Exclusive Interview with Oceans Over Airplanes’ Joe Bickham
Oceans Over Airplanes’s new EP, Young Nights, releases November 27 (Black Friday!!), and it is amazing. It reminds me of my college years (oh, those crazy days), when technology was just getting started and people still wrote letters and actually spend real face time, as opposed to Facetime-ing. I spoke with drummer Joe Bickham today about the EP and the band’s process.
Are you excited about your new EP, Young Nights?
“Yeah, yeah, we are. We’re pretty stoked about it. We’re happy with how it turned out.”
Tell me a little about it.
“It’s four songs. I think it’s different from anything we’ve done yet. We upped our game a little bit. We spent a lot more time on the writing process and we sort of, each song we went over it multiple times.”
It shows. It’s really good! I listened to it several times over. Do any of you have a favorite track on there?
“I like the single, I like ‘A-Game’ a lot. I also like ‘It Could Happen to Anyone,’ but I think my favorite’s ‘A-Game.'”
What has been the hardest part of making the album?
“When you’re writing something, I guess it’s just like anything else creatively when you’re trying to do something. You get to a certain point and you lose steam with it. You might hear something, with a few of these songs there are a few points where we hit walls, and we had to take a minute–had to step away from them. And I think that was something important that we learned in this last writing process, we hit a wall, stop, move on to the next thing, and then come back to it. Nine times out of ten whenever we did that, we went back to where we were hitting the wall and it just was no problem at all. It was great.”
Who are your biggest influences, music-wise?
“We all like the Foo Fighters, Brand New, Thrice is really huge for us. Bands like Wheezer, Jimmy Eat World. A lot of that sort of midwesterny-rock stuff. I know that’s a lot of typical sounding influences. I think we draw influences from–we like a lot of hip-hop. I play drums, so I draw a lot of influences from a myriad of different styles.”
How long have you been playing drums?
“I’ve been playing for 15 years. I’m 30, so I’ve been playing since I was 15.”
What do you guys like to do for fun outside of your music? What do you geek out or nerd out over?
“The two guitar players in the band are really big into video games. The singer likes a lot of sports stuff, fitness–he’s one of those guys who’s always out running. Myself, I like stand-up comedy and I like movies. I’m like a wealth of useless pop culture knowledge, 80s and 90s movies, that kind of stuff. (Laughs).”
So take you to trivia night at the bar, then?
“Yeah. For sure!”
Do you guys have any special promotional plans for Young Nights? Any touring or anything like that?
“As far as touring, no, we don’t have anything concrete touring wise. Just playing a lot of local stuff in Chicago, promoting. We’re not opposed to touring, we just haven’t really been able to get anything.”
I’m sure once this gets out you will, because this album is really good! I really enjoyed listening to the songs. Describe your creative and writing process on the EP.
“When we started writing this batch of songs, one of the–like a theme in our conversation was, and I’m sure you’ve talked about this with friends, too–the technology and how technology is, it’s great, we love it, we all love our smart phones and computers, but it’s kind of like…people sort of lose out on moments. Myself and the singer, we’re close in age–I’m 30, he’s 32–and we’re kind of from that last generation that knows how to write a letter and put a stamp on it, but we also know how to do everything tech-wise. There’s a whole generation that’s going to be lost on. Like, ‘Why would I write a letter? Why not just send an email?’ or ‘Why do you have CDs, why don’t you just download it?’ They just don’t get it. With all that being said, we kind of thought it was a shame how it’s a distraction in younger people’s lives and they miss out on a lot of things, heat of the moment type stuff, and we wanted to refocus people’s attention. One of our hasthags is #rememberhowitfelt. You know, when you’re young it’s a rush and you don’t really get time to step back and appreciate it while it’s happening. Especially now, young kids have all these distractions with technology. We wanted to remind people how it felt when you were young, how it felt to experience new things, and just take a step back and put your smart phone down and just live in the moment. Don’t worry about taking pictures. Don’t worry about Instagramming what you’re doing. Just live in the moment. You develop really great memories that way. That was kind of the underlying theme when we wrote this batch of songs.”
And that’s the feel you get. You get the feel of back in the day when you might have a pager or you might have a flip phone or something, but you don’t have the connectivity that you have now that distances you at the same time. Do you have anything else to say to your fans?
“Check out the record. We hope everybody likes it. I have faith in this round of songs. We’ve had a lot of good feedback.”