Deathcore, the very word and music genre causes seismic splits that are wider than the Grand Canyon, yet miraculously it still resides within the realms of the metal world to the dismay of the elitists. Whether you loathe or love the genre, it's one that has spawned off a endless stream of bands who've achieved great heights; yet some are so generic in their style it makes you cry. One band who aims to defy the generic formula of chugging, breakdowns and basically being musically boring, is Oceans Over Earth. Vocalist Andrew Lidgard spoke to GMA about the band's history, their direction and the whole debate surrounding Deathcore's legitimacy as a metal genre.
"I think the reason why it (Deathcore) gets such a bad reputation is because most of the bands don't have any sustenance... chug and chew on the microphone and claim its skilled work; (they) have a copy and paste formula for their writing."
For those who have not heard of Oceans Over Earth could you give us a brief history of the band?
"Oceans Over Earth (OOE) formed back in December 2010 in Grand Rapids, MI. It was just myself (Andrew Lidgard) and our old vocalist (Jordan Lawrence). Later we recruited a second guitarist Mike Bergsma who is still in the band to this day (now playing bass). Mike has been a friend of mine since childhood. We then found our drummer Corey Crawford through Craigslist believe it or not! We started playing shows heavily for a couple of years and released our first single in June 2011. To keep it short, we hit major rough patches with our old vocalist due to drugs and that made us lose any momentum we had for almost 2 years.
After finding a replacement vocalist we recorded our first EP 'Transgressions' in December 2014. In March 2015 we released 'Seer' to ramp up a new EP we were going to record with Joshua Wickman of Dreadcore Productions. Our newest vocalist at the time, David, decided to jump ship the week before recording the bands second EP. This halted all momentum once again for another 2 years whilst we searched for a vocalist. So, in those two years I put down my guitar and started heavily practising vocals. The practice paid off and now I am the current vocalist of the band and no longer the guitarist! Jordan French is now our main guitarist, Mike Bergsma is our bassist and Corey Crawford is our drummer! This line-up seems to be what we have needed all along! We released an EP 'Absolute Zero' in April 2018, a new single 'Worthless Existence' in September and a brand new single 'Crimson Era' a few days ago! Our goal is to release new music every 2-3 months to keep things fresh for our fans!!"
How did you yourselves get into playing music and what do your families think of your music?
" I was drawn to the guitar when I was about 14 or so and my friend Paulie taught me how to play 'Welcome Home' by Coheed and Cambria and it was from then on that I started learning as much as I could from other bands. It branched mainly in metal music from August Burns Red to Slipknot, All That Remains, Parkway Drive etc. My Dad was always for it! He was in a band himself when he was younger and I credit most of my starting passion to him. As far as metal goes, my Dad never understood why all the screaming and not singing, but after all this time I think its grown on him haha.
Corey (drums) was a musician for years before I met him. He was a drummer in his high-school band and has always been proficient at drumming. Corey took major influence from Joey Jordison and Matt Greiner, two amazing drummers. Practices are held at Corey's mothers house, so as you can imagine she obviously supports his musical endeavours or she wouldn't let us do that or attend shows!!
Mike (bass) and I would jam to our favourite bands music for hours together. We could play Killswitch Engage albums front to back and just have a blast the whole time. If I remember correctly, I taught Mike how to play guitar and then in his spare time he pushed himself to get better and better. Mike ended up dropping down to bass when we picked up Jordan for our main guitar spot. Mike's parents are very supportive as well.
Jordan (guitar) was in a band with Corey, our drummer, back before OOE formed. I don't personally know how Jordan started playing, all I know is he is damn good. He is much better than myself, that's for sure. As far as I know his parents enjoy and support him as much as they can."
Deathcore is a overly-saturated genre, how do you distance yourself from the cliche riff and breakdown overload some bands do?
"I'm sure my response is as cliche as the genre can be sometimes, but we aren't trying to fit any mould, we never have. We try to push ourselves personally and are trying to make music that simply we enjoy as individuals. Our goal isn't to make the most brutal music or catchy music. Our goal is to just write music that we like! If other people like it and call themselves fans of our work, that just makes us happy and pushes us to keep going! With releasing new singles every 2-3 months it allows us to do absolutely anything that we want with each release and not have to worry about having our music fit any concepts or tones/attitudes. We can just write whatever we are feeling that month and its definitely a freeing experience so far."
Would you argue for against that Deathcore is a metal genre? Why do you think it at times takes some bad rap from people?
"I personally believe that anything with drums, bass, harsh vocals and electric distorted guitar is metal. Saying Deathcore isn't metal is pretty elitist. You can not like Deathcore obviously, but it is metal. I think the reason why it gets such a bad reputation is because most of the bands that fit this category don't have any sustenance to their writing. They just chug and chew on the microphone and claim its skilled work. Out of 100 bands, there are probably only 3-5 worth listening to. The other 95+ bands have a copy and paste formula for their writing. Hopefully that'll change in the future and bands will stop trying to be "Deathcore" and will just follow their own spirit and write something captivating."
For metalheads visiting Grand Rapids, what sights or attractions could you recommend?
"Grand Rapids, MI as well as the whole state has some of the best venues! The Intersection is an easy pick, they have three stages! All separate from each other so there isn't any audio bleed. The main stage, The Stache and Elevation. They bring metal shows in all the time. The Pyramid Scheme is a pinball pub that also has a great stage and sound system. Some of the coolest / personal shows I've been to have been there. Recently 20 Monroe Live just opened up. I haven't been there myself, but I've heard wonderful things. There are bars everywhere in GR and they almost all have some sort of stage area for shows that typically support metal. Most shows at the bars are free."
How far has your music been listened to? You released 'Absolute Zero' in April, what was the response like?
"With the internet our music has been heard all over the globe! 'Absolute Zero' has had great response and great reviews by the people who have listened to it, but we have had a hard time getting the word out there that we are still together. As stated above, we hit so many rough patches and years of 'hiatus' that I think people have drifted away and its hard to bring them back. But, with the release of 'Absolute Zero' and our two newest singles 'Worthless Existence' and 'Crimson Era' people are starting to turn their heads again! 2018 has been a year of feeling like we are starting over. Its refreshing but also a little discouraging."
How has 2018 treated you guys and what plans do you have for 2019?
"2018 has been the best year for the band so far! Getting new fans, releasing music on Spotify and other major services has been a first for us and its awesome to watch it grow! It seems so obvious, but when people actually purchase our music it solidifies the fact that we are doing something right. People are willing to spend their hard earned money on something that four guys from MI created to help us continue and grow into something more. It makes it all worth it in the end.
Hopefully in 2019 we continue to grow and start playing some shows! New music, always!"
Finally do you have any hello's, thank you's, etc., that you wish to send out?
"A huge thank you to Lee from Lee Albrecht Studios who is our current producer for our latest two singles! Joshua Wickman from Dreadcore Productions who produced 'Absolute Zero' with us, thank you!! These two producers have really stepped up to help us out and make our music into something amazing. They are solid people and great to work with. Both very talented producers with a passion for making the best product they can!! Thanks to our fans for purchasing / streaming / sharing our music!"