Bands to Watch 2013: The End of the Ocean

  • Photos by Meghan Ralston
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From the January 24, 2013 edition

At the end of “Back to the Future,” Doc Brown tells Marty McFly, “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” The End of the Ocean definitely needs roads — the Columbus quintet tours far more often than it plays in town — but its modus operandi is similar: Where they’re going, they don’t need words.

“We let our instruments do the singing for us,” bassist Bryan Yost explained.

Post-rock is The End of the Ocean’s chosen medium. Technically, the term encompasses any music that uses rock instruments for typically non-rock purposes — usually expansive soundscapes, often informed by classical or jazz. More often than not, when people talk about post-rock in 2013, they mean sweeping cinematic guitar music in the vein of Explosions In the Sky. (“Friday Night Lights” fans, you’ve heard it.) For lack of a better term, call it “crescendo-core.”

These days, nobody in Columbus does it like The End of the Ocean, the powerhouse that grew out of Yost and guitarist Kevin Shannon’s experimental ambient project. Not that most people in Columbus realize what a force of nature has been whipping up in their backyard. The band played more than 100 shows last year, but most of them were out of town.

The grueling tour schedule requires a level of sacrifice that not everyone can endure; guitarist Trish Chisholm and drummer Robby Stillings both replaced erstwhile bandmates.

“As far as we’re concerned, this band is what we’re going for,” keyboardist Tara Yost said. “So we are putting jobs on the line. Bryan and I are married, so that’s sometimes a strain on our marriage cause we’re poor musicians, and there’s no one else supporting us. It’s just me and him.”

The End of the Ocean has mastered the art of massive sonic swells. Now, as they book more tour dates and write the follow-up to last year’s In Excelsis, they’re waiting for their fortunes to catch up.

“We do feel like we’re on the cusp of something, we’re just not sure what it is that might push us into the next stage of this,” Tara Yost said. “In the meantime, we’ll work for it.”