INTERVIEW: Ocean Alley chats everything US tour and much more!
Summertime for music tends to mean a bit of a slow down for bands coming through town but one band that isn’t letting the summer slow them down are the Sydney’s Ocean Alley! The band is currently completing their first US run despite being a band for several years but clearly that time away has built up some buzz with their fans state side who came out in the hundreds for their show in Boston at Brighton Music Hall. The band grooved their way through the set to bobbing heads and cheers from the audience and made it clear why they’ve garnished so much success. I was able to sit down with one of the several guitarists in the band, Mitch Galbraith, to chat everything the current US tour, be it the shows so far, the planning that went into the sets to advice to fellow Aussie bands trying to make the jump. We also covered the writing process for the band as well as a potential return to the US this fall! Find our chat below and make sure to check out the eclectic vibes of this band from down under!
You’re doing this US tour, it started in May. I know it’s been going well, there have been a good amount of kids coming out every night. For you, how have these shows been going for Ocean Alley?
They’ve been incredible! We’ve had some bigger ones and some smaller ones but the response has been great for our first time over here. It’s very positive for us, getting a response like that. It means we can come back and do it all again. Hopefully do it bigger next time!
Then from seeing it, you guys have obviously been a band for several years now but you started when you were really young, I believe in high school?
Yeah, just at the end of high school!
So you waited a little bit to come here. The new record that came out this year helping that. Maybe a reason behind the wait or advice to bands who haven’t come over yet? Because it is so expensive.
Yeah it is expensive and we’re paying for it all of our own backs because we’re still independent. Just being realistic and not coming over expecting everything to go swimmingly. We planned this trip so that the guarantees we got from the venues covered the cost of the trip and anything extra was ours. We were only able to do that because we had built a bit of a following already. We’re playing in venues that would support us so you can jump in the deep end but it’s probably not going to work out so good. You do need a little bit of planning and all that sort of stuff and we have a great management team back home these days. We haven’t had them forever so more recently when they’ve been on board, they’re doing all the hard work in getting everything organized because we wouldn’t be able to do it. And we’ve got to pay them as well. Unfortunately everything costs money and if you’re unprepared, I think it can cost you a whole lot more!
Then like you said, you guys are doing this independently. You’ve released two full length albums, and EPS as well independently. How do you think that’s helped you as a band or maybe even some hindrance? It’s been the same line up since the beginning.
I just don’t think the band would have continued if we weren’t still the original members that started it. I think as soon as some one decides to call it quits, that’s kind of it for Ocean Alley. But that’s definitely not on the horizon at all so we’re all happy to be here where we are. We’re ready to stick it out for a lot longer. Of course, touring, you need to have a tight knit group of friends. Not just friends but people who can work together well and cooperate. And if you don’t have that, it just turns into shambles. We know some contemporary bands from a while ago back home where a few of the members left and then they disbanded. And they’ll never know what could have become so you got to be in it to win it. I think that’s what they say!
I think that is it! Then the band released the second record this year with the first full length being not too long ago. Clearly you were a band for several years before that record came out, I’m sure some of those songs are much older. When did you start the writing/recording process for this last record?
It would have been just over a year ago. It was the beginning of last year. Sort of after we finished the touring cycle for the last record, it was sort of natural that we just write the next one. We just started writing songs by whatever just came out and after we wrote a few, a thing kind of emerged and we sort of just ran with that. I don’t think we wrote any songs that we then didn’t decide to put on the record. Everything that we wrote, one after the other, just went on there. We like writing in that style. We’re not trying to write for anyone or for any genre or for any style. If it sounds good in its’ infant stages, we’ll just keep going all the way and it will probably make it on the record. But if it sounds crap at the start, then we won’t put much effort into it and will just move on to the next one.
Then is it pretty collaborative? From what you say about it, it seems like it but is this something where you all sit at the studio together or do you all bring your own individual ideas in the beginning to the process?
Yeah it’s much like what you just said. We bring our individual ideas to the rehearsal room and we just start jamming out like that and building a song like that. Then it’s very much collaborative when we’re in the studio. Everyone writes their own parts but everyone’s always giving feedback and there’s just this big feedback loop. Anyone can say anything and anyone can tell you that sounds crap. Or that sounds good or you want to do this. But the individual parts really are down to each of us in the band, each of the members, so that’s really fulfilling when you get to write your own parts then perform them live. Rather than there be someone who writes all the music for the record.
Then this is your first US tour so are you mostly playing that new record? Are you pulling back to some older ones, maybe even newer ones? How have you been planning the sets for this first US run?
We’ve been keen to play the new stuff because we’re pretty over the old stuff since it’s been around for a while. But there’s definitely old favorites in there. ‘Yellow Mellow’ has been in the set this tour.
Yeah that’s OG. That’s 2013? So yeah that’s an old favorite. That’s not at the end anymore, we used to play it as the big finale, but it’s in the middle somewhere now. We think our new stuff is the best work we’ve done to date so we love playing it and the crowd likes to hear it. There’s a bit of everything! ‘Muddy Water’ is in there and that’s from the “In Purple” EP. Then I think the rest is just the new stuff.
I feel like there will be some die hard fans. While I was waiting outside, the girls were very excited when they saw two of the guys from the band and they were in tears. So I feel like you’ll have some old school fans who are pretty excited and ready to go! It was really sweet to see.
Yeah, it’s very flattering to see. That’s what makes it possible. The people that buy the tickets and show up and are very enthused to see us. Buy some t-shirts, that’s what makes it possible for us to do this.
And they’ve been waiting for years to see you!
Yeah, of course! And now that we’ve broken the seal so to speak, we’ll be back over here more frequently I’m sure. It won’t be as long of a wait for them.
Perfect, then I’ve been saying we’re early in 2018 but we’re really not anymore, we’re about half way through. So maybe the goals for these next few months for Ocean Alley? Hopes or plans once this tour finishes up?
We’re really busy. We’re already booked out till like next year. We’re going back home after this tour for a few weeks off. Maybe go into the studio, we’ve got some time booked. We don’t really have anything written at the moment but we’ll jump in there and see what we can come up with just for a week. Get the ball rolling and then we play a festival called Splendor in the Grass back home! That’s a big one. I’ve actually never even been to the festival before so I’m looking forward to that! And a few of the other guys have been as punters, meaning like the public, like ticket buyers. Yeah, the people at the front. I think it’s an Aussie slang. Then after that, we go to Europe for four weeks then we also might be back in the states in the end of the year touring with an Australian artist. That’s all I can say at the moment. So we might be back in the states at the end of the year and then we’ve got a big tour booked back home in Australia for the beginning of next year. And in between all of that, hopefully write some more music and then tour with that record in the middle of next year as well and keep doing what we’re doing. We’re making enough progress and enough money to support what we want to do so it’s just a matter of diving in and getting fully involved and finishing it off!