If you’re in search of some great new tunes to get you through quarantine, look no further than The Only Ocean. Composed of singer/songwriter/guitarist Wesley Hill, guitarist Tamara Simons, drummer Jonathan Palmquist, and bassist Jordan Kaufman, this atmospheric rock band just released their new single Watch It Fall and it is sure to make those long days at home so much better.
Blast Magazine recently had the opportunity to speak with the band’s founder, Wesley Hill, about the group’s latest single, their unique sound, and the way the quartet has used quarantine to their advantage.
Blast Magazine: The band recently released the single Watch It Fall along with its music video. What was the musical and lyrical inspiration behind that song?
Wesley Hill: Lyrically, it touched on my experiences growing up. I was never really confident in the things that I did and that transferred into my adult life and my journey to find myself. I was trying to be something that I wasn’t because I was uncomfortable in my own skin and I wrote about that. Musically, I wrote the song in 2016 but didn’t do anything with it until just recently. I remember being obsessed with Michael Jackson’s song Off the Wall and so I tried to write a disco song without knowing anything about disco and it ultimately became this song.
Blast Magazine: The Only Ocean has existed in many forms since you founded the band years ago. How do you feel the sound of the group has changed over that time period?
Hill: We have definitely grown as musicians. We started recording with John DeBaun in 2015 and we have done every single release with him since then. Having the opportunity to pick his brain and learn about songwriting and production from him has been so helpful. He has shown us what is possible in the studio and with a song and that has helped us out tremendously as musicians. He’s shown us how instruments can work together and that you can play the same thing for 4 minutes and if that is what makes the song cool, that is what’s important. It’s just all about what best serves the song.
Blast Magazine: How would you describe The Only Ocean’s sound to someone who has never heard your music before?
Hill: We use the term “atmospheric rock” a lot but lately I’ve been saying that we sound like The Spice Girls being played in a falsetto. I love pop music and distortion. Pick the most pop artist, like Carly Rae Jepsen, Britney Spears, or the Spice Girls, and pick the gnarliest indie rock band and meld the two together to get our sound.
Blast Magazine: What does the process look like when the band decides to create a new song? Is it more of a collaborative effort or do you each have individual responsibilities?
Hill: It depends. Sometimes a song can be written by one person and how they structure it is how it is going to be but other times, someone comes in and wants to make some change to it and we adapt. Being in a band is like being on a team and we respect everyone’s opinions. For Watch It Fall, since there are only two parts, it was more left up to the drums and bass to be the things that were changed. I let them work out what they were going to play since the drums and bass rhythmically carry out the song.
Blast Magazine: How has quarantine been for you and the band? Have you guys been using this time to work on new songs or brainstorm new ideas?
Hill: We’ve been working on a lot of new songs. The first weekend of quarantine, we decided to set up a Google Drive folder where everyone could throw out any ideas they had, whether it was a clip of them playing guitar for 20 seconds or a short drum beat. It was great because everyone was sitting on so many ideas and sending them to the Google Drive allowed us all to listen to each other’s ideas. We can pick things we want to work on and if we really like it, someone will create a demo or we can talk about it in a Zoom call. In the past four months, we have had about 30 ideas that have turned into 10 songs that we’ve kind of created. We haven’t had a chance to play with each other since quarantine began so we are just sitting on the songs right now but the day we finally get to jam out together will be quite a day.
Blast Magazine: Whether with this group of musicians or on your own, you have been performing for a long time now. Do you ever get nervous anymore or is it really just second nature for you at this point?
Hill: It kind of depends on the show. I wouldn’t call it nervousness – more a kind of anxiousness. I know that I am going to go on and do it but when you have to wait all night to play, it can be tough because you are waiting around with all of that energy and excitement and you need to channel those feelings when you are playing. We have a new lineup for the band now and we had our first show together last November. That was the first time in a long time that I was nervous because it was the same songs but all new members and a whole new scene of people. I did have a moment on stage where I had a bit of a freakout during soundcheck but I quickly got over it and it was a great show.
Blast Magazine: You mentioned that The Only Ocean has a whole new lineup now. What do you love most about performing with this version of the band?
Hill: Musically, everyone is at the top of their game and knows exactly what they are feeling and how to do it. Jonathan, our drummer, and Jordan, our bass player, both went to school for their music and Tamara, our guitar player, is just a little more seasoned in playing. Her experience and what she wants out of her instrument is more than I can articulate to people. All of them know what they are going to do so I get to worry about what I am going to do. Sometimes in the past, I had to worry about everyone else but they are all so confident and great that I don’t have to worry about any of that and it is a breath of fresh air. We also record every show and every practice because just because we think it is a good show doesn’t mean we can’t make improvements and build from it. They are the ones willing to put in the work and make this band the best it can be.
Be sure to listen to The Only Ocean on any streaming service (Spotify, YouTube, etc.) and follow them on Twitter at @TheOnlyOcean and Instagram at @theonlyocean!