Ocean Grove

INTERVIEW: Ocean Grove’s Hyper-Reality

It’s never been clearer that the Australian heavy music scene has a lot to say, and it’s finally being heard. Melbourne band Ocean Grove are testament to this, having risen from youth centre gigs to arena tours alongside Northlane and In Hearts Wake in under two years. After causing a massive ruckus with their genre-defying EP Black Label and really catching our attention with breakout single Lights On Kind Of Lover, the band have inked an international record deal with UNFD, and are about to unleash their debut album The Rhapsody Tapes on February 3rd. We caught up with vocalist Luke Holmes to discuss where things are at with the band, being self-proclaimed “odd world music” and how it feels to be one of the only Australian metal acts to score a coveted Triple J feature album.

It’s been a crazy 18 months for you guys, moving from small local shows to arena tours and an international record deal. How are you feeling about 2017?

Things have changed a lot, but as much as things have really taken off in the last 18 months, it has been a slow progression. Playing those local venues has made us really appreciate the big shows and opportunities that you get because we’ve definitely played to rooms full of nobody, so it makes you love it more. It is crazy how everything is happening, and we’ve had a lot of luck as well with being added on as a Triple J feature album. It’s worked out that we’ve been able to release an album at the same time as being on tour with The Amity Affliction, so there’s these massive audience to hear the new songs and turn their attention to the fact that we are about to release an album. It’s a really exciting time, we’re just happy to be able to play music, as well as ticking off our goals – when we started we wrote down some goals on a piece of paper, and we are lucky enough to have ticked a couple of them off!

What are some goals that you hope to tick off over the next 12 months?

Going overseas is something that we never really thought we’d have the chance to do, but we’re now lucky enough to have a bit of a scene behind us in Europe and a label backing, so I think the next step for us is to take our sound overseas and see more of the world. It’s crazy to think that we’re at the point now where we can go overseas to play and experience different cultures and meet so many people. It’s such an indirect route through life; it got to the point with those goals, where we had met most of them. We met a couple months ago to have a discussion about the band and how we’d go forward, and we decided to set our sights on starting the year off with a bang with an album coming out and all that stuff. And here we are having somehow landed the [triple j] feature album and having all these great things coming our way. Anything from here on is a bonus. We’re just trying to soak it all in.

The record has this running theme with The Rhapsody Tapes and The Rhapsody Manifesto. Where did that concept come from and is there any more background that you might want to share?

A lot of our ideas are quite spontaneous, we don’t really sit around developing these crazy ideas in our heads. We knew that we were signing to a record label, and what comes with that is this kind of instant fanbase of people who suddenly turn their heads in your direction. With the manifesto, it was to say “If you’re hearing about us for the first time, this is what we’re about.” It all ties in with the record which is trying to define a sound. We have a mantra that we wanna stick to, and that’s to push our own boundaries in a creative sense and to pour passion into what we’re doing. We’re so happy to have written a record that, regardless of how well it does, will reflect our own challenges as people and our own musical sense. I hope that when the world listens to the record they can see that even if it’s not for them, we’re trying to do something that’s really different and unique.

It’s the sum total of six guys getting together with all their different music tastes and influences. When you have six people together who have all grown up together, and you get to that point of making a debut album, it has massive connotations for you. We didn’t want to leave any stone unturned. We didn’t want any fillers, we wanted 12 songs that could be stand-alone songs. What’s got me excited is that each person who has heard the album has had different favourite songs. That really speaks volumes for the fact that we’ve made an album that’s different and doesn’t get stale.

There is so much emphasis on local scenes in the hardcore community. As you continue crafting your own sound, do you still work to maintain that local connection?

I think we’re always gonna be quite ingrained in, and appreciative of our local scene. It’s a community that is so tightly knit and very unique and stays under the radar. It’s taught us so many things that you can take through life and all over the world, it’s a place where you can meet new people and have those conversations that open your thinking. The local scene is where we’ve spent a majority of our time as a band so for us to tap into a bigger audience that might hear us on the radio is incredible, but some of our local gigs have been the best shows we’ve ever played. It’s a character building exercise for all the people in the band. We are very proud of the fact that we are part of that community that is starting to slowly take over.

To finish up, you describe your genre as “odd world music”, and that you take influence from genres like hip-hop and punk as well as metal. It’s usually a generic question to ask, but considering what on earth influenced the band when you were recording The Rhapsody Tapes?

It’s pretty much impossible to pin it down to the one thing but when you look at this record from the outside the things that influenced it include movie soundtracks and video game soundtracks as well as art and allowing visual inspiration to rub off on the sound. Even the videos that accompany the songs are so linked in with the sounds that we have going on. We are very DIY when it comes to making a record so we allow a heap of influences to come in over a multitude of platforms. For me, there was a very heavy influence from soundtrack music and 90’s music like Fatboy Slim and Massive Attack – I’m not that much of a heavy music listener myself. The other guys in the band listen to surf rock and a whole bunch of different things. There were even parts of the record on which I was heavily influenced by watching the show Stranger Things, as well on binging on sci-fi. It all went into the writing of the music.

There was a time I was into Jake Bugg and all that kind of stuff- we just brought everything that we’ve been into over the past couple of years to the table. With the odd world theme, it encompasses our music videos, artwork and the like. We are trying to create our own sense of hyper-reality, and we understand that it can be quite ambiguous for the audience at times. Overall, though, I think that we have been really good at communicating all of these different influences, and the best part of it all is that there are influences in there that I’ve never delved into myself. To be able to write over it with very fresh ears and not knowing what the done thing should be, I think that made the album more interesting and made it what it was, which is a record that is interesting from start to finish.

Ocean Grove is currently touring the country supporting The Amity Affliction and Hellions on the Death To Misery tour. See below for all remaining dates.

The Amity Affliction ‘Death To Misery’ Australian Tour W/ Hellions & Ocean Grove

Wednesday, January 25: Ex-Servicemen’s Club, Coffs Harbour
Thursday, January 26: Bar On The Hill, Newcastle SOLD OUT
Friday, January 27: Waves, Wollongong SOLD OUT
Saturday, January 28: ANU Bar, Canberra
Thursday, February 2: Chelsea Heights Hotel, Frankston SOLD OUT
Friday, February 3: The Arena, Geelong
Saturday, February 4: Hobart Uni, Hobart

For all remaining tickets, click here.

Image: UNFD