5 Billion in Diamonds Butch Vig David Schelzel games Kings and Queens Korda Records Music Oed Ronne Popdose Interviews Sire Records The Ocean Blue

The Ocean Blue’s David Schelzel (2019)

The Ocean Blue's David Schelzel (2019)

2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the self-titled debut album by The Ocean Blue, the Hershey, PA dream pop quartet snapped up by Sire Data while they have been nonetheless in their teens. While their sound was instantly embraced by fans of labelmates Echo & The Bunnymen and The Smiths, The Ocean Blue arrived too late to be thought-about an Eighties band. Their lovely songs – crammed with shimmering guitars, crisp percussion, earworm bass strains, and daydream lyrical and melodic hooks – swam towards the tide of the grunge, rap, and New Jack Swing hits that came to outline the Nineties. Topping it all off, the band delivered one of many era’s greatest sax solos on ‘Drifting/Falling’, courtesy of former member Steve Lau.

As an alternative of wanting again or cashing in on the nostalgia circuit, the band is blazing ahead with the June 21 launch of one among their greatest albums but, Kings and Queens / Knaves and Thieves (Korda Data). After the release of 2013’s Ultramarine, lead singer and primary songwriter David Schelzel joined Butch Vig’s supergroup, 5 Billion in Diamonds, whereas also quietly releasing annual holiday tunes with Don Peris of The Innocence Mission. Prematurely of the primary leg of their 2019 tour, David updated us on new music from all three tasks.

Last month, Billboard premiered the video for the brand new album’s title monitor, an Allison LaBonne-directed clip featuring a seaside chess recreation between the Knight (Schelzel) and Demise (performed by Brian Tighe of Korda labelmates the Starfolk; he’s additionally in The Owls with LaBonne). In the second verse, Schelzel ominously sings, “Abruptly, I really feel like the world might end in a flash.” Cue the sudden montage of stories pictures in my head, Trump’s transfer to authoritarianism, Brexit, nuclear tensions with a half dozen nations, international warming, the resurgence of Measles… main me to ask…

POPDOSE: Is ‘Kings and Queens’ The Ocean Blue’s ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’?

DAVID SCHELZEL: I’m gonna reply like Bono, it’s not a insurgent music. I’ve by no means been one to put politics in my songs. Now that stated, there’s clearly loads of stuff happening in our world proper now that has it sort of turned the wrong way up.

I brought it up, as a result of right here we’re, 50 years out from 1969, which was a really tumultuous time; then there’s 1989, when your first document got here out, we have been going into a recession, Tiananmen Sq. was in chaos, and the Berlin wall was coming down. Now, as we finish one other decade, it looks like we’re back in occasions of revolution.

Sidebar: Text from the CD booklet to the new album features a quote found on the duvet painting, L’Épée (The Sword) by Alfred Agache. “PRO IUSTITIA TANTUM” interprets to “On behalf of justice only”.

DS: All through the historical past of humanity, there have been much more tumultuous occasions than what we’re dealing with now, at the very least for human beings. Now for the planet, there’s perhaps nothing fairly like where we’re at right now. So, yeah, I feel the occasions we reside in definitely inform this document more than perhaps another report I’ve ever completed.

POPDOSE: Maybe the track’s ultimate line is most telling then, the place we all are “sharing the identical fate”.

DS: I really feel like we need to understand that we’re all in this collectively. Distinctions between the kings and queens of the world, and the knaves and thieves, pale in comparison to the bigger actuality. The opposite component is, I don’t assume any of us are harmless. We are likely to divide the world into good guys and dangerous guys, you recognize, individuals on the flawed aspect of a problem and we’re on the best aspect. I feel life is way more complicated than that, and so I all the time push back towards that idea, too.

In a approach, your music has all the time been an escape – from the issues on the planet and what else was happening in pop music. Your debut arrived on the apex of hair metallic, Cerulean landed the same yr as Nirvana’s Nevermind…

DS: Oh wow, that’s cool. I like that. Existence is an fascinating thing because you could be so dialed in and plugged into every part that’s happening in the larger world — it’s sort of inescapable now with how interconnected everyone seems to be with the online and social media. There’s fixed barrage of issues, and but life doesn’t copy for me or for you on those meta levels, we have now this existence that’s very specific. And to me that’s the wonderful thing about music, and books, and art is there’s these rich experiences of dwelling that take place outdoors of that, and it may take place regardless of the opposite terrible issues happening on the earth. I’m not saying we have to ignore these by any stretch, I’m just saying that we will’t stay utterly on one or the opposite.

One other sidebar: After the interview, it hit me that the Kings and Queens album is in many ways, 2019’s model of “Calgon, take me away.”


In current interviews with Paste and Billboard, you’ve stated how you’ve written plenty of this new album based mostly on what you’ve gone via in the earlier years, however you’re hesitant to offer any details. Your new monitor, ‘It Takes So Long’, hit me like a ton of bricks as I mirrored alone previous 5 years whereas listening to it. It’s superb how a track might utterly soundtrack your life, regardless that another person wrote it chatting with occasions in their own life. And still, the subsequent listener over will interpret it even in another way.

DS: Absolutely. That’s one of the things I really like about music, and one of many issues I really like concerning the music I really like. So, it’s so cool to hear you say that and it’s one of the reasons that I get so scared about speaking about where I’m coming from by itself. I need to depart sufficient room in what the music is for individuals to own it and to expertise it in their very own means. I’m positive if I requested Michael Stipe, Morrissey, or Bono what they have been making an attempt to convey in a certain track meaning quite a bit to me, it may need nothing to do with the best way I expertise that music or what it stated to me or taught me. So, yeah, I like what you simply stated, that’s good. It makes me need to be very careful about what I say concerning the songs.

“However you push it to the restrict / after which well beyond the restrict…”

— ‘The Restrict’ (Monitor four on Kings and Queens / Knaves and Thieves)

The Ocean Blue’s new album hits the streets the same week because the CD and vinyl for Originals, a compilation of tracks from Prince’s vault (Schelzel relocated to Minneapolis years in the past). Combined with last week’s New York Occasions expose about invaluable recordings lost in a 2008 vault hearth on the Universal Studios lot and Radiohead’s shock launch of 18 hours of material that hackers have been making an attempt to hold for ransom, I’ve even more appreciative of simply how particular a band’s whole recorded output is, regardless of the place the tapes are locked up.

Are there plans now that you simply’re at the 30th of the first album to do a deluxe reissue? Are there gems nonetheless sitting within the vault?

DS: Nicely, we did the primary three Sire data a couple of years ago on vinyl, and at that time we have been wrestling with if that was something we save till the 30th anniversary. And the feeling was no, we should always simply do these data on vinyl as a result of individuals need them now. I’m not yet positive precisely how we’re gonna mark this yr for the self titled report. I’d like to do one other urgent of it because they bought out a number of years ago. Whether or not we attempt to pull out extra stuff or not, I’m ambivalent about that because I feel individuals know the first report because the 12 songs that you simply’re accustomed to. And if there have been more songs, I might virtually need them to be on an expanded CD or something like that.

That’s what I was considering; double disc deluxe editions are all the fad lately.

DS: Yeah. I’m nonetheless excited about all that stuff, so it’s good to listen to you remind me to assume extra about it.

The primary album’s the one one which I’ve ever heard bootlegs from the period floor. There have been three songs that came out on the WJTL radio cassette, and then a demos EP. So, it looks like there’s some great things on the market, particularly listening to the exquisite saxophone on ‘Wings of a Pal’ or how pretty tracks like ‘On Growing Up’ and ‘Renaissance Man’ are. These are lovely songs; it’d be nice to listen to them cleaned up.

DS: Oh wow. Properly, thanks. I imply, the trick is numerous these belongings you mentioned are demos, so we pretty much have to current them as is. I don’t even know if I might find the multi-tracks. Yeah, I’m glad you’ve heard them.

It’s nice that they someway acquired out, as a result of I consider Prince from your adopted hometown, they’re going by means of the vaults making an attempt to determine what’s in there and the way it was even maintained when it comes to did the tapes survive all these years. I can solely think about the place your stuff is, sitting in Sire’s vaults, or whoever owns Sire lately, or sitting in broom closets.

DS: Yeah, properly somewhat of each. With the Sire reissues we did on vinyl, it took a while to track down the masters and get them in form for that vinyl reissue. That was type of fun to discover where things the place. I do know I’ve received a ton of stuff from through the years, too. Truly, the cool thing that we might wanna do, now that I’m excited about it, with the first document can be various mixes. There have been tons of other mixes. John Porter did some mixes of a bit that Mark (Opitz) ended up doing and vice versa. That may be type of fun to present various mixes of a few of those.

That may be fascinating. And I’ve all the time questioned, if you document an album, do you simply have the funds to make the cuts introduced or do you document many extra and then begin trimming it down?

DS: A bit of each for us. Definitely within the main label years, we principally reduce the album tracks, because it was so costly. We did loads of demoing on our own and went into the studio with just about the gathering of songs that ended up on the document. There could be one or two further tracks that we might have had but for probably the most part, we recorded the data you’re accustomed to.

“Jet aircraft / fascinated by it, desirous about a approach / on a motor bike or practice / leaving all of it here, leaving it all behind / for Paraguay, My Love”

I’ve checked out your new tour schedule and did a double take once I noticed two dates in Peru. A spotlight of the brand new album is ‘Paraguay, My Love’, so what’s The Ocean Blue’s relationship with South America?

One of the pleasant surprises in our lives the last decade or so is discovering that we’ve got numerous followers in South America. It started when some people in Peru reached out to us about coming down and enjoying some live shows there. We get these invitations on occasion from all all over the world. It usually by no means is sensible because it’s just such a time consuming and dear proposition to go play someplace distant like that.

With this specific supply, these people have been very persistent and in addition provided to sort of show us the country. A couple of us have all the time needed to see Machu Picchu, Cusco, and the Andes Mountains. We thought let’s give it a shot. We’ll play the show and get to see some really cool issues. We did it. It was like one of the largest live shows we’ve ever accomplished in the trendy period. We discovered that, my gosh, we’re like the Beatles down right here. That is loopy!

We went back a number of years later and performed some other nations including Paraguay and did a extra vital South American tour. Along the best way, we discovered that down there we’ve received this wealthy fan base of parents that basically just like the band. It’s a unique type of state of affairs in some areas the place I feel the music was discovered principally by means of radio or buddies passing around tapes. I can’t actually explain it. I don’t really understand, nevertheless it’s a phenomenal thing.

The other thing that is type of fascinating down there’s that folks know all your music but they don’t necessarily know or join it with you. In the event that they heard ‘Ballerina Out of Control’ or ‘Chic’, they might be like “I know that music, that’s an ideal track”, however they wouldn’t essentially connect it with The Ocean Blue, which I assumed was an fascinating factor.

Do you continue to have sizable audiences in Europe or Australia?

I do know much more about our fan base than I did final time I talked with you because one of many fascinating issues about streaming audio with Spotify and Apple music is you get an opportunity to actually see the place individuals are listening to your music around the globe. That knowledge type of informs where we try to play. We’re taking a look at a few alternatives in 2020, including more US dates. If the celebs align, we’ll undoubtedly be to extra locations around the globe and the USA.

“Therein lies the issue with my life…”

You truly convey up a very good point, streaming was just beginning to happen last time we talked and now it’s type of the primary approach individuals eat music; so it appears with the info you’ll be able to get, are you able to sort of harness it a bit because the cash might be nonetheless not there the best way it might be with CD sales and all that.

DS: That’s completely right. Streaming is great for lots of issues. Reasons you just talked about and it’s not great for a few of the causes you simply talked about. One of the issues I was really interested in once we introduced the brand new report and put on pre sales was ‘Does anybody even buy data anymore? Should we even press CDs? Should we just do vinyl?’ We had numerous strategic selections to consider and make. In talking with the parents at Warner Brothers and Rhino and some indie labels that we all know too, after which understanding slightly bit about our fan base, I feel we simply decided to do every little thing and see what occurred.


Proper now, it’s been sort of cool because individuals are pre-ordering our CD; they are pre-ordering our vinyl. It’s in all probability extra vinyl than CD last time I checked. Waterworks (the 2004 EP reissued as a full-length album in 2014) was the opposite approach round. Definitely, lots of people listening are to the new songs as they acquired released on Spotify and Apple Music. That’s sort of cool. There’s no money within the streaming stuff right now and once we get the royalties for it, it gained’t be so much, however the pre-orders of CDs and vinyl really help fund what we do. Enjoying exhibits will be the approach that we make issues occur.

What listening format(s) do you favor? I’m still a CD man. I’m taking place with that ship, I feel it’s the superior solution to take heed to music.

DS: Yeah, I agree with you. I feel CDs are nice. I never had a vinyl document assortment rising up. I was truly in all probability just a little younger for that and I didn’t have an older sibling who was into vinyl or mother and father who have been. I obtained into vinyl within the 90s when it was so low cost and I obtained a document participant totally free. I like vinyl for some things. I adore it for jazz. I prefer it for some older rock n roll. Yeah, I’d fairly take heed to my document on a CD to be quite trustworthy with you.

I also use Spotify and Apple Music rather a lot. It’s a simple strategy to shortly get to music I wanna hear. It’s moveable.

I’ve been streaming lots to preview new data and then decide to which of them I wanna buy on CD. Loads of new albums nowadays are like Juicy Fruit gum, they taste really good on the first spin and then I cease listening quickly after.

DS: I all the time attempt to get data from artists once I go see them stay as a result of individuals all the time ask me “What’s the easiest way to help a band?” The reply is purchase stuff instantly from them at a present or on-line from their website. That basically does help them. Even buying something on Amazon, the band shouldn’t be gonna see a variety of that. There’s a distributor involved and there’s Amazon involved. The easiest way to help an artist you want is to get something immediately from them.

I feel for some artists with a unique kind of profile than us, following them on Spotify and streaming them so much, it’s not like they don’t see something from that; it’s a useful thing in the event you’re spreading the phrase via your listening. That’s the cool thing about Spotify and Apple Music, when someone you comply with listens to something, you possibly can comprehend it and you may easily share it, and that can create a bigger community of those that like the music.

There’s these advantages; however from a financial perspective, it’s not nice. To your level, I like having a bodily copy of one thing that I really cherish. A favourite Bill Evans report or Roxy Music music report is a nice thing to tug out and placed on the turntable.

“Step into the sky / watch your physique floating / all the things’s all right, for those who don’t look down…”

– ‘Step into the Night time’ on The Ocean Blue’s new album, lyrics which remind us of the duvet artwork for…

Speaking of CDs that I really like, last time we talked you had talked about the potential for an excellent group and then paid it off huge time when 5 Billion in Diamonds came out.

For these not but in the know, this was the co-brainchild of Garbage-drummer and throughout uber-producer Butch Vig (Smashing Pumpkins’ Gish and some other bands you might have heard of). In the press run for the 2017 self-titled debut, Vig referred to as the otherworldly psych people album an imaginary soundtrack to a “cult Michael Caine B-movie thriller from 1967 or one thing.”


I heard rumors there could also be a second one on the horizon.

Yeah. We are engaged on a second report and it’s superior. I can say that because I’m a small a part of it and I just can’t consider the individuals I’m working with on that undertaking. It’s just unimaginable and I feel the music is even higher on this new report. Butch just despatched me a mixture right now of a music I used to be singing on this spring. I was blown away. Once we get it carried out and what we do with it’s another story. Who knows? It’s just unimaginable stuff. It’s been tremendous fun to be a part of it.

I feel you guys played no less than one gig. Did you end up touring at all?

Not very much. We did play one gig in England. When the report came out in England, it obtained a ton of great press there. It was on the BBC and coated in The Guardian and New York Occasions. A part of the complication with an excellent group, we found, is that everybody in the group has different super issues they’re doing. For me it was The Ocean Blue, for Butch it was Garbage and producing large data; Ebbot’s (Lundberg, singer for The Soundtrack of Our Lives) acquired a band in Sweden and doing stuff throughout Europe. So much the blokes in the Bristol Wrecking Crew that sort of play on the report, one guy is music director for Florence and the Machine, I feel.

Oh wow.

A couple of guys play with Spiritualized and they’re out with Large Assault now. Finding a space for us all to get together and play exhibits is a problem. We virtually did one last yr in LA when The Ocean Blue played there. We’ll see. I’m hoping we will do more in 2020.

Did your contributions to the final one just type of occur with jams in the studio or did you are available with a demo and current it to the band?

No, with 5 Billions the musical concepts usually all begin with Butch, James, and Andy. James (Grillo) and Andy (Jenks) are the duo in England which are sort of producers, DJs, studio guys. Butch Vig is Butch Vig. A drummer, a producer. They provide you with kernels of ideas, musically, they usually share these things; typically they’re full blown songs where every part is written they usually just want singer to sing it. Typically it’s more nebulous. On the first 5 Billions document, the concepts that they introduced me with have been simply kernels that I type of ran with and wrote melodies and lyrics and did some guitar elements on.

On the new report, there’s more writing happening from Butch, James and Andy, which makes my job just a little bit simpler and it’s type of fun, frankly, to sing on a track that Butch Vig wrote for you. 

And also you’re not the one member of The Ocean Blue with a aspect hustle; guitarist Oed Ronne carried out a solo monitor on one of many Korda compilations.  

DS: Yeah. That’s right. I’ve been encouraging him to do a solo document for years. In fact, he contributes to The Ocean Blue but I feel he has his own distinct voice and he’s written a ton of great songs. I’m hoping he does that.

Whereas re-reading our previous interviews from 2013 and 2014, you mentioned some vacation music was within the works with Don Peris, what happened with that?

DS: Each other yr or so, we attempt to launch a track together around Christmas time. I’m hoping we will pull that right into a full album one in every of these years. Perhaps this yr.

Where do individuals discover these songs? I’ve been wanting on Amazon and iTunes. Are they only out there for a limited time only on your website? I appear to have missed all the earlier holiday songs.

DS: Yeah, they principally are simply type of come and go together with the season and I type of prefer it that approach. At one point, when we’ve got sufficient of them, I’d like to tug them all collectively and ensure that they’re all polished up and sound good as a Christmas document because to me, that seasonal vacation music is one thing you wanna take heed to at a certain point within the calendar and then you definitely wanna put away, however you come back to it yr after yr throughout your life for those who do this type of thing like I do. It’s extra meaningful that approach. I like the thought of it coming and going with wintertime and the vacation.

I can’t think about how you retain all of those musical plates in the air!

I undoubtedly have greater than sufficient happening. I really like 5 Billions, I really like these different issues that I do, however to do The Ocean Blue takes a lot to do it nicely. I don’t need to see us take one other 5 to ten years to do another document. If this one feels good for everyone, I’d wish to stick with it. I like the blokes that I make music with quite a bit and I really feel like we do one thing that’s worthwhile and I wanna be a superb caretaker of that.

Popdose Album Evaluate

Kings and Kings / Knaves and Thieves arrives June 21 on Korda Data. Melodically, it’s on par with the band’s greatest work (the three Sire data and 2013’s return to type, Ultramarine). Lyrically, Kings is probably probably the most highly effective and emotionally resonant collection in the band’s canon. While Schelzel’s phrases definitely mirror the passage of time, The Ocean Blue’s music doesn’t age and seemingly floats untethered from the pull of gravity.

Kings continues the band’s superbly produced profitable streak. David’s voice and all the wealthy instrumentation have loads of room to breathe — a wine inviting you to taste and odor all its delicate notes. That is testament to the facility of the band. Oed Ronne sings, harmonizes, performs guitar, sitar, and keyboards; founding member Bobby Mittan’s bass supplies a rhythmic and emotional undercurrent; Peter Anderson’s crisp drumming anchors the reside present and is perfectly captured on tape. My frequent beef with trendy rock music is how loud and dense the mixes are; drums must be crisp, not combined right down to thuds. Nonetheless to today, The Ocean Blue’s data, together with Prince’s The Gold Expertise, are the albums I exploit to check the range of a automotive or house audio system. 

For longtime followers, The Ocean Blue has buried lyrical and stylistic Easter eggs throughout the new album that reference earlier work, together with the band’s signature use of water, snow, and ice metaphors for instance the complexities of human relationships. Korda Data kinfolk Allison LaBonne (The Owls) and Charlotte Crabtree (The Jim Ruiz Set) make a stunning guest look on the heartbreaking ‘Love Doesn’t Make It Straightforward on Us’. For brand spanking new fans wandering into their world on-line, maybe by means of algorhythmic connections to the Smiths, Echo, New Order, the Wild Swans, the Lightning Seeds, the xx, Seashore Home, or whatever emerging bands are painting dreamy and melodic soundscapes, this collection serves the right vessel to set sail into certainly one of indie rock’s loveliest sonic seas.