22 July 2018 (released)
24 July 2018
It's now 22 years since Ocean Colour Scene sailed on the crest of a wave with The Riverboat Song.
Truly epitomising the band's indie rock sound, the tune was not only adopted by fans as an anthem for the group, it was used by DJ Chris Evans as a theme tune for his TV show, TFI Friday.
Thus followed a string of recording successes and highly-acclaimed gigs, which saw them achieving a triple platinum album Moseley Shoals and another platinum album Marchin' Already.
They also notched up a staggering 17 Top 40 singles, with six of them Top 10 hits, including The Day We Caught The Train, Hundred Mile High City, and The Circle
Two decades on, and the steam still hasn't run out of the OCS boat. Still with original members Simon Fowler, Oscar Harrison and Steve Craddock, as well as new member Raymond Meade, the band are still touring and are just starting work on a new album.
Lead singer Simon spoke to us ahead of a performance at a brand new festival called Cool Britannia, along with the likes of Cast, the Happy Mondays, Lightning Seeds and Dodgy.
You're performing at Cool Brittania on September 1 so will be returning to Knebworth, where you famously appeared with Oasis back in the day. Are you looking forward to it?
Yes, it's our first time back. It's gonna be good fun.
The concert at Knebworth in the 90s was a really pivotal moment in your career, wasn't it?
Yes it was, it was like a national event wasn't it? I don't remember a great deal about the day itself. I do remember that while I was on the side of the stage waiting to go on, and I looked out and there were 125,000 people, and I felt very, very nervous. Our manager Chris (Steve Craddock's father) was holding, what us old chaps would call, a cine camera, so I grabbed it, walked to the front of the stage, and filmed the crowd. The crowd responded, and I thought "Thank God for that!", I could then move.
At the time, in terms of sale and popularlity, we were the second biggest band in the country after Oasis, so we went down a storm. And I was remembering when we were watching 125,000 people singing La La La La (to The Riverboat Song) with their hands in the air, I thought Blimey O'Reilly, is that really us? It was all your Christmases and birthdays come together.
Is there anyone you're looking forward to seeing peform at the Cool Britannia festival?
I like Cast, and John (Power) is a great lad as well, so hopefully we'll be able to see some of that.
We've played a couple of festivals this year with Cast and Embrace, and we played some last year with Shed Seven and The Fratellis. Everyone's grown up now, they come along with their families, their kids are about 20!
I interviewed you 12 years ago, and at the time, you weren't very happy with the Brit Pop label. Does that phrase sit easier with you now?
Looking back, it was just shorthand for what was going on. I think I was probably being a bit precious about it! It's a bit like those 60s phrases, like The Beatles are a "Beach" group. Brit Pop did encapsulate what was going on really. It wasn't just pop music, it was fashion too; Kate Moss was as much of a pop star as Liam Gallagher. There was Damien Hirst and then Tony Blair who came into power and was probably someone younger people could identify with. That whole era was Brit Pop, pop art, doesn't really mean anything but in reality, we're a folk band as much as a pop band.
Was there good comaraderie between the bands in the 90s?
I know that Oasis and Blur had their differences, but we were in the Oasis and Paul Weller gang. We actually introduced Paul to Noel. That was the best gang, much better than the Blur gang!
Do you approach performing and life differently now to back in the 90s?
We went headlong into it, like a bull in a china shop to be honest, in absolutely every side of it, which I'm glad we did. It was great fun. I'm 53 now and I like a quiet life to be honest. It doesn't take much to make me happy, a pie and a pint down the local country pub. I've got a dog, I like going to the local country pubs, reading the paper, a very quiet unassuming life really.
Your last studio album was Painting five years ago. Are you writing any new material?
I've been working on new material on and off for the last few weeks. We havent put out an album for the last five years so we need to put that right, or we'll turn into Status Quo! Actually, I like the Quo, it's a guilty pleasure of mine. I like the early 70s stuff, it's because of my age (laughs).
I don't know how we'll release it really. I don't really know how that's done anymore. We'll probably put out some songs on our website, and then put some more out, and make up a vinyl album next year. In some ways, it's probably easier to release songs nowadays. I miss the fact that it doesn't seem important to hold a physical thing in your hand anymore. I haven't grown up with computers, I haven't used a computer in my life. I don't ever know when our next gig is as it's all online, and I dont know how to use a computer! I just turn up and they point me in the right direction.
You've said that you find the recording process difficult, and prefer being out on the road, is that still the case?
I record on a cassette recorder, it's getting increasingly difficult to find the cassettes actually. Thank God for Argos! I'm not very good in the studio. You see, what I do is I write the songs. Then I sit down and play the songs, they record them, and then the others turn it into Ocean Colour Scene, and I do the singing at the end. My studio input is fairly sporadic.
Going back to the 90s, when did you realise you'd 'made it' as a band?
That TFI Friday period was just fantastic. I became really good mates with Chris (Evans), we used to go out drinking in London. I used to go down to TFI when we weren't on, and hang out with Chris and Danny Baker and all that lot. That was pretty good. And when Moseley Shoals went straight in at number 2 because of Chris, we thought 'Blimey! That's us!'
Was the success everything you expected it to be?
Yes it was, it was absolutely brilliant. And anyone who says, ooh I didn't want that sort of success, I'd say, well go and be a farmer. It was wonderful, it was exactly as you'd imagine. I can't remember much of it but I do remember the whole time feeling really positive, and full of energy. We were really really busy, I don't think we appreciated quite what that album meant to so many people because we were too busy.
Any personal ambitions left to achieve?
No not really, just to live to old age!
Ocean Colour Scene play Cool Britannia Festival on Sunday 2nd September.