Interview: Slam Dunk stars’ We Are The Ocean

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By Gig Scene Editor Graham Chalmers

I’ve always thought alt-rockers, punks, emos - or whatever you want to call them - were good citizens in bad outfits.

Disillusioned rather than cynical, they’re people and musicians who care about the state of things while wearing raggedy clothes and haircuts.

Amid the sweaty mosh pits and surface aggression, a punk band is far more likely to care about his audience than an indie band and far less likely to see other bands as potential rivals to be shunned or undermined.

It’s a viewpoint the lead singer of alt-rockers We Are The Ocean who play next month’s Slam Dunk Festival in Leeds agrees with.

“We’ve played Slam Dunk so many times over the years. Punk bands always chip in. So many of the acts have played there that when we turn up it’s like a get-together rather than a gig. It’s unique in Britain.”

Liam Cromby, this Essex-based four-piece’s guitarist and, since they parted ways with original vocalist Dan Brown last summer, lead singer, too, says the spirit is even better across the pond.

After releasing three albums since they formed in 2007, We Are The Ocean have built a reputation in the United States, too, leading to an invitation to play on the Warped Tour.

Liam said: “Festivals are different in the US. The Warped Tour was amazing. All the bands, including ourselves, were on rotation. There were no egos and all the other groups were really nice.

Launched for the first time in 2006, Slam Dunk, which started as a weekly club night at The Cockpit in Leeds, has now evolved into an all-day festival taking place in five other locations across the UK and Ireland.

We Are The Ocean’s role in this gigantic emo/punk/ska/metal extravanganza happens at Leeds University on Saturday, May 25 alongside the likes of Kids In Glass Houses, Cancer Bats, All Time Low, Deaf Havana, Four Year Strong and a slew of other acts from the UK, Ireland, Australia and, this year for the first time, France in the shape of Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!

Being a punk, the band’s flirtation with mainstream success when their second album Go Now and Live hit the top 50 in the UK after its singles were playlisted by BBC Radio 1 meant nothing much to Liam.

“We write what we write. If people like it they like it, if not, not, “ he says.

Being a punk, this surprisingly melodic vocalist’s influences are a lot less narrow than you might think.

“I used to listen to the Foo Fighters and Black Sabbath a lot - and Rancid. I used to love Rancid.

“I listen to the Eagles a lot these days, The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, Johnny Cash.

We Are The Ocean now plan to record a live album and Liam shows no signs of the strain of carrying a bigger role in the group these days.

“It’s going well. After Dan went, we stuck together. We love doing the band.”

We Are The Ocean play Slam Dunk Festival North at Leeds University on Saturday, May 25 then play Slam Dunk Festivals Midlands at Wolverhampton Civic on Monday, May 27.

For tickets, visit www.slamdunkmusic.com