by Brad Barrett, 2011 Drowned In Sound/Kerrang!/Playmusic
There\\\'s a parable somewhere about how leaving three guitarists in the same room can only end up in endless bickering and seething jealousy. Three egos of that size in one place never works and is likely to descend into misery for everyone involved. It\\\'s funny then that Ocasan began with this scenario and have done the impossible by being both creative, ambitious and very much enjoying each other\\\'s company.
From the beginning these Northampton-based twenty-somethings – guitarist and lead vocalist Nick Burns, drummer Luke McDonnell and bassist Rich Webb - shoved songcraft in front of instrument pride and played early shows between bouts of instrument swapping. “After a while it grew tiresome hurdling over drum kits and chicaning around XLR cables mid-set, so we all picked an instrument that we felt well versed in. I love playing guitar and singing but there\\\'s nothing quite like kicking the crap out of a kit,” explains Luke.
Meeting in that renowned bohemian hotspot Bath sometime in 2009, the three musicians built solid foundations for their musical ventures through a life-long bond of chemistry and camaraderie spawned from those memorable early skirmishes. Since those virgin forays, Ocasan have managed to demo and record their self-titled debut album, produced by Romesh Dodanga (Funeral For A Friend, Kids in Glass Houses, Manic Street Preachers), sign with a major label distributor and reach number one in the Bulgarian charts with their first single \\\'When You\\\'re Around\\\', released in the UK on April 18th. A spacious, commercial stomp with an itchy and chiming central riff, Nick\\\'s refined vocal stretches from idle croon to an impassioned chant against the pounding backdrop that rocks the Ocasan boat. Yet, this early high point is but one side of the band. Their forthcoming debut album also highlights the crowd pleaser “Josephine” - anthemic, indelibly catchy and barely a distorted guitar in earshot. The lyrics address the unrealistic nature of courting fame, a subject that these ambitious men aren\\\'t exactly enamoured with.
Singer Nick says: “I just want to be honest. I feel so disheartened when browsing through a newsagents only to find rows of music magazines that are beginning to look like \\\"teen fashion\\\" I don\\\'t care about the new jeans anyone is wearing or who has some new Toni & Guy hair cut. I just want a chance to get on stage and explore the world. I want to re-live the touring life that many bands who inspired me experienced. I was born to do this!”.
That\\\'s not to say that Ocasan are holding back from the idea of reaching the stars or even standing “on stage at Wembley” as Josephine\\\'s chorus memorably notes. Anyone who has witnessed their unique live shows could attest to that. From “American-style marching bands” and fire eaters to “prancing astronauts in boxer shorts”, they\\\'ve shared their stages with some odd sights, some of which feature in the video to Josephine. Still, having dealt with the trappings and freedoms of being a band in this age of self-determination – booking your own tours, putting together videos from scraps, rescuing instruments with electrician\\\'s tape – Ocasan are under no illusions about what it takes to make an impression and maintain a consistent career path.
“We wanted to write fantastic songs that told stories and kept you interested from the very first drum beat to the last chord. Some are very accurate to our personal experiences and some have a little artistic license,” says bassist Rich. “We wanted the world to pay attention to this one. The first album, we all agreed, had to be big, loud and shiny! We completed what we set out to do and are very proud of it.”
From potential disaster to sure-fire success in a few easy steps. Ocasan have arrived.