It may not have been The Beatles in 1964, but as Australia’s Ocean Alley finish up a 29-date tour of North America that took them from San Diego on May 23 and through Canada and the rest of the U.S. before ending up in Santa Ana on Saturday, it’s clear that the boys from Down Under have had quite a good time here.
“It’s been awesome,” said guitarist Mitch Galbraith. “This is our first time over here and we’ve been doing a lot of traveling, so there’s not much sleep going on, but lots of music being played, lots of new people to meet and we’ve been having a blast.”
The folks that have been showing up for their gigs have been equally enamored of the sextet from Sydney, who are touring behind their second full-length album, Chiaroscuro, which debuted at №15 on the ARIA Albums Chart in Australia. It’s confirmation that their music most certainly travels well.
“We’ve encountered a lot of fans who have already listened to our music and have been listening for a while, but also you run into a lot of new people and the reaction has been very positive,” Galbraith said. “People get on board with our sound and what we’re about. We’re always up to have a good time and we like to talk to the fans and have a drink with them afterwards and beforehand. Maybe it’s the unique genre and the unique style and the background of our band with the surf culture and ethos from back home is the reason it has been received really well.”
Described as psych-surf, Ocean Alley’s music has the psychedelic end down, but as far as the surf side, suffice to say that these are not the Beach Boys or Jan and Dean. There’s an intensity and edge to them that provides layers to their songs and makes them infinitely more interesting to listen to than some group singing about all the things you would associate with a “surf” band.
“I don’t think the sound is necessarily described as a surf-y sound,” he said. “I think it’s more our attitude towards making music and our individual characters. We’re very laid-back kind of guys and our music-writing process is much the same. It’s organic and we don’t put much thought, per se, into what we’re doing. It really does just come out the way that it is. So I think in that regard, it’s very surf-y and laid back with a relaxed attitude. We’re riding the wave, so to speak, right now.”
Galbraith laughs, comfortable with the idea that he and his bandmates are going to follow that wave wherever it takes them, and whether you’re on board or not, they’re cool with that.
“If you like it, tune in and have a bit of fun and listen to it and explore it,” he said. “And if you don’t, then hit next on your iPod and listen to the next song. I think the fact that we don’t speak to a specific style and that track-to-track we vary quite a bit sometimes in our tones, the feel of it and the structure, there’s always something there that’s interesting there for the listener, something you can find within those layers.”
And if Stateside listeners want to take the time to dig through those layers, they’ll be happy with what they find and Ocean Alley may be knocking on the door of stardom far beyond the shores of home.
“If you make it over in America, there are so many people and it has a lot of influence in other places,” he said. “So I think it’s very important to try and get your music listened to in a place like the States. It just does wonders for bands and it’s done wonders for our contemporaries back home as well, bands such as King Gizzard and Tame Impala. They’re very successful in the States now and that solidifies their spot in the industry and they can continue doing that as a career indefinitely and that’s what we aim to achieve by playing over here. This is our first time over, so it’s a bit of an introductory tour, a bit of dipping the toe in to test the waters, but we want to ride the wave and come back and build on the tour we’re doing at the moment.”
It’s bold, ambitious, and everything you want rock and roll to be. And while the art is the thing, making their mark in a tough business isn’t a bad thing either.
“There are easier ways to make a living and there’s ways to make more money and more of a name for yourself, but it’s just the whole art making process,” said Galbraith. “We’re all creative people and it’s a fantastic outlet. I know that sounds a bit cliché, but it really is true. And being good friends, it’s the best time of our lives by far and now that the band has started gaining quite a bit of momentum, especially back home, we’re much more relaxed in the fact that we can stick it out and that there will be something for us. A few years ago, we said, ‘We’ve been doing this for three years already; are we going to be able to do a career with this or should we be focusing on something else?’ But now that we’ve made enough money to tour and help support us back home, it’s a no brainer. It’s something we’ve always wanted to do, something we’re all very passionate about and we’re gonna keep going until we stop.”
For more information on Ocean Alley, click here