Interview: Oceans Of Slumber\’s Cammie Gilbert and Dobber Beverly

The Front Row Report\’s Anya Svirskaya had a chance to sit down with Oceans of Slumber\’s Cammie Gilbert and Dobber Beverly before their huge show with Insomnium in New York City. Check it out below for a very personal and in-depth look at one of the fastest-rising bands in all of metal. FRR: Thank you for taking the time to speak. How has the tour been going? Dobber :  The tour\’s been great. Cammie : Real Good. Dobber : Everything\’s been smooth. I mean, in all honesty, like, going back through Houston to where we live, and seeing my kid, and all that kind of stuff, it\’s the biggest stand-out. That\’s probably the best part of the whole tour. FRR:  Has she gotten to see you perform? Dobber : No, not yet. Cammie : She is too little, still. FRR:  How old is she? Dobber : She’s four and half. FRR: Awe. Cammie : But she saw our soundcheck. And she’s like “ I know that song !” Dobber : She watched the video for \”The Banished Heart\” one time at our house. The cable had gone out and I had the proof for it on the drive. It was connected to our big screen and so we have a ritual with our kid at… like 8:30 at night she gets quiet time and she\’ll watch a TV show with us, like a appropriate show, and she\’ll go to sleep, so there was no TV show and so she was all like \”We were supposed to have quiet time with a show,\” and so I was like, \”Alright,\” and I put the video on. And she\’s all like, \”Oh, Daddy Cammie, it\’s Daddy Cammie\’s music.  I like this stuff.\” But I was like, \”Watch, keep watching,\” in the middle of it is the home video footage of me and her playing the piano together. She was all like, she goes \”I didn\’t tell my teachers I wasn\’t in the band.\” Cammie\’s all like, \”You\’re in the, you\’re in the movies, you know?\”  And she is like, “But I didn\’t tell him I wasn\’t in the band.” And I said that’s okay.  She\’s like, \”I don\’t know.\” FRR: On a more somber note I have to ask ,  and I\’m sure you\’ve gotten this question already. Earlier today, it was announced that Vinnie Paul had passed and you guys are from Texas. How has his music influenced you,  and how did you feel when you\’ve heard the news? Dobber :  So we got off stage…um, we\’re hanging out with a few friends last night. Um, and then Insomnium got off stage and we\’re all kind of hanging out and I got  a bunch of text messages from various people. Asking me if it was real, or like, \”Did he really die? Did he?\” You know, he was only 54, it\’s kind of bizarre…thing. So, the guys and I, Cammie\’s a bit younger,  didn\’t come from the same background, the guys and I are all absolutely from high school up, Pantera was the thing. I think I found Pantera in the eighth grade, so twelve, thirteen years old, something like that. And so you know, it\’s almost like a reopening of a wound because it makes you think back,  it\’s not as strong of a feeling as the, like the adversity of Dimebag dying \’cause I think the majority of the guys in this tour are guitar players because of \’Dimebag\’ Darrell. That\’s including Marcus from Insomnium.  So, when that happened it was like a stab-right-in-the-heart type thing. To where everybody\’s like, \’Oh no, that\’s horrible.\’ And with Vince dying, it\’s one of these things like, you know, just, the whole family is gone now. That legacy is like, broken and they didn\’t leave anything. I don\’t think they even had any kids. They left music and all that stuff, which is controversial now, you know, it\’s cool to hate on Pantera, it\’s like a normal thing in metal. Like, \”Oh, Pantera\’s fucking lame and you\’re a jock, and all this shit.\” And then…doesn\’t tarnish what that stuff meant and was.  You know, growing up, but even now, I\’m not too cool to say that I dislike Pantera, I still love Pantera. So Pantera was a very formative element in the creation of like, myself and these guys, these musicians. Really big thing. So we drank a bunch last night and we listened to Pantera on the bus, like the whole bus. And uh, then that led into us listening to Type O Negative, also.  We\’re talking about dead guys. FRR: On a lighter note, what are some of your influences? Cammie : I take more…um, sort of soul–soulful singers, kind of route. I grew up with a lot of Luther Vandross , Aretha Franklin, Etta James, and  Shirley Bassey. Pretty much everything my mother had on. And she loved to sing, and she\’s holding a hair comb and we are singing to each other. And then now, it\’s lisa fischer and Anneke van giersbergen. Mostly other female singers, with  that soulful style, that more melodic kind of style, it\’s kind of where I draw from the most. FRR: And I would say it’s a little bit darker. Cammie : I almost feel like that\’s what I\’ve added into it or where it\’s gone. It\’s like you say that I realize it now and I don\’t know how I feel about it. It seems sad but, yeah, or I haven\’t thought about it like that…. It\’s not sad but it\’s like I hadn\’t really thought about it. Dobber : It\’s purposeful, though. So that way, how would you…how would you not sing dark over the music? We\’re not acting like happy music and then she\’s writing dark stuff, I mean it\’s like everything about this is, uh, meant, its purpose-built, it\’s dark entities. You know, name, name American bands that are dark like this and what you\’ll have is a bunch of what…you know, it\’s gonna be Wolves in the Throne Room type thing or closer to extreme metal. Cammie : Well I think, so, like, Nina Simone, like, a lot of her stuff is kinda dark. And her style seems dark, it\’s like if I could put any singer like that in a metal band, I would put Nina Simone in a metal band…see how that one is…yeah, like I said, it\’s what they write, it\’s what is drawn out of me, so our stuff is heavier, darker. FRR: I was listening to the record on the way to the show. There were so many emotions were felt listening to the music. You can tell that it’s written from the heart. How is it for you both to be performing this material? Cammie : It depends on the night how bad it feels or why it feels bad. It kind of changes. It does feel bad. I didn\’t really think about it when I wrote the songs. What it\’d feel like performing them, which I probably shoulda, it would have been smarter of me. Dobber :  No, some things should be untethered cause you\’re like you\’re talking about throttling yourself like, and that\’s like, that\’s something I don\’t even wanna hear from the outside. Cammie : Not throttling, but I would have been able to like mentally prepare for what I had done. It\’s like I didn\’t see it until I got there and then I\’m in it and I\’m like, \’Oh, yeah, this is…\’ Some nights I feel like it\’s…it\’s therapeutic. And it\’s like purging and then some nights I do feel like I\’m just rubbing my face in something that\’s like, upsetting, so it kinda just depends on the night how it feels. But both are like heavy, hurtful feelings, but one leaves you with more resolution than the other so like some nights I feel like I get that resolution and some nights I actually feel like I don\’t, um, and so it just depends but it\’s…it\’s difficult but I feel like it\’s very honest and its necessary, almost. And I feel like, I don\’t mind doing that in the capacity that I\’m doing it if I also feel like it helps people, which I feel like it does. And so, you know, it\’s like, uh, it\’s like a service that I can do. Its like I can take that on and it\’s like the hurt it does get smaller and smaller every time its approached where it\’s like maybe it started off as this big boulder I\’m rolling around and now as I\’ve rolled it and rolled it, it\’s smoothened down to this tiny little marble, you know? I can put in my pocket, that I can manage. Because I feel like when people come and they tell me these stories or they tell me, you know, there\’s people that I\’ve lost, people while we\’ve been on tour, and they come and tell me how the song has helped, or you know they went through this terrible breakup or whatever it is. And it\’s like and they come and they\’re like, \’This song helps me, that makes it worth the little bit of discomfort that I\’ll go through to perform it. That\’s why we made the album. I don\’t mind that at all, like I welcome that, I\’m happy to do that. FRR: Was it the same for you, Dobber? Dobber : Yeah I mean, the record was like conceived, like, fully musically. That\’s just how we write, though.  \”The Banished Heart\” I\’ve written a long time ago. I wrote that whole song, like, the first half of it I wrote for her. so I\’d written this song and I sent it to her and I was like, I don\’t know what this is. Like, I just I have this and I — I think I wrote it for you. Um, what do you think about it? And she text me back like she was crying… In bed listening to it. Cammie : No no no. Dobber : So  you know, it was weird, we did that and that was actually the first half of the song and then I finished out.  I sent the piano stuff, too, cause there\’s like a full piano version of it and we\’re actually gonna record that pretty soon. I sent the piano music to her and she was like, uh, I don\’t know what to say. And I don\’t know what to say either. So I took it to the jam room with the guys and I was like, I have this song, it\’s completed and I wanna write the whole record around this, I\’ve been working on this for a while. We got asked to go ahead and write a new record and I said \”Yeah, I\’m ready, we\’re ready.\” They don\’t have to be ready, yeah, Shawn and Anthony just have a bunch of riffs and stuff, anyway. And it\’s like, so, let\’s build this thing, let\’s make it work. And, so, for us, it\’s like uh, instrumental music, almost. We write it with purpose, the whole idea is to accentuate what she does. We approach it not too crazy, but so that music could stand on its own without lyrics. And then we give it to her. So for us every night, there are songs that are more aggressive and lashing out and aggravating on the record. Like \”Decay of Disregard\” and \”Fleeting Vigilance \” and A Path to Broken Stars. And then there are songs like \”No Color, No Light,\” that we play live and \”No Color, No Light\” is the one song you know, I know all about it  and the lyrics behind it, I know the concept of it. I know what she goes through every night to sing it and, so, you know those songs are more draining just because just the emotional connection to what it is. The physical  exhaustion that we\’re feeling on the whole tour.  I watch the people up front the whole time because normally like even with tonight you\’ll probably see it\’s like, there are the people that know who we are and they\’re not  head-banging going crazy, and then there are the people who don\’t know what we are and they\’re not head-banging because we\’re not that kind of band. There might be parts here and there but what they\’re normally doing is very intently staring at her or the band playing on stage because it’s musically proficient group of musicians so everybody\’s really good at what they do. So you have like really top-notch musicianship. Then you have this very unique and not seen in metal world thing with her singing and so it\’s like kinda locked on the spectacle and  it\’s precisely the effect I thought that it would have on people. FRR:  What are your plans after the tour and,  is there talk of a new album? Cammie : We have been talking about a new album, but it wouldn\’t be coming out  and we\’re not going into hibernation necessarily, to write, per se. We have Progpower that we\’re doing in September so I think most of what we\’re gonna do when we get home is gonna be preparation for that. With the time that this tour has brought or given us, we\’ve talked, I don\’t know, maybe not more than we should but we\’ve talked a lot about what we want the next album to be, conceptually, and so, with how we work we can\’t not work on it once we start talking about it. But we\’re not in the writing mode and we\’re not announcing that we are in writing mode just yet. Dobber : It\’s good, I mean,  it takes quite a bit of time to kind of plan out the details and stuff because even now we wrote the Banished Heart in such a short amount of time because the feelings were so fresh about the record. It was easy to burn through it but we\’re still like evolving the songs even now. So the songs have changed a little bit. Her approach has changed to some of the songs. What we do musically has. We don\’t play to click tracks, we don\’t have backing tracks.We kind of  update or put new accents on, old songs. That also makes it hard because when we record something it\’s just kind of like, what they say, the old saying is, a window in — in time, so you\’re kind of  capturing the moment in time and that\’s the cool thing about recording. That\’s what\’s so incredible about it. So, whatever we wind up doing it\’s probably not going to be at the end of what that\’s supposed to be and it\’s the same thing, like, right now if we recorded the Banished Heart right now, there would be different feels to it, there would be different inflections and articulations to what we do. Good or bad, we don\’t know. We feel like it\’s constantly evolving so that\’s a good thing but evolution has to stop at some point. The creative process…is never-ending. And we don\’t know, I mean, the new record is gonna be probably darker, it\’s gonna be dealing with darker subject matter and stuff. And we\’ll see how that works out. FRR: Was there any material that was not included in the record? Cammie : There is. Dobber :There was a song that was left off the record because, the end of it wasn\’t finished. We didn\’t finish it right. Cammie : We didn’t have enough time. It needed to be reworked more. Dobber : And it\’s funny because it has a  really amazing title, it\’s called “Here Among Thorns “ and that title is from an old friend of mine\’s band and I always thought that it was  something nice and just this really obscure death metal band. For us… We wear our influences on our sleeves. We\’re musicians, we\’re really into music, I\’m really into music, and I really like the stuff that I like and the guys love what they love. And, you know, that\’s why we do covers, that\’s why we rework stuff. Our Facebook page sends a shout-outs to bands and new music all the time because we want to spread this, that it’s no bias and it\’s non-inclusive, like only our music and you can only be a fan of our music. And that\’s what a lot of bands act like, they act like this, this coveted safety-net that they need to keep and they\’re not allowed to be into other music. Anya: Is this attributed to the Texas scene? It’d different in New York. Once bands make it to some type of level and exposure the comradery suddenly disappears and everyone wants to outdo each other. Dobber : It\’s disappointing, for sure. You know, it\’s like the biggest downfall of any of this stuff is like if we shut down all these barriers and then… And like you said, a band gets bigger… FRR: And suddenly not everyone is down for the cause. Dobber : Yeah, like as soon as your band gets big, you stop liking other music and it\’s the boyfriend-girlfriend thing except it\’s not a boyfriend-girlfriend,so let\’s say that music is a polyamorous relationship and you\’re allowed to do this thing because you\’re supposed to, and it\’s weird because it\’s like you gotta, your band is your spouse and then you can\’t, I can\’t turn other people on because they might be into it and leave me, and…I mean, good God, that\’s how it seems, like big time. Um, but you said, okay, so, Terrance Hobbs from Suffocation? He\’s a New York guy, a Long Island guy. Terrance Hobb\’s been at it for a long ass time, Suffocation is a really good band. Terrance Hobbs everyday is sharing music, talking about his friends, like \”my friend\’s got a new record out, you guys gotta check it out, my buddy\’s turned me on to this band.\” He\’s one of those exceptions to that and I think it comes from like the death metal side of still being supportive of each other. Anya : I don\’t wanna take much much of your time. Thank you again for taking the time to speak. What is your message to your fans Dobber: You know, we\’re here, making this music, making this art because we have to. Like, it has to come out of us and, you know, it\’s not necessarily like we\’re seeking to, to be someone\’s good time. Like, it\’s — it\’s a shared space that we create and it\’s for, it\’s for that feeling, you know, it\’s for that exploration of this, this, the darker realities of life. FRR: Well it pays off when you do it your way. Cammie : It\’s more fulfilling when we do it our way, absolutely. FRR: Thank you guys. Cammie, Dobber: Thank you.