Rediscovering The Ocean Blue
The Ocean Blue recently made their way back to the Southland for two sold out weekend shows at The Satellite in Silver Lake, California. Touring in support of Ultramarine, their first full-length album in 13 years, the Hershey, Pennsylvania-based band was ready to enrapture both longtime fans and a newer generation of dream pop aficionados. Prior to their Saturday night set, Highwire Daze had the opportunity to sit down and chat with The Ocean Blue’s eternally youthful front man Dave Schelzel to find out more about their dynamic new album, life back on the road, plans for the future, the controversial philosopher Ayn Rand, and other topics of interest. Read on…
What has it been like touring and being back on the road again after all of this time to support a new album?
It’s been great! We’ve had maybe about six shows so far, and all of them packed houses for people who are excited to hear us play again. So that makes it easy and fun for us. And it’s been a great mix of old fans – a lot of who have been following us from the beginning – and younger fans too who have come to our music more recently – so that’s very gratifying. It’s great to have a response from people to the new record – and play that new record – and play the old songs.
How do you feel about playing the old songs from your first album again? Can you connect with them at all?
Actually, I can. I don’t know if I could have said that ten years ago or even five years ago, but I’ve kind of rediscovered those songs. I think they have really influenced how we did this new record – particularly our first two – so it’s fun actually, because I hadn’t played a lot of them for a long, long time. So it’s been good.
How would you say Ultramarine compares to all of the previous Ocean Blue releases that were out 13-plus years ago?
It very much is akin to our first two records. We spent a lot of time working on this record – a long time – not a large quantity of time, but it just took us a long time to work on this record. I spent a lot of time thinking about The Ocean Blue – what this band was about – what it meant to our fans and what it meant to me – and really went back and thought a lot about how we started, what kind of sound we had, and kind of why I do what I do. There is a real strong connection between Ultramarine and particularly Cerulean – and I think that’s one of the reasons we chose the name Ultramarine. It was kind of a play on our band, but also linking with our other blue record. I don’t know if it’s a continuation, but it’s certainly an echo of that record 20 years later.
Select two songs from the new album and what inspired the lyrics for you.
New York 6AM is sort of a postcard about an experience in New York. New York City is one of my favorite cities – if not favorite city in the world. It’s little snippets of experiences I’ve had while in New York and how I feel about New York – and just the huge place that it is. And Latin Blues on the first side is kind of an echo of Drifting Falling. Drifting Falling is a song about a young man graduating from high school – me – and facing a lot of unknowns in the world. And Latin Blues is kind of an older man looking back and not maybe being afraid of some of the unknowns like I was when I was a teenager.
Do you still keep in touch with the two previous members of The Ocean Blue who were with you in the beginning?
Yes, I do. Steve Lau, who I started the band with in the beginning – I see him fairly regularly – maybe a couple times a year. He and I get on really well. We’ve had our creative differences over the years, but he’s a great guy. I don’t see as much of our drummer (Rob Minnig) but I have a feeling I may see him this year, for the first time in a long time.
If The Ocean Blue could open up for any band, either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
That’s a great question! There’s bands I’d like to see in the past that aren’t playing anymore – like maybe The Smiths. It may be fun to open up for them too, but it also might kind of ruin the image and picture I have of them – so I don’t know. I think current bands – it would be fun to play with Beach House or The XX – those are two bands I really like now that are current and popular. But yeah, there’s tons I could think of that’d be fun.
It took 13 years to put out this record…
…well, that’s not true. 13 years went by between this record and our last full length. We’ve only been working on it for two or three years. So yeah, I’m just being mean. (Laughter) But I wasn’t entirely sure what we should be doing – if we should do another record or not. But it took 13 years to come to a point where we did release the record. But we haven’t been working on it 13 years or anything like that.
Do you think it will be another 13 years before we hear from you again…?
No, no,no. We’re so excited about the response to this record – which has been overwhelming for us. It’s just a record and everything, but we’ve been blown away by how people have reacted to it – our fans. And it’s been very encouraging and fun. It’s been fun for us to make a record again, and so I think we are going to be on a faster track now and do more. Certainly not let that much time go by till we do another one.
When you look back on See The Ocean Blue, what do you think of it now?
I like that record a lot. I think in many ways, it’s our best sounding record. I like it a lot.
Is your song Ayn from Davy Jones Locker about the philosopher Ayn Rand?
Yes, it is.
Did you ever follow her or keep up with her works?
I don’t know that I ever followed her so much. I read through all of her books around the time I wrote that song – and was simultaneously attracted to her and repulsed by her. I think she’s one of the most interesting thinkers and philosophers of the mid-twentieth century. A lot of people hate her and think she’s totally bogus – but I think particularly some of the philosophical arguments she makes – more so than maybe economic and political. But there’s a lot of stuff about her that I find really repulsive too. It’s kind of this ambivalent feeling. But I feel that way about – I mean there’s lots of writers that are that way – like Nietzsche is an amazing writer – a great philosopher – but of course I wouldn’t subscribe to everything that he says – just like you wouldn’t subscribe to everything someone says. But those great thinkers are great to encounter and make you think about the issues they raise. I love reading books about people whose viewpoints I don’t necessarily agree with – but they’re great thinkers. And so that’d the way I would look at Ayn.
I was wondering if this was going to open up a can of worms or not.
Oh no, not for me.
People who have read her stuff in the past years later go, “What was I thinking about liking this?”
Yeah, yeah. Well it wasn’t like I became some devotee or disciple. But she’s very challenging. I’ll give you one example. I was blown away by the passage in Atlas Shrugged where one of the characters talks about money. And I was raised a Christian – and a lot of Christians take a very sort of dim view of materialism and money as the root of evil – that’s the cliché, right? And so she has this completely opposite view of money – that it’s the store of all value. And I found it really interesting and compelling frankly – so stuff like that. And it’s kind of a fun story. I like stories that are set in the mid-twentieth century and sort of apocalyptic stories too.
So you’re going to Peru and Paraguay after this tour? Have you ever been to these places before?
We’ve been to Peru. It will be our first time in Paraguay. We were looking at doing more dates, but those are the only two that are going to work out for our schedules – and we’re really looking forward to it. When we were in Lima, it was like we were The Beatles – it was unbelievable! I couldn’t believe how many people knew the music and were enthusiastic. We played for more people in Lima than we could here in Los Angeles – which blows the mind! But it’s true. We played a concert hall with thousands of people. It was pretty amazing!
Is there anywhere in the world that you haven’t been where you’d like to play?
Yes! I loved to go to Japan and Southeast Asia. We have a lot of fans in that part of the world and we’ve never played there. We have played Northern Europe before, but I’d love to return. Same with the UK.
Could there be a live DVD in the works for The Ocean Blue?
A lot of people have been asking about that. It’s something I’d love to do it – but just figuring out how to do that – the cost involved. I think we’d love to do it, but there’s nothing in the works.
Do you any messages for The Ocean Blue fans out here in Los Angeles?
Oh man! Just a big thank you for people that are still paying attention to us. I guess I would say that if you liked The Ocean Blue in the past, check out our new record.
The Ocean Blue 2013 is:
David Schelzel – lead vocals/guitar
Oed Ronne – keyboards/guitar/vocals
Bobby Mittan – bass guitar
Peter Anderson – drums
(Interview and Photos from The Satellite by Kenneth Morton)