Hey Ocean! is a band with a story about starting again — and it starts with a breakup.
In 2014, the trio was coming down off a wave of success that began with the release of the 2012 album IS. They were further pushed along by a Juno nomination for breakthrough group of the year in 2013.
Butd that wave hit the shore and washed away when the band began a hiatus in 2014 that would last three years.
“We were all exhausted, I think,” said Ashleigh Ball, lead singer and one-third of the Vancouver-based band.
“Things were really hard with IS and it was time to write new material and none of us really wanted to spend time together. The idea of writing new music wasn’t exciting,” she told KTW.
That exhaustion meant the band’s time writing and producing music together had come to an end, but their time playing together hadn’t.
Ball said they still had half a tour to play together after they decided not to be a band anymore and had to pretend that everything was fine.
“That was hard — especially the super happy pop songs,” she said.
But the breakup was mostly a professional one. Ball, David Beckingham (lead guitar, vocals) and David Vertesi (bass guitar, vocals) remained friends and shortly after deciding on the break, they all joined up for another cause — a local soccer team.
“We were all still there for each other, we just weren’t Hey Ocean!” Ball said.
The trio’s creative energy didn’t fade during the break, however.
Each of them had their own musical pursuits during their time away. Beckingham and Vertesi put out solo albums in 2016 and Ball released hers in 2017.
“I think we’ve all just matured,” Ball said. “It’s hard when there’s three people in a band. You grow up, your musical tastes change, you grow apart — it’s always been hard when there’s three writers.”
After three years of concentrating their creative energies elsewhere, those three writers decided to meet in Ball’s apartment for a weekend.
They smoked some pot, drank some tea and wrote.
“It felt so good to sing together again,” Ball said. “We were all relaxed with no pressure from anyone.”
That lack of pressure became one of the band’s new tenets upon deciding to make music together once again.
The group sought new management and released their latest album, The Hurt of Happiness, in April.
They also stopped trying so hard to create a cohesive sound.
Rather than fight against the way they have all grown in different directions, Ball said this time they chose to embrace it.
“We didn’t try to make it cohesive, but there’s a sort of through-line,” she said.
The band’s latest sounds will soon be heard in the River City with a show at The Blue Grotto, 319 Victoria St., on Thursday at 9 p.m. Tickets are $24.85 and available online at ticketweb.ca. Hey Ocean! will be joined by Victoria-based band Carmanah.
The break also allowed Ball to continue to pursue her other gig — voice acting. She stars in the hugely successful cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, voicing characters Applejack, Rainbow Dash and others.
It’s a job that has allowed Ball the freedom to spend however much time she wants in studio, even if it robs her of the “struggling musician thing.”
Despite her voiceover work successes, she said she’s thankful that her TV directors and producers know what her main pursuit is — music.
“It’s always been music. It’s the first thing I think of when I wake up and the last thing I think about before going to bed.”