Since the 2016 release of their debut LP Lost Tropics, Ocean Alley have reached audiences far beyond their Northern Beaches digs, and have been intoxicating the masses with their cruisey psych, rock and reggae fusion.
Having just finished their first headline tour of Australia and New Zealand, I caught up with frontman Baden to discuss their recent sell-out shows, the after tour comedown, and sleeping on the side of the road.
From getting left in Melbourne to selling out the Metro twice, these are the highs and lows of Ocean Alley’s recent winning streak.
HAPPY: You guys just wrapped up your biggest headline tour to date, and it completely sold out. What was that like? What were some of the highlights?
BADEN: Yeah, it was pretty amazing, one of the coolest things we’ve done so far. I think one of the highlights was that the two Metro shows sold out. I mean we were pretty stoked that we sold one out so to sell two out was pretty epic!
HAPPY: Do you have any on-tour rituals?
BADEN: Hmm not really, we usually just turn up to the venue and start drinking.
HAPPY: Any crazy on tour stories?
BADEN: Ooh, I think they’re all pretty crazy; it’s hard to pinpoint any in particular. I’ve been left behind in Melbourne before, a couple of the boys ended up sleeping on the side of the road after our Perth show two weeks ago.
HAPPY: Oh wow, what happened there?
BADEN: (laughs) Well a few of us made it onto the flight, and a few of us didn’t, so a couple of the boys got lost and ended up sleeping on the side of the road, which was pretty interesting.
HAPPY: That’s rough. So you guys released a new single in August and mentioned that you hope to spend the rest of the year working on a new album. What can we expect to hear? How will it differ from Lost Tropics?
BADEN: We haven’t finished writing the album yet but what we’ve written so far is aiming towards just mixing up the space that we use, so less guitars, a little bit more keys and bass, which we should’ve shown off in The Comedown, I think. But yeah, just light and dark and lots of mucking around with the space, we’ve got six instruments, so it’s sometimes hard to find that area.
HAPPY: Yeah, for sure. When do you hope to get the album out to the world?
BADEN: We’d like to have it out early next year is the plan, but it’s still a half written album so we’ve got a lot of work to do, but the goal would be early next year.
HAPPY: Cool. So is music a full time thing for you guys now or are you working on the side?
BADEN: No, we’ve all got jobs, well most of us. One of the boys got fired yesterday so he’s relaxing, but yeah we all still go to work. I’m an upholsterer so I recover furniture.
HAPPY: So where do you find the time for the music? How do you keep inspired?
BADEN: I guess it’s because we all live together and we’re always talking about music, going to watch live music and listening to new music so I think that’s what keeps us all going. You come home from touring and it’s hard to go back to work after you’ve just had such a good time on tour, so it’s a bit of a… um…
HAPPY: A comedown?
BADEN: Yeah, exactly!
HAPPY: So with this new album, where have you been drawing inspiration from when it comes to writing? Are there any specific musicians or genres that have been influencing you?
BADEN: Not really, no musicians in particular. I think day to day things, our lives progressing, and things happening with us individually carries through to whatever we’re thinking about or what we’re feeling, and we tend to project that through our music. That’s probably the easiest way to describe what we’re doing at the moment. It’s a bit all over the shop, but hopefully we’ll tie some ideas in for the album and have each track slightly related.
HAPPY: Awesome. Did you ever expect to get to this point and have so many people loving your music?
BADEN: No, not at all. We started out just mucking around in the shed, and now we fill rooms with people, drunken people, which is pretty cool!
HAPPY: Was there ever a point where you got bored, or wanted to give up?
BADEN: Nope, never. It’s never been a chore, it’s never been something where we’re like ‘oh it’s not working out, we’re going to leave it’, we just like playing music. I think we’ll always do it no matter what, whether it’s going shit or it’s going great.
HAPPY: For the love of the music.
BADEN: Yeah, of course! I think any musician likes to express themselves through music it’s not just about how much success comes from it, it’s a feel good thing anyway just playing in your room or playing with mates.
HAPPY: Yeah, 100%. So why do you think people adore your music so much? Why do you think so many people connect with it?
BADEN: I couldn’t tell you, I don’t know what it is about our music. I mean, we enjoy it so that’s why we play what we play; it’s what we would like to hear from a band. But I honestly couldn’t tell you what people enjoy about it, I think maybe people who enjoy cruisey music might be attracted to what we do, and our lifestyle.
HAPPY: Cool. And so what’s the dream for you guys? Where do you hope for the band to go from here?
BADEN: Who knows! I’d obviously like to achieve a lot more, it seems like things are heading in a good direction so I’d like to play on some bigger stages, and perform to a lot more people. We’d love to keep touring internationally; it’s so much fun to travel with your mates playing music, but there are a lot of things we have to do before then, so we’re ticking off the smaller steps one at a time.
Catch Ocean Alley live over the next month: