Ocean Alley are one of the most exciting acts to release new music in 2018 and their latest album ‘Chiaroscuro’ has been eagerly awaited by their Australian fans. Drummer Tom O’Brien took time out of their busy schedule to chat with Christian Kafritsas of Rabbit Radio to discuss recording ‘Chiaroscuro’, touring, and which Gallagher brother he prefers.
RR: Hey Tom, it’s Christian here from Rabbit Radio man, how you doing?
TB: Hey man, good thanks how are you?
RR: Yeah good man, good. Thanks for taking your time to have a chat with me man, appreciate that.
TB: No worries.
RR: Where abouts are you guys at now? I saw you were out for some beers earlier before, are you back at home now?
TB: Yeah, yeah back home now. About to have a bit of a jam.
RR: How’s the day been, alright?
TB: Yeah awesome, apart from the weather it’s a bit wet.
RR: Back home in Sydney?
TB: Yeah, back in Northern Beaches.
RR: Well I’d just like to firstly congratulations on a magnificent album. How does it feel to have the #2 Rock album on iTunes at the moment?
TB: Yeah it’s awesome; it’s real like unbelievable. Very happy with it. Very, very happy with it. Surreal but it’s good.
RR: I looked before and it’s Number 28 overall, which is pretty nuts.
TB: Yeah (laughs) we’ve had a big week like it’s been really, really great.
RR: That’s awesome, I saw you had an interview with Triple J today so it’s all happening hey?
TB: Yeah, it’s all happening. It’s good.
RR: So tell us a bit of the recording process, firstly you released ‘Overgrown’ and ‘The Comedown’ back in 2017. Were majority of the songs written and recorded by that point?
TB: Yeah probably about half of them were. We went in without about half, semi-written maybe (laughs). Well there was few done and the other half maybe, not so much but we did a lot of writing in the studio as well.
RR: Everything ran smoothly?
TB: Yeah, yeah. Well we ended up getting there in the end, which is good.
RR: You guys we’re on the road quite consistently in 2017, how did you manage between recording and playing shows at the same time?
TB: It kind of gelled together really nicely. We just kind of found time to record and you know, write songs while we’re on the road as well.
RR: Is that what you guys usually do, you get on the road and tend to write there?
TB: Usually we do it at our jams sessions at home so where we create most of our songs and a couple on the road as well.
RR: Do you find there‘s a different type of vibe when it comes on the road than at home? Say can you tell which songs were made on the road and obviously back home?
TB: Not really hey it’s quite similar to be honest. Similar vibe.
RR: One thing I find really interesting is that let’s rewind back the clock 12 months, you’ve just released ‘Overgrown’ and about start of leg of shows supporting Tash Sultana. Here we are today, you’ve just released your second album and your national tour is in high demand with sell out shows like you sold Sydney out today. How does that make you guys feel?
TB: Oh mate, we all can’t really believe it to be honest but over the moon at the same time. We kind of set ourselves a goal this time last year. Probably twelve months ago saying we did two Metro shows and we’re like alright, next ones Enmore and we’re like, ah fuck can’t really believe it.
RR: Pretty surreal hey?
TB: Yeah, very surreal.
RR: It’s a massive growth in twelve months I mean supporting and now you’re doing your own thing and I have feeling you’re going to do it pretty well yeah.
TB: Yeah, yeah nah it’s good and we’re very happy to be where we’re at the moment.
RR: Absolutely I guess like talking on that as well obviously you would notice your growth in popularity compared to last year, I saw you guys open for The Growlers at Miami Marketta. I saw footage of you guys playing a packed tent at Sydney City Limits. Do you take notice of that?
TB: Yeah definitely, definitely. We definitely do, every step forward we go we’re very happy and grateful for as well.
RR: Does it affect your performance at all? Like do you get told before the show like there’s quite a few people out there, or just take it as it comes?
TB: Oh yeah, we usually peak through from backstage and the more people the better usually, the more amped we get.
RR: And you sort of go holy shit?
TB: Yeah exactly (laughs)
RR: I can only imagine man. So talking back on the record, the really cool thing is that it showcases how tight of a band you guys are. What song are you most looking forward playing live on tour?
TB: ‘Happy Sad’ is going to be a real good one; we’re all looking forward to playing that. It’s definitely up there with one of our favourites and the first we recorded off the album as well.
RR: Oh so it was the first was it?
TB: Yeah first one we came up with.
RR: So did you base the album of that sort of vibe or as I said before just take it as it comes?
TB: Kind of just took it as it came to be honest, like there’s no real method to it as it came and we just went with it.
RR: I saw a video on Facebook you released some footage of you when you guys were recording and saw that everyone was in the studio at the same time to sort of aim for that live sound. Is that how you usually record?
TB: We’ve done it a few different ways but we usually get everyone in there at the same time and get the base of it down and then we can go back over it like you know the vocals and all the finishing touches afterwards. But yeah, it makes us much more comfortable doing it that way because that’s the way we practice and write songs.
RR: As I said it brings out that live sort of vibe for you guys as well.
TB: Yeah, exactly.
RR: So you’re most obviously looking forward to playing ‘Happy Sad’ on tour. Is that the song you’d say sticks out for you most on the album?
TB: No well my personal favourite is probably ‘Bones’ to be honest, but if you ask each of the boys it’s probably different. There are probably three of four different ones but we’re stoked with all of them so it going to be good to play all of them.
RR: ‘Bones’ was pretty challenging for you to record as well I hear?
TB: Yeah it was, it took a little bit but once we got it down it was definitely worth it. There’s a funny time signature in parts of the song.
RR: So what sticks out most to you in that song is it just the fact that it’s fun for you to play or the whole thing about it?
TB: Yeah just the drive of it and it’s fun to play and the tempo and all that, there’s just a lot of good things a like about that song. It’ll be a real good one to play live as well.
RR: You must be looking forward to playing that one as well?
TB: Yeah, definitely.
RR: Following your Australian leg of your tour, you’re off to North America?
TB: Yeah very excited for that as well.
RR: What do you think the reception will be like over there?
TB: It’s kind of going back to basics again I think, which is kind of cool for us. We get a few messages every now and then saying ‘when are you coming over’. But I think it’s going to be more like our first Australian shows, back to not as big production but smaller rooms and all that, more intimate (laughs).
RR: Is this the first time you guys have been over to the US?
TB: Yeah it is.
RR: Wow ok, it’s something for you then hey?
TB: Yeah (laughs)
RR: I saw you’ve been over to the UK, it was the Europe tour last year or the year before?
TB: Yeah couple years ago now, UK and Europe and that was a lot of fun. Literally same thing as I just said then, it’s pretty much back to our first shows. We had some good ones and we had some bad ones but it was a lot of fun in the end. We we’re over there for a while and played a crap load of songs.
RR: I can imagine, how do you compare the Aussie shows to the international shows?
TB: Australian shows, you know it’s our home crowd as you call it.
RR: Little bit more rowdy?
TB: Yeah a lot more rowdy and New Zealand is not far behind if not on the same level anyway (laughs).
RR: Considering the amount of times and how long you’ve been on the road, especially since last year. Are you able to share with us a funny or most memorable moment you’ve have encountered on the road at all?
TB: Yeah look probably when we were in Europe our driver that we had probably say wasn’t quite on the same page as us. Maybe half the time we we’re maybe a little bit too rowdy for him at times. But that was probably the whole thing with him driving us around was quite good (laughs).
RR: Was he not a fan of that?
TB: At times you know we got along at times. But most of the time just yeah, as I said not on the same page (laughs). He’d never toured with an Australian band before which was probably the main thing.
RR: Well there’s always a first hey?
TB: Yeah, exactly.
RR: Well Tom, let’s take a step away from the band for a moment and focus on yourself if that’s cool. Coming into ‘Chiaroscuro’, what were personal influences for you into recording? Are you able to share that with us?
TB: Yeah definitely, more so the classic rock side of things like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and all of the obvious ones. For me anyway, the drum sounds a few or most of the songs were taken from Classic Rock side of things for me anyway.
RR: I guess you can really here that with obviously the connection with you and Nick as well, the rhythm section is tight as. Now that you’ve said it, you really nailed that one on the head.
TB: Cheers, thanks.
RR: That’s all good, so stupid question for you here now. You’ve packed out say the Horden Pavillion or the best venue you guys think and the crowd is calling an encore you’ve got no more songs. What song would you rather cover ‘Strawberry Kisses’ by Nikki Webster or ‘Friday’ by Rebecca Black?
TB: Oh god, probably make some hanus colour with the two of them together. A bit of a mix, bit of a blend with a ripping guitar solo over the last part of it probably.
RR: You gotta do it, there’s got to be some sort of drum solo in there as well surely?
TB: Yeah, take the piss out of it (laughs).
RR: Another one is Liam and Noel Gallagher request for you to feature on a song but you can only choose one of them. Who do you choose?
TB: Ah, I’m going to say Liam because he’s been everywhere on the news lately. I’ll definitely go with him.
RR: You guys played Falls in Lorne or Marion Bay?
TB: Yeah, it was Lorne.
RR: Did you happen to grab him at all? Was he there?
TB: No we didn’t, we were out of there before we had a chance to meet him unfortunately, but we’d love to meet him in the near future.
RR: Well I’m sure you guys can get there at some point.
TB: Yeah, hopefully (laughs).
RR: Well Tom, thank you so much for your time. I’ve kept you for quite a while I know you guys are flat out. Best of luck on your tour and look forward to catching you guys in Brisbane.
TB: Awesome, thanks dude.
RR: All the best man, thank you so much.
Australian Tour Dates:
Saturday 14th April
The Tivoli - Brisbane, QLD
Sunday 15th April
The Tivoli - Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 21st April
The Enmore - Sydney, NSW
Friday 11th May
Metropolis - Fremantle, WA
Saturday 19th May
The Forum - Melbourne, VIC
Also appearing at Groovin The Moo:
Saturday 12th May
Groovin The Moo - Bunbury, WA
Friday 27th April
Groovin The Moo - Wayville, NSW
Saturday 28th April
Groovin The Moo - Maitland, NSW
Sunday 29th April
Groovin The Moo - Canberra, ACT
Saturday 5th May
Groovin The Moo - Bendigo, VIC
Sunday 6th May
Groovin The Moo - Townsville, TAS