Locals: The End of the Ocean not yet at the end of the line

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From the July 24, 2014 edition

Considering The End of the Ocean’s relative inactivity over the past year, it’s not unreasonable to wonder if the instrumental post-rock crew has reached the end of the line.

The band hasn’t performed since September 2013, and a follow-up to its 2012 album In Excelsis only recently entered the planning stages, with the members, who are scattered across the country from Columbus to Seattle, trading sketches of songs online. Even so, in a mid-July interview bassist Bryan Yost insisted the musicians weren’t ready to call it quits, and in conversation it became clear this long period of inaction could be described more as a prolonged hibernation than the disquieting moment before the doctor calls out the time of death.

“We’re trying to be as active as we can be, and we’re not giving up on it yet,” said Yost, 32, who joins his bandmates for a five-year anniversary concert at Carabar on Friday, July 25. “We have music we’re working on for a new album, and we’re trying to find ways to make it work as we all take on more responsibility.”

These encroaching, adult responsibilities — starting a family, the desire to earn a living wage and so on — are part of what forced Yost and wife-slash-bandmate Tara to leave Columbus for Seattle last October, where the two could be closer to her extended family.

“There was a point, at least for Tara and I, where it was like, ‘[The band] has been awesome, and way bigger than we thought it would be, but where’s the line?’” Yost said. “When does it become like, ‘Ok, this is hurting us?’”

According to the musician, the band asked itself these questions repeatedly during a disastrous two-week tour in 2013 marred by dwindling crowds and a pronounced difficulty securing shows — a marked shift from a memorable 2012 run where the band crisscrossed the country, performing nearly 100 concerts.

“There was this why-are-we-even-doing-this-anymore feeling [on the 2013 tour] that played into the decision we made [to move] later on,” Yost said. “It was like, ‘Are we doing this more than what we should? Are we pushing too hard? Are we trying to force something we shouldn’t?’ A lot of what we did with the band early on was extremely organic … and maybe we were forcing it instead of just allowing things to happen as they always had.”

By stepping back, The End of the Ocean hoped to recapture some of this early spirit, where the music grew from the bandmates as naturally as a seed from soil. It’s an approach that appears to be working, though perhaps more slowly than Yost and Co. could have anticipated.

“We were hoping for [a new album] at the end of this year, but it’s now July, so I don’t think we’ll be able to follow through on that,” he said. “We have ideas and we have songs, so now it’s just a matter of buckling down and making it happen.”