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The Fucking Ocean

An SF Band That Likes To Fuck Around

The Fucking Ocean should be easy to sum up in a quick paragraph, but the San Francisco-based band is kind of complicated -- in a homegrown, post-punk, work-all-day-rock-all-night kind of way, of course. Two members of the current three-member lineup -- Marcella Gries and Matt Swagler -- live in the Bay Area while John Nguyen resides on the East Coast.

Two former members of the band, which formed in 2003, left the group to pursue other interests, and a revolving casts of friends and associates fill in at live shows from time to time to help out when Nguyen is not around. They also donít like the idea of having assigned musical duties and take turns swapping instruments. The Fucking Ocean has three Bay Area gigs with Antelope December 8th, 9th and 10th. Gries and Swagler spoke with SF Station during a phone interview.

SF Station (SFS): Who are the three half-naked people in your band photo?

Marcella Gries (MG): We took a couch down to the Folsom Street Fair instead of the typical photo with a band in front of a garage door. We decided to have half-naked men in the photo instead.

SFS: You didnít do any shows with them?

MG: It was more to show our humor and show how serious we take ourselves. We donít try to come off as a really serious band.

Matt Swagler (MS): And we really like the Folsom Street Fair because we roll like that.

SFS: It has been a year since you put out your debut LP La Main Rouge. Do you have anything new on the way?

MS: Yeah, we actually have some songs we recorded in May. Unfortunately, weíre kind of busy and weíre just slowly getting to mixing it. Hopefully we will be releasing something soon.

SFS: Do you still switch instruments?

MS: I only play the bassoon now, exclusively, and Marcella from here on out is only playing timpani. We are kind of going in an experimental noise rock direction.

SFS: With an orchestral feel.

MS: Weíre calling it orchestral minimalism. No, we still switch between all the instruments. It makes it more fun for us and more fun for the people who are watching.

MG: Sometimes if John canít make a show, we bring in friends that have played with us before. It kind of brings in a new member temporarily, which maybe is sometimes fun for the audiences, as well.

SFS: It sounds like you keep it fairly spontaneous.

MG: You never know what you are going to get; that is our motto right now.

MS: We are recruiting people right now to play for the next couple of shows.

MG: Yeah, what are you doing on Saturday (laughs)?

SFS: Have you ever had any casualties switching things up with the drum kit and all of the amplifier cords?

MS: We were playing on the floor at the Elbo Room once and John was doing some serious guitar rocking and he slipped on somebodyís spilled drink, but he didnít miss a beat. He just kept spewing out some serious guitar rippage.

MG: He kept going around in circles on his back, on the floor in the dark, while still maintaining one of our harder songs. It was pretty impressive.

SFS: That is rock íní roll.

MG: Yeah, we try to let loose, and we like to involve the audience as much as we can.

SFS: You have a sense of humor, but a lot your songs are political, as well. What are some of the topics you have written about lately?

MS: With the new songs we are hopefully putting out soon, there are a couple of songs that are generally about sexuality, but also about how backward we have gone in a lot of ways, especially with sexism and the way womenís sexuality is portrayed in the media.

Also, asexuality and how different it was when people started to question things during the gay liberation movement, really got me thinking about how many things we take for granted and how commodified and objectified peoplesí bodies are these days.

We have another song about the ongoing battle around immigration and the border wall they are building and just the ongoing hypocrisy.

SFS: Does the whole band agree on the topics you discuss? How do decide what to write about?

MG: It happens during the process while we write the song. As we collectively work on the song we decide what it is going to be about. We all tend to agree on everything, so it all works collectively.

SFS: Has your name gotten you into any trouble yet?

MG: You would think, given it has the F-word in it, we wouldnít get as much press because of the name, but we have also received a lot attention because of it. Bad publicity has also helped us. We were rated one of the worst band names in The Onion. Itís also an easy name to remember because no else has anything like it.

SFS: You havenít had any lectures from grouchy old people?

MS: My grandma still thinks we are called The Foggy Notion. I guess that is what Iíve been telling my extended family for a while.

The Fucking Ocean performs with Antelope and other bands on December 8-10th. Visit http://www.thefuckingocean.org/shows.html for more information.