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Interview: Ocean Alley - Spring Tour of Aotearoa with Hockey Dad

Interview: Ocean Alley - Spring Tour of Aotearoa with Hockey Dad

Interview by Clark Mathews / C.C. / Photo credit: The Sauce / Tuesday 3rd August, 2021 11:14AM

Massively popular with gig-goers in Aotearoa and their Australian homeland, surf-psych heroes Ocean Alley have an epic-scale tour of our shores lined up for September — headlining Auckland's Spark Arena, Town Halls in Dunedin and Christchurch as well as Wellington's cavernous Michael Fowler Centre. Selling out back-to-back shows at The Powerstation, high profile supports for Six60 at their landmark Western Springs Stadium and Forsyth Barr Stadium events, and veterans of our summer festival circuit including Rhythm & Vines and Rhythm & Alps, Ocean Alley will be joined on their spring musical travels by fellow New South Wales wave-lovers Hockey Dad. In the top 20 shortlist for the prestigious 2021 APRA Silver Scroll Award, DARTZ bassist and co-songwriter Clark Mathews stepped up to the plate and quizzed Ocean Alley's Mitch Galbraith on how they've achieved their devoted local fanbase, the inevitable challenges of thinking big as a band plus more...

NOTE: While the travel situation between Australia and Aotearoa certainly isn't as rosy as it was a month ago (when this interview took place), Ocean Alley's NZ dates are set to happen two weeks after the travel bubble suspension period — reopening 11th September at the earliest. The tour is currently still good to go with the originally announced dates, but you can bet we'll keep you informed about any breaking developments.

With special guests Hockey Dad

Wednesday 22nd September - Town Hall, Dunedin
Thursday 23rd September - Town Hall, Christchurch*
Saturday 25th September - Spark Arena, Auckland
Sunday 26th September - Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington

Tickets available via
 *Tickets available via

UTR Roving Reporter Clark Mathews: I interviewed Oli from Lime Cordiale the other week and he mentioned you guys — said that you boys were really instrumental in encouraging them initially to get over to NZ and start touring and building a fanbase here. Is that a lesson that you guys learnt early on?

Mitch Galbraith: Yeah, we actually back as far as like 2015, I think, had spent so much time touring Australia and were looking for greener pastures to play. People don’t realise this but Auckland is closer than flying to Perth from Sydney. That first time we went over we hired two wicked campers and drove those around playing shows, had a really spectacular couple of weeks, and ever since we’ve pretty much been telling people to get their asses over. Can’t speak highly enough about how much fun we’ve had over there as well as the shows.

I can imagine — you guys have played a lot of festies over here...

Yeah and interestingly they’re pretty different to the festivals we do in Australia. The people are just different, I don’t really know how to explain it — maybe because the festivals are a bit smaller in New Zealand they attract these great communities, feel a lot friendlier as well. Maybe we just got lucky with the ones we’ve done, but yeah those experiences have been so refreshing.

Back pre-Covid in 2020 you were over here playing with Six60 who are New Zealand’s biggest and probably best band, doing a couple of huge stadium shows. What was that experience like?

That was a crazy time for us, we’d done some big stages before but that was definitely our biggest ever stage and crowd in New Zealand. We were just in awe of how much the whole country loved Six60 and how they seemed to have such insanely dedicated fans. Their stage show was really impressive too and to see that go off without a hitch was really cool, it was a wonderful time.

Are there any other NZ bands that you guys are friends with or are into?

The Tunes Of I [aka TOI] gentlemen — I was listening to their latest release this morning actually. Such talented musicians and pleasures to hang out with, we’ve played heaps of shows with those boys.

You guys are doing some pretty big venues this time to be fair — I don’t think there’s too many New Zealand artists who would book Spark Arena. How do things change for you guys for those bigger shows versus smaller ones?

Haha — I remember playing gigs back in Central Sydney bars, saying to each other that we’d never be the kind of band who printed setlists out, we’d always write them just before we went on stage so we could focus on having fun. But that didn’t really last for very much longer — a show like this, everything’s very pre-planned, both the setlist and the production has to be sorted out in advance, to make sure everything looks and sounds as cool as possible for the audience. We’re actually going to go do some extra rehearsals and go over some of the older stuff from our repertoire again for these shows, to make sure we can do it all perfectly.

True. How do you approach fitting all the stuff from the new album last year into the setlist alongside the old stuff as well?

Gotta start with the majority of Lonely Diamond — sorting out which songs need to be included and which don’t. Then after that, we try to make sure we play at least a song or two from every record and EP that we’ve done. It can be hard trying to make it all fit, there’s definitely songs that sometimes you question if they can fit but you know people wanna hear em. It’s been a lot of deliberation trying to figure all that out.

You probably haven’t played those Lonely Diamond songs much live yet, right?

Exactly, so we’re not at all over em yet, basically. It’s still fresh for us — that being said though, we have been writing heaps of new music recently so once we’ve started that process, it’s become a mix of Lonely Diamond feeling old but also new. It’s an interesting one.

Stoked as that you guys are bringing Hockey Dad over — do you guys go very far back with them?

Yeah same — those guys are from a surf town just south of Sydney, we’re from a surf town just north of Sydney, so we’ve crossed paths many times. We’ve played a bunch of festivals with em over the years and really love their music, so that’s a real cherry on top for us this time, being able to share this tour with them.

I saw them a couple years ago in a smaller venue when they were over here and energy-wise it was one of the most wild shows I’ve been to, I’m interested to see how that energy carries over to those huge venues...

Yeah. For being a smaller band, those guys do a huge stage more than enough justice. Billy’s got so much energy on the drums — he’s a sweaty mess when he comes off stage after a set, slips and skids off everything in the green room.

Yo before I let you go, what’s your favourite Eric Clapton song?

Wow. I gotta go 'Layla'.

That’s a classy choice man. Acoustic or electric?

Definitely the acoustic, that’s speaking on behalf of our other guitarist Angus as well, he loves acoustic 'Layla'.

Damn, very classy. All the best mate, enjoy your day. See ya.


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