The Los Angeles-based band Ocean Park Standoff 's breakout single, "Good News," streamed over 16 million times on Spotify within its first year, fueling the band's self-titled debut EP, released this spring. The band (@OceanParkStandoff) was cofounded by out DJ and songwriter Samantha Ronson, who has creativity in her veins. She was raised by her stepfather, Mick Jones, the legendary guitarist for the rock band Foreigner. (Fun fact: Ronson uses vintage equipment and instruments on a lot of the band's tracks, including her stepdad's Roland Jupiter-8 synthesizer that still holds Foreigner song pre-sets. "Nepotism!" Ronson cheers, winking to her rock royalty privileges.)
Ronson's brother Mark is a famous producer, known for his work with powerhouse artists like Adele, Bruno Mars, and Amy Winehouse. Her twin sister, Charlotte, is a fashion designer whose brand has been worn by eclectic stars like Andy Dick, Winona Rider, and Gwen Stefani.
Ocean Park Standoff's uber-talented vocalist and songwriter, Ethan Thompson, hails from a small town in Montana and got his big break on the 13th season of American Idol. Not to mention, prolific production genius Pete Nappi, who has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry, including currently, 30 Seconds to Mars, Kesha, Santigold, and Meghan Trainor.
After wrapping their summer tour with the Plain White T's, The Advocate had a chance to chat with the band.
The Advocate: Where did the name Ocean Park Standoff come from?
Thompson: We were on the way to [Ronson's] house to work on some new music and all the roads were shut down. ... There was a standoff happening on Ocean Park, right next door to where she lived. She turned to us and said, "That's got to be our band name!" and it's stuck ever since.
How did you get into music?
Nappi: I was using GarageBand [software] since I was like 10. My brother played guitar, so I had a bunch of guitars lying around, I had my drum set, so everything was kind of, like, in the basement. I started playing drums when I was 8. ... When I got my recording gear [at 14], I just basically slept in my basement. I didn't really go in my room or do anything else.
Ronson: I mean, there was no really escaping it in my house. ... When I moved out and went to college, I realized that the music doesn't just come with you! I was like, "Oh, fuck." I had no CDs. I had no anything. I'm literally in Paris for my first year in college with, like, a Cat Stevens CD. And so my stepfather brought a guitar with him and he left it. He basically hooked me up. I kind of just started teaching myself to play.
Thompson: It basically started when my parents put my sisters in lessons for piano and singing, and I was always wanting to do what they did. ... [Later] I was going to school for classical training. ... There was a jingle competition for Folgers. ... [I] ended up winning the competition and going to L.A. It was when I had that realization that I definitely didn't want to stay doing classical any longer and just wanted to do straight-up songwriting, singing my own songs.
Samantha, you've said "If You Were Mine" is about bisexuality. Is having LGBT representation in Ocean Park Standoff's music a priority?
Ronson: I think when one of the three of us is gay [she laughs, obviously referencing herself], it's definitely going to be represented in our songs. But also, I think what I love so much about the three of us together is that we're all so different. ... At the end of the day, love is love. The message is "Choose whichever way you want -- but it'll be better if you're with me."
Is your upbeat, positive vibe and sound a conscious effort?
Ronson: Focusing on the negative just breeds negativity. ... In order to make any sort of change, in your world or the world around you, you have to do it with light. ... Yesterday, I was like, "Everyone sucks." Then I was like, "You know what? Most people are great. It's just the shitty ones are the loudest." But then you see something like with the NFL, saying they're going to fine the teams if they protest, and then you got the Jets owner saying, "Well, I'm not going to penalize my guys for kneeling." If you look, there's a lot of positivity in the world, and it's just a matter of finding the like-minded people and coming together.