Saskwatch rise up with new album ‘Nose Dive’

On the eve of dropping their new album Nose Dive, Saskwatch member Liam McGorry caught up with Other Sounds to chat about how nine kids went from busking on city corners to sharing an arena with the Rolling Stones.

The past two years since releasing their debut Leave It All Behind have been fuelled by ambition and filled with endless nights of writing and performing. After scorching stages across Australia, the UK and Europe — Nose Dive has proven that the hard work has paid off.

OS: There are nine of you – so the obvious place to start is: how did you all find each other and get together?
L: Most of us met studying music at uni. We used to busk for change outside Flinders St Station in the city once a week on a Friday.

The soul attitude of your music seems to pay homage to the swing and RnB originals. You have managed to give the spirit of the greats an upgrade into the 21st century. How do you manage to entangle these worlds?
I think personally just growing up Melbourne in the mid 2000s and going to see gigs, there were a lot of great ‘soul’-inspired bands. Seeing bands like The Bamboos, The Cat Empire and Dynamo were great because they fused soul with rock ‘n’ roll, blues, funk and many other types of music.

“… There’s been a definite choice to try and write better songs and for it to be really not just a bunch of songs but an album as a whole.”

There seems to be a soul revival in the works on an international scale. Who inspires you?
Daptone Records, Lee Fields, Primal Scream. These days, hearing bands like Alabama Shakes, Dr Dog, The Black Keys, Arctic Monkeys all play soul in their own way is really great. I guess we just listen to lots of music.

The new album is launching today. You have given us a taste by releasing the new single, ‘Born To Break Your Heart.’ The single seems a bit more reserved compared to the previous collection of songs on ‘Leave it All Behind’ which you released in 2012. What can we expect from the album?
I think the album is a bit more well-rounded this time. There’s a bit more light and shade, and a bit more range in terms of emotion, dynamics and sound. I think it takes on some new influences from the bands above, and there’s been a definite choice to try and write better songs and for it to be really not just a bunch of songs but an album as a whole.

[youtube width=”450″ height=”340″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSGlfcP6A2Y[/youtube]

As a collective, you have brought together an eclectic style. Since you have been working together for four years now, have each of you acquired a role in the group?
I think over time, just working together, everyone really has acquired their own role. One person looks after the merchandise, writes songs, organises everyone, brings up a idea about live set… It’s just happened pretty organically, really!

Do you think that Nose Dive reflects the always-evolving maturity of the group?
I think it is something we’re all really proud of, to be honest. I think our main goal really was to just try and make a better album than the last.

Your live shows have been described as “electrifying.” The energy and vibe of the show is always high – how does this translate from the writing and recording process you go through? Are your live shows a reflection of the creative process?
I guess it is pretty similar to shows because most of the time we record live. There will always be little issues that we’ll go back and work on pretty thoroughly, in the rehearsal room and the studio. But I guess the only time it’s different is just the writing itself.

You have quickly become an international name and have graced stages from Meredith and Falls Festival in Australia to BlackisBack in Europe — not to mention Glastonbury, arguably the most recognised festival in the world. What was the highlight of these amazing globe-trotting tours?
There have been many; personally, Meredith for sure. BlackisBack was definitely one as well. To be honest, it’s probably Glastonbury. Its scale is just ridiculous and it was just an incredible experience.

One of our shows there, we started playing on a very small stage halfway through the [Rolling] Stones’ set. We would finish a song and hear the intro to ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ in the distance. It was surreal… and when they finished, we had about 5,000 walk past and stop and watch us. It was amazing.

“… It is also great to come crashing down back to reality with a 6.00am flight home after playing in Perth and go straight to work.”

With such a massive year behind you and the ‘Nose Dive’ tour approaching, how do you all keep your cool during down-time?
I just think we’re all very lucky to have done half of this stuff. But it is also great to come crashing down back to reality with a 6:00am flight home after playing in Perth and go straight to work.

You had your breakout residency at the iconic Cherry Bar in Melbourne. With great venues like The Empress and The Great Britain closing down – and organisations like SLAM (Save Live Music Australia) trying to save them, what do you think the future holds for indie bands in Melbourne?
Obviously more has to be done to save these great venues. At the same time, the future is still bright with new ones like Boney and Shebeen opening up as well. I think Melbourne has such a great musical culture it will be fine. The people can’t do without music.

Looking toward the rest of the year – what does 2014 have in store for Saskwatch?
We’ll be touring Nose Dive a little later in the year around Australia and hopefully getting back overseas as well. And working on the next album too.

By Lucy McPherson

Order ‘Nose Dive’, the new album from Saskwatch, here.