Not many sleeps left now to the very first Heaps Good Festival in Adelaide. We’re excited! One of the big inclusions on the bill are the Northern Beaches favourite sons Ocean Alley. 2022 was absolutely huge for Ocean Alley releasing their fourth studio album Low Altitude Living featuring some big singles in Touch Back Down, Deepest Darkness, Home and Double Vision. On top of that the band has continued making serious inroads in the United States and Europe finishing off 2022 and bringing in 2023 with some summer festival shows. Mitch Galbraith talks to Hi Fi Way about playing Heaps Good Festival and what’s ahead for the band in 2023.
Looking back on 2022 you must be thinking how much of a massive year it was for Ocean Alley?
Yeah, I mean it was a bit of a relief because it was just a year ago that we were sitting there going, ah, crap, it’s all stopped. So, when we were near the end of this year knowing that we had played plenty of shows and released new music felt pretty good.
Finishing off the year and staring the new year with some big summer festivals must be a fantastic way to top off 2022?
We haven’t spent a lot of time playing shows in Australia compared to the amount of shows we’ve done overseas this year. It does feel really nice to have summer at home. We’ve had a couple of months off since we got back, so it’ll be nice to kick back off like straight over New Years. We’re all ready for it!
Has it felt like one awesome ride touring extensively in the United States and Europe? Do you feel even more confident going in to 2023?
I think we feel pretty good about our presence in the Australian music scene, that’s nice to have comfort in that. I think that we still feel like there’s a long way to go overseas in Europe and the States. Yes, we’ve got some traction and been back there a few times, but it’s just a different landscape, and it still feels like there’s so much work to do.
Is it likely that you might base yourself over there for a period of time?
I don’t think that that would work for us, and I don’t think we need to spend that much time there. It’s more a thing of quality time spent in those countries rather than quantity. I think you could tour around in small venues for the rest of your life and not even play the same one twice in parts of the world like that. For us we want to put on special shows and have special moments to give the audience and for us to enjoy as well.
There’s plenty of love for Ocean Alley in Adelaide it must be great to return here to play brand new festival Heaps Good?
For sure, we’ve played down at the Showgrounds there before at some other festivals and it’s just nice to be an Australian festival with a whole bunch of exciting acts. We’re keen to see Arctic Monkeys down there for sure. Peggy Gou, we we’re fans of them. We’ve been listening to a bit of that, so yeah, it’s going to be heaps good. I guess that’s why they called it Heaps Good!
Absolutely. Do you approach the festivals any different than your club shows?
They are a bit different in terms of staffing and the time you get on stage to get ready, sound check and stuff. I guess the festivals just feel like they’re more on the fly and everything happens much faster. Not as much time sound checking, checking lights and doing all that stuff, but I think everyone approaches it pretty much the same, we just kind of rip in and like to be reactive and see how it all unfolds… just go with it.
Are there plans for your own headline tour in 2023, it must be hard when everyone wants you in the city like yesterday?
I don’t know if I’m meant to be saying it, but there will definitely be a full headline tour in 2023. Our team has been crazy busy this last part of the year. We’ve just been signing off spending the last couple of months relaxing, but just signing off to all this stuff that’s piling up for 2023, which is great news for everyone involved. It’s really nice that there’s plenty of stuff happening.
I reckon one of the fines to come out of your last tour was La Shiv. They’re an incredible band.
They are an incredible band. We grew up with them on the Northern Beaches actually. So, they’re old friends. They had a band formally they were formally called the Ruminaters, but Le Shiv is just an incredible thing what the guys have been doing. We’re going to have them back along for more shows. If you’re coming to any of our shows next year, you might get the chance to see Le Shiv too. They’re some of our best mates we’ve grown up with and to be honest that tour in the States sometimes it was hard to outdo them after they’d just opened for us. They’ve put on the craziest show, you can imagine how wild the crowd get for them.
At this time of the yea, do you get to take a step back and reflect on what you’ve achieved because it has been quite significant? A massive album, which is incredible and touring the world and just smashing it everywhere.
Yeah, we do. We’ve had this time off here to just kind of relax and reap the benefits of our hard work, which means we can just chill at home and do all the things that we miss out on when we’re travelling so much. There’s always time to be looking forward to the next thing and like I said before, our team’s always pushing. That’s why we like them! We’re pretty easy-going guys so there’s a lot of yeses and we trust them a lot as well. So, there’s a lot of yep, let’s just sign up for that. Let’s do this, let’s do that. It can get a bit daunting watching all the stuff piling up, but we’re totally ready for it.
Do you feel like 2023 is going to be even bigger than 2022?
Well that’s the plan! That’s always been our plan to make the next record better, play more shows or play to bigger audiences. That’s sort of what 2023 is shaping up to be. We’re just sticking to our guns and ripping in.
Low Altitude Living is an incredible album, as it was starting to take shape did you know then that you had a special group of songs?
You never want to fall into the trap, I guess we try not to write anything off until it’s all said and done. I think you don’t want to get complacent and because we had all that extra time this time around for this record we were able to like practice that as much as we ever have. We kept going back to stuff and kept changing it and never sat there and said, oh that’ll do or that’s probably enough. We were extra certain when we came to those realisations during the recording.
Has the creative process continued? Do any leftover songs get revisited?
For us it doesn’t really tend to carry over. It’s like we have these pretty defined chapters that are marked by each record. To your first question, there’s some stuff that we’ve all been passing around some ideas. We’ve moved away from each other and catching up now, we’re going to have to put more emphasis on making the most of our time when we are together. We’ve been passing around ideas so that the next time we’re together for whatever reason we can have a jam together and muck around in person.
Whilst the focus now is very much Low Altitude Living has there been much discussion about where you might take the next album sonically or is that something that will come later on?
Our focus is all the shows that we got coming up are next year and the record has almost been out for a year so we will focus on that. Then the natural progression from that is to just get into a room when the shows start slowing down, swap that work over to writing and fleshing out all the ideas that we’ve come up with over the year.
With some milestones starting to come up for some of your earlier EP’s are there any plans to re-release some of those?
You’re getting to know us pretty well! The last three, four years people have recommended that, we’ve thought about it but sort of written it off completely. Now that’s probably something that’s a bit more on our radar. We’ve got some anniversaries coming up for some of those early songs that we were thinking of doing something special for, but that’s all I can say right now. But you’re pretty clued on mate! Until now that’s something that has not crossed our mind. We’ve been happy that those songs have had their own life and existed in that way. It’s special having some of those songs that aren’t on any physical releases but it might be time to change that.
Interview By Rob Lyon
Catch Ocean Alley at Heaps Good Festival in Adelaide on January 6, tickets HERE
Also playing Falls Festival on the following dates, tickets HERE