Whilst I sit in my car in rural Victoria, Australia, I’m on the phone to Being As An Ocean frontman Joel Quartuccio, who is enjoying a casual stroll through one of his neighbourhood parks in San Diego, California. (And I can’t but help think that the sight of a tattooed man walking alone in a park in the evening might be some cause for alarm for some locals). Ahead of their Aussie tour next month, the vocalist talks to me about their recent split with Equal Vision Records, how the band operates as a unit and the finer details of their newest album ‘Waiting For Morning To Come’ in what is a short but sweet interview. Take a read:
So, I want to get this out of the way now, Joel. In regards to the band buying out your Equal Vision contract, could you please ballpark it for me what kind of figures we’re talking here?
Well, let’s just say that Tyler [Ross], our guitarist, emptied out his savings account for this buyout. He had been investing pretty much his whole adult life into that thing and he really stepped up for us and we’re super grateful that he did it.
Ooft, I imagine that’s a lot. So while this is still kinda fresh news, now that you’re independent, how has cutting away from a label impacted how the band operates now?
Honestly, dude, there’s not been much change for us. The way that this band operates is unlike anything that I’ve experienced before, first hand or otherwise. We just love each other so much and we’re all such a team that we’re so communicative with one another. So it helped that three of us are from San Diego – Ralphie [Sica, bass], Tyler, and myself – we’ve been friends since I was 12 or 13-years-old. We’ve always just… clicked, and understood how to treat each other. It’s just funny, as Ralph, Tyler and I talked about when we were kids before this and now here I am living things today at 26 that we spoke about when I was 18-years-old. It’s kinda surreal [laughs]. Even with Michael [McGough, guitar/clean vocals], who joined after we were already well established, I don’t think of him as any less of a brother. So yes, in so many words, not much has changed!
Cool! So with something like the Stick To Your Guns tour here in Australia in January doesn’t affect the band now being independent and vice versa? Cause it seems like you just take it all in stride.
Yeah! We just take it in stride, doing a little bit more than what we’ve done in the past, and just be team players on the road. Especially when we’re touring with good friends like Stick To Your Guns. We’re so keen to get back to Australia, as we toured there back in 2015 with Architects and we had a blast.
Rad. You know Joel, hearing all of this, it seems like no matter what label you were on, you guys had a lot of creative control and input in how BAAO would move forward.
Yes and I’m so glad you picked up on that man because we’ve never allowed that; we’re a band, separate completely from any other system or party that might be around us.
I do really respect that – not every band can get away with or follow through with that. Now, I’ve been building up to this question so fuck it, I’ll just ask: what really happened with all of Equal Vision Records fiasco?
[Laughs] well. I think it was just… a lot of build-up and a lot of expectation on both sides. Like I’ve been saying, we won’t give up our identities and what we want to accomplish. And sometimes these deals just don’t work out. We’ve just taken it as every loss or failure means that there’s room to grow and get back up to keep on moving.
Fair enough, thank you for answering that too, mate. Of course, that record label mess came at the release of ‘Waiting For Moring To Come’. To change topics, that record is a very different one for BAAO yet has this duality of being familiar yet new at the same time for the band’s sound. Not sure if that was something you guys had in mind when writing and recording it though…
I do think that the beautiful part of this record is that we were extremely self-aware and were being as creative as possible. Trying to really write this album and envision this album in the way we wanted to see ourselves progressing, we wanted to spread our fingers into everything that we love about music. Once we started writing the real meat of it, we became really self-aware: this is us saying that we will be what we want.
Interesting, as there are some parts of this record that I’d never think of your band doing. Which is very cool and makes me excited about what comes next. Also, I really love how, much like The Chariot’s final album, when you put this album’s track listing together it makes a poem. Which is stuff that I really get off on!
Oh man, that’s so beautiful that you tried to piece it together like that! This whole album, I feel, is a love letter to the artist-fan relationship, and there are little easter eggs hidden throughout the record. Like, we put a whole song backwards for a reason, you know? Because we’ve always loved writing and performing music, we also love listening to it. So its fun to interact with it in different ways. Like, if you’ve got a free trial of Ableton ready to go or some other program, that could allow you to snap a song to a gird, reverse it, and mess with it. As the listener will re-reverse that song and get involved with it. That’s not lost on us. Everything about this new record was super intentional and I love that about it.
Oh, as soon as I saw that ‘The Powers That Be’ was reversed, I imported into my DAW and corrected it to hear it properly. And it’s a cool track. Though, I doubt you’ll be playing it backwards live.
So, just a couple other questions to wrap up with, man. Who took the album cover’s photo? Because that is a striking cover to have.
It was actually a German photographer if I’m not mistaken, though I’ve forgotten their name, I’m so sorry. We found they had these whole sets of pictures – of these night scenes along the road – and Tyler found it, showed us and we all fell in love with it. So we bought it all up.
Well, that scene of the eerie nighttime road is almost like the perfect setting to listen to this record in, so that works!
Aw, that’s awesome man, we’d agree too.
Right on! Also, where’d you get that sample from ‘Black and Blue’ from – the line “I want you to listen very, very carefully”?
You’ve heard his name a lot so far, but Tyler got really into finding really cool sound clips from the time before the whole MPAA rating on movies came into place. I think they’re called pre-code? So there are all these clips from the 30’s and 40’s, who all had beautifully strong female characters in them. Which really gripped him and so there are a lot of them sprinkled throughout the album. And the best part is most of them are in the public domain. Which is good for us!
[Laughs] yeah cause you don’t have to pay! But on that note, that’s all we’ve got time for today, Joel, was an absolute pleasure speaking with you.
No worries at all Alex, thank you so much for your time.
‘Waiting For Morning To Come’ is out now. Catch Being As An Ocean live in Australia with Stick To Your Guns in January at these dates.