UNIFY Tour Diary: The loss of members has done nothing to dent the spirited Ocean Grove

We caught up with the nu-metal rockers on the ground at UNIFY.

It’s a bittersweet appearance for Ocean Grove at this year’s UNIFY Gathering. The Melbourne nu-metal masters are celebrating the success of their latest single ‘Glass Gloss’ which follows their sublime album The Rhapsody Tapes, and lamenting the departure of long-term members, lead vocalist Luke Holmes and guitarist Jimmy Hall. Not ones to be Debbie downers, vocalist and bassist Dale Tanner and drummer Sam Bassal weigh in on the good times on the couch at UNIFY Gathering 2019.

Beat: Camping this year?

Sam Bassal: We are!

Dale Tanner: We usually do that, it’s a tradition now. The first year we played, a few of us camped in public, which was super fun – I’d actually come the first year UNIFY happened, it’s such a good vibe in the public [camping], everyone is so lovely and fun.

Did people recognise you at that point?

Sam: Yeah recognising a bunch of flogs in the camping area [laughter].

Dale: It was like, nice, most were friends you meet in the scene, the community, so there was no harassment. Atmosphere was really good – everyone acknowledges you’re out here but they’re not gonna pester you.

Members of Ocean Grove departing and you put out ‘Glass Gloss’ before Christmas – is there any way the popularity for this new music is gonna sway the decision for Luke and Jimmy to leave?

Sam: For the band members that are leaving, to touch on that, it honestly is as much of a shock to us that they are leaving that it is to anyone else. ‘Glass Gloss’ was written a long time ago, but I guess it gets to a point in time, Ocean Grove has been a band for nine, ten years now and as you get older, your ideas of what you want in life, it changes as you grow up.

Dale: And with this song, it was the last chance to celebrate Ocean Grove as we know it. In a way we knew this song is one we’re proud of and showcases everyone in the band in a really great light and also gives our fans one last piece of the current lineup that we love – and in doing that, especially for Luke to have his final message to the world, was really important because it was our way of giving a nod to the fact we’re still all friends. It goes above just being just about the music because if that was the case, we would have moved on, not released the track, and gone and done something different things.

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Ocean Grove as a collective, you’re made up of moments – if you could pinpoint fond memories, what springs to mind?

Sam: One of my favourite moments, when we put out The Rhapsody Tapes, we, the band, met with the label to find out if we made the ARIA charts. We were all dressed up in suits. We went to The Corner Hotel on the Friday and I just remember we were very fortunate the album [had] landed at number five, and I’ll hold that as an amazing feeling.

Dale: We set out to prove that with our debut album, we made a splash, it wasn’t just something that was skimmed over, it was like, wow, that’s a nationwide acknowledged thing. Yeah, I back that for sure.

Sam: Between that and playing our first international tour. When you’re a young musician and have that far-fetched goal of touring the world, when you have your first slice of that and you go, ‘Wow, I’ve actually done it, I’ve had a taste, and I’ve been able to go across the world.’ When you sit back and go, ‘With five of my best friends, we’ve achieved these things’. It’s a really nice moment, I think.

Dale: If I were to touch on shows, the festivals take the cake. It’s genuine, the last time we played UNIFY was a massive moment, a huge highlight.

Sam: All really valuable moments in my eyes.

UNIFY Gathering 2019 – add it to your list of memorable moments?

Sam: Let’s hope this takes the cake!

Dale: I really hope this will be the best Ocean Grove memory for us all.

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Is this it? After this show, no more Jimmy, no more Luke?

Dale: Yeah. It’s taken time to come to terms with that because we are such close friends and we love one another. First and foremost, people’s decisions need to be respected for the sake of their mental health and what brings them happiness. As friends, you need to be there to support one another. Whether it be a relationship, at work, anything, you always need to be there to encourage them in what makes them happy. If that changes, so be it, but when it comes to a band and a band who you’ve been friends with for so long it’s like, okay; we can look at it one way by where we throw our hands in the air and act like nothing has happened, or take this awesome opportunity to play a great festival and celebrate it.

You guys have the beautiful advantage that this departure comes with no animosity and that Luke and Jimmy will support you going forward no matter what you do.

Dale: Absolutely.

Sam: And I think that’s quite rare, especially to be able to put out a new song as well, we hadn’t really released a song off The Rhapsody Tapes since 2017 so we were burning to get a song out there. So I guess for some people this great news has come with some unfortunate news, I guess for all of us. But you know, it’s life.

Dale: We’re excited for the future. We’re not gonna let anything change or inhibit us, we’re still gonna put out the best music we can and just follow this dream we still have and to do it justice.