Northern Beaches rockers Ocean Alley are taking an upbeat approach to their forthcoming album. Here’s the juice.
The cruisy rhythms and sticky melodies of Ocean Alley have been a favourable aux-chord option since 2013. From pool parties and dusty barbeques all the way to sold-out venues around Australia, the tight six-piece have carved out a place in the scene, dropping banger, after banger, after banger.
For their upcoming LP, the band have taken an upbeat approach, but kept the tracklist “close to their chest”. The LP’s infectious first single Touch Back Down blew us away, so naturally, we caught up with Mitch, Angus, and Lachlan from the gang, hoping to pull back the curtains a little further.
HAPPY: So you guys have a single coming out in November, Touch Back Down, and it’s been recorded. It’s ready to be let out of the gates and for the world to hear it. How has the process been with recording the new track?
MITCH: Yeah, we had a lot of time to do demos and go over it and think about it. Pretty much a whole year, we were kind of sitting on most of those ideas and we’ve just spent the last year refining them.
ANGUS: We jumped into that one thinking we were going to do a different single release, like a different song. But after getting everything out in front of us, we decided that that was the one to go with. So it’s exciting.
HAPPY: So what made you choose this one? What was it about at that made you think, ‘this is going to be the first single for the fourth album?’
MITCH: I think we decided we wanted something upbeat.
ANGUS: More energy.
LACHLAN: With a bit of energy in it.
ANGUS: So something to get people moving to and, you know, get away from their troubles.
HAPPY: Definitely. And I wanted to ask as well, you know because you’ve been recording this album throughout lockdown, how has it been finding sources of inspiration during such a restrictive time?
MITCH: I think a lot of the songs were done just before lockdown. They were kind of written and so we just spent time staying in some different places, sort of away from all the distractions and just trying to work on them together. Yeah, we spent time just bird watching on the back decks of some houses. Just surfing here and there. And then writing and recording music, which was really fun.
HAPPY: Oh, lovely. So you guys were just out amongst nature. And just had that downtime, I guess, to…
ANGUS: Yeah, we definitely took our time. We had a lot of downtime. We weren’t in a rush to get it out. Of course, we had, you know, a tiny sense of urgency just to get it done.
LACHLAN: But yeah, we really took our time to do it. So it didn’t feel like we were forcing anything or pushing anything in a direction. It didn’t have to…
MITCH: Less shows, as well. So we didn’t have to do that.
HAPPY: Of course – you guys had your tour pushed back four times. Have you guys planned something or, what are you thinking of doing for your first live show when it finally comes around?
MITCH: We’ve had one getting worked on this whole time, in preparation for all those times that we rescheduled. So I think we’re going to go and try and put that show on before we kind of move forward and think about how we’d incorporate all of this new music that we’re doing now. It’s kind of a bit of a game of catch up, I guess, for everyone.
HAPPY: With Touch Back Down. What’s that… what is touching back down for you guys? Like, was it different for everyone or is it sort of like a shared feeling as a band?
ANGUS: I liked staying grounded and, you know, not getting too lost in your own head or thinking that things are one way when they actually aren’t. It’s sometimes all your head and kind of the idea of touching back down is just… like a remember what you’re doing and why you’re here and yeah, have fun with it. And don’t be so serious all the time.
HAPPY: Nice. So I’m sort of expecting to see the music video visually represent that as well. So I’m keen to see what you guys have to show for it.
ANGUS: A video of us standing in the corner there shaking.
LACHLAN: Haha, but yeah.
HAPPY: So you recorded these songs before lockdown, but were there ever any moments where you felt like you had a bit of a stale studio head with all this time to perfect what you had?
LACHLAN: Yeah, there’s always that challenge, I think, when, when there’s time…
MITCH: It just takes a long time and sometimes starts draining. But I think if you can just stay focused on that first idea of what you wanted the song to sound like, that’s a good way to do it.
ANGUS: Yeah, sometimes with too much time, you can get a little bit lost and a little pressure can be good because it kind of spurs you into really getting stuff done. But I think we’ve crossed all those hurdles and we’re heading in the right direction. So we’re happy with it.
HAPPY: Oh, that’s sick. So happy to hear. And how many tracks as well can we expect on this upcoming album?
LACHLAN: 12. I think we’ve culled a couple. But yeah, 12.
ANGUS: We wanted to have more tracks… or ideas of them, and then be able to pick out the ones that we want just in case so we had more than we actually ended up releasing. And I think that’s worked really well.
LACHLAN: I still had to ditch a couple because they didn’t quite fit, and we just thought it didn’t add anything new there. So yeah, it was hard to let them go because we have worked on them quite a bit. But, you know, we’ve all sort of decided that they won’t be included.
HAPPY: You could always save them for like future stuff. I’m sure you guys probably do that.
LACHLAN: I’m sure we’ll probably just forget them.
HAPPY: What would you say the overall mood is and the overall tone is for the new album?
ANGUS: We’re still trying to find a way to accurately describe what it is. We all have a bit of a sense or a hunch, but it’s not really any defined…
MITCH: It’s been quite difficult for us because there’s quite a different mix of styles of songs in there.
ANGUS: It’s definitely more lively and upbeat in comparison to Lonely Diamond.
MITCH: For sure.
ANGUS: Which is a bit moodier.
MITCH: A lot less serious, and it’s way more playful. Yeah. There are some songs in there that are just a bit silly and stuff like there’s a couple of them and they’re so fun to make and they’re fun to listen to.
HAPPY: Oh, that’s awesome. Does that reflect how your mind has changed since Lonely Diamond?
MITCH: We just kind of chose to go down a different path. We didn’t want to do that record again.
ANGUS: Yeah, as long as it changed and evolved from what we’d previously done. That’s always it for us. Always keep moving forward.
HAPPY: Because you’ve been a bit more playful with the songs on your upcoming album, has that… is that like a direction that you guys want to continue going in?
LACHLAN: I think it’s definitely fun to play live if you want that sort of energy. But yeah, I don’t know, you can’t really pick what you’re going to do, I guess.
ANGUS: It’s hard to tell from all the way back here.
MTCH: Yeah, it’s still a while ’til that music comes out and probably longer ’til we get to play it on stage. So it’s hard to say how we will feel about it down the road.
HAPPY: That’s true. And have you guys – because I know you said you recorded these songs before lockdown –have you played any live before that?
MITCH: They were mostly written before lockdown and then we’ve been recording them and kind of finishing them off over the last year, and now…
ANGUS: But we haven’t played them in any sort of live sense. We’ve kept our cards to our chest.
HAPPY: Yeah, that’s exciting. So it’s all very fresh.
HAPPY: And you guys have your national tour, which has been rescheduled to start in January.
ANGUS: Hopefully for the last time.
HAPPY: Fifth times the charm. Have you got any dates or locations that you can share with us?
MITCH: Oh, I’m not actually sure. Jan, Feb. It’ll be all the major capital cities, I’m sure.
ANGUS: Yeah, I think our first shows are in WA. Starts in Fremantle.
HAPPY: That’s awesome.
ANGUS: If they let us in.
Touch Back Down is out now.
Fri 21 Jan – Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle
Wed 9 Feb – Riverstage, Brisbane
Thu 10 Feb – Riverstage, Brisbane
Fri 11 Feb – NightQuarter, Sunshine Coast
Sat 12 Feb – HOTA, Gold Coast
Fri 18 Feb – Hordern Pavilion, Sydney
Sat 19 Feb – Hordern Pavilion, Sydney
Sun 20 Feb – Hordern Pavilion, Sydney
Wed 23 Feb – John Cain Arena, Melbourne
Fri 25 Feb – Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide
Sat 26 Feb – Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide
Interview by Alexandra Ellen