Ocean Grove are making music for a noughties pop-punk revival

Ocean Grove are making music for a noughties pop-punk revival

Photo by Ed Mason
Words by Saskia Morrison-Thiagu

If Dale Tanner from Ocean Grove could bring back anything from the ‘90s or 2000s, it would definitely be the flip phone.

Then the Walkman, discman or upside-down visors (Google it) would be his next choices. That retro nostalgia is part of the inspiration behind Ocean Grove’s sophomore album Flip Phone Fantasy

“Our main intention was to create an early 2000s mix tape,” says Tanner. 

Flip Phone Fantasy is a perfect blend of genres, just like your favourite So Fresh Hits of Summer CD. The frontman describes the record as a “roller of different sounds”, which aims to “challenge those norms about what an album could be”. 

“We want to represent that nostalgia and that summer feeling. We wanted to funnel that through a modern futuristic lens – retrofuturism. Looking at how the past influences the future. Taking a variety of artists and influences that we grew up on and use it as fuel to create an album that will hopefully be one of a kind.” 

Ocean Grove have established their own unique sound and universe within this album – or as they like to call it, ‘odd world’ – which is the spiritual realm of all things Ocean Grove. ‘Odd world’ is all about “embracing the weird, wacky and wonderful,” says Tanner.   

This is how Ocean Grove have been able to evolve and grow as a band since the release of their first EP, Black Label. They never restrict themselves to one genre, which is why ‘odd world’ music seems to be the perfect way to describe everything that is Ocean Grove. “We never want to pigeonhole ourselves,” Tanner explains. 

Not only have the band adapted their overall sound in Flip Phone Fantasy, they’ve also changed vocalists. Tanner, who was previously on bass, took over from Luke Holmes as lead vocalist after their 2019 show at UNIFY Gathering, and frankly, he’s loving it. 

“Filling Luke’s massive shoes was going to be a challenge, [but I knew] that I would go about it in a respectful way. To not only try and replicate what Luke did so well, but complement it and give it my own flavour.”

“I was certain that it was something that I was born to do,” says Tanner, taking the new role in his stride. “I felt like I’d been released from my cage, it was very liberating. Singing, deep down, is what I’ve always wanted to do.” 

Tanner has also embraced the theatrics that come with being a frontman. Leaving the bass guitar behind, he has a lot more freedom to move around the stage and captivate the crowd. This onstage persona is further complemented through his theatrical fashion choices. On the European leg of their tour with Crossfaith, his outfit involved a skirt with long socks, boots and a mesh top. Emblematic of rock stars of old like David Bowie and Mick Jagger – who also embraced an androgynous image. 

“Self-expression is very important. I’m very much about encouraging people and our fans to embrace their individuality and the things that make them unique and weird. That’s the message that I felt was most powerful through action.”

Ocean Grove have been well received over in Europe and Tanner admits that the crowds are different to Australia. 

“They are honest and not afraid to come to the merch table and let you know if a certain song could be better, or you weren’t as good as last time,” he laughs.   

The band are pumped to get Flip Phone Fantasy out there to the masses, especially since singles like ‘SUNNY’ have already been so warmly received. 

“It’s really heart-warming and super exciting,” says Tanner. “Hopefully once it’s released [the album] we’ll have a lot more people singing the words back to us.” 

Ocean Grove launch Flip Phone Fantasy on Friday March 13 through UNFD.