Ocean Grove paint the night tartan, vegan leather & checkerboard
The loss of founding members can break a band, especially one in their infancy, but in the case of Ocean Grove, their recent lineup shuffle has clearly left them invigorated and revitalised.
Having welcomed the enigmatic Twiggy Hunter on bass (a close friend of the band, who’s styled them for previous photoshoots and festival appearances), former bassist Dale Tanner moves across to vocal duties; instinctively possessing a commanding and charismatic nature which suggests he was destined to lead from the front.
Having tried and tested their new formation on Hands Like Houses fans back in February (supporting their UNFD label mates across the country), the newly-shaped Ocean Grove have just finished up their first tour in support of latest single, ‘Ask For The Anthem’.
We joined them at Adelaide’s Enigma bar, eager to sit back and capture the Melbourne band in their comfort zone before and during the show.
While it’s fair to be a little dubious about touring in support of one song, ‘Ask For The Anthem’ asserts a new era for Ocean Grove. As their first offering under the new lineup, it’s a wild track full of energising hooks and swirling riffs, radiating the ferociousness and charm of the band and their ambitions going forward.
Crucially, the track sees Ocean Grove move beyond the boundaries of their nu-metal beginnings, experimenting with warped electronics and letting Dale loose as the magnetic front-person he was born to be.
There’s no denying that the nu-metal label earned them instant attention when they signed to UNFD in April 2016, including acknowledgement from the International touring and media circuit, which quickly resulted in tour supports across Japan, America, Europe and the UK.
The genre had instant limits for the band, boxing them into stereotypes and excluding anyone who didn’t have a penchant for dual vocals and techno-infused breakdowns.
With the new lineup in full effect, 2019 sees the band shed expectations and take flight as the ‘genre-bending’ outfit their 2015 EP, ‘Black Label’, paved them out to be.
‘The best-dressed band in Australian rock right now.’
When we first met Ocean Grove back at Unify Gathering 2016, it wasn’t their dynamic sound or bulging choruses that first caught our attention. Instead, it was their unforgiving sense of style, attention to detailed aesthetics and uncompromising will to make a statement through their fashion and stage outfits.
On and off stage, Ocean Grove are the best-dressed band in Australian rock right now. So we were eager to see exactly how they put their looks together when we joined them in Adelaide.
Backstage, we relished in vegan leather jackets; Dale’s modified with hand-scribbled drawings and Twiggy’s patched with leopard print, studs and checkerboard panels.
Twiggy’s tattoos subtly reflect his purposefully unmatched aesthetic; thinly-lined inkings are offset with bigger black and grey pieces, present without real commitment to placement, yet content with being on display.
‘Too punk to be a hippy, but too hippie for punk.’
Confident outfit choices aren’t restricted to certain members in Ocean Grove, with Dale, Twiggy, Sam Bassal (drums) and Matt Henley (guitar) all making their tastes known through a blend of streetwear, high-street and vintage band merch.
Streetwear spots include Sam’s M+RC Noir bag and a dressing room packed full of Jungles, including Ocean Grove’s own tour hoodie, which they collaborated with the label on, while band tees come via Black Flag and Nine Inch Nails.
The band are deeply immersed in the Jungles brand in particular (self-described for those who’re ‘Too punk to be a hippy, but too hippie for punk’) with both Dale and Twiggy having appeared in previous campaigns for the exclusive label, as well as the latter having styled previous collections.
Pleasures is another label we often see OG wearing, paired with accessible high-street staples like Converse, Champion, Kangol, Nike Air Force 1s and 2017’s Adidas Yeezy 500.
The confident mesh of streetwear, vintage and high-street carries Ocean Grove effortlessly through to the stage. Track pants may be swapped for embellished leather, but their self-assured style reigns supreme.
This uncompromising attitude has only strengthened the vividness of Ocean Grove’s live show, resulting in a seductive display of high-powered rock and roll.
Ocean Grove are undoubtably making big moves in 2019, and they’re doing so in serious style.
Ocean Grove pictured at Enigma Bar, Adelaide, 24/05/19