Bobby’s Back in the Neighbourhood

Bobby Alu will play at Neighbourhood Sessions on 14 March 2020 IMAGE: Baron Walton

Singer, strummer and drummer Bobby Alu will return to Townsville this March with his brand new album, Flow.

The joyfully relaxed singer-songwriter has been making a habit of stopping in Townsville whenever he can, and we caught up with him to find out why.

So you’ve been in Townsville quite a lot in the last 12 months haven’t you?

You know what, I have! I never really intended to but, after every show there was another opportunity to come back and the response was really great… There’s something about live music in the tropics that works well and it’s something I really wanted to do over the last couple of years is follow the music rather than push uphill too hard. I went to the Palm Creek Folk Festival first and played there, the spot was fantastic. Then I returned again and played the Townsville Cultural Festival; and then I did a huge gig with Busby Marou in Townsville at the end of last year. I think I sold the most merchandise out of all the shows at that show. I also spent time on Magnetic Island, I had a really good time up there, so it’s a real no-brainer to keep returning to this place where I feel some sort of connection.

And you’re back for Neighbourhood Sessions, that’s a pretty different format to what you would have seen at the Cultural Fest or Palm Creek. How did that one come to be included on the Flow tour?

I like their concept; I like what they do. It seems that the way they operate is the way that I like to try and operate. I’m always trying to collaborate with people and rather than just come to Townsville by myself, linking with a local promotor is really worthwhile.

It’s been 10 years since you released your debut album, and you’ve just released your third; what’s been the process of evolution for you over the last decade?

It’s been a really fun one, which I’m really happy about. My first CD was a bit of an accident, I was at University, studying music and I basically threw these songs together that I wrote, performed and produced; and they were literally my university assignment. I gave the CD to a friend, who passed it to another friend, who passed it to another friend and they played it on Triple J and that’s where it kind of all began for me.

I guess after a decade, there’s obviously lots of different experiences that I’ve had. I played drums for Xavier Rudd for five years, so we toured around the world together and that gave me the chance to travel and be inspired by different sounds and lots of different things; and just really come into this new album. This album has got a lot more behind it – a lot more time, a lot more thinking, it’s really been fun to create. I’m looking forward to sharing the songs live.

You make navigating the music business sound easy, but we all know it’s not. What are some of the biggest learnings you’ve collected over the past decade?

There’s a lot of negativity towards the music industry, but I think it’s a bit of a bad excuse. I think the industry is great and I feel like as much as it is disheartening, it’s also empowering. The reason I say that is that the lesson I’ve learnt most is just to be myself. You can be yourself and that’s such a simple concept but the hardest to stick to and I think when I started doing that – or being focused on that more and more – it started to feel right.

Catch Bobby Alu at Neighbourhood Sessions on 14 March 2020.

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