Interview: Ocean Alley’s Mitch Galbraith talks NFT’s, Tours and their new album

By Marjie Saunders

A lot of people got introduced to Ocean Alley through your Win of Triple J’s Hottest 100 Countdown in 2018 with your song ‘Confidence’. How did that change things for you guys as a band and influenced where you are now?

Mitch: “I guess it didn’t change us so much musically as a band. We kind of just kept plugging away and I don’t think we sort of decided to follow any kind of formula after we got that much success from a single song.

When it came to our notoriety and play on good slots of festivals and play at premiere venues that was amazing. Which was pretty much what we were aiming for, from the beginning of our music careers. 

All we wanted to do is play amazing live shows and that was like the biggest boost to that that we could have asked for.”

What were some of the biggest headliner shows that you enjoyed playing on the backend after that winning year?  

Mitch: “Splendor in the Grass in 2019 was definitely the most memorable. We played on the main stage there and that was a step up from the smaller stage we had played the year before and was massive for us. The crowd and the experience were just really special.”

Touch back down’ your new single released in November, what inspired this release and does it mean a new album is in the works? 

Mitch: “Yeah ‘Touch Back Down’ was one of the first songs we worked on as part of this next body of work. We were due to play at Bluesfest and got together the day after the festival was cancelled in 2020, so instead of playing there we pivoted and went into the studio. 

The song ‘Touch Back Down’ is pretty bouncy and positive. We have tried to move away from the more down tempo songs and explore some more upbeat music in this track. It’s really just a fun song.” Mitch laughed. “Yes, there is also a new record in the works. We’ve got another couple of singles coming out before we release the album at the end of the year, so that’s pretty exciting!”

From the bass and riff to the lyrics, how did you as a band collaborate in the creation of this song? 

Mitch: “Baden (vocals, guitar) came in with the guitar strumming riff that’s really bouncy, Nick (bass) followed him quickly after with the bouncy bass line. Baden and I collaborated on the lyrics, he wrote the first verse and I wrote the second. 

It came together pretty naturally, I thought it was subconsciously we had all this positive energy that just fell out of us at the time. It was just good timing that we went in the studio together to make that song happen.”

Your NFT ‘Touch Back Down’ is an alternate visual experience of your new track by the same name. How did you get into the NFT space?

Mitch: “During lockdown everyone in the music space was diversifying and it’s sort of a new thing and new technology we were interested in. Technology has come a long way – when we started out, Spotify had only just taken off as a streaming platform for music. It’s massive that technology such as that allows younger bands to get their music out to bigger worldwide audiences. 

So NFT’s just stemmed off that. It’s something fun and exciting that we have the opportunity to do.”

The proceeds from your NFT are donated to some great Australian organisations like A Day For The Beaches (An all ages, drug and alcohol free event for everyone,); One Eighty, (youth mental health) Red Dust and (indigenous health and wellbeing) and the Cerebral Palsy Alliance. 

What resonated with you most about these causes? 

Mitch: “They have been causes that we’ve supported for awhile now, we like to use our powers for good and we’ve been supporting these causes for a number of years. Our last tour before the Covid Pandemic we donated a portion of our ticket sales to Cerebral Palsy Alliance. It feels good for us to look back and see how much we’ve contributed to those charities.

One Eighty is a mental health awareness charity that is based where we grew up in the Northern Beaches. It’s run by young people for young people who facilitate open up programs and open up the stigma about mental health. We like knowing that we’ve given back to the communities that gave us so much support when we were starting out.”

Touring at the moment, is this the first tour you’ve been able to perform ‘Lonely Diamond’?

Mitch: “Yeah pretty much, there was a run of shows, sort of 12 months ago that we were able to do as part of Next Exit Festival around rural New South Wales. That was around the time everyone thought we were going to open up again but that was 12 months ago and before that it was 12 months previously too. So this is feeling pretty fresh!” Mitch laughed. “But we’ve had no dramas so far on the tour and everyone’s just so stoked to be getting back into it.”

Which song are you most proud of on this ‘Lonely Diamond’ album and can you tell us why? 

Mitch: “I think the title track ‘Lonely Diamond’ is a good one. That was written by Baden and myself strumming guitars in the living room. I can still be nostalgic looking back on that in my mind and it’s really special to see how far that song has come with a slow start but then the energy picks up.”

It’s such a quintessential Ocean Alley song, is that concept of your sound in that psychedelic rock genre something that is going to be changing or challenged in the next album? 

Mitch: “In a way but also not. Most of this new album is finished so we look back on it retrospectively and there was never really any intent to do anything crazy or wild on it. We enjoyed playing with our sound a bit and had a lot of fun in the studio. There are a couple of tracks that are a bit silly but we’ve done that before on previous records and it’s gone down well. For the most part.” He laughed. 

You are currently touring with Hockey Dad from NSW, but also Psychedelic Porn Crumpets and Dulcie. Both Perthside bands from across the bite, how did you all connect with each other for this tour? 

Mitch:” Yeah we met the porn crumpets guys when we were over in WA. We really get along with them and were really impressed with their musicianship and mastery of their instruments. They are a really great live rock band which is really cool to see. 

The Dulcie ladies, we really loved their music and we knew that they had said in the past they were influenced by us. It’s been lovely to have that support of each other at shows and to help them grow on-stage. They really are meant to play on a big stage and it has been really cool to share that opportunity with them.”

So the tour is next taking you to Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide in Feb and then heading to the UK! How does it feel to be travelling and playing for crowds internationally? 

Mitch: “Yeah it was supposed to be all over Europe but it has been scaled back to just UK, we are still so excited it’s going to be pretty special. It’s been a long time since we’ve been to the UK and it’s really nice to know that we’re finishing off the tour that we’ve been trying to do for the past two years over the pandemic.

I think we shook off all the cobwebs of playing live for crowds when we did our first show up in Queensland. Everyone is now just so ready and prepared to put on and play the best shows. Our crew have just been working immensely behind the scenes for the past two years and the shows we’ve put on have just been incredible, they’ve gone above and beyond. 

It’s always a good sign when you haven’t played a show in two years, to play some of the biggest shows that you’ve ever done and everything goes off without a hitch. I’m just so grateful to our team and to everyone for getting out and supporting live music again.”

Reflecting on how the COVID pandemic has impacted yourself and the rest of Ocean Alley, do you think this period in your life will shape future music?

Mitch: “We will definitely look back on this and just be happy that we came out the other side because of our grit, determination and patience as well. There wasn’t much hard work while we couldn’t play live music but we just stuck onto the passion and we tried to nurture that by spending this time to write this new record. It’s cool that we can thrive off that for the whole year of 2022.” 

You’ve mentioned a few times this new album and new singles coming out this year. Are there any names that you could share with us to look forward to? 

“We generally don’t create a concept for a new album, our process is more to start writing and just see where that takes us. It is hard to name a body of work after the fact like that. It’s also pretty early days for us still I don’t think I can give an answer honestly except watch this space!”  

Catch Ocean Alley at any of their upcoming shows or listen to their newest single ‘Touch Back Down’ out now on Spotify.