The Ocean Blue
by Su Chon and Jeff Jolley
In an act certain to bring nothing but happiness to lovers and
fans of the Pennsylvania music scene, The Ocean Blue has found a
new record label. After their parting from Warners, TOB has been
picked up by Mercury records. Dave, Bobby, and newbie Ed spent a
few moments with us recently to talk about the new line-up, the
new album, and what they've been doing the during the last year or
Look for the new TOB CD around April '95. Also, look for one of
TOB's last interviews on their last record label in RAD Archives.
For this interview, Su and Jeff tag-team the TOB boys to the
- I got the strong feeling that you weren't really happy with
your previous record contract. Do you feel that being
released from that really freed up the band to do a lot of
- In some ways, yeah. We had three records with the same
record company and sort of had the same commercial results.
I think we would have stagnated had we stayed there--we
would've just sort of done the same thing. The same people
would be doing the same things for us. In changing labels, I
think we'll have a whole new fresh set of people to work our
records and there's a lot more excitement at our new label.
Not that our old label was into things, we really do have
some wonderful friends there. But the label sort of fell
apart after we left anyway. The president left. There were
a lot of troubles at Warner Bros. It was good that we left.
We were quite fortunate in that. I think even more than
that the fact that Steve left us and Eddie joined us has been
a tremendous change for the band, a very good one. I think
both of those things have been good for our new record.
- And when is that due out?
- That's due out early 1996 and it's basically up to the record
label when that's released. The record will be done by the
end of the year and it's up to them when they will do it.
- What kinds of things have you done this past year or so?
- Mostly we've been writing new songs for the record and
recording them. Last year, we spent a lot of time shopping
different labels, which we really didn't do so much. We just
made demo tapes for different labels.
- I have a question for you about a song on the last album if
it's okay to ask. It's "Cathedral Bells." And you have [the
lyrics] all in quotes, were you quoting something?
- I have them in quotes because I didn't want to give the
impression that I was saying these things. These are things
that I would have overheard, or different ways of thinking
that I encountered in college, some of which I vehemently
disagree with. It's sort of about my college experience,
running into things like people trashing western
civilization, doing a lot of stupid anti-intellectual things.
I hate to use the term political correctness.
- About another song, your first hit "Between Something and
Nothing:" who is that about?
- It's not about a person, it's about encountering art. It's
about death and life and all those things. It's not about a
person. I really hate the video because it's very
misleading. But the song was for a broader thing.
- How many songs are about people or experiences or how many
are about things and ideas? For "Vanity Fair," I was
thinking of Thackery.
- Yeah, yeah. Actually the book that it's more from is an
allegory like Pilgrim's Progress. That's more what the song
is about. That's an idea song. Now, a song that's about a
person is "Myron" on the first record or "Crash" on the last
record. There are a lot of songs that are about people on
there. But we have a lot of idea songs, too.
- Well, I heard you were an English major...
- I was actually a Humanities major. I was an English major
for a time but because of the band I couldn't attend
regularly so the Dean and I sat down to figure out a better
way to do it. So I ended up a Humanities major which was
- What book was the most influential in the past year or two
years to you?
- I've read a lot of books, and a lot of books have been
influential. In writing the songs for this record, the book
that affected me the most was The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.
There are a couple of songs that I have written about this.
I have a love/hate relationship with her. I'm hard pressed
to think of an author who has affected me more than her and
has challenged my way of thinking because she's an atheist
and I'm not. But she's very rational, and I'm very rational.
There were these things that were antithetical in terms of
what we believe and other things, especially in The
Fountainhead. I also read Atlas Shrugged which I like a
great deal, too. But The Fountainhead deals with an artist,
and I look at myself as an artist. Atlas Shrugged is more
political and economical. That didn't resonate for me; I
have no problem calling myself a capitalist. It's no big
deal for me as it is for a lot of people. But I think she's
the first person that ever pointed out the morality of
- Why don't you tell us a little bit about Eddie?
- Eddie.... We met Ed about four or five years ago. He was in
a band with a very good friend of mine in Chicago. Just
immediately, we hit it off. I thought, "I've got to get this
guy to do some stuff with us." So just before the last
record, we needed someone to do backup guitars, second guitar
on some songs, so I asked him to tour with us and we hit it
off splendidly. I kind of knew that Steve was probably going
to leave the band in the near future, and I was thinking
ahead. He joined up with us and he's a full-fledged member
of the band.
He brings a great deal to the band, more so than Steve. He's
a good songwriter. He's the first person who's actually
written songs other than me. In the past, that could never
be. But I respect him enough that I just think he's great
and that some of his songs deserve to be on the record. And
I'm biased for a guitar man even though Steve was a keyboard
player, I wanted more guitars. Of course, Eddie is a good
guitar player. And he plays keyboards on the old tunes.
That's exciting for me. He's younger than us and a little
bit more hopeful. He has that excitement we had when we
first started playing. For all those reasons, he's great.
- I heard his song last night, and it's totally different from
the others. But it's interesting.
- There's something about it that's different, but to me it's
like he's very Ocean Blue. His songs fit in to us. They're
not too esoteric or stylistically way off that we can't use
- Some of your newer stuff is harder. Is it because Eddie is
bringing in more guitars?
- It is. I think that's part of it. I think we always been
more edgy live than our records. There's part of us that
fell by the wayside when we actually made our records. We
kind of glossed over the rough edges. I think we made more
of a conscious decision to be more of a guitar band and then
by default you're going to be a little more edgier. I
wouldn't say we've turned into a grunge band by any means.
But I think we're more guitar oriented in the tradition of my
favorite guitar bands growing up.
- Is Rob going to be doing anymore production work on this one?
- We're probably going to work with a producer this time. I
really hope we do. We're talking to a few fellows. I hope
one of them works out. If not, we'll be doing it ourselves
- You mentioned some things about music videos. Another
Warners band felt that sometimes the video-making process was
just these video directors jamming these ideas down your
throat. The same video could be anyone from Cocteau Twins to
- To some degree, that's true. You really give up a lot of
input, a lot of creative control rather than when you make a
video. You have to just trust your judgment. On the last
record, they called some higher-ups in and put their two
cents in on everything we did. We did a great video on
"Sublime" and they made an A+ video into a B- video.
Although I still like the video, it's really terrible what
they did to it. It's so much better when I had the
director's cut. It's not always the director; in our case it
was the label. But prior to that it was the directors who
didn't quite get what we wanted.
- Are you going to stay based in Hershey or do you think you
might move to, say, LA or New York? There are quite a few
bands who think that that's where it's at.
- That's where it's not at. So many people make music and they
make it in different ways. The kind of person that would
move to LA when they first got their record deal - it's
ridiculous to me. I don't think Hershey, Pennsylvania is the
greatest place in the world. There's a lot of other places
that I like a lot better. The only reason I stay there is
that I've got a lot of friends and family that I love there.
It's not a bad place.
- Bob, The last time we talked you mentioned that you did a lot
of Big Brother stuff.
- Not Big Brother. I work with junior high kids and that's
going really well. Some of the staff has changed, but
it's been fun.
- Are you still in the landscaping business?
- I am. I've actually worked a lot this year because the
contract stuff being held up and I had a lot of free
time. I helped out my old boss from high school. It's
been pretty busy.
- How have you liked your year off?
- It's been great. It's been nice for the band with all the changes:
the record company, Steve leaving, Ed coming. With all the changes and stuff,
it was great to have time with Ed to work on the newer stuff. The old stuff
that he hadn't been a part of, and the newer stuff.
- So he's really brought in a lot?
- He has been a huge contributor to all our artistic stuff.
- [to Ed] How do you like being in the band?
- Ooooh, it beats pumping gas.
- What do you planned after your new album is done?
- We're going into the studio, a couple of months for that, a
couple of months for it to get circulated and released,
and then we'll probably tour shortly after that.
- [to Ed] Do you feel artistically in the band, that it's been a
satisfactory step for you?
- Yeah, I've been in bands before but I like this a lot.
- [and back to Dave...] Would you rather work with "corporate giant"
rather than an indie label?
- We had to think a lot about that because we could've signed
with a couple of indie labels when we left Sire. But when it
came down to it, we still decided to go with a major. Mostly
because of money: more money for us, more money to promote
our record. Independent labels are great in certain regards
and it's very tempting to me. We wouldn't have had a lot of
money to just survive, and we wouldn't have had power of
getting a lot of radio airplay and video airplay which is how
a lot of people hear about you. They're commercial in
financial considerations but there are also considerations of
reaching a lot of people. You can reach a lot more people
with your music on a major label, especially for a band like
us who already had a major label behind them. It would have
been a digression had we signed with an independent label.
It was a tough decision.
- How do you feel politics fits into music?
- It's just a bad mix unless it really comes from the heart. I
think a lot of singers sort of use that just to be popular,
and they don't really know what they're saying or thinking.
If you want to talk politics, talk politics and talk it
intelligently. The context of a pop song is not really the
context of dealing with big issues. Talking about politics
in a pop song, you're losing something. That's a lesson I
had to learn because I like to think of myself as a thinker.
I have had to be careful with how much weightiness I inject
into a pop song and we make pop music. Let's face it. These
groups that sort of have this plastic political awareness,
very trendy and very correct, like environmental, animal
rights, gay rights, feminist rights. I just find it all a
little distracting. I listen to music for the artistic value
of it, the musical value. I don't want to be known as a
political band. I don't want to be known as a preaching band
- I want people to like us for our music, not for our
political views. Now, if I happen to read something like Ayn
Rand and I'm moved to think in a political way and it finds
its way into our song, that's genuine and it's not typical.
I'm not saying, "Save the Whales" or some other
environmental, political cliche. From my experience and my
observation, most of the political statements that have come
out of popular bands are pretty trite and pretty cliche and
pretty insincere. When you meet a singer who screams animal
rights and he's wearing leather shoes and eating a hamburger,
you know, something's wrong with this picture. I've seen
plenty of hypocrisy and I prefer not to.
Copyright © 1995, Rational Alternative Digital