Ocean Colour Scene (often abbreviated to OCS) are an English Britpop band from Birmingham.
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Early Days (1990-1991)
Ocean Colour Scene were formed after two other local bands called The Boys and Fanatics disbanded. Fanatics released an EP titled Suburban Love Songs. OCS signed to Phfftt Records in 1990.
Their first 7" single, "Sway", was released in the early 1990s UK indie era. However, when their record label was swallowed up by larger company Phonogram their eponymous d?but album was mixed, against the band's wishes, to fit in with the Madchester musical trend of the time. The album was largely deemed a failure, and the band fell into dispute with their record company.
Wilderness Years (1992-1995)
Being in dispute with their record company, the band were forced back onto the dole, with no real direction and being only able to write new music, but with no outlet for it .
In 1993, the start of the turnaround occurred. Paul Weller invited the band to support him on some dates of his tour. On the back of these performances, Weller invited Cradock to play on one of his singles, and Fowler to sing on his forthcoming album, Wild Wood . Cradock was asked to play live with Weller on his tour, and the money Cradock made kept the band afloat during this time.
The band recorded a demo tape that was sent to various industry figures. After hearing this tape, Noel Gallagher invited the band to play with Oasis on their Autumn 1995 tour. This support slot brought OCS to the attention of more record labels, and eventually in late 1995, the band signed with MCA Records .
Britpop fame (1996-2000)
With the explosion of the britpop scene, OCS's music became nationally and internationally known. Their second album Moseley Shoals was received to critical acclaim, containing four hit singles and reaching the heights of #2 in the UK Albums Chart.
They also played at the largest free standing gig of all time at Knebworth supporting Oasis on 10 and 11 August 1996.
Marchin' Already, the follow up to Moseley Shoals, went to #1 in the UK Albums Chart, displacing Oasis' Be Here Now at the top of the charts in 1997.
In 1998 they headlined their own arena tour in support of Marchin' Already and played three sold out nights at Stirling Castle, Scotland. Their arena tour became the biggest selling arena tour of any UK band in 1998.
One From The Modern was released in 1999, and peaked in the UK album chart at #4. The record spawned three top 40 singles, Profit in Peace, So Low and July.
In the media
Their song "The Riverboat Song" was featured on Chris Evans' TFI Friday as the backing music when guests were introduced. "Hundred Mile High City" was used in the film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and "July" (from their 1999 album One From The Modern) was used in the associated television series. More recently, their first hit single "The Riverboat Song" has been featured in the Vinnie Jones film Strength and Honour.
Recent years (2000-present day)
Having undergone lineup changes, the band continue to record and perform, though they have struggled to recapture the success they enjoyed with their breakthrough album Moseley Shoals. Releases in 2001 (Mechanical Wonder), 2003 (North Atlantic Drift), 2005 (A Hyperactive Workout For The Flying Squad) and most recently in 2007 (On the Leyline) continued the trend of releasing new material every two years. They have currently finished recording and mixing their latest album, Rockfield, with a release date sometime in early 2010 to mark the 21st anniversary of the band. At a recent gig in birmingham the celebrate the opening of the new 02 Academy Simon Fowler commented that the new album will be released on Feb 7th 2010. the band also played two new songs from the forth coming album called 'My Name is Saturday and Magic Carpet Days'
Most band members have supported/collaborated with other artists during the group's existence. Simon Fowler was one of the musicians involved in the official anthem for England's World Cup campaign, for France 98. England United as they were named also included Echo & the Bunnymen, Space and The Spice Girls. "(How Does It Feel) To Be On Top Of The World" reached number 9 in the official UK charts. Steve Cradock and former member Damon Minchella played/play regularly with Paul Weller, with Cradock also playing recently on Amy MacDonald's gigs.
Lead guitarist Steve Cradock and former bass guitarist Damon Minchella have been long-time members of ex-The Jam frontman Paul Weller's backing group, performing live and contributing to his solo albums before Ocean Colour Scene broke through to a wider audience. Lead singer Simon Fowler has also contributed to Paul Weller's albums in the past. Cradock and Minchella still regularly perform with Weller, despite Minchella no longer being an active member of Ocean Colour Scene.
During their peak (around the time of the Moseley Shoals release) OCS also regularly performed on stage with Noel and Liam Gallagher of Oasis with whom they were on tour at the time. These connections came about mainly due to OCS's musical abilities, which both Gallaghers and Weller praised greatly. One particular performance of note with the Gallaghers was a storming rendition of The Beatles' "Day Tripper", which was included as a live B-Side to the single "The Circle". The song was also included on the B-side compilation album B-sides, Seasides and Freerides. Noel Gallagher previewed an advance copy of the song during an interview on Radio 1 with DJ Jo Whiley. The interview mainly focused on Oasis's then-forthcoming gig in the grounds of Knebworth House, of which Ocean Colour Scene were one of the supporting acts. Over 2.6 million people applied for tickets for the shows, making it the biggest demand for concert tickets in British history. There was a combined audience of over 250,000 people. See Concerts at Knebworth House.