I made the mistake of labeling Oceans a “local” band. It’s a mistake you only make once. The charming boys of Oceans spent the afternoon explaining why the Champaign-Urbana scene is not what it seems, how they’ve grown as a band and why they adore Ohio.
“I think the term ‘local artist’ in C-U can be a damning label,” Ryan Martin, guitarist, explained. “People seem to just get stuck in a cycle of doing the same thing all the time.” The boys aren’t accustomed to getting stuck in a rut. Martin, along with Nick Wakim on drums, Keith Marek on guitar and Mike Parkinson on bass, have come a long way since high school days of beer swindling and lady chasing (not that those two options ever ceased). Word on the street is that Parkinson ditched their high school band, The Break In, for the biggest pop band in school, and he will never hear the end of it.
Their story begins in the Chicago suburb of Clarendon Hills. They were just a gaggle of punk rock boys looking to make their mark on the ‘burbs. After playing around for a couple years, the boys moved to C-U and started their instrumental band, Oceans, in cider season of 2005.
This summer, Oceans took a C-U hiatus to tour New York and everywhere in between. They’re favorite place to play is Ohio, and they raved about the cities and their cordial inhabitants.
“Ohio is so great,” Martin explained. “I spent my twenty-first birthday there, and if you can’t be surrounded by your friends, you might as well be surrounded by a bunch of friendly Ohioans who act like your best friends.”
Oceans’ practice schedule resembles that of a college student’s study habits – a few dabbles into the textbook, but a cram session the night before a test. They normally practice once before a show and everyday leading up to recording. Sometimes practices even get mixed in with study sessions – Wakim is in his second year of medical school in Chicago, but the band still chats with him daily. Oceans had previously solely recorded their live shows, but they are planning to release their first full-length studio album, Nothing Collapses, in the fall.
“We just got the masters back, and we’re shopping around,” Parkinson said. “We’d like to get the record out soon, maybe even on vinyl.” They spent four days recording the album in Humboldt Park, Chicago. Recording opened up an entirely new outlet for sound experimentation and dynamics. The process uprooted their typical live shows and helped them to be more conscious of the effect timing has on their performance.
Songwriting for their instrumentals is as easy as pie for the band; one person introduces a beat or sample of a song and the others follow suit. With as much time as this group spends together, there are bound to be heated feuds. Marital-like spats are commonplace for the young gents, but they usually end on the basketball court or with everyone coming together to tease Parkinson about his pop band.
Check Oceans out at their third Pygmalion performance Thursday, Sept. 18, at Krannert Art Museum (with Oxford Collapse, Catfish Haven, Evangelicals and Murder by Death). Just don’t call them locals.