Riding high on the praise heaped on his latest album ‘Flow’, Byron Bay based multi-instrumentalist Bobby Alu is thanking fans for their appraisal by embarking on a 14 date tour that started in Western Australia on 11 January and will travel the length and breadth of the country before finishing back in the same state on 5 April.
“The main thing is we’re playing a lot of the new music that we released last year,” Alu expressed.
“I’ve got two musos with me, Paulie Bromley (The Beautiful Girls, George) and Declan Kelly and we’re having a good time playing songs we haven’t played before. We’re looking forward to getting around Australia to all these places that we love to visit.”
In a welcome display of sentiment, Alu went to great lengths to make sure every show of the tour provides the option for all-ages to attend, despite encountering surprising resistance in the process.
“That was the one thing that was surprisingly hard to put together,” he said, “but I was determined. Lots of venues won’t cater for all-ages and I like the traditional Sunday Session afternoon where people can have a good time and have a few drinks and when there are kids there as well it seems to mellow everyone out. It creates a great vibe and is something that I wanted consistently around the whole of Australia.”
Alu will play his ‘home’ show at Mo’s Desert Clubhouse on 21 February and promises something a little extra to reward his local fans.
“I’m gonna have lots of family and friends there which will be great,” he smiled. “I usually get my family involved on stage when they’re around which is cool. My mum, who was a Polynesian dancer, showed me how to play the Ukulele and when I get the home shows I get her to come and dance and if she’s got any of her brothers around – my Uncles – they usually join in.
“That’s how I learnt music was through family so it’s pretty fun to be down the track with my career and when some of them pop up it’s always a great feeling and opportunity to take a trip down memory lane.”
‘Flow’ is Alu’s third album after his self-titled effort and 2013’s ‘Take It Slow’, and although he remains proud of those releases, he steadfastly believes this is his best and most complete album yet.
“This one took a long time to make,” he said. “I was sort of reminiscing on the first album and when I made that I had never done any shows before. I had barely travelled anywhere and in the past five years – which pretty much was the timeline of this album – I travelled all around the world playing music.
“I played the drums with Xavier Rudd for four years and we travelled around all different parts of the world so I guess travel and experience and seeing different bands – I also spent a month playing the drums in Ghana in Africa and just all this stuff… it’s bound to influence my music. I reckon you can hear a lot of that travel and experiences in this record.”
Rather than treat his overseas journey as a personal holiday, Alu immersed himself in the culture and personality of each place he visited, culminating in a complete collection of songs on ‘Flow’ that were woven together over 20 countries.
“I wrote them a lot in different places,” he recalled. “I did a tour in Italy and then I took about a week off and spent it on this island called Sardinia and formed a song there before I had to move along and then spent a month in Ghana so I worked on it more there. My Mum is from Samoa so I had some family time there and more touring in Hawaii so a lot of these songs were started in one country and have that influence and then when I was finishing it down the track I was in another country so all of these different flavours jumbled in to be the backdrop of these sounds and songs.”
While being written in a variety of locations, Alu stresses the overall nature of ‘Flow’ revolves around observing fellow humans in their natural state and flow.
“I love watching people when they’re in the zone,” he measured. “I love people watching everywhere I go, it’s hilarious. Even if I’m going for a few drinks with mates I will sit on the park bench and watch people walk by for entertainment. Watching people like that when they’re in their flow and have nothing in the head and they’re not thinking about what’s in the future or what’s in the past – it’s just the present – that’s such a good part of life. That is a big premise of this album and a lot of the subjects of the songs relate to being present in yourself and trying to be a good human by being present with who you’re with.”
Affectionately referred to as the hammock music aficionado, Alu smiles when asked if that is an apt description of himself and his music.
“Definitely,” he laughed. “I love to relax and I like balance. I think when I first started writing music it was all positive and I am still positive but I’m also about being balanced and realising you need the darkness and the light just to get through everything. I guess the key is to be able to work really hard but also being able to know when to stop and relax and take it easy and not feel guilty.”
Catch Bobby (and family) at Mo’s Desert Clubhouse on 21 February. Tickets available at bobbyalu.com.