It might seem counterproductive for a band that values creativity and mixing albums in their drummer’s bedroom to join a label the size of UNFD, but for Australia’s Ocean Grove, signing to their country’s biggest rock label is a chance to spread their message rather than alter it.
“One of the label heads kept showing up when we were playing and it was like we couldn’t shake the guy,” laughs Luke Holmes, Ocean Grove’s frontman. “We got to the point where you can only say no for so long.”
Before finally falling for the label’s charms, Luke and his bandmates (guitarists Jimmy Hall and Matt Henley, bassist Dale Tanner, drummer and producer Sam Bassal, and EDM producer friend Running Touch) had been working tirelessly not just on their sound – which veers from ambient noise-rock to scattershot nu metal to bouncy hardcore – but on the accompanying texts and visuals that have made them one of their scene’s most unique voices.
“We started out with modest intentions when we were about 14 years old,” says Luke. “It wasn’t until we found our feet artistically that we realised we just looked like another five guys standing in a row, looking serious. We realised we can have a bit more fun with this and make it ours; make a bit of a legacy behind it and explore things that we’d want to. But, until now, we didn’t have a platform.”
One of those “things” is the poetic blurb on their website, therhapsodymanifesto.com, which says a lot while revealing very little. One line grandly declares, “We would rather fade into obscurity and die out than live prosperously in a pigeonhole of mediocrity.” Then there’s the accompanying visuals exploring the concept of hyperreality that they’ve got planned for their live shows, and the soundscapes within their music that producer Running Touch creates. “He plays a lot of EDM festivals over here and he’s disassociated from the heavy scene,” explains Luke.
Their debut album, The Rhapsody Tapes, is out this month, and with it comes a genre the band have invented themselves: Odd World. A listener might describe it as elements of gritty hardcore being thrown into a blender with melody and lo-fi, grungy moments, seasoned with electronic effects, but Ocean Grove have a much more flowery way of explaining what Odd World is. “I think it’s more a movement or an idea within music we’ve written,” muses Luke. “It’s exploring hyperreality. That’s an undercurrent theme in what we’re doing, and I don’t know if it’s the fact I’ve been watching a lot of sci-fi lately, but we’ve become fascinated with the idea.”
Clear as mud, but that’s the way Ocean Grove like things. Buckle up, it’s going to get weird.
THE RHAPSODY TAPES IS OUT NOW VIA UNFD