Bands on Bands: Jesse Hill (Over The Ocean) on Bjork's Vespertine



In an era of the immediate and temporary, Over The Ocean craft a timeless sound, sonically immersing the listener into a landscape of seeming sonic dysfunction held together by a heart-piercing rhythm section.  Previously only available on gatefold double vinyl, the band revisited a digital for their new album, Be Given to the Soil, in late April. Engineered, produced and mixed by Jeremy S.H. Griffith (Underoath, Gasoline Heart) at Singing Serpent Studios in New York, NY, Be Given to the Soil, is the follow up to the band’s 2011 full-length Paper House. 
Thematically and musically, Be Given to the Soil picks up where Paper House left off. The arrangements are darker, heavier and increasingly more sparse at points, all the while delivering the same level of lyrical complexity that adoring fans loved on their debut. Sonically, their painstakingly crafted follow-up sounds like a living, breathing testament to their growth and maturation as a band. Fans of Mogwai, Explosions In The Sky, Sigur Ros, Wovenhand, The Appleseed Cast, and mewithoutYou will immediately be drawn to the band’s sound.
Ghettoblaster recently chatted with OTO singer/guitarist Jesse Hill about a record whose influence has haad a profound impact on him, Bjork’s Vespertine.  This is what he said about it…

What is your favorite album?
I think my favorite album is Vespertine, by Bjork.  

Do you remember when you received or purchased the album?

I came to Bjork well after anyone else.  I saw her play “Declare Independence” on TV somewhere, and was totally blown away.  I went online and bought an album at random, and it was Vespertine.  I didn’t listen to anything else for weeks.  

What is your favorite song on the album?

That’s a tough question, but I think it might be “Cocoon.”  

What is it about the song that resonates with you?

There are lots of songs about sex out there, but this is one of the only songs I’ve ever heard that really expresses how amazing and sacred the sexual union is.  I don’t know anything about Bjork’s personal life, but when I hear the song I think she found something holy that very few people can really appreciate.  Somehow, the song completely confirms something I’ve never really had a way of putting into words.  
Have you ever covered a song from the album?
No.  I’ve flirted with playing “Pagan Poetry” at some acoustic things I’ve done, but don’t really have the voice to do anything good to the song.  

What is it about the album that makes it stand out against the band’s other output?

Vespertine is so quiet and mysterious.  It’s a completely different side to Bjork than a lot of her music which can be very aggressive.  I think the fact that this record contrasts so strongly to her other records makes me pay more attention than I would have if all of her records were calm and beautiful.  
Have you ever given a copy of this record to anyone? What were the circumstances?
Somehow I’ve never actually had a physical copy.  However, there have been plenty of times where I forced someone to listen to the whole thing in the car without speaking.  

Which of the records that you’ve performed on is your favorite?

Right now I’m still a little buzzed on the new one.  I’ve really only ever done Paper House and Be Given to the Soil, and they both feel like a big accomplishment to me.  

What is your favorite song on the album and why?

My favorite song on the album is probably “Air In My Lungs.”  It’s only a minute and a half long, and doesn’t really go with the others.  I recorded it in my living room while my son was playing in the background.  The recording was just a reference so I wouldn’t forget the lyrics.  At the time, I was thinking I would add more lyrics and that we would build it up into a big full band type of thing, but then when everyone listened to the demo, it just seemed so obvious that we should keep it as is.