After putting in an insane amount of mileage touring around the world in support of their 2015 debut album Lost Isles, British metalcore outfit Oceans Ate Alaska return with their sophomore studio album Hikari. Dropping on July 28 through Fearless Records, the 11 track album is the debut of vocalist Jake Noakes, who joined the band earlier this year before their trek with Born of Osiris. Drummer Chris Turner took some time to discuss working on the new record, which is available for pre-order here. Next month, the outfit will tour Europe with August Burns Red. You can check out their upcoming tour dates over on their website.
AXS: For Hikari, you stepped into the producer chair along with help from Nick Sampson. How was it having someone else to bounce ideas off of during the recording session?
Chris Turner: I was more of the engineer! I tracked and edited the guitars, bass, and all the Japanese instruments in my home studio before flying to Detroit with Jake where we tracked drums and vocals with Nick. So there wasn't really another producer to bounce ideas off for my engineering part, however, when Jake was in the booth, me and Nick really had a blast. After everything was laid down, Nick did the mix and master, and we all couldn't be happier with how it turned out!
AXS: Where did the idea come up to incorporate Japanese instruments on the new release?
CT: It started way back, about 3 years ago in fact, when I was composing/producing a hip hop instrumental track for a completely different project. I used a Japanese instrument called a koto as I heard it used in one of my favourite Bonobo tracks, and thought I'd try it out myself. After showing our guitarist Jibs, he expressed how much he loved he piece and wanted to try adding some OAA type stuff over the top.
At first, I thought he was crazy as I'd already combined two polar opposites of modem electronic hip hop with traditional Japanese instrumentation, so surely adding another genre that's yet another world apart would only sound bad? Much to our surprise, it worked perfectly, giving everything a whole new dynamic with underlying tones and thematic motifs. We showed the rest of the band, who also loved it, and we decided we had to roll with it for the whole record! We felt that we had stumbled across something so unique and beautiful by accident, and it was too good not to explore!
Fun fact, the song I mentioned above actually made the record! It's called "Veridical", so go give it a listen, and you'll be able to hear for yourself where it all began.
AXS: You recently mentioned using natural drums on the record. How important was this for the recording process?
CT: It was massively important as well as a huge commitment! We spent a good three days purely tuning/mic'ing the kit up before we'd even started tracking. Everything had to be perfect from the stem; if any tuning changed due to the room temperature, we would have to go back for reference and re-tune it to keep consistency, no mics could move even a millimetre, etc. We had to be this specific throughout recording the entire record! You can be far more careless when sample replacing as you know it's only going to get covered up in the end. However,keeping it real means that every hit is unique to us, so it was more than worth all the effort!
AXS: The record features you and Issues' drummer Josh Manuel engaging in a drum-off. How did that come about?
CT: We wasn't really aiming for it to be a 'drum off' as that makes it sound competitive. We simply like playing together, so we found an excuse to make something official of it. Me and Josh met on Warped Tour of 2016, and we jammed together most evenings. When the tour ended, we had nearly finished writing Hikari, but somehow we found the time to squeeze it in.
AXS: What was it like working with Jeb Hardwick on the music video for "Escapist"?
CT: It was awesome! Jeb and his whole team was very professional and on task, so the day ran really smoothly. Plus, we ordered pizza, so that was cool, too.