Review: Being As An Ocean – Dear G-d…

In the Hebrew Jewish culture, the name of God is respected in such an extent that it never is spelled out or spoken of. In order to get around this, most Jews usually write “G-d” instead of ‘God’, so that God’s name is never spelled out in it’s entirety on something that can be destroyed or thrown away. A pretty beautiful tradition, if you ask me. Albeit all band members are christians, the guys in Being As An Ocean pursued this tradition, and have named their 52-minute-long debut album Dear G-d…. It’s out on October 23 via Invogue Records. In case you have never heard of them, take a minute or two to read the introduction that was posted a few weeks ago. In an interview, vocalist Joel Quartuccio and guitarist Tyler Ross gave exclusive commentary on their record, which you can read below.

The record is not only beautiful, it’s also a personal story. Joel wrote the lyrics and explained to me that they are definitely based on my own life experiences and struggles. All of the lyrics and themes contained on this album are held very close to my heart, as they were written as a sort of journal in a very emotionally tumultuous time in my life. I have told my friends before, that if you want to know me, what I think about, what I struggle with, and the things of this world that concern me, just listen to my lyrics. It’s all there.” Tyler told me more about the writing/recording process. “I had never written songs like this before. Everything except ‘It’s Really Not As Complicated As You’re Making It Out To Be’ has a Verse-Chorus-Verse and I had never relied on structure like that before. I love it though, it’s such a beautiful way to write music and the music practically writes itself once you have some cool parts. So I would write like a song a day when I was in Berkeley, CA going to UC Berkeley. Then we finished up the writing and tracked the whole album in my apartment inside this old converted Hotel in Downtown San Diego in July/August 2011. All the tracking went awesome and we sent it off to Brian Hood in Huntsville, AL to get mixed and we got everything finished up before the year ended.”

The first three tracks of the LP, ‘Nothing, Save The Power They’re Given’, ‘Dear G-d…’ and ‘The Hardest Part Is Forgetting Those You Swore You Would Never Forget’ respectively, have been released as singles before. ‘The Hardest Part…’ is my personal favorite of this trio. The emotion-filled heaviness that this track is, really hits home. I cannot wait to see this one live. The lyrics of this song – the lyrics of most songs, actually – are really relatable for me. They apparently are for lots of kids, as I have seen some lines of the chorus a lot on the various social media lately. On the question whether Tyler thinks that the band succeeded in transferring the message in the way they wanted, and if he is pleased with how the record turned out and he replied: “Yeah absolutely. It pretty much seems like as long as we make a music video and put out the lyrics to the songs, people get us better than we could have even hoped for. Everybody loves the lyrics a lot and it’s just like one of those CDs that you carry with you in life and it impacts you at different times. As far as the record goes, I can put alot more guitar work in there and make some really sad, heartfelt songs, but since I was tracking everything myself I kept it down to 2 guitar tracks for our Mixing Engineer. I think on our next release I can kick it up to 4-6 guitar parts and work with pedals live to make for some really awesome sets with me and Jacob playing more than one part when the songs kick in.”

The first track that I did not hear before is ‘This Loneliness Won’t Be The Death Of Me’. It starts of nice and slow, and builds up to a catchy chorus that reminds me of Alexisonfire or Hundredth here and there. The carefully balanced mix between the cleans and shouts or screams is simply great. I am sure that it will be a great sing-along at shows. Subsequently is ‘The Sea Always Seems To Put Me At Ease’. Another masterpiece. It is slower compared to most other tracks. It is heavy. It is emotional. The lyrics are amazing. I get chills down my spine every time when Joel shouts “You are whole, you are clean, you are free”.

On track 7, ‘It’s Really Not As Complicated As You’re Making It Out To Be’, Mohandas Gandhi‘s voice can be heard, reading out his essay ‘On God‘ in 1931. This is by far the longest track of the record, and it’s fully instrumental. The track is great by itself, but the parts of the Gandhi speech make it extra powerful. Joel explains that the band name also is derived from ‘a Gandhi quote that says, “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” I thought it was really fitting for a name that we wanted to be unique and carry weight and significance.

Next up is ‘Humble Servant, Am I’. Catchy riffs and clean vocals alternate build up to a heavier parts with emotional screams. It works out really well. Upon listening very carefully, the slight zooming sound of the guitar amps can be heard sometimes. I am not sure whether that was done intentionally or not, I don’t really care either way. It’s kind of a nice atmospheric touch, actually.The final track is ‘If They’re Not Counted, Count Me Out’. The spoken word-elements remind me of Listener. All of this climaxes in one of the heavier – and best – parts of this record. After the instrumental outro, I was left in silence. The LP had finished. I just sat there for a while, thinking.  Being impressed. I noticed later that, from about halfway through, I had forgotten to write down notes and comments in my notebook. Oh well.

Lastly, I asked Joel and Tyler about their inspirations for both the writing of the music and the lyrical themes. Joel replied that “most of the lyrical themes consist of the things I have found to be hopeful and redemptive in the human condition: love, grace, humility, things of that nature. Along with the things I battle with on a personal level such as depression and holding onto a strong sense of identity.” Tyler continues by explaining his own experiences. “This album was sort of a lesson in songwriting for me, and I feel like it was a pretty successful job when I see these kids kind of all across the US knowing the bridge of every song or whatever. That’s kind of why you write the song that way. But I know we’ll expand pretty heavily on that style from now on and the songs will probably just get more sad and more awesome and more impressive to see live.” BAAO is touring Europe next year with Napoleon, be sure to attend a show or two and pick up some of their beautiful merch over there.

Unfortunately, I can’t discuss every track profoundly in this limited amount of space. However, I highly recommend everyone to acquire this album and take some time to listen to the music. Read the lyrics. Think. Enjoy. Dear G-d… is definitely the record of the year for me. And, by looking at the amount of fans that BAAO has gained in such a short amount of time, no doubt exists that this band will be huge some day. They totally deserve it.

Track list – Dear G-d…

1. Nothing, Save The Power They’re Given
2. Dear G-d…
3. The Hardest Part Is Forgetting Those You Swore You Would Never Forget
4. This Loneliness Won’t be the Death Of Me
5. The Sea Always Seems To Put Me At Ease
6. Salute e Vita
7. It’s Really Not As Complicated As You’re Making It Out To Be
8. Humble Servant, Am I
9. This Room Is Alive
10. We Will Never Be The Same
11. If They’re Not Counted, Count Me Out

Being As An Ocean: Facebook / Tumblr / Twitter / Purchase Dear G-d…

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