Vancouver-based indie-pop trio Hey Ocean have gained a large fan base across Canada since their formation.
Lead singer and flutist Ashleigh Ball, bassist David Vertesi, and guitarist David Beckingham are set to bring their third full-length album, IS, to Saskatoon Sept. 22 at Louis’ Pub as part of their country wide tour.
It will be one of many times the band has played in Saskatoon.
“It’s like our second home,” Beckingham said, excited to perform in the city again. “We’re pretty stoked.”
Beckingham and Ball were longtime friends, having met in grade six, when they formed the band seven years ago.
“Our sisters tried to set us up on a little date,” Beckingham said. He and Ball developed a “natural friendship” after living close to one another and attending the same summer camp.
They were already playing music together when they met Vertesi at a show, completing the Hey Ocean trio.
Last year, the band signed with Universal Music Canada, their first major label deal. Previously, they released their albums through Pop Machine, the label created with fellow Vancouver indie-folk band Said the Whale, but Pop Machine has since fizzled out.
Hey Ocean’s biggest cross-Canada tour yet kicks off Sept. 15 in Vancouver. No strangers to the 13,000-plus km journey, the band members are bracing themselves for living in a van for the next two months.
“Along with excitement comes the fear,” Beckingham said of the trip. Long hours in tight quarters can take its toll on relationships.
“Positive vibes are very, very important.”
Although touring takes its toll, the band enjoys bringing their music to the country.
“We always say we get sick of touring half way through and start wanting to come home and then when we’re home we want to get back on the road,” Beckingham said.
“We try to keep it new and fresh…. The show tends to morph over the course of the two month tour.”
When not on the road, all three musicians write music together.
“We are very adamant about sharing everything in terms of the writing,” Beckingham said.
“Finishing writing a song is the best feeling… then going into the studio to record it is amazing. I love it,” he said.
Hey Ocean’s music is influenced by many artists, such as Led Zeppelin, Harry Nilsson, Radiohead and, most notably, the Beatles. Their lyrics come from life, romance and sometimes “a quirky idea that just comes into my head. I feel like I get that freedom from being a huge Beatles fan.”
The band is influenced by the types of songs that give you shivers and “stuff you can relate to on an emotional level.”
The band spent a lot of their time while working on their last album exploring their musical goals. They discovered that the “band is about making music that is from the heart and trying to be as honest as possible.”
All three members are inspired by the beauty of the British Columbia coastline, which is reflected in their songs, “Big Blue Wave” and, “If I Were a Ship.”
Because of their connection to the coastline, the trio is concerned about the Enbridge oil pipeline project and the environmental impact it could have.
“We want to do whatever we can as a humble band with a small voice to… get behind this,” Beckingham said, noting the band is looking for ways to get involved with the David Suzuki Foundation.
He feels the band offers a platform for the members to speak out on important issues.
Beyond their environmental efforts, Hey Ocean believes in getting kids involved in music. Last Christmas, the band organized a charity show that raised $25,000 for St. James Music Academy For Kids, which runs an after school music program in Vancouver.
After their cross-country tour winds up in November, Hey Ocean hopes to spread their music internationally. They now have an agent in the U.S. and the album will soon be released south of the border. Tentatively, the trio have their sights set on Australia for next spring.
Beckingham is stoked to one day tour Europe and jokingly mused about his dream gig.
“It would be nice to do an acoustic show in the Sistine Chapel, I bet the acoustics are pretty nice in there,” he said.
While the Sistine Chapel is not quite ready to host Hey Ocean, Saskatoon fans will be excited to welcome the band back this Saturday at Louis’.