Oceanis – Yeah, we’ve got a couple of pre-orders for the Apocalypse, but no-one’s guaranteed just yet.

Oceanis have released the video for their latest single Of Flesh and it’s a dark, dark, must see. We caught up with Joe Maryanji to dig a bit deeper.

Liverpool’s Oceanis have been kicking around for a while. But, maybe the last 12 months have given them a new direction.

Heavy as they come and with the release of their new (old) song Of Flesh a couple of weeks ago, we thought we’d better get max screamer, Joe Maryanji to have a word about their plans and the metal scene in general.

Joe wears a number of hats around Liverpool, as well as his role in Oceanis, he’s also involved with a number of venues in Liverpool. His insight into the future of the city’s social life is perhaps the best we’re going to get until it actually happens.

P3dro: Where are and what are you doing?

Joe: I’m at home with my two cats. I expect one of them will invade this Zoom at some point.

P3dro: You have a new single out, ‘Of Flesh’. Tell us about that.

Joe: It’s a song that’s been around for a while, but one we’d always wanted to push. It’s a song about the Greek Titan, Oceanus, coming from the depths of the ocean to reclaim the earth and destroy humanity. And, then us as a band trying to recruit people to the cult of Oceanis and save them from the Apocalypse. So, yeah, it’s a nice one!

P3dro: And how’s the recruitment drive going?

Joe: Yeah, we’ve got a couple of pre-orders for the Apocalypse, but no-one’s guaranteed just yet.

P3dro: Where was the video done?

Joe: The parts with me being filmed were done in a venue I own in town, upstairs, which was a bit of a building site, and we just cleared a bit of that. Got some fairly moody lighting in there and got one of the lads to record me screaming at the place.

And then we had a lot of stock footage, because with Covid there’s not much we can do, so we had to try and be as creative as possible. Considering everything that was done, with the budget and the creative ears, it’s come out OK.

P3dro: You have form for sitting on music don’t you?

Joe: Oh, yeah!

P3dro: We were reading about the last EP, the Universal Constant EP, that was recorded about three years ago

Joe: Yeah, we sat on on it for a long time. Just for one reason or another and because life gets in the way. We started having a plan to release and then Covid … So we thought we’d stretch the release out over the course of the year, then there’s at least a relevancy and we can build on what we had planned over the next 18 months. We do have releases scheduled to come out up until the summer of 2022.

The next track we’ll be releasing in a couple of months time is called ‘Innate’, which is part of a much bigger new EP concept. That’s all ready to go and is looking quite fun and a much more cheery concept than the previous ones.

A lot of the issues with sitting on things is the idea of being a perfectionist and is a nagging issue. I’m not a big fan of produced vocals. If I want it to sound a certain way, then I’ll sing it like that. A bit of reverb and a bit of layers is fine, but we just try and keep things as raw as possible. But at the same time, it has to be spot on perfect. So, our recording process has always taken quite a long time.

But, what’s happened with Covid, as much as it’s been a pain in the arse for the music industry, it’s opened up quite a lot of opportunities for us to be able to put the music out and really formulate a plan.

P3dro: You’re not the first band to have said that. Even though you don’t have the chance to get out there and gig the music, you can still push it on socials.

Joe: Yeah. Phil Dyer, as well as being in Oceanis is a really active musician and the guitarist for Xam Volo and has his fingers in a lot of pies and he really took the bull by the horns with us. And became really fucking sick of us not doing very much. We’d been procrastinating, but he’d become a driving force over the last 12 months for getting us out there. So, with not much else on, each release has gathered more and more momentum. And more exposure.

‘Of Flesh’ isn’t really the beginning. It’s a precursor to us trying to create a platform to stand on. And then to start releasing the stuff we want to release. So, it’s all looking pretty good.

P3dro: What’s the preferred venue for an Oceanis gig?

Joe: Wow! One that’s really fucking loud! That always helps. Somewhere I have a bit of space, because I keep breaking guitar pedals, stamping on leads and pulling them out of amps. Somewhere I can at least have a bit of room to jump about.

Anywhere that’ll fucking take us at the minute would be a result.

P3dro: Well, we can’t really see you as a band who’d want to do a seated, socially distanced gig?

Joe: Well, that’s a bit of a difficult one, because I’ve been affiliated with a number of venues over the years, so I can see it from both angles. From the point of somebody who wants to watch the show, from somebody who wants to perform the show, from somebody putting on the show and organising the show. I have done similar stuff where there have been people seated at the back, but the energy just isn’t there.

The visceral side to our brand of music doesn’t [really work like that]. The whole reason why you go into a mosh pit is to have something physical to push against, the music and everybody else around you and to let out that physical side that goes hand in hand with the music. You can’t do that with a seated venue.

So, at least for the heavier shows, I do think that’s something that won’t happen immediately. Realistically, it’s not going to be before 2022.

P3dro: Wearing your promoter / venue hat, how do you think this year will look like?

Joe: I’ve been in contact with a few of the people I’ve worked with, and for, over the last couple of months to see how they’re getting on. It’s difficult. There’s a thirst and an appetite for people wanting to go and watch live shows. If anything this last week or so has been indicative – if people see a little bit of sun, then everyone is out. Everyone is sick of being indoors. As soon as the opportunity arises for anything to happen, then it will happen in the safest way possible, but at the same time in a way where they can be exposed to the most people.

Ultimately, it’s a business and it has to be financially viable. But with having a reduced cap, then you have to make sure you’re filling the seats. That being said, there have been a lot of people picking up guitars and learning how to use Cubase and Pro Tools. There’s a lot of people creating music in a whole new way.

So, yeah, I’ve got absolutely no idea!

So, that’s my answer. I don’t have a Scooby Doo!

But however it happens and whenever it happens, I know I’ll be first in line, doing shows.

P3dro: We don’t think anybody has a clue, and that’s what makes it harder this time around.

Joe: Well, I own a venue in town, Collective, on Seel Street – giving me a shameless plug for my own bar! This week we’ve started construction on our upstairs roof terrace and will, hopefully be ready for the end of April. But all this Government has done is give people dates for something to hold on to. But at the drop of a hat, they’ll close us down, as they did on 30 December, with 24 hours notice. It’s been very frustrating.

As much as the audiences want to go to shows and go to bars and see dates getting pushed back, as someone who has a venue, it’s even more frustrating.

P3dro: Do you think some of the smaller venues may be able to do quite well? We can’t see the O2 Academy being open any time soon.

Joe: Yeah, I do think they could do quite well. The people who operate like that are pretty savvy. As and when the announcements come in we can adapt quite well, so there is that factor. Whereas with a venue like the O2, they rely on the big touring acts and those shows are usually booked with a minimum of three / four months in advance. So those guys aren’t going to be operating until next year.

But a small venue is more adaptable, even if it’s like a small craft fair on the side, or a streamed show, or a podcast.

It’s curious, because when we have been able to open, we’ve been OK, not great, but we’ve been able to keep our head above board. People have been really supportive and they’ve really got behind the idea of a small independent. The first thing you will see will be the small venues kicking into gear.

P3dro: Yeah, with a smaller venue, it’s easier to control people and their behaviour.

Joe: Yes, it is. And there’s also that community element as well, which you won’t get with a larger venue. But it will be interesting to see, when restrictions are lifted, how many people will be comfortable going into a room with other people. And how that will affect [live] music.

P3dro: To change the subject, what do you think of the metal scene in Liverpool?

Joe: Wow! There’s a question. I’ve been in metal bands since I was about 11 and playing shows since I was about 13. And if you go back to the 2000s then the scene was fantastic. But since 2008, I think the metal scene got worse because there was no hub for the alternative culture. There used to be a safe haven for Goths and weirdos to hang out. Losing that epicentre of those weird independent businesses. Then the interest was lost.

But in the last three or four years there are more Emos, Goths and Skaters coming back. And in the last three years, you have the likes of Loathe, Death Blooms who are doing really really well. The Video Nasties, as well. There is a whole host of good heavy bands out there.

We are being called veterans of the Liverpool scene. I guess, but, we’ve been going for about 10 years now, but there wasn’t much. We used to stand out like a sore thumb. We’d play these mixed bag events where they didn’t really know where to put us. But, thankfully, there’s been a resurgence. As a genre, it’s about rebellion and frustration and angst. Over the last 12 months, there’s been a lot of that.

P3dro: Recommend a band or an album you think we should be listening to right now.

Joe: Ooh! Wow! For anyone who knows me, I will always say Mastodon, Leviathan. It’s an unbelievable album. I have that logo tattooed behind my ear, so I will always say that album.

Also, if you’re looking for something a bit different, then there’s a Greek symphonic death metal band called Septic Flesh. They record their albums with an orchestra. Their music is massive. Their last album, Codex Omega is an absolute joy. Heavy as fuck and angry as hell. But the musicianship is next level.

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