Every song is a living creature. We are trying to get that creature alive. We are pushing the song to all sorts of directions to see where the creature is going to live. If the song decides to wake up, we welcome it with open arms.
Joonas: We test it from all angles.
What a great metaphor! What are your plans for the rest of the summer?
Oskari: We are going to play more shows, but we are also spending a lot of time writing new songs.
Joonas: Yeah, playing live, getting more new songs. We will have our first headlining show at Tuska After party in Virgin Oil. A huge venue for us. So we’re bringing all the goodies from our storage!
Oh yeah, it seemed like you didn’t have too many things at the stage right now?
Oskari: The stage at Rockfest was bigger than before. We didn’t bring all our gear, but anyway we learned today that if you have this big festival stage, you need to bring a lot of stuff to bring it.
Joonas: We did have a decent amount of stuff though. We also tested out some cabinets behind Ben. We are always trying to find new ways.
Is it an important thing for you guys to have all these props? A lot of bands your size don’t really invest in those things yet for their shows?
Joonas: There you go. Whatever show it is, from the first show on our thing has been to deliver a show. Wherever we play it’s going to be an OCEANHOARSE show, we’re going to have our logo and our props on the stage.
Oskari: We want something to define us.
Joonas: The OCEANHOARSE show.
Oskari: People should remember something from our shows, apart from the songs. We try to get them to collaborate with the songs, to sing along and such. We are taking an example from KISS. We want to be a big show band.
Joonas: We want to really fill the stage.
KISS is actually playing tonight. Are you looking forward to seeing them live?
Joonas: Yeah. They’re heroes.
Oskari: They also have the merch and the monster thing going on.
Joonas: They invented that.
Oskari: They are more than a band. That’s what we are also aiming for. We don’t want to be a band who just play songs. We wanna do more.
Joonas: We want there to be something to hold on to.
I remember you also had those T-shirts with fuck your backing tracks.
Oskari: We keep intimidating people who do backing tracks and such.
Joonas: We just want to be real, we want to bring Rock ‘n’ Roll. We have all real amplifiers, and big gear because of the sound of it. There’s not even a slight difference with our studio material. People are always asking about Ben and Jyri’s sound, how that it can be so good. It’s because it’s all OG gear that we use. We really want it to be us, just us, playing the music.
Oskari: No computers!
There are also fewer technical issues without a backing track, I guess.
Joonas: There’s a fine line actually because you can kind of fool the audience by blasting out everything from the computer. When everything is up to us, we’re put to a test.
Oskari: We have to be super ready. There can be no laziness involved.
Joonas: We are really work-oriented in playing and writing. We do it for five days a week. We’re a force to reckon with.
I think I asked this before to Ben and Jyri. What if you had a chance to play on the main stage of Rockfest. What would you bring?
Joonas: We’d bring a lot of stuff. We’d just go crazy with pyros.
Oskari: The monster, stairs, and more stairs.
Joonas: The risers.
Oskari: You can climb on those. Of course lights.
Joonas: We would definitely fill it.
Oskari: But more important than bringing your gear on stage, is to bring yourself with good energy. That’s our main goal, to make ourselves better players and musicians and being able to give more energy.
Joonas: Bring our music, and bring movement.
Yeah, ’cause it’s a long-distance from one end to the other.
Joonas: We don’t want to get lazy. We’ll have our best moves, the best-practiced music, best songs, and kind of full-on do it. There can’t be lazy bits.
Oskari: There’s just the four of us, it’s hard to fill the whole stage, but it’s possible.
Yeah, and you obviously can’t walk around on the stage. You just have to play big.
Joonas: It’s harder for you! (laughs)
To the people who haven’t been to your should, why should they come to see a gig?
Joonas: Whenever we are playing, whether if it’s a festival or if it’s a show, it’s a Rock ‘n’ Roll and metal experience. We want to do full-on shows, it doesn’t matter if it’s a small club, it’s going to be a rock show.
Oskari: Maybe our intensity as well. That’s what we try to bring. We don’t do lazy gigs, we are trying to deliver every performance with intensity. That’s what I’d say. We want people to experience good energy.
Joonas: And create memories.
Oskari: We want to speak to the audience about how they are feeling, and experiencing our songs.
Joonas: Yes, we want to involve them.
Oskari: Be a family with the audience.
One big heavy metal family! Thanks guys, for this interview. I think our time is up, do you have some last thoughts to share with the readers?
Joonas: Come see our shows. Come and experience what the OCEANHOARSE is. I just wanna see everyone bang their heads.
Oskari: Music and gigs are good opportunities. Every time you play, give 1665% of yourself!
Joonas: Do it full-on, or don’t do it!