Interview: Ocean Alley Are Touching Back Down in Your City

Ocean Alley 'Low Altitude Living" © Kane Lehanneur
Ocean Alley 'Low Altitude Living" © Kane Lehanneur
Guitarist Mitch Galbraith of Australian band Ocean Alley discusses a beach dreamy nostalgia album inspired by going home during the pandemic – and now leaving home for the first time since then, to tour the globe!
Stream: “Touch Back Down” – Ocean Alley

Ocean Alley had everything they wanted.

In 2019, the Australian five-man band had four songs on the Triple J Hottest 100, a countdown voted by listeners of the Austrailian radio station, triple j. After 2.758 million votes cast, going up against artists like Billie Eilish and Chidish Gambino, Ocean Alley had songs at spots from one hundred to one (No. 100,  No.16, No. 10, and No. 1, to be specific).

And the whirlwind continued, but not in the sense they could predict: The following year, Ocean Alley marched home to the Northern Beaches in New South Wales, Australia. A pandemic later, and the group returned in 2022 with their album, Low Altitude Living, a beach lover’s dream, and, for anyone who has ever missed home, a meditative musing on the place you came from.

Now, they’re touring once more, leaving home to sing about home. Guitarist Mitch Galbraith had a day off from an ever-busy schedule that shows no signs of stopping through the rest of the year. Currently touring in Australia, the group plans to come to the United States, then bring their alternative psychedelic rock act to the U.K. and Europe.

— —

:: stream/purchase Low Altitude Living here ::
:: connect with Ocean Alley here ::
Ocean Alley 'Low Altitude Living" © Kane Lehanneur
Ocean Alley ‘Low Altitude Living” © Kane Lehanneur


Low Altitude Living - Ocean Alley

Atwood Magazine: Your latest project is very psychedelic alternative. Is there a track that's pretty personal to the band on the album?

Mitch Galbraith: I like “Touch Back Down.” That was one of the first ones we wrote. And “Home” was a good one as well. That’s a fun one to perform live and that was one of the first ones that we wrote. That was probably written at the start of the COVID era, as we were sort of getting into lockdown and we had to stop touring. It’s a song about grounding yourself at home, amongst the landscape, the people that make you most comfortable and quite an interesting time where we were sort of forced to do that.

Yeah, I do, too. It's a really great opener, and it's pretty contemplative. I really like that it and “Double Vision” and have the same intro guitar chord.

Mitch Galbraith: Yeah, it’s the exact same chord. It’s #A, I think. That’s the reason why that came straight after “Home,” was because it sort of shared the same key.

It seems like a really intentional way of hugging them together, and every time it’s just satisfying.

Mitch Galbraith: It is satisfying. We actually perform those two back-to-back live at the moment as well. So as soon as we finish “Home,” there’s not any talking on stage, we just go straight into “Double Vision.”

Tell me about songwriting for the album.

Mitch Galbraith: All of our songs sort of come together the same way to be honest. That was two years ago now, and we sort of just spent that year going away for weeks at a time — sort of a week here, a week there — just to write demos and we just go to different Airbnbs around where we live, and just wanted to try and check out from reality and check out from home and write music together the way we always have.

Ocean Alley © Kane Lehanneur
Ocean Alley © Kane Lehanneur

There are some insane backing harmonies on the album, too. How does that translate into the live shows?

Mitch Galbraith: Baden (Donegal) and Lach (Galbraith) sort of work together to construct all that. Lach is on keyboard and does all the backing vocals. Baden’s vocals are so strong as they are by themselves, but coupled with Lach’s, they’re as airy. We aim for that on those tracks.

I really like on “Drinks and Cigars,” that hook that's like ‘Pouring fancy drinks and cigars,’ the way that it's sung. It’s so hooky.

Mitch Galbraith: Baden wrote that one, and I actually helped Baden out a little bit with that one on lyrics. He sort of just writes down in parts, and when we’re demoing and starting to write songs, and sort of scatting melody ideas, and then sort of whatever just pops and flows into his head. He then kind of add some lyrics after that, that made more sense to me to sort of just hone in on something that’s in the works.

I remember I wanted to change that one to something. And then Baden said, ‘I want to leave it like that.’ So I’ll let him know that you’re a fan of that version. (laughs) I can’t remember what I wanted to change it to, but it was it was sort of the same timing and the same rhythm. The same, like, syllables and stuff, but that was different words, and Baden was adamant on leaving it like that. And I think it was a good choice in the end.

Yeah, yeah, it's so fun.
To me, when you play the album in order, it feels like someone at home alone, and then getting ready to go out. It sort of shifts from this internal dialogue to someone in a crowded room, with that same introspection still in the back of their mind. Would you agree?

Mitch Galbraith: Yeah, we try and structure the record so there’s a good flow, so that there’s something that’s captivating. And then also trying to have that point of inflection where things kind of change and it really captivates the audience again.

I guess when you get down to “Simple Pleasures” and “Parking Fines” and “Changes,” they’re a bit bigger looking, bigger songs than those first more cute ones in the opening. It’s always just trying to put together a body of work has sort of captivated the audience and is fun and enjoyable enough to listen to from start to finish.

Ocean Alley 'Low Altitude Living" © Kane Lehanneur
Ocean Alley ‘Low Altitude Living” © Kane Lehanneur

You're touring Australia right now?

Mitch Galbraith: Yeah, we’re halfway through a tour. They kind of just happened on the weekends really, we fly everywhere. There’s a bunch of festivals that we’ve been to. We just had the weekend in somewhere south of Melbourne, southern Australia, and then also a place called Woolen Dog. The weather held out for us there, so that was really cool. We’ve got another couple shows — one that’s in Adelaide.

Is there a song that you like playing live the most?

Mitch Galbraith: I like to play “Changes,” “West Coast.” I’ve been having a lot of fun playing that recently. I got a new guitar for it. And so just sort of mucking around with that.

Nice. Is there any fun surprises you have on this tour?

Mitch Galbraith: We’re heading back to Florida, playing another Florida show in Tampa for the first time. I think we were in Orlando last time, but we’re going to go to Orlando again this time and Tampa. But we’ll be taking the full crew over, and a big light show. It’s gonna be pretty cool. We might even run a couple of our new songs and test them out.

— —

:: stream/purchase Low Altitude Living here ::
:: connect with Ocean Alley here ::
Stream: “Double Vision” – Ocean Alley

— — — —

Low Altitude Living - Ocean Alley

Connect to Ocean Alley on
Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram
Discover new music on Atwood Magazine
? © Kane Lehanneur

:: Stream Ocean Alley ::

Written By
More from Blake McMillan
Live: sombr Brings His Indie Rock Sound Home to Brooklyn’s Baby’s All Right
Online, he’s the rising indie prince of heartbreak. But in person for...
Read More