Ocean Grove released their third album Up in the Air Forever last week, the eagerly-anticipated follow-up to 2020’s Flip Phone Fantasy.

While still maintaining the raucous spirit of previous releases, Up in the Air Forever sees increased experimentation from the band, dabbling in hard rock and grunge.

“This record is definitely a departure from our heavier side,” drummer Sam Bassal explained. “We had a once in a lifetime chance to dictate what our band was going to be like when we moved Dale (Tanner) to frontman. That’s a chance a lot of bands don’t get, and they might end up feeling stuck in a certain lane that they’ve always been in.

We had an opportunity to say, ‘All right, what are our strengths moving forward?’ And for us, that meant expanding on the heavy foundations we had built for ourselves.”

As the record’s manifesto puts it, “The power is in the shoes.” The shoe in question is the colossal sneaker that dominates the Up in the Air Forever cover. And while it sits front and centre on the rocker’s new album, this isn’t any normal shoe: it’s a vessel for personal freedom and unbridled creativity, everything Ocean Grove stands for.

To mark the album’s release, we got the band’s Twiggy Hunter to take us through the creation of Up in the Air Forever‘s memorable cover art, which had some very unexpected influences.

And if you fancy experiencing the power of the shoe in person, Ocean Grove will embark on the Flip Phone In The Air tour this month, performing across Australia before taking to the Full Tilt stage throughout July (full details here).

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Ocean Grove’s ‘Up in the Air Forever’ is out now.

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The Concept

The concept for Up in the Air Forever was a natural process, every little bit fell into place organically. Originally we were thinking of the entire album concept as a whole, like how we could play it into the entire campaign and each individual song’s place in the album, largely because we leaned on the whole “playlist” thing rather than an overarching album with the songwriting for this one.

We try to get away with as much as we can in writing a good mix and variations of sounds and songs rather than just have a linear sound throughout the album. If you’ve listened to it, you’ll know what I mean – it’s very up and down and we really needed something to complement that on the front cover.

I came to the boys one day after I’d had an idea in the back of my head for a while… it was the idea of bringing a real world item to life through the actual concept of the album and the artwork, and portrayed throughout the campaign. I didn’t necessarily know what that would be like, whether it would be sportswear or whether it would be an Ocean Grove brand that we did or something like that.

One reference in particular was the movie Like Mike where he puts on his shoes and he’s transformed into a person in a world where he can do and be who he wants. Once we’d locked in the idea for the shoe being the real world item for Up in the Air Forever, we started bouncing ideas around about how we could include that on the actual album cover itself.

The Art

The artist for Up in the Air Forever, Brent Engstrom, is actually an artist for Topp, the trading card company, and they do a whole bunch of collectibles and stuff. I’ve followed his work for years, since he’s been the official Garbage Pail Kids artist, and I’ve always loved Garbage Pail Kids.

For this album we were bouncing ideas around and it wasn’t necessarily super pressing, but when it came down to crunch time, I just threw Brent into the mix and showed the boys his work. And straight off the bat, they were kind of like, “fuck! His stuff is so sick!”

Obviously it’s Garbage Paul Kids showing through but his style is just so nostalgic. Even if someone wasn’t necessarily into Garbage Pail Kids as a kid, it’s still recognisable for that specific style of cartoon. It just unlocked a part of my childhood when I used to see those cards, I was so obsessed!

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The Power is in the Shoe: The OddWorld 3000

When we were incorporating the shoe into the artwork for Up in the Air Forever, we had a few initial ideas which were, I guess, very “beige” versions of what it eventually became. For example, we’d thought about the shoe itself with some classic Apple ads sort of style, with the similar text and things like that. Sam and I would go back and forth on the ideas, and I was just not feeling it.

Another idea I threw into the mix earlier was that the shoe has devil horns, angel wings, and a devil tail, kind of playing on the whole “devil on the shoulder, angel on the other” idea. Coming back to Brent Engstrom though, I’ve always wanted to get an Ocean Grove cartoon or animated art done, and I was such a massive fan of his work and style, so I said to the boys, “what If we have the shoe coming from the OddWorld into the real world, and Sam, Twiggy and Dale are coming out of the OddWorld with the shoe.”

The shoe, or the OddWorld 3000, represents the user or the wearer, and also the OG fan who is in the OddWorld with us, because they’ve been transformed into their best self and truest form. And they’re in there experiencing the OddWorld and everything is fucking raw and real.

We believe that it’s in those raw moments and moments of adversity that people really grow and become their best selves, and that experience is represented with the shoe coming through from the OddWorld with the three members of Ocean Grove. The shoe is clearly coming out, ready to fucking run, and ready to take over the world – and we’re there with it.

Honey, We Blew Up The Oddworld 3000

An extra bit of inspiration came from the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids series, I loved all of those movies as a kid. One of the ideas I think I originally sent to Sam Bassal was the cover for Honey, I Blew Up the Kid, which has that massive shoe hovering and the dad looks shrunk and tiny. It’s such a classic film, and the inspiration stemmed from seeing those kinds of movies as a kid in the early-mid 90s and early 2000s. Back then a lot of Hollywood films would still make physical and real objects and props rather than everything now which is so digital.

That cover with the giant shoe and the movie itself was so obnoxious, and there are these behind the scenes photos of it – the shoe was as big as a car next to the guy! They really didn’t take any shortcuts, you know? And I’ve always wanted to do crazy shit like that, I really miss those days of the Jurassic Park movies and all of that stuff.

They would actually make huge dinosaur heads and things that looked so real, and as a kid after seeing all of those movies, I was always amazed by the props. I always thought I wouldn’t mind making a few things like that myself. Obviously we haven’t been able to make a car-sized OddWorld 3000, but I reckon we may have to get something like that made, maybe for a stage show or something like that!


The Up in the Air Forever artwork and album itself is as simple as this: we’re there with the fan, ready to take over the fucking world with them, and back them with whatever they want to do and who they want to be, and just really fucking allow people to be themselves. And we want to show them that if they really want something, they can fucking get it. But only if they wear the OddWorld 3000 of course.

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