Dream pop-rock pioneers, The Ocean Blue streams into The World Café Live at the Queen in Wilmington, Delaware on Thursday, October 23rd with Cliff Hillis opening and then at World Café in Philly on Sunday, October 26th with opener Riverside. Having spawned several “modern rock” hits from the late 80’s to early 90’s, The Ocean Blue (who hail from Hershey, Pennsylvania) produce atmospheric & beautiful pop tunes with huge hooks and unforgettable melodies. O.B are now taking it all out on the road and are stopping by Philadelphia & Wilmington, Delaware for two of the six dates of this leg of the tour.
Nestled perfectly between the early new wave beats of Echo & the Bunnymen, Duran Duran, A Flock of Seagulls and The Smiths and the changing sounds of the 90’s rock movements of Primal Scream, Teenage Fanclub and ultimately the grunge movement of Nirvana and Pearl Jam, The Ocean Blue were making a lot of gorgeous sounds all of their own, reminiscent of and blossoming out of earlier 80’s post-punk of Echo & The Bunnymen, U2 and dreamy and ethereal sounds like The Cocteau Twins. The sound, however, was never abstract or washed out; it was incredibly poppy and chill producing, an ear-popping and car-window-roll-down experience.
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The first two LPs are timeless classics which to this day I play frequently: The Ocean Blue (1989) and Cerulean. Hits like “Between Something and Nothing”, “Vanity Fair”, “Mercury” and “Ballerina Out of Control” were solid college rock radio hits. Since that time, they have not skipped a beat at all, last year’s LP Ultramarine was a huge critical success including being included on my own Top 30 album via Philthy Mag with their signature sound of the first two albums but with a flair for the newness of today making Ultramarine quite a treat for old and new fans alike. Just this year, they re-released from 2004 Waterworks, a fine collection of tunes already with a few added songs included.
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For more insight on The Ocean Blue, I was thrilled to have a chance to catch up with David Schelzel, guitar player/singer/songwriter and vocals:
Jon Crary from Philthy: “The Northern Jetstream” is my favorite song from the re-released 2004 Waterworks. What was the motivation behind re-releasing the album this year?
The Ocean Blue’s David Schelzel: Glad you like that track. There are a couple of reasons we decided to re-release Waterworks this year. The first was practical. We had sold out of the CDs last year when Ultramarine came out, so we needed to make more. But another reason was that we had a lot of unused recordings from the sessions for Waterworks and thought we should revisit those. Waterworks started as an attempt to make a full length record, but we never quite made it to that and decided to release it as an EP. We wanted to add at least a few tracks this pressing from the period to make it closer to an LP. And finally, we wanted to release it on vinyl. So, all that added up to the new release. It gave us an excuse to do some concerts too.
Jon: Last year’s Ultramarine was huge critical success. Unlike many of your contemporaries making comeback albums, The Ocean Blue continues to be relevant today. How were you able to bridge the gap between your early sound and your new sound? What has been the reaction from your old and new fans?
David Schelzel: Thanks. Yes, we thought a lot about how that record might land on our old fans. In writing and recording, we were very conscious of the band’s past work and took into account what our fans–and we–liked about the band, and what The Ocean Blue had come to mean as an artistic thing. So, there is a lot of our DNA in that record. But we also didn’t want to do a nostalgic trip or a regurgitation of the old records. We wanted to make something in the present. So, we tried to balance both our past and what we are now. The reaction from old and new fans was by and large very positive.
Jon: How do you feel about these recent tours? What are you doing when you are not recording or touring?
David Schelzel: At this point, playing shows is a lot of fun. We all enjoy each other’s company, so the travel and music making is great. Most of the shows are capacity crowds and there just isn’t as much at stake as there was when we were on major labels. So, not a lot of pressure. We all have our separate lives when we aren’t making music together, but for me especially, I am always thinking about and working on music. It’s a part of me that will be with me until I die I suspect.
Jon: You have been recognized as a band that has had a huge influence on many of the dream pop bands today. How do you feel about that?
David Schelzel: It’s really interesting to see so many bands making music now that sound like the bands we liked growing up. I’m not sure we are much of an influence, but the bands that influenced us surely are.
Jon: When listeners first heard your sound from the first 2 records The Ocean Blue and Cerulean, did they mistaken you for a British band?
David Schelzel: Yes, that happened. And it used to really bug me. But now, I see that it really shouldn’t have. Your musical influences certainly transcend geography, cultures and countries. We have some of our biggest followings in South America and Asia, why shouldn’t a bunch of teenagers from Hershey, PA fall in love with a lot of British bands? America in general has always loved British music, so I don’t really think we were that exceptional.
Jon: Can we look forward to new material in 2015?
David Schelzel: Well, we are working on new music now. 2015 may be optimistic for a new release. But hopefully not another 10 years!
Jon: I’ve known you since 1989 and enjoyed your sound since, but if you would like to reach out to new fans, what would you like to tell them?
David Schelzel: Maybe just give a listen to our music. Like you said, I think a lot of music happening right now is not unlike what we have always done and are still doing.
The Ocean Blue is performing in Wilmington and Philadelphia. Come out and see them!