OCEAN COLOUR SCENE FEATURE
Love them or loathe them, Ocean Colour Scene are here, and not just every Friday night courtesy of Chris Evans. Damon Minchella tells
Jonathan Trew why.
cean Colour Scene don’t have an awful lot of good things to say about journalists. This is understandable since an awful lot ofjoumalists don’t have anything good to say about Ocean Colour Scene.
Conformist, dull, drab and stultifying are all words the press throw at the Birmingham four. Brilliant, real tunes, real instruments and ‘l’ll take a copy of the Ocean Colour Scene album and every single in all the formats, please’ is the viewpoint of a large proportion of the British record buying public. ‘Dad rock,’ accuse the inkics. ‘Up your arse, mate,’ retort the lads. Ocean Colour Scene’s real crime, in the eyes of the hacks. is that they have become successful without waiting to get the nod from the great and good of the music papers.
Thus when bassist Damon Minchella addresses the press at a hotel in Cornwall, he is, at least to begin with, a tiny touch grumpy: ‘This is supposed to be a break and you’re the sixth one today.’ Oops.
Still, when your album, Moseley Shoals, is still in the Top Ten almost halfa year after it was first released and you can sell out two nights on the trot at Glasgow’s Barrowland, you’re allowed to be a tad on the conﬁdent side. You know the papers need to cover you more than you need their coverage. Twasn’t ever thus around Ocean Colour Towers, though, and Minchella’s cocksureness is based on hard-earned experience rather than brash arrogance. Ocean Colour Scene were around at the arse end of the baggy explosion, got signed, cut an album which didn’t cut the mustard and got dropped. They spent the early 90$ banging the collective Scene head off a wall.
Minchella never expected Moseley Shoals to be as big as it is: ‘When we put “The Riverboat Song” out we thought that if it had gone to
Number 40 that it would have been fantastic.’ As it was ‘Riverboat’ went a lot further than that and the album went straight in at Number Ten. ‘lf Take That hadn’t split up, it would have gone in at Number One,’ says Minchella.
How Ocean Colour Scene grew to be so big so quickly is a bone of vociferous contention. The gospel according to Minchella is deceptively plain: ‘We put some records out. It’s as simple as that really. because we hadn’t any out for about three years. Also the time was right. People are getting back into live music and the whole scene and we happened to make an album that sounded exciting.’
Push any harder and the flood gates open up to reveal a steel-strong sense of self-belief. ‘People are getting. the kids if you like. are getting away from
and all the intellectualised sort of crap that they try and foist on you,’ explains Minchella patiently. ‘People got into Stanley Road, Morning Glory. the Cast album, Moseley Shoals. Supergrass. They all came pretty much within a year of each other and that hasn’t happened since the 70s. You had the odd thing like The Smiths or the Roses but you didn’t have five or six great hands all making great albums at the same time.’
Supergrass aside. Paul Weller, Oasis, Cast and Ocean Colour Scene do all ﬁt into a category. Some would label it ladrock. others would call it backward-looking; Minchella, of course, has his own ideas as to what the unifying factor is. ‘They can all play. sing and write good songs; that’s unusual and that is wrong,’ states Minchella. ‘You should be able to do all those things otherwise you shouldn’t be making music.’
Most other current bands don’t get a look in on the Ocean Colour Scene pantheon of music’s
‘Why would anybody buy a Menswear
reading the London papers album? Go and buy an Aretha Franklin
compilation, you’re going to enjoy it a whole lot more mate, I tell you.’
OBS: looking back to the More greats. ‘I think they’re all shit. to be honest with you.’ is Minchella’s emphatic theory. ‘Apart from the bands I’ve just mentioned and a Liverpool band called The Real People. it’s just dross, man. I mean why would anybody buy a Menswear album? Not that many people do. but why bother? Go and buy an Aretha Franklin compilation, you're going to enjoy it a whole lot more mate, I tell you.’
Ocean Colour Scenc’s one commandment is ‘Thou shalt take 60s and 70s R & B and soul as your one God and thou shalt worship no false idols, especially trendy upstarts from the Camden scene.’ Minchella's view on the guiding lights of composition is singularly purist. ‘All you’re doing is an extension ofyour roots. and if your roots do come from there — and for us it’s where it’s all at — then you’re trying to put your own slant on your roots.’
Unbelievers of the Ocean Colour Scene creed point heretical lingers at dark forces manipulating the minds of the gullible. The accusation has been that without the patronage of Paul Weller. Noel Gallagher and Chris Evans — whose TE]. Friday uses ‘The Riverboat Song’ as its theme tune — Ocean Colour Scene would be up shit creek. Gallagher has name-checked the Brummies with a boundless enthusiasm, and their support slots to Oasis at Knebworth and Loch Lomond couldn’t
have done any harm. Both Minchella and Steve Craddock have
played with Weller’s band and Weller has worked with Ocean Colour Scene.
Minchella has no truck with the success-by- association theory. Weller, Oasis and the ginger one all played a part but not a pivotal one. “When the record came out and people heard it on the radio and saw it on the TV. they made the connection between our name and the song. Then if they liked it they bought it. It wasn’t down to them that we have got the success that we have,’ reﬂects Minchella. ‘It was like instead of being on the first rung of the ladder, you’re on the second one already. When the record comes out people are aware of who you are beforehand but people only buy a record because they like it. . If we was shit nothing would have happened.’
The bottom line is that something has.
Ocean Colour Scene play Barrowland, Glasgow on Sat 26 and Sun 27 Oct.
The List l8-3l Oct 199617