the ocean - robin stapsThat much should be obvious just from listening to The Ocean’s latest album Precambrian, a sprawling, well thought-out work that is clearly the result of some heady, intense writing and a very active brain. When we interviewed Robin before The Ocean’s headlining gig at The Knitting Factory on Monday, May 26th, this became even more apparent; Robin was extremely well-spoken and articulate and had a hell of a lot to say (we’ll be publishing that interview soon enough). A recent column Robin did for MetalKult further exemplifies just what a smart dude he is. But before we get to that, I’d like to reflect on the aforementioned show for a moment.

HOLY FUCKING SHIT. Opening bands Withered, Lair of the Minotaur and Kylesa were pretty good and all… but The Ocean took the stage to finish off the night and made all of the openers look like little sissy amateurs. Seriously, it was that big of a difference. The Ocean’s level of professionalism and polish dwarfed everyone else’s, their stage presence was 10x greater, and their spartan but effective light show (consisting of nothing more than a few strips of LEDs hooked up to a midi sequencer) added to the drama, brilliance, and awesomeness of the show. A fucking brilliant US debut for The Ocean.

Anyway, back to Robin being a smart dude. It’s no secret that America is a pretty backwards place in a lot of ways, and that while we may lead the world in terms of certain cultural tastes, America is lightyears behind Europe when it comes to certain civil liberties and general common sense. After the jump, read what Robin (who is from Germany but has lived in and spent time in America) has to say on the matter.

As a European in America, you sometimes feel alienated. I have been here many times before and have actually lived in the States for a year, and still I don’t get used to certain aspects of life here. No drinking in the streets! That’s ridiculous… walking out of the venue with a beer in my hands, I had bouncers chase me every night since I got here, I just keep forgetting it cause it’s so unreal for me. If anyone tried to make that a law in Germany there would be riots in the streets! In a city like Berlin you will see flocks of people just sitting out on the streets at night drinking and talking and partying until the early morning hours. In Madrid they call it botellones, meeting up with your friends in a park with a stereo or a guitar and a few bottles of red wine. It’s a part of culture; it’s unimaginable to do without. And despite all this, I don’t get the impression that there are fewer alcoholics in America than in Spain or Germany.

America, the “land of the free” – and yet, here in the US, there are rules and regulations for everything, even the most insignificant aspects of everyday life. You are not free to drink in the streets. You are not free to enter a truck stop without a shirt. You may not be free to see The Ocean play in your town if you are only 20 years old and the show happens to be +21. When you go to a show anywhere in Europe, no one will ever ask for your ID. And when you step behind the counter at Guitar Center to check out the guitars on the wall they treat you like a criminal, cuz you are “too close to the cash”…

It seems like more than any other place on earth, this country is based on a strong confidence in authority, rather than trust in people’s reason and intelligence [emphasis added – Ed.] And this is exactly why we Europeans sometimes feel alienated here, and offended. “You are welcome to read these books after you have purchased them”, I once read in a book store. When you apply for a working visa, you have to go through a ridiculous procedure of application that is not only humiliating but completely inefficient. And then the fact that all the prices are pre-tax – it doesn’t make any sense at all, it is tricking people to believe that something is cheaper than it actually is! When you have a 5 dollar bill in your pocket and you wanna go grab a sandwich here and it’s $4.80, you have to get your phone out first and calculate to see if you can actually buy it, cause there is tax on top of it…

Touche, Robin! Totally on point. For a country that prides itself on being “free,” America is a really conservative, restricting place in a lot of ways.

The rest of Robin’s blog is really worth reading too. Check it out at MetalKult.


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