“America is a strange place,” he says. “Cool, but strange. CMJ was what you’d expect, just a music conference, so it was not really what we’re used to playing. It’s all really organised. You get there, you go on, you go off. It was a bit unnatural. It was fun to be in New York, to play those shows, but wasn’t how I’d normally be playing them.”
Now based in Melbourne, the band’s roots stretch back to their upbringing in Wagga, gradually learning to play music with an eye on a future where they would all be able to start a band and take over the world. When The Ocean Party did finally form though, Denton insists the process was very unplanned and organic; their individual directions simply happened to arrive at the same place. Their blend of guitar-pop is now gaining attention across the country, and while the press release for Soft Focus celebrates their ‘distinctly Australian sounds’, Denton doesn’t find anything especially patriotic about their music.
“I wouldn’t say that we have a particularly Australian sound, other than the fact that like a lot of other Australian bands, we don’t tend to shy away from being straight up with our lyrics. I guess there’s still a cultural cringe about being Australian, but really all our songs are just about where we are, what we’re doing.”
Perhaps the most interesting hallmark of the band’s composition is the shared songwriting duties. It’s a fine notion, at least in theory; a variety of different experiences and points-of-view would make for a richer, more textured record. Yet the need for a diplomatic touch would be high, as is the gamble of inviting others to contribute to your song’s direction.
“The only time there’s ever really a problem is sometimes you’ll write a song and want it to be a certain way, but when it reaches the band it’ll turn out to be a totally different thing. But in the end, when you look back on that, it’s a positive thing, it makes the band stronger. We try to be as objective as we can about what songs make it onto the record.”
With the album launch just days away, Denton’s excitement for The Ocean Party to perform for a home crowd again is almost palpable (jetlag notwithstanding). But were it not for an actual ocean-themed birthday party they attended, it might have been a very different kind of band.
“We’ve had a few people who’ve gone out wearing our t-shirt and everyone assumes it’s some kind of political party,” Denton laughs. “I wouldn’t say there’s a lot of depth to it. I actually don’t really like the name, but I think we’ve had it for long enough now it’s not worth changing. I’m indifferent to it. You really transcend the name after a while, anyway. Some bands have really crap names but after a while you kind of don’t even notice. There were some other pretty horrible names we thought of in the beginning. Originally we were going to call ourselves Battered Wives which, well, sounds pretty bad when I say it now, but it was a reference to a Go-Betweens song. And then people were like, ‘Nah, that’s probably not going to be taken very well. So now we’re The Ocean Party. I think we probably did the right thing.”
BY ADAM NORRIS