A staple of late 80s new wave / dream pop, Pennsylvania-based group, The Ocean Blue will be hitting the NorVa this Saturday. Local P-Town heroes, Court Street Company, are opening -- according to our sources.
The band's origins date back to 1986 when then middle school classmates first started writing songs, reaching local success before signing with a major label -- Sire Records. The group received regular rotation on MTV's Post-Modern video series, before breaking nationally with a series of well-regarded hits. "Between Something and Nothing" is probably their most well known song, though this group differs from contemporaries in that they're still making new music that is well positioned in the here and now. These days they're part of a creator-owned and operated label called Korda Records, in which lead singer David Schelzel owns a stake. They've recently released their second record with this label (the eighth in their overall catalog), entitled "Kings and Queens / Knaves and Thieves." You can order a copy on their website or purchase it at the show.
We pulled up with David this week in advance of their NorVa outing for a quick interview, and will be back with photos and coverage.
What music are you listening to now? Any particular bands you’re into?
I tend to listen to old music at home on the turntable, 50s and 60s jazz. Great classical recordings. Ambient music. On the go or at work, I like current music and the music I grew up with. Some bands making music now I like include Low, the Starfolk, Tame Impala, Deerhunter, Pure Bathing Culture, Beach House, the XX, Agnes Obel.
Given that the Ocean Blue is a band that began in middle school and that the two remaining founding members have known each other for over three decades, what is the relationship dynamic between you and bassist Bobby Mittan? How has it changed over the years?
It is a deep, long friendship that frankly hasn't changed much. Mostly because Bobby is one of the most steadfast, unflappable, positive and kind persons I know. He's always liked being a part of the band, his role in it, and is up for just about anything, any time.
How has touring changed now vs. your first time? Do you enjoy playing live as much as you did when you first started? Or is it more of a job today?
After we signed to a major label, we started fairly quickly making big national tours, which are like political or military campaigns, or perhaps the circus. Long day-to-day marches from city to city, promoting your wares for several months straight. You have your equipment, crew, show, objectives. It was fun and exciting for about a week or two, then not so much. A month or so in, I really just wanted to start working on a new record.
That said, when things are right, playing live is a real joy. And things are generally much easier and more enjoyable today because of the way we tour, and the fact the stakes are not that high and the objectives, more modest. We generally fly to shows, do just a few together at a time, so things are always fresh and fun, though perhaps at times a little loose.
Can you tell me about your involvement with Korda Records and how that came about?
Sure, there is more info at kordarecords.com but basically, it is a coop label we started with musician friends in Minneapolis around 2012 when all of us were trying to finish up records we'd been working on for too long. Most of us had been on big labels in the past but were looking at doing self-releases. Basically, Korda became our accountability group to get our records done and out, our knowledge and experience base for how to do that, and our promotional/distributional channel.
Have you been to Norfolk before? Any memories or stories of visits here?
Yes, we played nearby VA Beach Neptune Fest a few years ago, but have further back memories of playing colleges and outdoor festivals in town, and shows at a venue that I believe is no more called the Boathouse. At one time, we had a fairly good following in VA, so we have a fondness for your part of the world.
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Interview conducted by Jeff Hewitt