Despite losing band members, Ocean Grove stay true to their authentic sound

Having just released one their most brutal songs to date, Ocean Grove are set explode at UNIFY Gathering in January.

The music industry, like most of the commercial frameworks that are based around artistic endeavour, spends a lot of its time trying to stay ahead of the curve. This necessitates a hysterical focus on acts that are considered ‘new’ and ‘fresh’. One band that is considered fresh both chronologically and stylistically is Ocean Grove. However, whilst only having released their debut The Rhapsody Tapes last year, in actuality the band are about to enter their tenth year together. 

“We’ve been a band for close to ten years and I think some people that have just come into the Ocean Grove story, say with our last album, might not realise that but we have been a band since we were at high school,” says Dale Tanner, the band’s bassist and clean vocalist.

The high school that the band members attended was St. Bedes, Mentone – an independent Catholic school that also happened to be the institute where the likes of Jet and British India were formed. Tanner admits that such heritage was handy because they were inspired by these bands stories when they were just starting out. 

Due to the band forming at such a young age, the story behind the name reveals a charming lack of pretence, as Tanner explains. 

“Ocean Grove was a place that, not myself, but pretty much all the other guys used to go as kids on holidays. So when it came time all those years ago when we were thinking of a band name, “emo names” were the thing, but we didn’t want that. We all kind of looked up to Parkway Drive and related to their story of coming into a heavy scene from a different angle, so we all agreed Ocean Grove felt right.”

Understanding that authenticity has always been a value held high by the band is important when considering the announcement last week that heavy vocalist Luke Holmes and guitarist Jimmy Hall were departing the band.

Tanner openly and honestly discusses the departures, saying, “I don’t think any of us expected it to come this far. When you think that it started because you wanted to do something with your mates and pursue a shared passion and then it becomes this all-consuming thing that dictates your life, I can understand why, maybe, Luke and Jimmy stood back and said ‘hang on we’re no longer 16-17, other responsibilities are coming in to play,’” Tanner says. “I guess the time had just come for the guys. It just seemed like, well, there were other interests in life to be explored before it was too late.”

Despite the news, Tanner confidently contends that due to a powerful precedent set previously, lineup changes will not impact Ocean Grove’s future and Holmes and Hall will remain within the band’s orbit due to an intense bond. The surety of his words draws its strength from the powerful precedent set when founding guitarist Matias Morales left the band.

“When Matias left in 2014 to start Running Touch we supported his decision and made sure he knew we understood his decision and yeah, he has been in the background still contributing when he can. While he no longer performs with us he is still part of the ‘OG’ collective.” 

One might argue that all of this talk of a collective is just lip service to appease disappointed fans, however last week Ocean Grove released a new single, ‘Glass Gloss’, to commemorate the departing members while dually demonstrating to fans that the band has not lost momentum.

“‘Glass Gloss’ is a bit of a heavy one, definitely picks and chooses from the style on The Rhapsody Tapes but is definitely an evolution as well. This is the closest thing we have ever written to a Linkin Park track. Lyrically it is talking about the impact smart-phones have had on our culture,” Tanner says.

“I guess it is calling out on mobile usage in some ways but more so encouraging the other option of getting out there and experiencing the world with your own eyes rather than being so consumed by social media that your only outlet is clips and pictures posted by people that are often complete strangers.”

Thankfully fans will get to experience a rendition of  ‘Glass Gloss’ performed by the lineup that wrote the song when Ocean Grove play UNIFY Gathering next month. Whilst this may ostensibly seem a happy coincidence in light of the band’s lineup change, the reality is that the festival’s announcement was integral to the timing of the release of ‘Glass Gloss’, the band set out to make the exit of Holmes and Hall as smooth as possible for their fans due to the high esteem they hold for those that have supported the band. 

“In 2013 when our first EP Outsider got released we were playing under age shows practically every weekend. Night after night hundreds of fans would travel for ages to see us so we realised that Ocean Grove was bigger than us,” Tanner says. “We feed off their energy so much during a show but even away from the stage when we are in the studio writing songs we draw on that same energy to inform how we shape the songs we are writing.”  

Catch Ocean Grove at UNIFY Gathering at Tarwin Meadows, Gippsland, from Friday January 11 to Sunday January 13. More details on the full lineup and tickets available via the festival website.