By: Harrison Giza
The End of The Ocean are without a doubt one of the most talented groups I have ever post-rocked. A few words to describe them? Monumentally destructive. Desolately unsettling. Rock ‘n’ roll dialed to the highest notch on ingenuity. They’re Ohio players that can make an instrumental speak to you, me, and everyone else in-between. I’d even go so far as to label them cinematic rock.
Their biggest hit, “Worth Everything Ever Wished For,” has two-and-a-half million plays on Spotify, but each release they have put out has more than enough substance to keep you around as a lifetime fan.
There are six members that make up the entire ensemble; three guitarists (Kevin Shannon, Trish Chisholm, Joshua Qualls), Bryan Yost on the bass, Tara Yost playing keys, and Wes Jackson drumming. All of them are detrimentally important to core of what we hear, sharing our earbuds, car speakers, and concert halls with the sole intention of making great music. They do without fail because they know the importance of well-paced minimalism, over-exposing wall of sound guitar lines, and cornea-crunching cymbals placement. What am I saying? They can make much more than just a simple boom-clap beat.
Their latest EP, In Excelsis, feels like it was recorded deep within the ocean itself, à la Electric Ladyland by way of the Atlantic brim. Saying it’s masterful doesn’t quite do it justice, but calling it American Football’s Cooler Mute Brother just might. The triple guitar work gives us eighteen different strings to hear clear like crystal, each bobbing and weaving to the speed, tone, and swing of what suits and soothes the ache of Jackson’s roar of drums.
I spoke with Josh and Bryan, asking them about what they love about their fans, getting the chance to tour across the world, and to check in on how excited they were for their upcoming dunk!festival gig. Here’s what happened…
HG: I think that one of the best things about TEOTO is your ability to speak without words. Each of your songs are simply beautiful, despite how cliche that sounds. How difficult is it to finish just one song for you guys? How long does the process usually take?
JQ: Thanks for saying that, Harrison. Our writing process has never been very straightforward or consistent, so this question is pretty difficult to answer. It’s always been a collaborative process, but with member changes and relocations we’ve sometimes had to rely on one or two members to come up with ideas and create a foundation for everyone else to build on later. Calm Seas took about a month, Pacific/Atlantic (our only full-length) took about three or four months and In Excelsis took almost eight or nine months to finish.
BY: Yeah, currently we’re kind of spread out all over. We’ve been working on an album for over a year now and we’re basically still at the beginning stages. We are very collaborative in our writing so it’s difficult to write when were not all in the same room together. We typically have a solid foundation that we can all build off of but it’s tough to do when were all so far apart.
HG: You’ve shared the stage with Title Fight, Code Orange Kids, and Empire! Empire! Is there anybody you haven’t played with that you’d want to? The sky is the limit here…
JQ: I left the band for a year or so and actually didn’t get to play that show—way to rub it in! Honestly, we’ve played with so many incredible bands (including those you’ve mentioned) that we would love to play with again. We’ve all been really big fans of Caspian since the beginning, so we’re really excited to see them and all the other amazing bands at Dunk! in May. I think we’d all love to play with Mono, Mogwai, Envy…there are really too many other bands to list so I’ll just leave it at that.
BY: Envy is definitely my first pick. I’d also love to play with M83, Third Eye Blind, Smashing Pumpkins, Silversun Pickups, Pg.Lost, and Jeniferever. If I could resurrect any band to play with it would be Planes Mistaken For Stars.
HG: Describe your perfect breakfast.
JQ: I think I’d be in trouble with the others if I said anything other than pizza. However, this morning I went with my roommate to a little breakfast place across the street and had the most incredible pancakes and vegetarian biscuits & gravy. If anyone passes through Lexington, KY, and wants some good breakfast, be sure to check out Alfalfa Restaurant on East Main.
BY: I’d roll with a homemade breakfast pizza. I’d start with a nice base of sausage gravy on hand tossed dough. I’d add a solid layer of cheddar on top of that. Followed by crumbled sausage, peppercorn bacon, scrambled eggs, hash browns, and topped off with another layer of cheddar cheese.
HG: How do you feel about American Football and Mineral getting back together and touring again? I know they’re two of your biggest influences.
JQ: Couldn’t have been more surprised and excited about the news from both bands. Mineral is my favorite band ever—I got to see them on September 12 at a sold out show in Cleveland. It was phenomenal. I cried.
BY: I was so excited when I heard American Football was getting back together for shows and then immediately bummed out when they weren’t playing anywhere near me. I’m hoping that they’ll do some more extensive touring.
HG: What was the first concert you went to? How old were you?
JQ: Ha, well…my family moved to Arkansas when I was really young so it shouldn’t be a surprise that my first was a country concert. I saw John Michael Montgomery at our county fair. “I swear, by the moon and the stars in the sky. I’ll be there…” I wish I could say it was something really cool instead. Yeah, not my proudest moment but, hey, I was only four or five.
BY: Interestingly enough my first concert was also a country concert. My babysitter took me to see Travis Tritt, Trisha Yearwood, and Little Texas. It was an Arena show and we had backstage passes. I think I was 11 at the time.
HG: Tell me when you started playing. How did TEOTO sound at the VERY beginning?
JQ: In retrospect, it sounded a lot like drone. It was very repetitive and it took a long time for the songs to develop. The evolution of our sound from Calm Seas to Pacific/Atlantic must be one for the books…
BY: At the very beginning, it was just Kevin and myself. I don’t think we really knew what sound we were going for but at the time, Hammock and The American Dollar were our primary influences. We quickly moved past that sound though when we realized we wanted to do a lot more with the band. Even so, I think that it really impacted the way we changed our thought process about music and how we were going to write our songs moving forward.
HG: You describe your gigs as “a wall of sound and an aggressive live show.” What are some of your best tour stories? Any particular moments standout?
JQ: We want to connect with the audience as much as possible and make it interesting for them, so we put everything we can into our live show. We don’t know how else to engage them since we don’t have vocals—we figure each show has to be as big and intense of an experience for us as we want it to be for them, and hopefully that’s enough to bridge the gap. We’ve had so many great moments together. Our tour with Sunlight Ascending back in 2011 was amazing. One of our favorite shows was with our Ohio brothers If These Trees Could Talk at their Red Forest release show (congrats again to you dudes for getting signed to Metal Blade, we’re so happy for you!). We also had a great time with Alcest in Chicago back in 2012. Every moment we’ve got to share with the bands and people we’ve come to know and love over the years has made this entire experience worth it for us.
BY: One time we played in a garden shed in this kid’s backyard. Probably one of the most awkward shows we’ve played. We pull up to this house thinking it was going to be a basement show and the kid tells us to pull around the back by the shed. I was thinking that he just wanted us to park there but when we parked, he told us to load into the shed since that’s where we would be playing. Nice kid, just not the situation we were expecting. Sometimes, there’s a point in touring where you really start to ask yourself why you’re even doing this. That was definitely one of them. On the flipside, we’ve played some really awesome shows. The Alcest show Josh mentioned is probably one of my favorites to date. Also, being able to play with The Appleseed Cast was something I had always hoped to do so that will always stand out for me. Once, I almost wrecked the van somewhere in the middle of Oklahoma. That was pretty scary. When we were in Tempe a few years ago, some random guy approached our drummer Wes and told him that he had “really beautiful flesh”. That’s a direct quote and definitely the weirdest situation we’ve been a part of. Also at that same show, some kid told us that he knew Lady Gaga and he was going to give our music to her. Tempe is a weird place, man.
HG: How do you guys feel about the response you’ve received on Spotify? “Worth Everything Ever Wished For” has two million views and counting…
JQ: We’re floored. We’ve never expected anything like this to happen to us, and I don’t know how to say it any better than Tara did on Twitter: “Kindness runneth over/our thankfulness overflows!” We’re so grateful to Spotify for including us on these playlists and to the listeners for lending their ears. We’ve never played that song live, but I think it’s safe to say that it has earned a place in our set.
BY: I was definitely unexpected but really exciting. I don’t think we ever expected any of our songs to have that many streams on Spotify, especially “Worth Everything…”. We have never played that song live and it was pretty much a song we just wrote solely for the album. Obviously, now we’re going to have to add it into our set list but I’m pretty excited to play it live. It’s pretty awesome that Spotify put this song onto three of their self-curated playlists.
HG: What can fans expect from the five of you in the future? Where do you all want the group to be a year from now?
JQ: There are actually six of us now that I’ve rejoined! There was a Rhodes piano on nearly every Pacific/Atlantic track and we’ve never been able to recreate that in our live performance—I think fans should expect us to update those songs to include a third guitar and incorporate some of those missing Rhodes piano parts as much as possible. I think we’d all like to be in the studio a year from now, but whether or not that will happen sooner or later is unknown at this point.
BY: I’m hoping in the next year we’ll at least have our next album written and recorded. We’ll definitely be touring!
HG: How excited are you for Dunk!festival? How did that opportunity happen?
BY: It’s always been a dream of ours to play Dunk!Festival. They always put on a solid festival with great post-rock bands. We have been talking back and forth with them for the past few years about playing but it’s never worked out. We’re finally going to be going over to Belgium to play this next year so we’re beyond excited. Revenue from the Spotify plays have really made this possible for us to do.
HG: And finally, if you could pick one artist to listen to for the rest of your life, who would it be and why?
JQ: This is a tie between Mineral and Elliott Smith for me. It makes me really happy to listen to both for some reason—beautiful music, sad but uplifting lyrics. I’d be destroyed if I were robbed of the ability to listen to either of them for the rest of my life.
BY: I’d have to go with The Appleseed Cast. I’ve been listening to them since their first album “The End of the Ring Wars”. I’ve seen them live way more than any other band. They’ve been the most consistent band that I’ve listened to for over 15 years so I’m pretty sure that’s not going to stop anytime soon, especially if they continue to write new music.
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