On their debut album, ‘The Rhapsody Tapes’, Melbourne collective Ocean Grove genre-hop effortlessly through a whole host of infectious songs. ‘Thunderdome’, ‘The Wrong Way’, ‘Intimate Alien’ and ‘When You’re This High You Can Say What You Like’ are amongst the highlights that sees the quintet welcome you to their ‘Odd World’, a place where they refuse to be pigeonholed and any pre-conceived notions are forgotten about. As The Rhapsody Manifesto suggests, Ocean Grove are a group who are proud of their art yet they know respect and admiration has to be earned.
Later this month, they will bring the message of the ‘Odd World’ to the UK for the first time. Their visit sees them making their Slam Dunk Festival debut, as well as an intimate headline show at The Black Heart in Camden London.
With their sound and overall presentation being both compelling and intriguing, we decided to ask vocalist Luke Holmes about the albums that have shaped him since Ocean Grove formed in 2010.
From Autumn To Ashes – Holding A Wolf By The Ear
I’m really not the biggest heavy music fan but this record is the one that really sunk the hooks of heavy music into me, and to this day has stood the test of time. Every song seemed to serve its purpose and take the listener on a journey of sorts. Hectic drums, distorted guitars and bright (verging on poignant) guitar leads were enough to pull me in, as a 8 year-old with plenty of energy and teenage rebellion to spare. However, it was really the vocals that translated with me. Seamless transitions from catchy hooks to raw shrill vocals offered diversity and spat in the face of monotony.
I had never ventured this far into the heavy spectrum of music but I liked what I was hearing. This record shifted my mentality towards music and after buying this record I started listening to music with the perspective of the vocals and lyricism at the forefront of my mind. “And those who resisted were dragged out of their homes, this necklace was fashioned out of their teeth and bones”. These lyrics from the final track ‘Pioneers’ are still some of my favourite ever and I can see similar tendencies to provoke imagery being provoked in my works as a result. This would have to JUST beat out Silverstein’s ‘Discovering The Waterfront’ in terms of influences my life, as they introduced me to a side of music that has allowed to do extraordinary things.
ABBA – GOLD
Upbeat disco romps to sweet sensitive ballads are burnt into my brain from the many sing-alongs during road trips my family used to take around Australia from the age of about 5 onwards. Not an album you would expect to pop up in this list but it can’t be denied this album shaped my musical sensibility. It was probably the first album that I knew every word to and I’m sure if I gave it a bump nowadays those words would still be with me! Looking back on this now I’m almost certain that the resurgence of ABBA in the 90s was due to their use in Australian cult classic films like ‘Muriel’s Wedding’ and ‘Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert’, of which are still some of my parents favourite films. Music and the performing arts were something always encouraged and appreciated by my parents, I’m sure the squeaky renditions of ‘Money, Money, Money’ coming from the back seats of the car was foreshadowing of my love for performing today.
M83 – Before The Dawn Heals Us
Unlike all of the other albums on this list, this album by French electro rock band M83 is a relatively recent discovering in the chronology of my musical exploration. So why do I find it so influential? I think this record just opened my mind to a world of possibilities in music as well as being a soundtrack to represent a certain time in my life, which is probably what I love most about music.
Listening to this record delights me to a time and place. Its emersion in my life made me look back through the annals of music, in particular, sample-heavy electro and trip hop prominent in the late 90s/early 2000s (think Massive Attack, Fatboy Slim, Air, The Avalanches) which are now my main influences in music.
I discovered this album in the early days of Ocean Grove touring when we were doing 14 hour drives to play shows in different states. Before we left Dale’s (Tanner, Ocean Grove bassist) house to start the tour he decided to run inside and burn a random album onto a disc for us to listen to on the drive, kind of a musical lucky dip. Of the thousands of records given to him on a hard drive by his brother, ‘Before The Dawn Heals Us’ was the one he happened to click on. I remember so vividly driving up this winding mountain with the epic ascending symphony of ‘Moonchild’ stunning us into silence as a storm raged outside the car. Seriously epic moment. Halfway through the album someone awoke and asked what movie we were watching! I could understand where they were coming from. M83 have this way of making powerful soundtracks that have peaks and troughs, twists and turns, revelations and dark brooding moments. Their show in Melbourne at The Forum was also my favourite ever gig.
The Libertines – Time For Heroes
I always thought this brand of indie rock would be the type of music I’d end up playing if I was ever in a band. My first time ever jamming music with mates covering ‘Don’t Look Back Into The Sun’. This record sparked my love for indie rock and even Britpop. There was nothing perfect about this type of music and I think thats where a lot of the charm lies. The unpolished vocals of Carl Barat and in particular Pete Doherty are so iconic to me. Another album I still listen to on the regular and love as much as the day I first heard it.
Michael Jackson – The Essential
Once again, not exactly an outright album but rather a ‘best of’ compilation. Much like ABBA, this record was the influence of my parents having lived in California in the late 80’s/early 90’s and being lucky enough to watch MJ perform live. This record is just a massive collection of one of the most influential and talented performers of my time and the time before me. I’d say MJ is one of my biggest idols in terms of music and performance. In both departments he is pretty untouchable.
What I loved most about this record was it also came with a DVD that had all his music videos you could watch in succession and I was obsessed with doing so. Every single video was different to the next though consistently iconic while also offering some sort of narrative related to the song, giving much more depth to the music as a whole. MJ was so successful at creating an image for himself and the subsequent marketing and self-promotion of that brand was incredibly strong. This watching of the DVD until it was scratched beyond repair was adequate preparation for the many music videos I’ve had a hand in brainstorming/creating/directing for Ocean Grove, as this is something we have enjoyed doing ourselves with our videographer Thomas Elliot. I still listen to this music before we go on stage most nights. RIP to The King!
Honorable mentions to:
Silverstein – Discovering The Waterfront
Maroon 5 – Songs About Jane
A Tribe Called Quest – Beats, Rhymes & Life
Green Day – American Idiot
Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
British India – Guillotine
‘The Rhapsody Tapes’ by Ocean Grove is out now on UNFD.
Ocean Grove will be playing at 8:50pm on the Rock Sound Breakout Stage at Slam Dunk Festival on all three dates.
Tickets for Ocean Grove at The Black Heart, Camden in London can be purchased here.
Photo Credit: Thomas Elliott
Slam Dunk Festival 2017 takes place on the following dates:
Sat 27 The NEC, Birmingham
Sun 28 City Centre, Leeds
Mon 29 Forum, Hatfield (SOLD OUT)
Tickets can be purchased here.