by Mandy McGee
Right out of high school, the melodic rock band from Hershey, PA, the Ocean Blue (formed in 1986), received a record deal with Sire Records. After releasing four major label albums they have now gone independent and took some well deserved time off from recording after releasing Davey Jones’ Locker in 1999. In 2013, they returned with Ultramarine. The Ocean Blue are David Schelzel on lead vocals/guitar, Oed Ronne on keyboards/guitar/vocals, Bobby Mittan on bass guitar and Peter Anderson on drums.
I spoke with lead vocalist and guitarist David Schelzel about recording, how the industry has changed over the years, what it’s like going from a major label to being independent and what we will see next from the band in 2016.
They were teenagers when they started and have progressed into their forties now. A lot of life has been lived and plenty has affected who they are as individuals and in the music they make, but some remains the same. Schelzel tells me that they have always been true to the music they make, staying in the vain of the new wave/post-punk music of the 80s and though their friendship as a band has remained constant, it has its own musical limitations.
From 1999 to 2013 they had no releases and they put touring on hiatus in 2006 so they all could move around and pursue other life endeavors such as school, new work and relationships. By this time, they were no longer on a major label and no longer dependent on music for an income. “I was and always do write and record, but never finished anything apart from an EP and some singles. These days I work mostly in my home studio, though Peter Anderson and I have access to some great studios when we need that kind of thing”, says Schelzel.
With so much technology at our finger tips it costs hardly anything to record music. “I think our last album doesn’t sound that far off from our early records, and I’m probably a much better singer now,” Schelzel says. Yet what he misses the most about using a professional studio is the knowledge and skill of a great producer and engineer. He is a lot slower in the studio and dwells over the “silliest things”. He also feels very lucky to have made records with great producers and engineers, but wishes he had paid more attention to what they were doing.
Since we live in the “digital age,” Schelzel thinks that the changing technology is mostly positive, but one of the downsides includes proliferation of music lacking in real substance. The attention span of the average person is less than a minute when giving new music a chance. We can get a hold of a lot more now because of online streaming and because of that much music is lacking something special and tangible.
It’s because of this that more people (Schelzel and myself included) are feeling nostalgic for vinyl and cassette tapes. He remembers, “My earliest memories of music is probably my parents late 60s romantic pop, and Simon and Garfunkel stuff, and then disco in the 70s.” I believe that resonates with a lot of music lovers. Especially those of us who played those old 45s and 33 LPs when we grew up.
So what’s next for the Ocean Blue? They will be reissuing vinyl from their Sire Records albums and are in the middle of recording a new album that they hope to release in 2016. Until then, catch the band tomorrow night at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia or on 11/22 at the Chameleon Club in Lancaster.