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Ocean Grove

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Listen to Ocean Grove while your read.

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Melbourne’s Ocean Grove are no strangers to Australia’s hardcore scene. Kicking on for almost 7 years now, I’d venture to say that they’ve performed in nearly all of the country’s small to moderately-sized live music venues, with 2016 providing the band with the opportunities to play to some of their biggest audiences yet. It goes without saying, then, that the release of their debut full length (that’s right, not just an EP!) The Rhapsody Tapes in February this year, and their online phenomenon of The Rhapsody Manifesto will give them that well overdue boost of momentum that will propel Ocean Grove out of Australia and well into the stratosphere. Or perhaps Europe or America, somewhere a little less far-fetched than an atmospheric layer of the planet. HEAVY had a chat to vocalist Luke Holmes from his humble location in the Wet’n’Wild car park to catch all the details about the new album, the band’s increasingly exciting future, and just what on Earth is behind the The Rhapsody Manifesto.
“[The Rhapsody Manifesto] comes from an idea that we had in our heads to put out something like a mission statement, to tell the world what we’re about and what we want to achieve. While it is related to the upcoming album, it’s more of just an all-encompassing statement or set of guidelines that we want to operate within and stick to going forward. It’s us trying to be true our passion and our dedication to what we’re doing, but it’s also to try and create a culture between our fans and our expression, about caring less about some things and more about others. Signing to UNFD, we knew we’d have a bit of a fan base through that so we thought this was an opportune time to release the manifesto, put it all on the line and say ‘this is who we are, this is what we’re about, this is what you can expect from us.’”

It’s abundantly clear that for Ocean Grove, self expression and growth lies at the heart of the band and as a result finds its way into their music. Leaning towards discussion of the The Rhapsody Tapes and the production involved with the album’s creation, Holmes reflects on the extent of the changes undergone by the band over the duration of its lifetime.

“We started doing this when we were little kids at high school, 14, 15, 16 years old. It took us years of playing to no one, practising and writing songs to get to a point where we felt ready to tour. There was a lot of soul-searching and figuring things out, trying to get become stronger as people. All of the time it’s taken right up to now has really helped us write this record.”

“We began writing a fair while ago. It came about when Matthew [Henley, side project: Running Touch] had to stop touring with the band because he signed to Universal with his EDM project. He’s always written a lot of music, and he started writing these really short demos that were very electronic-sounding. He showed us a few riffs while we were recording and we took these with us and it led to [The Rhapsody Tapes] being a very experimental album. All 12 tracks are somewhat different from each other and I think they can all stand alone. They’re all quite purposeful and have the ability to be someone’s favourite song. We had no time constraints during recording and that made it almost a maddening process. Any time we weren’t using in the studio felt like we were wasting it, but we eventually realised that it wasn’t about putting in a million hours, just that we make those hours count. The ideas just kept flowing.”

As we discuss the artists and genres that inspired such broad experimentation, Holmes acknowledges that these outside influences were not primarily hardcore. He cites his own insights as being derived from “early 2000s, sample based songs,” with artists such as Fat Boy Slim and Air though to French electronic group M83 playing key influential roles. Consequently, the creation of The Rhapsody Tapes was made possible by an outpouring of ideas from 6 different people, each with their own musical preferences and visions.

 

 

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“I’m not much of a heavy music person. It’s not something that I really listen to in my spare time. Obviously I can’t say the same for everyone in the band, but the beauty of it was that the record is basically a sum total of all of our differences. We haven’t done a full length album before, so we haven’t been able to fully explore different tastes and the whole spectrum of what interests us, not only in music but in film, theatre, musicals, lyrical content, all these different things. We had six very different people in a room, all with different ideas, and somehow it just worked for us.”

Following on from his comment about the vast plateau of inspiration that shaped the formation of The Rhapsody Tapes, Holmes cites the unexpected role of unusual, sci-fi oriented film and TV on his lyric writing, and by extension expresses his sheer elation about the album’s creation.

“Intimate Alien is a song that almost straight away you can tell I was binge watching strange, strange things. I was listening to M83 and watching Black Mirror and it became the most sci-fi song I’ve done, it’s all sort of about hyper-reality and this journey. It’s funny how these things can leak into what you’re doing.”

“A lot of the record is about hyper-reality and standing, looking down at reality in search of something. I’m often blown away by the other guys in the band and what they’re into. It’s a really great sharing experience.” He summarises, enormously proud of their collective achievement.

The Rhapsody Tapes is a bold assertion of Ocean Grove’s comfortable inclination towards boundary pushing and relentlessly experimenting with their sound. On tour with The Amity Affliction and Hellions currently, we discussed the increasing popularity of experimental hardcore as a new direction for Australian bands, something that Hellions are also recognised for.

“Hellions have a very cool theatrical thing going on. They’re doing something completely different to us, no one’s stepping on each other’s toes; that’s what we’re hoping to get out of this, and I think Hellions are quite the same when it comes to doing something different and expanding people’s horizons. We all realise, hey, we don’t have to play in a box and we don’t have to play what we think people will like. We just want to question people and have people say ‘this band is going out and taking these risks, why can’t we?’”

With such enormous potential behind Australia’s local scene, we concluded the interview with Holme’s visions of the future for Ocean Grove, a future which is looking bigger and brighter than ever before in the band’s 7-year career.
“We actually sit down and write goals on a piece of paper and go out and chase them. One of the things we wanted to do was reach Triple J’s feature album. Now we’re sitting four weeks into the New Year and we’ve done that, so we’re ticking things off already. I think the next step is to go overseas and take our music to a new level and to new ears. As people, we’re really excited to be able to go and see the world and to use music as a passport. We feel so blessed to do what we’ve been able to do and work our way up.”

“Releasing this album is the biggest milestone to date and we’re just taking it one thing at a time. If we could play some headline shows or festivals in Australia as well, that would be great. At the end of the day, though, we’ve ticked so many things of our list already and anything from here on out is a bonus. We’re happy with what we’ve done and we aren’t really expecting anything. I think that’s the best way to be.

Written by Sam Sweeney

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