Featured Image by The Sauce
Australian psych-rock band Ocean Alley are no strangers to success. In 2018, the band sold 25,000 tickets and had 15 sold-out shows in Australia alone. In 2019, they played 30 sold-out shows all over the world, rocked out at Reading & Leeds Festival, Splendour In The Grass, Sziget, Bottlerock, and more. And did we mention the band has amassed over 250 million streams on to date? Now, Ocean Alley have released their highly-anticipated third album Lonely Diamond.
We caught up with the band to talk about how the album came together and what they’re most looking forward to in a post-pandemic world.
First and foremost, I wanna check in: How are you guys holding up with COVID? What’s been keeping you busy?
We obviously haven’t been playing any shows but we’ve been staying busy getting this record out, writing and jamming a bit and recording some live studio sessions as well.
A lot of artists have been delaying the release of their album because of the pandemic; was that ever a conversation you guys had about Lonely Diamond?
It was one of the options but we decided to release it so that everyone can enjoy it during lockdown and maybe it could lift a few spirits. Even though we can’t tour the music right away, which is what we love to do, we thought we owed it to our followers to give them what we promised.
You guys have released four singles off the album, most recently “Hot Chicken”. Have the fan reactions to those four lined up with what you were expecting or did any take you by surprise?
We’ve had positive feedback from all of them, and we hope people love them more when they hear them alongside the rest of the record. It has been great to see everyone getting on board with “Hot Chicken.” It’s definitely one that stands out on the record. We wanted to release songs first that weren’t too dissimilar to the sound of the last record, leading listeners to a bit more of the newer sounds.
How has your approach to creating an album evolved since your debut LP?
We have way more time to workshop songs and manage to get time in between writing and recording now to get away and freshen our ears. Also we have grown as songwriters together so it seems like we get more work done with less effort these days. The spark is totally still there and we try to keep pushing ourselves and trying new things whether it be different instruments, different studios or more focused attempts at songwriting and composition.
You guys collaborated once again with producer Callum Howell on this record. Has your long-time relationship with Howell encouraged you to experiment in the studio in ways you might not otherwise have tried?
Callum always makes us comfortable in the studio and it allows us to pretty much do what we want and focus on writing and playing. We are on the same page when it comes to what sound we want on the record and working together many times before has only made that understanding even stronger. We rely on his technical prowess to guide us through the recording process and then through the sound of our live performances too. It’s awesome having Cal at front of house doing live sound for us because he has a fundamental knowledge of all of our music, being our producer and the person who mixes it. He’s the whole package and it’s a great team that we have built together over the years.
Which song came together the quickest and which changed the most from its initial conception?
“Way Down” and “Up In There” had their bridges totally rewritten after we sat on the original demos for a while. We came back with fresh ears and decided it needed to change and we are way more pleased with what we ended up with. “All Worn Out” is probably the track that remained pretty much the same as Lach wrote it. I think Lach had this vision in his head about how it wanted to be so we gave it the subtle treatment it deserved.
Is there a song off the new record you’re most excited to play live once COVID is over?
“Puesta de Sol” is gonna be very fun to play. The drums are bouncy and the guitar riff is wobbly. It’s going to add a completely different feel to our live set. It travels down a more spaghetti western vibe that our fans have not heard from us before.
You guys are no strangers to the festival stage. When it comes to playing festivals versus your own shows, do you consciously change any aspect of your performance?
Not really we try to always put our best foot forward every show. There are limitations to what visual production we can use at festivals but we still prefer to offer the listener the whole hog every show.
Given that you can’t be on the road to support the album like you normally would, have you been brainstorming other ways to get the word out and interact with your fans?
We’ve been recording some live studio sessions and working on some other video ideas. It’s not ideal to miss that honeymoon period after completing a record when we immediately start touring, but we’ve been working behind the scenes to make sure our live shows are going to be bigger and better when we return to the stage.
And lastly, are there any other Australian artists you guys have been digging that you want to shout out?
Maddy Jane, Donny Bennet and Jess Day have all released new music over the last few weeks. When we finally get around to doing our Australian tour we have our friends Dulcie and Psychedelic Porn Crumpets joining us. They are two awesome bands from Perth.