Post-hardcore has been on the rise in recent years. Bands mixing melodic vocals with raw, heavy-hitting beats. A huge part of post-hardcore is innovation and experimentation, so it’s no surprise that Being As An Ocean has become so big in just a matter of four years. I had a talk with vocalist Joel Quartuccio and we spoke about the band’s new album, Warped Tour, and wine:
Being As An Ocean has a very unique style; you guys mix spoken word, post-rock, and hardcore effortlessly. When the band started, did you come into it knowing it was the direction you’d be going, or did it evolve from something else?
Hm… I like that because no (laughs), we had no clue really. We just knew that because the people who were in Being As An Ocean when we first started. We had all been in a band together prior, and we knew we wanted to express different things with the music we were writing, so Being As An Ocean and our first album, Dear G-d, was kind of our first attempt at this new thing that we felt we needed to express. We didn’t really know what exactly our sound was gonna be, even though we released a full-length album. We were kind of just stepping out in faith and hoping that people might connect to it.
Well it definitely worked.
(Laughs) Well thank you. Cheers man.
You guys are a Christian band, correct?
We’re not, actually. There are a few members in our band who are Christian, but there are also members in our band who don’t believe in God at all, so we’re not a Christian band, but we have Christians in the band, myself included, which is why it might come across sometimes that the band as a whole shares faith, but that’s not the case. They’ve just been gracious enough to let me express the things that I want to write.
Speaking of your lyrics, I listen to Christian music and a lot of it, thematically, is about war against sin and turning to God for salvation, but yours deals with more celebration in a lot of aspects.
That’s awesome. I’m glad that comes through because I think that there needs to be a state of mind shift in hard music where faith is concerned. Like you said, a lot of Christian bands have this sort of, “Turn or Burn” mentality, or like, “You’re so dark and evil and sinful.” You know, kind of condemning and judgmental.
What I think happens sometimes is we put so much emphasis on evil and the evils of humanity, but then we forget all about the good. All about the part of humanity and the part that I think is innate in every single person, y’know, an inclination toward love and community and things like this, really, really fantastic redeeming qualities about humanity, and it just gets skirted to that wayside because you’re more focused on worrying about evil and darkness and all this different stuff.
I think what we have to come to is the realization is that yeah, it exists, and it’s something we deal with on a day-to-day basis, inwardly and outwardly, but it’s not all there is, and to say it is all there is, is doing ourselves a disservice by not fully understanding and living in a forgiveness for ourselves.
In regards to the new album, your vocals sound deeper and more guttural. Is there any reason for that, or is that your own voice and experience growing?
I think it might be a little bit of my own voice settling and naturally finding my sound, I guess. When I go to scream and that comes out. But I think it has a lot to do with the pace of the album, the heaviness of the album because it’s a lot more sonically heavy than the last one, and a lot more angry, actually, just in the tone of voice I use more, so I guess it’s a bit of all that.
Between Dear G-d and How We Both Wondrously Perish, there was a bit of a lineup change. As a drummer, I’ve noticed a stark contrast between Shad Hamawe and Connor Dennis’ styles. Would you say that this change had any influence in the sound on How We Both Wondrously Perish and even this upcoming album?
Totally. I think yes, it had a huge impact. Connor is a very different style of drummer and coming from different backgrounds in music. Shad was more of a metal background drummer, whereas Connor, before he was in this band, was in a band called Sleep Patterns from South Florida, and they were a chaotic punk hardcore band, so yeah, really different style background, and I think that shines through a lot. Connor’s really good at keeping a pace, even though the other instruments might be doing something differently, like slowing down the feel, or like a nice come down from an aggressive burst or something like that.
What I love about Connor is that he’s always doing something. There’s hardly ever a point in our music where he’s not playing a certain groove or filling space. So I think that’s a huge added plus, that he keeps this nice, even pace going throughout the entire album.
Going back to the lyrics of your songs, you guys talk about wine a lot. So far, in both of your albums, I’ve heard songs about wine, or referencing it. Is there any reason for that or do you just really like wine?
(Laughs heartily) I mean, I do like wine, but that’s beside the point. I think a lot of it has to do with symbolism and especially when I’m talking about the person of Jesus. One of the stories in this album, one of three stories, is somewhat my own sort of fictional quandary into the mind of Judas, because he’s always been archetyped [sic] as this betrayer, this source of evil; what a lot of people don’t remember or don’t realize or like, even think about is that this guy was around the Historical Jesus every day. This is someone that Jesus trusted and called “brother,” he was a person, a human.
We all have our faults and our misconceptions and our pride, and sometimes those things lead us to do things with all the best intentions, and it ends in catastrophe and I think it really shines through that the winners wrote history. It’s, I think, important to talk about elements of the story, like The Last Supper. Judas was still there taking Communion with the rest of them before sneaking out to… I related to it as setting a trap for the religious elite with this preconception in Judas’ mind of Christ as this military leader who would eventually topple the Roman Government.
So the wine being, all of this to say (laughs), that I think sometimes using wine, whether I’m talking about it literally or figuratively, often times has a nice image as referencing Christ or referencing something that is good in and of itself but has taken time to become what it is. Something like that.
You mentioned stories, and I’ve noticed all of your songs have a very story-like quality to them. Rather than blasting a message, you’re painting this picture. Do you find it easier for you to write songs in this way?
I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s easier for me. I would just say that I prefer it, because I think that it helps stretch me as a lyricist. I always want to, as much as everyone else in the band wants to progress and grow in their instrument, that’s kind of my mindset when it comes to writing lyrics. When I feel like something needs to be really stripped back and be one line, two lines, to just convey something that’s powerful, but simple, I’ll do it, but I would much rather write something sort of enigmatic and have someone think about it for themselves and derive some personal meaning for themselves and not just take everything that I’m saying as opinion, but rather something that’s put out there for people to think about.
Why did you use Native American-influenced imagery in the music video for “Mediocre Shakespeare?”
That was actually kind of a concept video that was directed by Corinne Alexandra. Her handle online and most places is Stuck With Pins, and yeah, it was her concept. So, we kind of really trust her. […] She kind of told us, “Hey, this is a rough idea of what I want to do. Is it cool?” And we said, “Yeah, go for it,” so it came out of our working relationship with Corinne and her bouncing ideas off of us. It wasn’t necessarily anything that was extremely specific to the song itself; we just felt it was something beautiful to add imagery to it.
Warped Tour is starting in what, like a couple of weeks? How are you preparing for it and what are you most excited for?
Yep, next week Friday. Actually, I’ve just recently been home for about a week and a half, and just resting and relaxing. We’ve been going pretty hard tour-wise lately, so it was nice to come home and just breathe easy and actually relax and flip off touring and being on the road and all those stresses out of my mind until we encounter them again on Friday, but yeah, just trying to prep that way and no worry about it so much, but then always in the back of my mind, I know that it’s going to be work and going to be some of the hardest touring days in my life thus far, but I know that we’ve gone through much worse, so I’m pretty confident.
Is there a chance of you playing an unreleased song off of your self-titled, or are you sticking with “Little Richie” and “Sleeping Sicarii?”
Just sticking to LR and SS this time around. We know better than trying to force a whole bunch of new stuff down people’s throats (laughs), and I think it’s really important being on Warped Tour, being able to play to people we wouldn’t normally, kind of showcasing, “This is the best of all that we have.”
We’re playing songs off all three albums. We tried to pick a setlist that would be extremely high energy but showcase who we are as a band. Not a whole lot of new stuff this time around, just two songs that have already been released, but soon here after Warped Tour, when we do some U.S. touring, we’ll definitely be playing more.
What kind of plans do you have for after Warped Tour?
After Warped Tour, we have a UK and European tour, called Never Say Die, and that’s gonna be really awesome. After that, to fill out the rest of the year, we’ll have a U.S. [tour], probably a few Canadian days, stuff like that.
Being As An Ocean released their self-titled on June 30 and are on Warped Tour for its entirety this summer. You can see them July 10 at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, NJ, July 11 at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, NY, and July 19 at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ. For more information, visit facebook.com/BeingAsAnOcean.