INTERVIEW: Hey Ocean!’s Ashleigh Ball talks the band’s return, how the record came to be and what’s in the future for the band!
We’re almost at the end of what’s commonly known as Rocktober and man, was it a month! With my last show of the month being The Twilight Sad last night, the week or so before was a whirlwind. One that stood out though? Vancouver’s Hey Ocean who played their first show in Boston in over five years! To be fair, within those five years the band did take a hiatus but now they’re back and stronger then ever.
The show was one that had been on my radar for the several months that it had been announced for which definitely isn’t the norm but the crowd that had been eagerly awaiting the show came out in great form for the set! Just a few hours prior to the show, I sat down with vocalist Ashleigh Ball to chat everything from the tour to what she was up to during the hiatus. Really how the songs on their latest album progressed and came to be to the creative energy that is overflowing for the next few months for the band. The group is already working on new material and have no plans of stopping so definitely expect to see a lot more from Hey Ocean in the next year and find our interview below to hold you over!
And keep your eyes hooked on NewEnglandSounds.com with a incredibly hot November of shows and even some exciting things closer to the holidays in December. We’re amped for it and hope you are too!
You’ve been doing these dates in Canada but this is your first US date of the run. Maybe going into this show, or this tour, hopes or goals for these US dates?
I think we just hope that people haven’t forgotten about us. Because we did take a break for a little bit there. I think the last time we were in Boston was five years ago. So it’s a bit of a gap and I think this is just reminding people that we’re still a band. Even though we did take a break and yeah, just hoping that people will come back. Come out and hear the new record because we’re playing a lot of songs from the new record.
Then maybe how did the Canadian shows go? I know you’ve done these shows, you did a ten year anniversary show of the 2008 album.
Yeah we did a full thing in Vancouver where we played the whole album and it was a walk down memory lane. Crazy that that happened ten years ago, so weird. The dates have been good. We had a great show in Toronto, it’s always an amazing place to play. I feel Toronto is always such a warm reception for us. So that was really great and Montreal was awesome last night. We had some other Ontario dates like Waterloo and London, those were great. I feel like there’s lots of people touring right now, even just being in Toronto, there were like seven of our friends bands that were in the area. Everyone’s just out touring right now, so it’s kind of like the calm before Christmas or whatever happens. Before everyone just goes dark.
Like you just said, it feels like everyone’s on tour. You just came off hiatus but maybe advice to bands to keep touring, maybe the importance of that? You have to tour to make your money these days.
You do! Touring is such an important thing and it’s such an exhausting thing. It’s also wonderful and awful at the same time. Like I walked for the first time today like ten minutes ago before soundcheck. I hadn’t really used my legs at all because we were just in a van the whole day. The travel is really exhausting but playing the shows is always so rewarding and it’s always great to play to new people. See how the music has spread and maybe not. It’s a grind but I think it’s really important to connect with your audience and just for people to know that you can play live. It’s a thing that you should be able to do if you’re putting out music. Like I know there’s lots of bands that know they are just internet bands they really don’t play live. Touring is the greatest, weirdest thing that you can do as a band.
And we talked about it a little before but obviously, Hey Ocean!, was a band for so long but you did just came off the hiatus with this new album. For the writing for this album, were these all songs that were written fresh when the band came off hiatus? Were there some that you had kicking around for a while?
Yeah, there were a couple songs that were written before we broke up. Actually, Dave Vertesi and I , when we broke up which is three years ago now, I recorded a solo EP with Dave Vertesi who’s our bass player/singer/band dad. I was just like ‘I don’t know what to think, I don’t know what to do. The band’s done.’ I was like I guess I’ll just take some of these songs that I had done for Hey Ocean!, and make an EP. And then upon finishing the project, it just felt so not right to put it out as a solo person because they were songs that we had worked on as a band. And we had one of the key band members missing. It just didn’t feel right in my gut so I kind of shelved it. Then we kind of came back to some of those songs, ‘Amsterdam’ is one of them and ‘Mama Said’ and ‘To the Sea’ which is the last song on the album. They just felt like they belonged to a Hey Ocean! Album. So some of those were written before and some of the songs to be honest, we just sat down in my apartment for a weekend and we just spent three days kind of writing and singing together. That was the first time we had really done that in a while and it was really nice and refreshing. It was like ‘oh yeah we can do this’ and it just felt really natural. We’re good at this because we have done it for so long together. So that was really awesome. To be able to do that and have that reminder I guess. So yeah a lot of the songs came from that and I think that kind of makes up the album.
You talked about how Vertesi was with you on these solo songs, but in speaking to a lot of bands fresh off of hiatuses, something you left behind in the writing process from the first time and maybe something new you tried?
I think the new thing was just going into the studio in a relaxed way, that was really important. Like not putting the pressure on ourselves to finish an entire album in a month or something. We really took our time with it, that’s not the best thing because you want to be able to finish an album, but we just went into the studio over the course of a year and just did the songs at our own pace. It just kind of came together in a nice way. There are benefits to kind of cramming an album out and just getting it all done but as far as the band and the vibes, we kept them very positive in the studio and they haven’t been in the past. It was finally something where I wanted to be there versus in the past, the studio has been a very stressful place where I didn’t want to be there and I was like ‘I got to get out of here!’ That was pretty key I think in these new songs.
Then you’re just doing a few dates on this US run.
Yeah I think we’re doing six dates in total.
And this album is still very new, only coming out in April. Maybe focuses or hopes for these next few months, maybe goals. Maybe what you see Hey Ocean! Doing in these next few months?
We released a deluxe edition of our album which has some extra songs on it. Acoustic versions of the songs. We’ve got a music video coming out soon for ‘Mama Said’. We’re playing a big hometown show in Vancouver at the Vogue Theater which is a beautiful venue, one of my favorites in the world to play at. I’ve been writing a lot and just getting some more songs together. Going to be releasing a single before the end of the year. Not just stopping once we get off the road, we’re keeping it fresh. The Dave’s are both writing. Whether it’s putting out some solo stuff, each of us, or writing for the band. Just continue the momentum. Nonstop.