By Mackenzie Mason
CALGARY – Ocean Alley has been riding high on the wave of momentum since the release of their self-released psych-rock sophomore album, Chiaroscuro, this past March. Hailing from Sydney, Australia’s northern beaches, the band has incorporated their go-with-the-flow lifestyle into laid-back yet exciting musical style for the past six years. Made up of Baden Donegal (vocals, guitar), Angus Goodwin (guitar), Lach Galbraith (keyboards, vocals), Mitch Galbraith (guitar), Nic Blom (bass) and Tom O’Brien (drums), Ocean Alley puts an idiosyncratic spin on the classics of rock and reggae to create an expansive, carefree, wind in your hair, sand between your toes kind of vibe. Saturating every watery tune with strumming guitars and confident but oh-so-smooth vocals of Donegal, Ocean Alley transports you to another time and place. Which is exactly where Mitch Galbraith was when he took time out of touring his home country to answer a few questions.
BeatRoute: What is your first memory of Ocean Alley?
Mitch Galbraith: Our first memories together as a band were just hanging out together playing covers and jamming with shitty instruments. That seems so long ago, over six years. We’ve dramatically changed as musicians.
BR: What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned in that time?
MG: We’ve learned many things, that’s for sure. I think if we weren’t fast learners we would still be in the shed making noise and not music. We’ve learned that patience and perseverance are very important virtues in this world. If you’re not willing to stick it out through the shit, there is no way you will reach the goals you’ve set.
BR: What was the inspiration behind the title of Chiaroscuro?
MG: We felt that the title, Chiaroscuro, described the duality of the tracks on the record well, while also making a strong connection between music and visual arts. ‘Chiaroscuro’ is a painting technique that was prolific in the Renaissance art period that intends to add drama to a scene with the use of high tonal contrast. This theme of contrast is reflected by the songs on the record falling into two groups, the optimistic and the pessimistic.
BR: Tell us about your songwriting process for Chiaroscuro?
Mitch Galbraith: We recorded Chiaroscuro over four, week-long periods in a studio north of Sydney. We were isolated for each of those weeks and this helped us to focus on the task at hand. The songs were also written over an extended period of time, which I think allowed us to achieve a lot of variation in each track’s style. All this extra time was the biggest difference between this record and our debut, Lost Tropics (2016 self-released).
BR: What are you most looking forward to on your first North American tour?
MG: Cali Roots Festival is going to be a great time. We are als really excited for our shows in Canada, some of which are already close to selling out! We have a lot of driving to do in between shows, so a bit of sightseeing will be sweet too.
BR: What does the future hold for Ocean Alley?
Mitch Galbraith: Hopefully in a few years we are playing to bigger crowds and still writing lots of new music. We love meeting new people and challenging ourselves in the studio, so if we are still doing that in a few years we’ll be very happy!
Catch Ocean Alley June 6 at The Starlite Room (Edmonton) and June 7 at The Gateway (Calgary)Ocean Alley, The Gateway, The Starlite Room, Tonal drama island