Fabulous Flip Sides of Red Hot Chili Peppers with Ocean Alley’s Mitch Galbraith

Guitarist Mitch Galbraith discusses the Australian sextet Ocean Alley’s third album, “Lonely Diamond,” released on CD and colored vinyl, distributed by Unified Music Group
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Ocean Alley vinyl

GOLDMINE: Congratulations on Lonely Diamond. I was listening to the album on a rainy day and my dog was hiding under my desk. As the album played, your music calmed him down.

MITCH GALBRAITH: Thank you. For some creatures it calms them and for others it riles them up, ha ha.

GM: The songs remind me of the more mellow Red Hot Chili Peppers music from this century, especially their 2002 By the Way album, with “The Zephyr Song” and the flip side, not on the album, “Out of Range,” which I highlighted for today’s session.

MG: That is one I hadn’t heard before until preparing for today’s interview. It is very interesting, sounding very spacious, with a bit of trumpet in there, which I didn’t expect.

GM: Yes, Flea on trumpet, like he played in school.

MG: Being compared to Red Hot Chili Peppers makes sense and it is really flattering. You can tell by our music that we have been influenced by them somewhat, whether or not it is intended.

Ocean Alley RHCP

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Flip side: Out of Range

A side: The Zephyr Song

Debut: 2002

Warner Bros. W592 5439 16676 7 – limited edition pink translucent vinyl

GM: There are three songs on your new album that I think especially capture a Red Hot Chili Peppers sound and those are “Infinity,” “Hot Chicken” and the title song “Lonely Diamond.”

MG: The songs are a mash up of what we are feeling at the time. We come together as a group and someone will have an idea, or a piece of inspiration, and we build off of that, as any garage band does. The music pours out without any preconception, and we don’t ever want to write the same song twice, which is where the variation in each of the tracks comes from. “Infinity” and “Lonely Diamond” are slower songs, where “Hot Chicken” is way more energetic.

GM: “Tombstone” has subdued power. There is a 1980s film, Pretty in Pink, with a scene where the lead characters are in a club where a band called The Rave-Ups are playing their song “Positively Lost Me,” and “Tombstone” reminds me of a slower, more emotional version of that song.

MG: It does have a bit of a 1980s vibe to it. All of our songs are pretty much guitar songs. There are three six-string guitars on stage with the bass, drums and keyboards. Angus Goodwin, our lead guitarist, had a big part in the conceiving of “Tombstone.”

GM: There is a pair of songs with a steady tempo, “Way Down” and “Wet Dreams.”

MG: “Way Down” has to be one of my favorite songs on the record with the driving guitar sound, which is suited perfectly for Tom O’Brien’s drumming, a rhythm we were trying to achieve as the song started to emerge. It is a toe tapper. With “Wet Dreams” we tried to experiment more with a spaghetti western type of sound.

GM: Which is perfect this year as we reflect on the recent passing of Ennio Morricone by playing some of his spaghetti western soundtrack songs like “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,” which was a Top 10 hit here in the U.S., when I was growing up and I bought that single. You also share beauty in the middle of the album, back to back, with “All Worn Out” and “Stained Glass.”

MG: The chords for “All Worn Out” where chosen by our keyboardist, who is my brother Lachlan Galbraith, and when Lach brought it to the group, we hardly changed it, wanting to say more with less, although we added a saxophone, which the song seemed to be asking for. Sax is such a beautiful instrument, and that was our friend Will Morris providing that, who plays with other bands throughout Australia. He has played with us on stage, too, which has been really cool. “Stained Glass” is one that Lach and I created in the living room before we took it to the band and was the first song that we wrote on the record, fitting the tone for some of the others to come. I think it was our attempt to go after a softer sound, after some of the songs on the previous album, and show the listeners a different side of us, versus the faster tempo bangers that a lot of our fans are into.

GM: Going back to the living room, what did you and your brother Lach do musically as you were growing up?

MG: Our parents pushed us musically when we were in primary school. Lach had formal lessons in school, so he is probably the most classically trained in the band. I picked up a guitar and had lessons on the basics. Soon after that we stopped lessons and became self-taught, forming a garage band. When we formed the band, Baden Donegal, who is also our lead singer, and I were both playing guitars. Nic Blom asked, “Well, what can I do?” We told him that he should learn bass guitar. So he went out and bought himself a bass and is entirely self-taught and it is quite impressive on how good of a player he is. Now the band has been around for at least a decade, beginning with playing at the local pub down the road for twenty bucks for twenty people and we haven’t stopped since, even playing festivals for up to 25,000 people. I think we are more nervous coming off the stage than when we are playing. The biggest festival we have played is Splendour in the Grass in Yelgun, New South Wales, along with many other Australian bands. People from all over the country travel to attend. What an opportunity! That just spurred us on to do bigger and better things. As soon as live tours return, that is what we will do. That is our bread and butter. Playing shows for a live audience is what we create music for, pretty much. We just hired a house, since we have been living apart, and we have demoed tracks for our next album. We really hadn’t done it that way in the past, having so much time off to think out the music and work on the songs slowly. It is awesome to have these songs in the back pocket that we can work on and build from. We just want to keep making records and have each one better than the prior one. This is how we like to operate. We have enough songs to no longer do covers, but I remember when we were young, playing pubs, we played Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire” and Bob Marley covers. Over the years, our families have been very supportive. We have had privileged upbringings, which is one of the reasons why we have been able to get where we are today. In our spare time we will surf and fish and hang out together. We have concerts coming up, beginning in January, and keep our website up to date with our schedule. We have played throughout Europe and the U.S., mainly east and west coasts, but we haven’t been to the southern part, like Florida to see you. We were due to go to the U.S. and to Europe twice this year, before the pandemic hit. We have an Australian tour planned for August and September. For a bunch of mates to travel around on a tour bus with our band crew, who are fantastic, is the pinnacle for us, playing a show a night, having a laugh, it is just a dream for us. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to have an article with the prestigious Goldmine. This blend of old and new music, that you had told me your wife suggested, is exactly what we want to do, with a twist, and make it our own.

Ocean Alley photo courtesy of oceanalley.com.au, Mitch Galbraith 3rd in photo

Ocean Alley photo courtesy of oceanalley.com.au, Mitch Galbraith 3rd in photo

Ocean Alley tour

Related link:

https://oceanalley.com.au/

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