Keeping it real (and weird) with Melbourne's Ocean Grove
Nisha Fernandez | On 18, Apr 2016
The greatest thing about music is that there are no boundaries, and Melbourne experimental hardcore band Ocean Grove are completely revelling in that fact.You may be wondering what “experimental hardcore” really means; in regards to Ocean Grove, vocalist Luke Holmes simply puts it as each of the members contributing their different musical backgrounds, but coming together as one.
â€œThe one thing we can agree on is that feeling you get from musicâ€“ itâ€™s not a tangible thing, itâ€™s a feeling you get and it can bring emotions out of you that I donâ€™t think anything else quite canâ€¦ We all have different tastes in music, and different interests in the world and our past-times, [but music is] the one thing that draws us togetherâ€¦ I think that our closest moments are listening to music or playing it.â€
Luke says that Ocean Grove is constantly trying to challenge genre expectations by fine-tuning the minor details but also contrasting major elements.
â€œWeâ€™re all perfectionistsâ€¦ [and] I think we all just contribute in layers; you get the skeleton of a song [then] Iâ€™ll come and do vocals and then our bassist will come and do singing, his voice [has] a Pearl Jam/Nirvana vibe, so he pulls it back another way. Then our guitarist comes in and heâ€™ll put samples on it then itâ€™ll start sounding like a trap project.”
“You listen to [our] stuff, and sometimes in the same song, thereâ€™s hardcore, some sort of rap, or nu-metal, and some parts that are straight up hardcoreâ€¦ we have these big lovely choruses that have a lot of layers of singing and a really bouncy nu-metal bit, and the next part will be a hardcore riff â€“ we love it.”
“We donâ€™t want to do “alright” â€“ we donâ€™t want to fit into anyoneâ€™s category,” Luke says. “Weâ€™re definitely just going to write what we want to write, do what we want to do, and be really weird and confrontational and take risksâ€¦ [we] donâ€™t want to be mediocre. Whatever we do, we want to do it to the best of our ability otherwise we wouldnâ€™t do it at all.”
“We want to entertainâ€¦ we want to really entertain. People come out to a show and come early to see us, weÂ want to give people something to remember. We played Unify Festivalâ€¦ we did a lot of weird stuff that day and thatâ€™s what people were talking aboutâ€¦ we gave our bassist a haircut on stage â€“ we had a guy come up and give him a bowl cut….Â Iâ€™d rather be the weird band that no one comes to see.â€
Luke says that Ocean Grove try to keep it raw and as real as possible, which often results in them writing about unusual themes.
â€œBlack Label â€“ Ocean Groveâ€™s latest record â€“ definitely has some strong themesâ€¦we write about some weird stuff, some of it is fictionalâ€¦ we talk about robots and whatnot.Â We kind of like the storytelling side of rapâ€¦ [but] we try to keep the songs ambiguous. We donâ€™t want to be like â€˜this is what weâ€™re writing aboutâ€™, we want people to be able to paint their own picture.â€
â€œWe have a song on the record called “Backbone” and I think that resonates with people a lot â€“ itâ€™s on the album as the first song, itâ€™s [got] a really jarring opening, itâ€™s the song we play no matter where we are, itâ€™s the song everyone goes nuts for.
Thereâ€™s another song called “Cold Skin”, which I think is our best composed song. I think thatâ€™s a world class song… So, “Backbone” for crowd response, “Cold Skin” for composition and our song “Strange Talk” for performance quality.”
Luke says that opportunities to play live shows is more than a chance to promote the band and their music, but a commitment to the audience and a responsibility to put on a great and entertaining show.
â€œThereâ€™s a lot of room to capture people and get a foothold in the demographic and make a name for ourselves â€“ weâ€™ve really got that mentality thatâ€™s like ‘itâ€™s sick that weâ€™re playing these venues but we really need to step it up’. Weâ€™re given these great opportunities and weâ€™re like ‘we canâ€™t let people down, we canâ€™t let ourselves down, and the people who have put us on these toursâ€¦we want to get out there and put on a show.'”
He says, â€œ[We want to] put on a performance and make the whole journey of playing as a teenager to a young man an experience we look back on in fondness.â€
For the remainder of the year, Ocean Grove will be working on their debut album and a few more exciting projects.
Luke says, â€œWeâ€™ve got a couple of things out soonâ€¦ really soon, [itâ€™s] something weâ€™ve been working really, really hard on â€“ thereâ€™s all these exciting things to talk about but we canâ€™t quite yet till the last piece of the puzzle falls into place.â€
Image credit: Ocean Grove Facebook and Andrew Bromley.