Sure, Hershey’s is technically the home of The Ocean Blue, but if you ask frontman and songwriter David Schelzel, Lancaster is where it really started for the band.
During a recent phone call, Schelzel says, “Some of the most important moments for the band happened in Lancaster, with label reps arriving at the Chameleon Club to take the band out and first a local following, which was super surprising. ” ,
When the band began playing around in the Lancaster area in the mid-’80s, the area was drowned in cover bands, helping Ocean Blue by proxy by stripping away their original tunes.
Now, decades later, The Ocean Blue’s first show of 2022 will serve as the headliner for the festival made almost entirely out of original music created in Lancaster. From rapper Lady Moran to Benjamin Vo Blues Band, psych rockers FaZe Materia and theatrical pop group John Smith’s Voyage are joining bands on the bill.
Telus3City Fest takes place from Friday, August 5 to Sunday, August 7, with The Ocean Blue performing at the temple on Saturday nights at 8:30 pm. Click here to purchase tickets.
We spoke with Schelzel about changes in the music industry, the appeal of major seventh chords, and if the band has any tracks hidden in “Vaults.”
LNP: I went back to the newspaper archives and found an interesting quote from you in an article from the late ’80s, I’ll explain it, but it was like playing cover for your pet, or that There were a lot of cover bands around at the time. After all these years, what’s it like to headline a local festival filled with dozens of musicians playing original music?
David Schelzel: That’s a really interesting observation. This sort of thing didn’t happen when I was growing up, and it was starting to happen when we were playing. Lancaster was a rare beacon in a sea of cover bands, so these places started popping up – like Chameleon, which I think was mostly original music, if I’m not mistaken.
Fast forward to (Tels3City Fest), and it’s great to see that, although sadly Chameleon wasn’t what it was then, Telus has become the kind of venue with live original music. I think it’s great, we know some bands that are playing festivals, and have played with us before, and they’re great bands. It’s a cool thing.
LNP: Obviously, there will be at least some bands at this festival that you’re probably not familiar with yet. How do you look for new music in the present moment?
DS: I think it mostly happens organically. I am an old man now, or at least I consider myself an old man, a middle-aged friend. I love music, and I love the music I grew up with, so I still listen to things like The Smiths and New Order. There are a lot of young bands that have the same influence as mine and they sound great. There’s a great radio station where I live, and I listen to KEXP online in Seattle. And to be honest, friends often share stuff via social media, which is where things stand out.
There’s really no MTV where I explored a lot of music or weird college radio stations growing up in my early 20s. I’m not that dialed-in because there are so many things going on in my life and… music was huge, and finding new music was a big part of growing up and being a teenager and being in a band. , in the old days.
LNP: One of my favorite aspects of the band’s story is that you were friends in junior high and played together for years before you actually started playing, and over the years, you’d never “rent a gun.” “Don’t get into a relationship. How has it been, excluding lineup changes over the years, keeping the spirit of what you started with it at the present time?
DS: I think a big part of The Ocean Blue’s DNA is that it’s built on friendship. I couldn’t really be in a band I didn’t know and like and call my friends. It’s been like that from the beginning – we were friends who liked the same kind of music before we were in a band. We have never really been, in my view, wonderful musicians. I’m not a great singer or anything like that. But, when we’re together, we get so excited about what we’re doing that I think we create something that’s interesting and meaningful to people, certainly for us. I mean, when you have a friendship, some of the other concerns go away.
Like you say, when you have a “rent gun” band, you audition people to make sure everyone’s really good – I mean, you can end up making music like that. Which sounds really technically proficient and maybe even really cool to some people’s ears, but there’s some kind of weird biological thing that’s been lost, I guess, if you don’t have some sort of relationship spark. Is. Maybe it’s not friendship, there’s something going on with the individuals involved, even if you hate each other, frank or stormy friendship, it can be good.
We’ve seen our ups and downs, as you said, some of the original members are no longer a part of the band. But the guys who came, one in the mid-’90s and one in the late ’90s, are as good friends as we started the band with. It’s a real important part of the band and making music together.
LNP: What was it like to be an Ocean Blue song in The Simpsons in 2020?
DS: (Laughs) You know, it was one of the most bizarre things that’s ever happened to us. I mean, it’s literally one of the greatest shows of all time, if you think about how long it’s been going and how many people have watched it. And we are all, to varying degrees, really big fans of the show. I think Odd has something to do with it as well, I think he was working with that production team. I had nothing to do with the song coming out, but I think it’s really one of those easter egg things. It was actually a bunch of fans that alerted us, I don’t know how they caught it, but they did, and it was cool.
And talk about a difference from the early days, from a technical standpoint, we couldn’t have that kind of relationship with the fans. We’d get letters in the PO Box, and it would be a fan writing from France or Utah about how they love the band. But now, if our music is played on television or in a store, someone will be like, “Hey, I was at Whole Foods and I heard you guys in the production section!” And we know in real time. It’s been a good thing for the band, and I think the ability to connect with fans young and old is really essential, because we don’t have the same major label machinery behind the band in terms of radio, promotion, it It’s just not there anymore.
LNP: It’s funny that you mention that, because I think you’ve been able to see the change in that label support system in particular over time. Regardless of how the music has been released, the first album probably came back on cassette, vinyl and CD, and then MP3, and then vinyl…
DS: You’re right, the first record came in three formats, and I’m not sure about the second album, but by the time we did our third album, Warner Bros. wasn’t doing LPs for pop bands like us anymore. , so it was CDs and Cassettes then. And then by the fourth, it was just CDs. With the advent of iTunes, it was still pretty strong until the early 2000s. Now with streaming, ironically with some of our upcoming re-releases, we’re doing all three formats again – LP, CD and Cassette. From my point of view, this is great. I love all formats, and there are some that I like to listen to on my record player, some I like to stream because it’s easy and quick, and some I like on CDs because of the clarity of it.
LNP: One of the songs I wanted to ask about on the new album is the instrumental, “F Major 7.” Dominant seventh guitar chords can actually make a nice impression in music as opposed to using standard chords, can you describe to a music person why you lean towards those kinds of chords when writing a song? I know this is stupid territory.
No man, I love it. I mean, I wrote a song called “F Major 7” so you’re talking to the right guy. One of the first things I learned as a guitar player in ninth grade, I started encountering these ragas and immediately fell in love with them. They are haunted ragas, dreamy ragas, they are atmospheric ragas, because they have little dissonance.
They’re obviously not sad like a minor chord, it’s a bit more open-ended, but they certainly aren’t happy chords, although they can be presented as such. This is because you are adding a 7th note to a standard major chord, and little tension is created. It’s beautiful, and I especially like F Major 7 and C Major 7, I’d say half of The Ocean Blue’s list consists of songs that are built around major 7th chords.