Moving to Colorado has been one of the best experiences in my life. But recently, I’ve been feeling the affects of being landlocked. I am really missing my ocean. Having grown up in California, I took for granted it would always be there for me. The ocean provided a welcoming escape from all the bullshit I had encountered in any given day. It was my escape into another world, where I could sit for hours and be entertained by the spastic movements of the dark water.
This past week I found that another ocean will no longer accessible. An ocean that has brought many waves of pleasure to our listening audience. An ocean that always came to play, tickling all our naughty spots.
Black Black Ocean will perform at what may well be their last show, which takes place at The Construct in Denver next Monday, August 2.
It was Sunday night at the Underground Music Awards show when I learned the fate of one of my favorite bands in Denver. It was right after I had shared my glee with Aimee Folette (from Fox Theatre) about the future of this band, and how much potential they had.
All I knew was I was planning to talk to guitarist Stephen Till after their show about this actual article. Little did I know it would be the first story, and possibly the last. I say possibly because they may play in the wintertime, but that’s completely up in the air at this point.
The scoop is, Ryan Eason, lead singer, guitarist, keyboardist, and accountant is heading off for school-istic business masters pastures. As a result, drummer Jared Black will be moving to Seattle to buy expensive, vintage grunge wear from the movie set of Singles and pursue his love for Bridgett Fonda.
At Sunday’s show, right before BBO was set to come on, Dan Rutherford from Indiego got my attention, telling me they were going to lip synch the first song of their set. But most of the audience had no idea why Black was at the front of the stage with a guitar instead of back behind the drums. And Eason was in his place with sticks in hand. The song hit, and all the players were in place, just switching roles with rock star perfection. It took a few seconds, but people got it and applauded, poking each other at the parody in action.
“It was always my dream to be a lead singer,” Black says with a grin, as I join him, Till, and the fifth member of the group, Jonathan Till (Stephen‘s brother and graphic artists d’Elegance) for drinks at Gabor’s.
Till adds, “We had to make it light hearted. It doesn’t have to be so serious. People are way to serious.”
That’s something the foursome has never been accused of. In fact, most of their interviews are nothing but abstract stories filled with more fiction than truth, obscurity in a David Lynch meets Mel Brooks kind of way.
When asked what each band member plans to do post BBO, Black sips his beer and asks, “Do you want to hear a lie or do you want me to tell the truth?”
Believe it or not, this is the truth: bassist Quintin Schermerhorn will be going on tour with Brian Nation (who filmed Sunday’s Gothic show), a goat and a Shetland pony as a traveling circus music before he also goes back to school. From eagle beaks to barnyard animals. You can never say the Ocean didn’t love nature.
As for the Till brothers (Jonathan was actually in Black Black Ocean before Stephen kicked him out), Stephen plans to continue as a solo artist, with a margarita and a laptop, rippin’ the folk-Mexican-electronic grooves. The two of them plan to join a rock supa-group. The lead singer of Five Iron Frenzy, Reese Roper, has hired their hands to rock the punk kids. “So that will be fun,” Till smiles, adding, “and being married.” He goes on to tell us about the new washing machine he bought with his wife, and their exciting trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond where they purchased their first knife set. It was like something out of the movie “Old School.”
With not a beer bong in site, Till sips on his PBR, “But we’ll be back doing the rock thing. I have leverage now in this city. There’s things I can get away with now.”
“Get in the bars for free…” Black says, shrugging about his move to a new city, “I have to start all over again. No more free drinks for me.”
BBO will be leaving behind a legacy; that is for sure. They will not be one of those bands that has no fan fare when they finally dissolve and fizzle out. In contrast, there is the River Phoenix and the James Dean’s of the world who have us wondering what could have been and feeling as though they were taken from us in their prime.
“If there’s any way to leave, that’s the way, with that type of potential. It’s not like we tried, we made it, and then we failed,” Till explains.
His brother Jonathan adds, “They’ll never be some washed up people who were really cool three years ago.”
“And we ended with a good album,” S. Till says.
That’s an understatement. Eaglemaniac will go down as one of the top ten local releases of 2004, no bout a dout it. Of the last few shows, I was jonzin’ for them to play “I Love You Like Cocaine,” didn’t happen. Apparently, that’s one that was more of a studio song than something they could pull off live, and although they tried in practice, it just didn’t line up. Their philosophy was to keep the two separate. “There’s bands that make albums, and then they try to recreate that live, and they end up just standing there playing the album. You could just go home and listen to it.”
The band always delivered, from the first beat on the bass to the last pound of the drumstick. Every show was a new experience every time.
“We just want to bring the party back into Rock,” Till states, matter-of-factly. That they’ve done.
In addition to their Tasmanian devil approach to playing for their fans, their wacky and creative minds turned every show into a theme party with streamers, party hats made into eagle beaks, and doctors smocks. At their CD release show at Rock Island this month, Eason went down to hidden singer, crouching rocker and the crowd followed. It was amazing to see every kid on the floor just waiting for the signal to pop up again. And instead of an encore “we hate encores,” Eason ran out and handed Ben from Soda Jerk the remix of “SM,” and everyone was shaking and dancing, including the band.
This is what I’ll miss most. You were never just watching a Black Black Ocean show, you were a part of it.
Their tour tales are just as colorful, from living in on cheese sandwiches to save money that end up making Stephan lactose intolerant after a while, to asking Calgon AND Mr. Bubble to take them away, right in the middle of a party. BBO plans to put together a full web album in the near future, but we had to provide a peak of what may appear, including cute little Quintin waking up on a cot in some strange place, with this cozy rainbow pillow and the wrist band from the night before.
As we got our huge bill of $6.00 (man, I need to drink at Gabor’s more often, it’s so cheap!), we somehow got on the topic of my plot to visit California so I can get my ocean fix. Jonathan commented that there’s water here in Colorado, it’s just in the form of lakes. I agreed, but that’s just a pseudo substitute. And the only thing that came to mind was, “Vibrators may be fun, but there’s nothing like the real thing, ya know? I gotta have the real ocean.”
Black Black Ocean is hoping to get a show together in during the Winter break, if all the members can come back together. So just in case that doesn’t happen, you don’t want to miss the show Monday, August 2 at The Construct in Denver.