Interview: The Ocean Party

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#tbw to when I briefly replaced Jordan in The Ocean Party. 

I’ve got a long history with Melbourne’s The Ocean Party, and their various side projects, but what it really boils down to is the fact that I’ve got a big ol’ rager for their music. Half their albums are decent introductions to this new boom of jangle pop we’ve been having of late in Aus, and the other half soar at the top as examples of what the rest of these strummers should hope to sound like one day.

The Ocean Party have got their fifth record, ‘Light Weight’, coming out this Friday on Spunk Records, and they’ll be swinging by The Vic in Marrickville for a cheeky free show that same night. Support comes from Mere Women, Cool Sounds and Dog Rock pioneers Weak Boys. Rest of the tour dates can be found here.

Before The OP Crew stop by Sydney, I sent a few q’s through to keyboardist Jordan (who I briefly replaced), and actually got some really solid a’s back:

1. You’ve been on Spunk for about four albums now – why are you so at home there?

We just have such an easy going relationship with Spunk. We send Aaron a record and he put’s it out. I don’t think we could work with a label that operates any different.

2. Do you think having everyone contribute songs to The Ocean Party is positive or detrimental?

I think its really positive. Objectivity is so hard to achieve on your own – as is an alternate subjectivity for that matter. Our inclusiveness means that we have a five-layer filter to run a song through. It can be tremendously reassuring to know that everyone is invested an idea- and alot easier to get things from the bedroom laptop into a more fleshed out form. The other aspect of our work style is that it encourages diversity from a base level. We all write differently, so even basic ideas are flavoured by each songwriter. I like to think this gives us more of a multi-focal narrative in our music as a whole.

3. Being so prolific and touring so much, are you afraid of creative exhaustion?

We’ve got a good cycle going now in terms of writing, playing, travelling and recording. Touring is a huge part of things for us, not only because we like playing around the country, but because it gives us alot of time to nut things out. When we were touring for Split we were already listening to demos for Soft Focus in the van, and when we head off this month we’ll be listening to our new demos. Alot of very valuable conversations and decisions come out of travelling together. So our schedule allows for regular shifts from creative to analytical rather than exhausting either.

4. When you went up to BIGSOUND recently, how did you view the conference as a whole? Is it good for Australian music to have that sort of annual event?

I’m sure if you are a buzz band BIGSOUND is great, we aren’t a buzz band and I would say we are all pretty happy about that. In saying that I think we all had fun at BIGSOUND and the one panel I went to was really good.

5. With half of you working in other bands and in pubs, how much of Melbourne’s music scene rubs off into your own band?

It’s immesurable really, not because it’s gargantuan, but more because its hard to trace your own influences. People outside the band might be able to see the ties better than us. We see alot of local music and know alot of the people involved, inevitably this must have an impact on us somehow. Even seeing something that you don’t like can be influential. You never really know not to do something until you see someone else do it.

6. You’ve always done a lot of regional touring – why do you do that, when it makes more sense financially and crowd wise to just do capital cities? Does it have anything at all to do with coming from Wagga?

Well, there isn’t a huge divide financially. On some previous tours our country gigs paid our way through. We’ve been going to some places regularly for some years now and see alot of familiar faces, which is a good reason to come back. For the Light Weight tour we’ll be seeing alot of smaller towns, which means we won’t have to drive huge stints and we’ll get to see new places. We are playing in Wagga on the way home, which will be nice too. Coming from Wagga I suppose we have a pretty good grasp on what to expect from a country town so maybe we have been more willing to go to them than other bands might be.

7. You do a lot touring in Aus, but haven’t done much outside the county, except for that small US tour last year. Is international touring something you’ve be more keen on in the future.

Sure. Liam is off touring with Totally Mild in Europe at the moment, so he’s scouting it out for us. We had a great time in the U.S.A. last October, so we’d love to go back. It’s costly with six people, so we’re at the mercy of our funds, but hopefully next year we’ll head overseas again.

8. You got to meet Calvin Johnson (Beat Happening/K Records) on that U.S. trip – who else would you like to stumble into on a tour?

Yeah, meeting Calvin was pretty out of the blue. We really haven’t run into many other celebs. Liam saw Rob Zombie and John 5 at the airport. We saw Leo Sayer eating a toastie in Mayfield (possibly not Leo Sayer). The other day we ran out of petrol in a little Victorian town called Cressy. We met a really unhelpful fat guy there who may have been a local celebrity. I don’t know who else we’d hope to meet.

9. You did that small Aussie tour with Nathan Roche a while back – do you miss Nathan Roche? I miss Nathan Roche.

We miss Nathan Roche every day. There is nothing that can fix that. He is liable to appear in any town at anytime though, so maybe he’ll be the celeb we stumble into?

10. Snowy once tried really hard to refer to The Ocean Party as the OP Crew. When can the Australian public expect the inevitable name change, and diversion into Aus hip hop territory?

Mark has already chartered into Aus Hip Hop Territory and irrevocably changed the game with his Crowman Mixtape: Murder of Crow (2014). The Ocean Party has its finger in alot of pies Ryan, don’t dig too deep. OP Crew is a cool name though. When we’re past our prime we might head over to christian rock and become The Devotion Party.

11. When that dole wave playlist got announced on Apple Music, did you shit the bed and think we’ve made it?

I, until now, was not aware of that. I’ll put on the rubber bedsheets tonight and have a look. We made a cool $11.00 from Spotify last year, so Apple Music can’t be so bad.

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