Trying to pin down Octopus Jones’ sound is akin to wrestling eight wriggling tentacles at once.
Even the members of the local rock band often struggle for the right words to explain all which their mix of many styles encompasses.
ListenUp Loves Octopus Jones
with Miracle Year & Bamboo Forest
- When | 8 p.m. Friday
- Where | Island Bar & Grill Surfside, 2272 Glenns Bay Road
- How much | $7 or $5 by registering for the guest list here.
“Wierd, but catchy,” says guitarist Blake Ratliffe.
“Spankwave Boogie,” adds drummer Darrin Cripe.
“I guess you could say it’s kind of like that college art rock. It’s kinda goofy stuff, but still funky and dancy,” says vocalist Danny Martin.
But regardless of what you call the music that Ratliffe, Cripe, Martin and bandmates Clay Carlisle, and Chris Wilson make, the fact is local music fans have taken notice.
On the strength of an infectious live show this group of Coastal Carolina students has become one of the biggest draws on the Grand Strand. In addition, Octopus Jones’ unique sound has helped the band create a solid regional following in places such as Charlotte, Columbia and Florence — the hometowns of its respective members.
“It’s really just about spreading the music,” said Cripe.
“We just have a lot of fun doing this and we want to keep it going and keep that feeling as long as we can,” adds Ratliff.
Myrtle Beach Music: Tyler Kampman (left) helps Danny Martin of Octopus Jones set up his mic at the WFXB studios Tuesday.
Finding a vibe
Though the band says it has never really fully capitalized on or catered directly to a CCU crowd, the university’s influence will always be tied to Octopus Jones’ origins.
“I was looking around Coastal for musicians for awhile, and I had found some but they weren’t into the same vibe I was trying to do,” said Martin. “It was hard to find a particular type of person, so when I met Darrin and we were into the same sorts of things I was very excited.”
Catch them on TV
Octopus Jones will perform on WFXB's Not The News Wednesday and Thursday nights. The show begins at 10:30 p.m. each night.
After coming together with Cripe in October 2008 and Carlisle and his cousin shortly afterward, Martin and crew quickly began playing to a cutting their teeth on a string fraternity and sorority talent shows.
“We did like three of those and they loved it. We never won, but they loved us,” said Cripe.
From there the band played their first real show at Columbia’s New Brookland Tavern and spent about about a year to get a good set of original music together.
“We just wanted to do something different from what was out there. And there wasn’t really much out there.” said Martin.
Tragedy & victory
In its three years since coming together, Octopus Jones has seen its share of tragedy and victory.
From the death of its original bassist John Pruitt in a 2009 car accident to taking top prize in Columbia’s Battle of the Bands in November, the band has persevered by using every experience as an opportunity to grow closer as a unit.
“It just makes all the good moments seem so much better now, because it makes you realize it’s really easy for someone to just be gone.” said Ratliffe.
Now, with a new album around the corner, the band is hoping to capitalize on its recent success and continue evolving to the next phase of its career.
“I think we’ve come a long way. We’ve got a lot more dynamics and movements within our songs and our set and I think that comes across in the music,” said Ratliffe.
Myrtle Beach Music: Clay Carlisle (left) and Blake Ratliffe of Octopus Jones prepare to play at the WFXB studios Tuesday.
Ready for release
Though the band had recorded demos in the past — some which were scrapped after Pruitt’s death — the upcoming EP will be Octopus Jones’ first official release.
“We’ve finally got a group of songs that we’re really happy with,” said Martin. “It’s like we’ve finally reached the point where we have something that we’re proud to give out and let people experience.”
The band recorded at Archer Avenue Studios in Columbia with friend and producer Kenny McWilliams at the helm. It was a 10-day process which Cripe says went fairly smoothly.
“We didn’t spend much time in the studio. We recorded pretty efficiently,” he said.
Still, even after working on honing the songs for nearly a year, there were still some tweaks and changes which needed to be made on the fly.
Overall though, the members agree that process of collaborating to make music and write songs together has become easier over time.
“I think the songwriting has matured a lot,” said Martin. “I like to use things that are maybe a darker kind of lyrics, but put to a lighter style of music. When you hear it we want you to think ‘Oh, that’s cool. That’s catchy,’ but when you really listen you notice there’s something underlying.”
Myrtle Beach Music: Darrin Cripe of Octopus Jones sets up his drums at the WFXB studios Tuesday.
Though there’s still work to be done in mastering and promoting, its once the album releases in late March that the real action will begin.
Octopus Jones plans to hit the Southeast hard this spring expanding their horizons to spots like Raleigh and Chapel Hill, as well as heading back south to Charleston in preparation for a summer push.
According to Ratliffe, the band plans to tour in the summer for two weeks and hopes to have another week or two on the road by fall.
“We just feel like if we make enough noise down here, somebody could catch on to what we’re doing,” said Martin.