A few teenagers from Hershey found themselves in a rock ’n‘ roll vortex in the late ’80s — and it was a lot wilder than they bargained for, says The Ocean Blue frontman David Schelzel.
“One of the first big shows we ever had was opening up for the Smithereens in Harrisburg,” Schelzel says. “We were starry-eyed teenagers, and these guys were wild. I’ll never forget the encore when the drummer [Dennis Diken] took a pitcher of beer and dumped it on his head and started dancing around stage with it on his head. [I thought] ‘Wow, this is rock ’n‘ roll.’”
Now, it’s a new chapter for The Ocean Blue with the 180-gram vinyl rereleases of the band’s first three albums, all from Sire Records: “The Ocean Blue,” “Cerulean” and “Beneath the Rhythm and Sound.”
In the late 1980s, the band’s atmospheric and contemplative rock landed them on MTV and national tours. They also gained national notice for a Southeastern Pennsylvania “scene” that included Live and Innocence Mission.
“When we started in the late ’80s, there were quite a few blues rock and hair metal and glammy things going on, but nothing like the kind of music we were making,” Schelzel says. “Then there was a brief flurry of a lot of interesting original music that was working its way up in the late ’80s and early ’90s with quite a few acts — but then it kind of fizzled out.”
The Ocean Blue, whose hits included “Between Something and Nothing,” “Ballerina Out of Control” and “Sublime,” had a sound more akin to Brit bands like the Smiths or Echo and the Bunnymen than the blustery bark of Seattle groups, which took over rock radio in the early 1990s.
The guys eventually went their separate ways but never really disbanded. In 2013, they released “Ultramarine” on indie label Korda Records.
“We’re indie musicians now,” says Schelzel, an intellectual property lawyer in Minneapolis when he’s not playing rock ’n‘ roll.
“We are not as active as we once were, and I’m pretty much OK with that,” he says. “I don’t know if I want to go back to the intensity and the unpredictability of that, but I still love music — we all do — and we still love making it and recording.”
If you go:
The Ocean Blue
Friday, 8 p.m.
World Cafe Live
3025 Walnut St.