July 9, 2020 Interview – Timo Kontio of …and Oceans
One of the brightest developments of the past few years was the news that Finnish Extreme Metal act …and Oceans had decided to come together to make an album. Then, on May 8th, 2020, Cosmic World Mother descended onto a world in lock-down, offering a ray of darkness from earlier times to Metal fans starved for good news.
The new album places the long inactive band squarely back in the underground limelight, its synth-laden but brutal delivery showing that while time passes, talent and creativity only grow stronger. Recently, Timo Kontio, the band’s founding guitarist, sat down to chat about the new album and a whole lot more.
Cryptic Rock – A lot of years have passed since a new …and Oceans full-length album, 18 to be exact. What made this the right time to resurrect the band?
Timo Kontio – We had this thought of coming back a few times along the years. I even rehearsed old songs once. For some reason this didn’t happen until now. Maybe we were a bit uncertain if we should or shouldn’t come up with new music. At some point we started to ask old members if they were willing to start again and everyone was like sure. Then we arranged rehearsals late 2017. Not long after that, when the word got spread out that something is about to happen in …and Oceans camp, we got some gig offers. After those gigs, we were quite certain that we have to make some new music and release an album. This coming back is not about the right time or anything, it is just something that has been brewing for quite some time.
Cryptic Rock – Timing is, of course, everything, is it not? Cosmic World Mother is a particularly furious and no-nonsense record. An excellent, vital punch in the face to Symphonic Black Metal. Talk a little bit about the writing process, and how you decided to proceed with this style as opposed to the more Industrial material of 2002’s Cypher and the Havoc Unit years.
Timo Kontio – Initial idea was to go back to the sound of our earlier records. Not meaning that we wouldn’t experiment if we chose so. End result is just like we wanted to be at this point. Though you never know how the next album will sound like. The writing process has been quite similar as it has always been. Songs normally start to build up from different riffs and sometimes melodies. Then we try to arrange them to one complete song.
This time it was a bit challenging since our drummer lives so far away, so we couldn’t just go to rehearsal room and try out this and that. This time our keyboard player arranged them with his home studio with different drum patterns and gave us suggestions of the arrangements. Then we arranged demo sessions where we recorded them with guitars and drum machine. We had two songs also made so that the whole song was made with keyboards and I made guitars on them. Like the title-track is one example of those. Interesting approach, but works like a charm.
Cryptic Rock – Your fans no doubt appreciate that you were able to overcome any obstacles en route to making the album. You work with Mattias Lillmåns in Magenta Harvest, so you were familiar with him and his work. How did you know he would be the right choice as the vocalist for …and Oceans on Cosmic World Mother?
Timo Kontio – Yes, I have known him for over 20 years since he lived in the same city as I and has been a part of the same music scene. We knew his work ethic and way of working off and on stage, so we knew that everything is going to work sooner or later. This time around we wanted vocals to sound more Black Metal obviously. Compared to other bands we’ve shared, I mean, so after first demos from him we gave suggestions of different approaches to vocals and the end result is just great. We are more than pleased how the vocals turned out to be.
Cryptic Rock – His approach on the microphone adds a very blackened and brutal element to the album. The lyrics in the songs are quite engaging, a throwback to the poetic chaos of the first two albums. Can you discuss a bit about the philosophies behind them? Some of the dystopian futuristic themes …and Oceans has covered appear to be coming true.
Timo Kontio – This is something that our singer would have needed to answer, but I know that much that they are about energy. How energy is eternal and nothing ever gets lost, it just changes form. Also, the artwork of the booklet is based on lyrics of individual tracks.
Cryptic Rock – That is an interesting artistic choice, and something which serves to increase the value of the physical album product. Finland is such a fertile nation when it comes to excellent Metal bands. …and Oceans certainly deserves mention as one of the most creative of the bunch. In your opinion, what factors have contributed to there being so many great bands from such a relatively small country population-wise, and do you think that this mastery will continue into the future?
Timo Kontio – I think this is something we share with Norway and Sweden. Iceland has quite a strong scene also nowadays. Maybe it has something to do with the climate. We have such long and dark winters. It is like a natural thing to come up with music like this. (Laughs) If melodies etc. are discussed, melancholy has always been around quite strongly in every music style here in Finland so that is more or less like in our DNA. For me they have been always a big part of the music I write. In my every band, no matter if it’s old school Death Metal or whatever.
Cryptic Rock – The connection between Extreme Metal music, darkness, and cold is and will always be intertwined. Which leads us to our final question. If you are a fan of Horror and or Sci-Fi films, what are some of your favorites and why?
Timo Kontio – Horror films have always been one of the favorite genres. As a teenager I enjoyed a lot splatter movies and also classic Horror movies. Of course The Exorcist (1973), The Evil Dead (1981) and Hellraiser films are some of those favorites from the past. That, or movies by Dario Argento or Lucio Fulci are great too. I like more old movies for example, because the build up the horror and tension. New movies tend to only use jump scare methods.