The Rhapsody Tapes & Manifesto, Influences & More With Ocean Grove Vocalist Luke Holmes
Our writer Amber Eccles, who also reviewed Ocean Grove's debut album 'The Rhapsody Tapes' caught up with frontman Luke Holmes to discuss inspiration, pre-show rituals and Ocean Grove’s unique sound.
Strife Magazine: It’s really interesting to see a band have an accompanying piece of literature for fans to read to go with an album release. What was the idea behind the rhapsody manifesto?
Luke Holmes: G'day! I guess the idea was exactly as you've outlined. To offer our audience several mediums in which they can connect with Ocean Grove and conversely creating a more intimate pathway in which to communicate our ethos and intentions. We are empowering our audience by allowing them into the inner workings of our band.
Like most things with OG nothing is overthought, the idea for the manifesto came on a whim and its initial intentions was just to offer transparency to a large overnight audience that had turned their attention to us when we had announced our record deal.
SM: Where did the inspiration for ‘The Rhapsody Tapes’ come from?
LH: I guess the beauty of the record was that it really represents the sum total of our influences. Everyone involved in the recording process brought their own flavours and influences to the table and helped pull the record in different directions. Personally I wanted to approach this album more from the world of sample based artists such as Fat Boy Slim, The Avalanches, Twenty One Pilots, The Internet to even Arctic Monkeys rather than your quintessential metal guy... that's really just not me.
SM: Which song on ‘The Rhapsody Tapes’ is your favourite, or one that you are most proud of, and why?
LH: It’s a toss up! What I'm probably proudest of about this record is the fact there has been no resounding favourite. I think the first 8 people I asked pegged different songs as their favourite! We really set about trying to creating a debut record that had 12 stand alone songs - no fillers or songs to take up time. I'd have to say for me “Hitachi” is up there, due to the fact it's probably the most polarising piece of work we've put out. I also can enjoy my vocal performance on “Hitachi” as well as “When You're This High You Can Say What You Like” which has some epic riffs on it. Moreover, “Mr. Centipede” is probably our most emotive work yet and I think that’s displaying a side of OG we haven't explored!
SM: How did recording ‘The Rhapsody Tapes’ differ from recording your other EP’s ‘Black Label’ & ‘Outsider’? Did you feel more pressure when recording this album?
LH: It was very different in the way that is was our most amount of songs and the most important body of work for us. I guess the first two records were good practice for the experience that was recording 'The Rhapsody Tapes' and even though it was near the end we fell upon the perfect formula for us to write and record music. However, we only reached this formula through trial and error with a lot of frustration felt along the way. In terms of pressure the only pressure we felt came from within. We are very self-critical yet self-motivated people and I guess we had to be in the situation where we were in charge of every step in the making of the record. Whatever expectations or pressure is thrown on us you can be sure that we are putting twice as much on ourselves.
SM: The quote “Standing on the precipice of what is, and what may be” which features in the first track ‘what I love about a natural woman’ and is featured on the back of your CD booklet really stood out for me. Can you tell us what it means to you? Is this reflective of where you feel you currently stand as a band?
LH: I think that quote is just an all-encompassing message that encapsulated our situation as band, the chronology of our musical careers and also the underlying tones of hyperrealism found throughout the record. I really write our lyrics with the intention of not simply giving the answers, but by giving listeners the tools to paint their own picture. It could be perceived as a kind of foreshadowing message about the tracks that would follow, the fit of the band sonically... I'd love for fans to take these lyrics in a way that they can find relatable.
SM: Which artists influence and inspire you as musicians?
LH: Once again I can only really speak for myself, but I'd say we always look up to artists that take what they’re doing and go above and beyond. Whether it's in their live performance, their stage presence or appearance we usually look up to artists that possess something that is very unique and special to themselves. Examples are Michael Jackson, BLISS (dj from Israel), Pantera, Oasis, Queens of the Stone Age, The Libertines. All pretty unique and profound characters in their own right.
SM: Do you have any specific pre-show rituals?
LH: Yeah, quite recently we invested in this portable speaker we take everywhere with a specific pump up playlist to get us rowdy in the green room while we warm up and before we play. This ritualistic hype session peaks just before we go on stage where we gather in a huddle, if there's no designated hype man present one of us takes the mantle and gives a give speech as to how and why we are gonna kick ass on stage!
SM: What hobbies or other creative activities do you enjoy outside of music?
LH: What I think keeps everything interesting is the fact we are all very different and individual people. For the most of us performing music is just one exclusive side of us that is kept separate from the rest of our lives. Throughout the bands chronology we have studied at university and/or worked while trying to maintain a social life and hobbies like team sports, gaming. We have even travelled to remote place to undertake some missionary work. Then of course you have to balance this madness with some downtime like travelling, exercise, reading books, a glass of wine or a tall coffee.
SM: Is there anything else that you’d like to share about Ocean Grove with Strife readers?
LH: Check out The Rhapsody Tapes! We really just set about trying to make a record that acknowledges the many different spectrums of musical tastes while trying to do something fresh and unique for our own sake. We will be touring Europe this May/June and we'd love to wig out as many Europeans as we can with our Aussie jargon.
Ocean Grove's new album 'The Rhapsody Tapes' has been out for a while and you can jam to it in full below!