Jason and Keith met at Evanston Township High School in 1991 on the first day of marching band practice. Keith had an alto saxophone strapped around his skinny neck and was wearing a Living Colour t-shirt. Jason also had an alto saxophone around his neck but he had an INXS tee shirt on, therefore Keith will forever be cooler.

They bonded through the torture that would ensue in the high school music program and shortly ditched their saxophones altogether, but not before joining Transmission (a group formed by Antibalas’ and Iron and Wine’s tenor saxophonist Stuart Bogie and friend Zachary Mastoon aka Caural). Jason was already a double threat since he had been playing the guitar for some time and was in another rock band, State of Nature, and they needed a drummer. Wanting for something more, Keith lied and told Jason he played the drums (it wasn’t a complete lie, he had a neighbor who had a drum set and he had played it more than once). They stole friend and bassist Jacob Croegaert from another local rock outfit, recorded a demo and played a handful of shows as Shag.

Inspired by The Roots and other likeminded hip-hop groups, they started moving towards live hip-hop and eventually became the backing band for Chocolate Industries’ rapper Diverse. They dabbled with other MCs, performed shows around Chicago, and even did the Van’s Warped Tour on the hip-hop stage. Jason, Keith and Jacob worked hard at the live hip-hop scene with decent success but not enough to keep interest, so they disbanded.

Keith started working as an engineer at EV studios and producing electronic and hip-hop music, doing work for Diverse again as well as remixing Mos Def and Prefuse 73. He achieved some critical acclaim with his 2006 release of Midnight Green with rapper Racecar as Modill as well as touring with Speech from Arrested Development and Tre Harson from the Pharcyde. All this was fine and good, but didn’t satisfy the melodic creative energy that Keith felt was being eschewed for sample-based beats. It wasn’t long before he started working with Jason again, this time picking up the guitar to sing and write soul-tinged indie rock.

For a little while they worked a lot like the Postal Service, shooting tracks back and forth across the country via email because Jason had moved with his girlfriend to Penn State. The music was pretty with lush, interesting chords and plenty of vocal harmonies without losing focus on quality song craft and groove. This was the music they wanted to make, somewhere between indie rock, soul, and pop with interesting and unpredictable mixing touches giving it a psychedelic quality.

2011 will find Their Ocean releasing not only the Still Waters EP in the spring on startup label Field Recordings, but also the Sunstroke EP due out in November.
Look out for Their Ocean’s debut long player Skies Light Up in early 2012 and live shows with multi-instrumentalist Jacob Croegaert back in the fold.