The Ocean Blue can't shake the British-band comparisons


It's nice to have glowing comments from critics about your TC latest album and concerts, but as guitarist and singer David Schelzel of The Ocean Blue would tell you, it's not always what you say but how you say it.

The Ocean Blue's sophomore effort, "Cerulean," is a masterful work from the Hershey, Pa., quartet, but once again critics (including this one) have to add a line about the band being the ultimate rip off of British modern rock.

And it bugs Schelzel to no end.

"I don't really want to be a British-sounding American band," said Schelzel, whose band will perform at Max's On Broadway Tuesday night. "I want to be an American band that sounds the way that they want to sound."

But it doesn't take more than 30 seconds of listening to any of the new album's 12 songs to immediately conjure up thoughts of the 80s alternative music scene. The Smiths, The Psychedelic Furs, Echo and The Bunnymen, English Beat, XTC, Icicle Works, etc.

"I think of American bands like R.E.M., who have influenced us as well, even now. And then I begin to wonder what an American band is supposed to sound like," Schelzel said. "I certainly don't think we sound like [British bands] EMF or Jesus Jones. Just what is American? Does it have to be bluesy rock? Bruce Springsteen? Jon Bon Jovi? Guns N' Roses?"

Schelzel said some comparisons are flattering.

"One English writer from The New Musical Express said we were an interesting double bluff," Schelzel said. "He said an awful lot of English bands were trying to sound American 10 years ago and here comes an American band who sounds like these bands. I think he thought Echo and The Bunnymen were trying to be The Doors and The Smiths were trying to be Johnny Cash."

But, as long as the words are positive, at the end of the day Schelzel and his band mates -- drummer Rob Minnig, bassist Bobby Mittan and keyboardist Steve Lau -- are just glad that fans are picking up on The Ocean Blue's sound enough for the band to get national airplay and good concert crowds.

"We just make the music we make," Schelzel said. "The only thing we're ever conscious of is making music of artistic value -- intelligent, literate music. That might separate us from American bands out to make money and sell records and be entertainers. I think we come from a more artistic and literate background."

After Tuesday's show, The Ocean Blue will depart for the West Coast and a six-week string of opening dates for The Psychedelic Furs.


The local rock band Child's Play has finally named its new singer. The band went all the way to Memphis to get him.

Ty Crook, a 22-year-old, singer/songwriter/guitarist, will replace Brian Giacubeno, a seven-year member of the band who was asked to leave in June.

"It took us some time to find the right person but we didn't want to make a mistake," said drummer John Allen.

The band, which is still with Chrysalis Records, is wasting no time picking up where it left off. Their concert schedule begins Nov. 9 at Hammerjacks and continues with shows at Scandal's in Ocean City (Nov. 15), The Bayou in D.C. (Nov. 22) and another show at Hammerjacks (Nov. 27).

Allen said the band, which also features bassist Idzi and guitarist Nicky Kay, could be in the studio recording its second album as early as December.


The concert calendar:

The Smithereens will appear at Towson Center next Oct. 25.

The Bodeans will appear at Kraushaar Auditorium at Goucher College on Nov. 8.

Van Halen will perform at the Capital Centre tonight. The Cap Centre also welcomes George Michael (Oct. 31) and Paula Abdul (Nov. 21).

Hammerjacks has The Ramones (tomorrow), NRBQ (Nov. 2), Screaming Jets (Nov. 8), Return To Zero (Nov. 15) and Foreigner (Nov. 16).

Queensryche will appear the Arena Nov. 7.

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