INTERVIEW // Glass Ocean: Tobias Atkins on trauma, change, losing yourself and finding yourself

WORDS BY NADENE BUDDEN

“It’s a bit intense, but just trying to bleed out all the stuff that you thought that you were so that you could really discover who you are”

After five years of success both at home and abroad, Sydney prog rockers Glass Ocean are finally blessing us with their debut album, The Remnants Of Losing Yourself. We got the chance to chat with Glass Ocean’s Tobias Atkins all about the album, the band’s developing sound and the darkness of traumatic experiences that help lead you to the light.

The debut album The Remnants Of Losing Yourself, t’s finally here. What’s everyone in the band feeling at the moment?

A sense of excitement. It’s been five years in the making, and it’s pretty surreal to have it out. So, I think we’re relieved. Excited, a little exhausted and just stoked.

What has the recording and development process been like?

It really was like five years of change in our lives because we wrote pretty much two albums before we realised that we weren’t writing what we wanted to write. And then we went back to the drawing board and wrote the album that we wanted to write and were meant to write. And that took about four years. Hopefully it won’t take as long next time.

Was there a lot of stylistic change going on?

It was a conceptual change. We were trying to force a narrative that we initially wanted to write about, but we realised that after beating it with a hammer so many times, it wasn’t what was honest to who we were at the time. And then we really thought about what we were going through personally and as a group, and we decided to write about that rather than this sort of false image of ourselves.

Where did the inspiration come from for The Remnants Of Losing Yourself?

With the title, The Remnants Of Losing Yourself – it’s the old fable of having to lose yourself to find yourself. So, the focus is like a bloodletting process where you go through several sort of trials and tribulations and moments where there’s trauma and conflict and envy but there’s also joy and love and humour as well. It’s a bit intense, but just trying to bleed out all the stuff that you thought that you were so that you could really discover who you are.

I’ve noticed a lot of the singles that have been released, particularly the fourth single Almaida, have very dark imagery. Will the rest of the album follow suit?

There are definitely moments of joy. Probably just less than what people would normally expect from us. With the album there’s no final track where you get a full arc of a story – the final track leaves it hanging. It definitely does go between different shades of emotions, but there is a little bit more darkness in this than we initially thought. I think going back to the whole bleeding out process, it was sort of a necessary thing to write about and to go through and then to sit back at the end and feel that leave your body physically and mentally.

Like a very cleansing kind of feeling once you get it all out.

Yeah, exactly.

It’s perfectly on topic and relevant to the current climate of the world.

Which was totally unintentional! But I hope that people can take something from it in the current time.

Each track has this really epic feeling to it. You’ve got these really crisp layers with punchy drums and blaring vocals, what would be the best way to listen to The Remnants Of Losing Yourself?

If there is that time to digest it from start to finish – with headphones on, preferably out in nature. That’d be a great way to take the whole thing in and to get the most from the record. Maybe a hike or walk or somewhere out in nature would be pretty good.

What has changed about Glass Ocean between the debut EP and The Remnants Of Losing Yourself?

Because most of the recording was done at a home studio and then the drums and a few other bits and bobs were done in a real studio, we had a lot of time to work on stuff. It’s a double-edged sword because then you’ve got too much time on your hands and you sit on things and tinker and mess with things for a really long time. It’s a lot to realise, but don’t think too hard on it and if it feels right, just do it, and don’t overthink it. I used to do this thing where I write the guitars, bass, drums and everything first and then write vocals right at the end and it just made everything really difficult because you’re trying to fit something on top of all this other stuff where there’s just no room for it. This time was really cool because we got to just write with the vocal first and then build around that. It was a really big lesson for us and something I hope we can continue to do.

Now for Temporary Dreamer’s signature question: if you could describe the album with one colour, what would it be?

Ooh, I like that question! I’m gonna have to say purple. It represents a dreamlike state, like a transitional colour. There are nice things about it but it can be quite an ominous colour even though it is inviting at the same time.

It’s got this mystique around it – all the Disney villains wear purple.

Yeah! That’s it.

Anything last words you’d like to say about The Remnants Of Losing Yourself?

To anyone that’s listening, I hope it brings something to their lives during this very weird time that we’re living in. The album was written in conflict and about conflict, and I hope that this a takeaway for people that will in some way help them understand themselves and the world around them. If that happened, I’d be so stoked.

The Remnants Of Losing Yourself is available now across streaming platforms and on CD and vinyl via Wild Thing Records.

STREAM IT BELOW:

https://open.spotify.com/album/0eTJvSvVPxJjxgXC4MMwDT?si=SWvgVCODRSyLgEIxFrbAew

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