Local dude, Bobby Alu is coming back home to play some very special shows after having such a crazy and successful year playing shows with Xavier Rudd, as The United Nations and touring with his own band, Palm Royale. We got to have a great chat with Bobby whilst he was on the road to Woodford Folk Festival.
Last time we heard from you here at Rabbit Radio you played at our home base Miami Marketta with your tour with Xavier Rudd a few months back! It was awesome to have you here!
Bobby: Yeah it was a really great evening and a great show. I always love being able to play on the Gold Coast especially, but being able to play at Miami Marketta was extra special because I just love it there! It’s a vibrant thing that’s going on, there are a lot of good people that visit and a lot of my family was there. I was stoked.
How are you going with your experience with Xavier Rudd and the United-Nations? I can imagine it’s been really busy.
Bobby: It’s amazing! You’re right that it’s super busy but it’s just one of those things where you just have to go for it, you know. I guess growing up as a kid on the Gold Coast I kind of wanted to be a musician and tour the world and play at all these different places and you kind of work hard to get anywhere. All of a sudden it might happen and it’s just absolutely bonkers. I’ve loved every minute! I’ve tried to make sure that I don’t get angry at little stupid things like whether our plane is on time just because its an amazing experience and it’s been really good fun travelling.
What kind of experiences and highlights have you shared with those guys so far? What stands out?
Bobby: Well first of all, being able to travel around the world has been great. I think we played in 11 or 12 countries in the space of 4 to 5 months, visiting a different place every day. Some of the places, cities and venues we got to play were pretty mind blowing. We played at a festival called Solidays Festival, where there was about 20 000 people in Paris on a summers day, that was a pretty rad experience. Venues like The Fillmore in San Francisco, which are iconic venues where people like Jimi Hendrix have played, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd too. I was walking past all of these posters of the old venue and speaking to the old crew that work at the venue, and meeting people on the road. It really is a whirlwind experience that I'm loving and cherishing, definitely.
I can imagine you’re making music with some really interesting people with some amazing stories to tell?
Bobby: Oh for sure, and that’s the biggest thing for me, is being able to experience this with a bunch of people that I call my good friends. I think a beautiful thing that they all say is that you can have all of these experiences, but if you don’t have anyone to share it with, it’s just not as good or as fun. I really believe that, and have really made some great bonds with the team. I’ve been touring with Xavier for 3 or 4 years now, and its been great, he’s a really good buddy of mine now and I also get a kick out of getting home and sharing it with friends and family too. It feels good to have a break now but I’m looking forward to hitting the road soon!
Outside of the United Nations you’re also doing a little tour of your own with the Palm Royale next week on 6th of January! How’d you pair up with these guys and what could we maybe expect for this tour?
Bobby: Well these fellas are my best mates, its good to be able to share music and tour with them. We’re just basically, you know, facilitators of good times and a bit of hammock music, so that’s what we’re going to do and we’re writing a new album at the moment. We’re just going to test run those songs on the road. Next year’s going to be a big year so we’re looking forward to getting into it.
I suppose we’ll be hearing stuff from your latest released EP, Bay Sessions, on this tour as well as your new stuff?
Bobby: Yeah for sure, we usually do a mix of different songs from our albums and a few sneaky special covers. We’ll try some new ones as well, but basically we just want to kick off the New Year with a good vibe and Mandala’s is a good place to do it so, looking forward to Saturday night!
Tell us about the shindig at Mandala’s this Saturday night!
Bobby: We can’t fit too many people into the venue so it’s going to be a ticketed gig. We just wanted to test run a few songs because it’s a few days before we leave for New Zealand so we’re just using this as a bit of a launch pad. It’ll just be a good way to spend the year. This year has been huge. We travelled so much and covered so much ground so it feels good and special for me to be able to play music in my hometown. So we’ll start here humbly on Saturday night, it’s such a great venue with great food and amazing crew so it will be a really good time. After that we’ll just hit it hard and let the year unfold.
Can you tell us a bit about this new music that we may be hearing on Saturday?
Bobby: I guess the last few years have been super inspiring, there’s been a lot going on. A lot and a lot of experiences, it’s just been full. It’s all just been sinking in and now I’m finally inspired to write, and basically I’ve been writing a lot so I'm excited to be getting it on the road and trialing it. It’s basically, for me, a spin off of what I’ve learnt so far which is basically just to simplify. Simplify life and make it what you want. As long as you can be a good person and do the thing that you want to do, you can have a great life. So that’s how I feel my music is kind of facilitating, and I feel that the best way I can do that is with catchy, cruisy, happy and sad hammock music tunes with my ukulele.
You’re hitting up New Zealand for this tour as well, are you going to check out anything else while you’re there? New Zealand is such a beautiful place!
Bobby: I’ve been to New Zealand before, but I’ve never taken my own band over so it’s the first Bobby Alu tour in New Zealand with the Palm Royales. It’s exciting and we’ve got some good stuff going on. Stu, the bass player is in charge of all of the activities so no doubt he’ll have some stuff to do. We cover a lot of ground but we’re going to stop in some great places so we’ll definitely see if we can get some beach time, and even the drives and the scenery is great. I’m just looking forward to getting over there!
Okay so, you have of course been a multi-instrumentalist you’re whole life, but if you could only choose one instrument to play for the rest of your life, which one would you decide upon?
Bobby: Ough wow, that cuts deep, it is a doozey. I think that if I had to choose one, it would have to be my voice I think, because I feel as if I want to spread a message and that message is much easier when you’re actually talking, or singing it. That was a real tough one, but I think that answer changes daily.
On the other side of the spectrum, are there any other instruments you were maybe interested in learning?
Bobby: Yeah good question and it’s funny you say that. I’ve always played a lot of stringed instruments like guitar and bass, but I’ve mainly just focused on ukulele. I actually just got given a guitar so I'm going to focus more heavily on that, and I actually have minor plans to pick up an instrument that is kind of weird and odd but I like it, but I'm just going to do it for fun, the trombone. I think that when someone’s bad-ass at a trombone, it’s bad-ass so I figured if I can just practice in secret for 20 years or something, and then just coming out and smashing a trombone solo, the world would turn!
Where is your favorite chill spot in the world, and why?
Bobby: Home is. And I probably wouldn’t have said that last year, but this year after touring so crazily, and seeing all of these wonderful and amazing places, the feeling of home and the feeling of familiarity - like that coffee that you really love or that beach spot that you know so well, that’s what I'm really cherishing at the moment. For me that is the ultimate chill spot. On the verandah, in the hammock with nothing to do, or beers in the afternoon with mates, yeah, to me at the moment that is the ultimate chill.
I'm just going to come right out and say that you’re definitely somewhat recognised for that wonderful mane of yours, what’s your hair routine to control that beast of a thing?
Bobby: Hahah oh man, well I think the trick is not much. I do find though, that’s it definitely more crazy when I’ve been in the surf ever day and the salt makes it crazy. But I’ve found that is changes depending on the water. Every country and state I’ve been to, I’ve had different hair. I don’t know what it is, but in America it’s really curly, and then in Europe it starts to get boofier, sometimes it goes straight. It could be my mood, or maybe it has a mind of its own.
So obviously in more recent news, I heard you’re literally on your way Woodford Folk fest right now, are you pumped? How are you feeling?
Bobby: Yeah I am! I’m in the car heading there right now. I’m really pumped because I'm not doing any shows, I’m just going for fun. The festival has been really good to me, being one of the first festivals I ever went to and it inspired me to actually become a musician. I haven’t been there for a while especially where I haven’t played, which I'm really happy about. I’m looking forward to just hanging out, not doing anything, seeing heaps of really cool bands and eating all the food.
You’ve played at Woodford a few times before, what are your favorite memories from this festival and what do you think might be different this time?!
Bobby: The fact that it’s so long, I think its 5-7 days. You forget about everything else, all you think about is the day you’re in, and you don’t realise whether it’s Monday or Friday, all you know is that a band you like is playing in a couple of days. People are really friendly, there’s a great sense of community, there’s really good food, and the music’s amazing. You’re always going to discover something that you’ve never seen before. Personally I’ve have lots of great shows at Woodford, like when I was a little whippersnapper I met a lot of artists that were really supportive me and helped me out and I hope to see some of them this year to kind of catch up. A guy named Mal Webb, an awesome artist that’s at Woodford a lot. He was one of the first people that heard my own music and said that he liked it! Greg Sheehan, Nicky Bomba and all sorts of different people that I’ve met and played with. One year I did 23 shows in the one week with all different people. I was high on life, getting out there. Some people called me the drum prostitute.
You can catch Bobby Alu and Palm Royale on the 2nd of January at Mandala Organic Arts Cafe in Mermaid Beach, Gold Coast. Click this link for more infomation and tickets - https://www.facebook.com/events/766853200124887/