Bringin’ it Backwards: Interview with Ocean Alley

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We had the pleasure of interviewing Ocean Alley over Zoom video! ​​

Ocean Alley are a kaleidoscopic Australian group that recently released a new record, Lonely Diamond. ​​ ​​

Ocean Alley recently released a video for their single “Hot Chicken”:

Grappling with spiraling out of control, “Hot Chicken” encapsulates the seduction and suffering that comes from wrestling with the devil on one’s shoulder. Accentuated by the dangerous edge of vocalist Baden Donegal’s voice, ‘I’ll be the razor if you want to play’, the taunting driving guitars intensify the feeling to fight. Threaded with echoes of an Ennio Morricone Spaghetti Western score, the song’s expansive soundscape grows and conquers, transporting the listener to the middle of a dusty stand-off in a state of isolation and emptiness. ​​

​​Drawing from the nostalgia of music eras past, Lonely Diamond combines 70s guitar rock, country, western, old school funk and synth-heavy new wave to create a deeply contemplative and atmospheric odyssey. Reminiscent of music legends including Fleetwood Mac, Dire Straits and Pink Floyd. From its sprawling opening notes, the record feels like a seamless progression following their last album, 2018’s Chiaroscuro, with exploration and escapism forming two central themes that unfold and transform across the 12 tracks. Guitarist Mitch Galbraith explains, “It’s pushing forward into the unknown… taking a journey to a different place or a different time that seems familiar or that you’ve been before and all the emotions and feels that come with that.” ​​ ​​

There’s an ingrained familiarity with this record from the first listen – all the elements that define Ocean Alley’s sound are there, but more intricately arranged; new instruments are introduced, the production is pushed to new limits and the band has created complete synergy between each track. Album opener “Dahlia” mystically sets the scene with an intergalactic introduction, while the introspective title-track “Lonely Diamond” engulfs the listener in a wave of melancholy before finding purpose with warmth and tenderness. Hopefulness is intrinsically linked with these anxieties, feelings, and experiences explored. The bright and dreamy “Up In There” creates an uplifting sense of reassurance that everything will be okay, with its soaring harmonies, swirling guitars, and ethereal keys. ​​

​​Produced by long-time collaborator  Callum  Howell at the idyllic Grove Studios (built by INXS’ Garry Gary Beers),  Lonely Diamond  follows the success of  Ocean Alley’s  acclaimed second full-length LP Chiaroscuro.  With its infectious blend of psychedelic surf-rock, the record propelled the band into national prominence. With selling 25,000 tickets and having 15 sold-out shows  that year  in Australia alone – culminating with their ARIA nominated, double platinum-selling single ‘Confidence’ taking out  #1 in triple j’s Hottest 100 of 2018. Their breakthrough year was then backed-up with 30 sold-out shows around the world in 2019, in addition to major festival appearances at  Reading & Leeds Festival  (UK),  Splendour In The Grass  (AUS),  Sziget  (HU), Bottlerock  (US) and more, with the band amassing more than  250 million streams  to date.  ​​ ​​

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