Prior to the domination that was our game against Notre Dame, I interviewed ex-Wolverine baseball player Bobby Scales. In a crazy round-a-bout fashion, we are now joined by Andy Kropf, Atlanta native and childhood friend of Bobby Scales. Andy's baseball career took him to Vanderbilt University where he played briefly with Mark Prior (before Prior transfered to USC) and was drafted by the Detroit Tigers and reached double-A status before his passion to make music took over. He is the front man and founder of the band Ocean Street, who just released their first full length album on September 16th, the same day as the domination mentioned above. My relationship with the band has grown exponentially since directing their first music video in Gulf Shores, AL, in early August. I encourage all of you to check out their website and get a copy of their album. Cheers!
TH - Andy, tell us about Ocean Street. How did the band get started and what's the influence?
OS - Mark Kovaly (keyboards), Steve Q (rhythm guitar), and myself (lead vocals) had been playing acoustic shows in little coffee shops and songwriter contests. At one point, we felt the urge to move forward and bring in drums, bass, and some lead guitar. It was very hard to find the right group of guys who were talented, committed, and had that x factor but eventually we found them in The Wall (drums) and Lance Price (lead guitar). I look back and everything felt like it was taking forever but I am glad for the way it unfolded. I would say our influences run the gamut pretty well. Everyone in the band was influenced by slightly different artists. What happens when you roll that up is the sound of Ocean Street, which has been described as a â€œMelodic collision of Southern-Soul and Songwriter Rock.(http://www.prleap.com/pr/46063/)
TH - What went down Saturday September 16th and how does it feel to have a fully completed album?
OS - We had our Album and Video release party. We debuted our video, released our album, and played a high energy, multi-sensory show to a capacity crowd in Atlanta. It feels great to have an album finished, but especially this one. This one means so much. These songs were written over the course of four or five years. We took our time deciding on a producer, and whether we wanted to do a full album or just an EP. Then, we just decided to go for it. Part of it was finding the right guy. Part of it was that I started to get that now or never feeling. We recorded for 12 months and really gelled as a band and found the parts that were right for each song and now, here we are.
TH - Give us some details on the album and what are some of the hits?
OS - Well, I've never been the Joe Namath type, so I can't really predict what songs on this album are hits. There are too many factors that determine that. However, I would say that after paring this album down from 25 songs to 13, we feel like every one of them is strong. We like them all. We have had quotes from high profile podcasters saying things like "Every song sounds like a single" and "Once you put this album in your car stereo, you will never take it out." We just went in and made the record we always wanted to make. So I am glad we are getting that kind of response. Maybe you can give the folks a few key tracks to listen to. (www.oceanstreetmusic.com)
TH - Take me through your early baseball career and what was it like growing up a baseball player in Atlanta? Name some of the top competition you got to play against?
OS - Atlanta, and more particularly, East Cobb, is a hot bed for baseball talent, instruction, and competition. I think it would amaze people in Michigan to learn how early the season starts and how many people make their living coaching youth baseball in Atlanta. What would also amaze them are the sheer numbers of guys coming from that area and ending up in the big leagues. Off the top of my head, Adam Everett, Brent Abernathy, Quincy Carter, Mike Barrett, Kris Benson, Marlon Byrd, Brian McCann, Jeff Francoeur, Blaine Boyer, Kyle Davies, and Michigan Alum, Bobby Scales. That is just to name a few. There are probably 50 kids a year going to Division 1 baseball out of East Cobb, three or four top 5 rounders, and a lot of guys who eventually play minor league ball. East Cobb is like the Cape Cod of high school summer ball.
TH - The people in Michigan that will be reading this will want to know about the Tigers minor league system...
OS - I really enjoyed my time in the Tigers organization. I made a lot of good friends and had some great experiences. The only time I made it to Detroit was for shoulder surgery unfortunately but I know it is a city that loves its Tigers. I am glad they are having so much success this year. One of my old roomies from my days as a Tiger, Cody Ross (now with the Marlins) made it out to the Ocean Street album release party and hung out in the V.I.V.I.V.I.P area the whole time.
TH - What was the experience like shooting your first music video?
OS - Well, we couldn't have pulled it off without everyone at Lu Lu's (http://www.lulusathomeport.com/main/index.php) really and truly helping out in every way they could. They helped us find extras, gave us the run of the place, and got us on a million dollar yacht that took us to a private island in the gulf. Plus, RM Haddad and Brian Schulz took a little bit of gear and a questionable looking band and made us look cool as hell! The shoot was fun, but I had no idea the final product would come out as well as it did. The video is fun. It shows our live show and our sense of humor. I am excited about getting it out there to the world. You can see the video for yourself and buy the record at www.OceanStreetMusic.com
Thanks for spending some time with us Andy and good luck to you and Ocean Street!