Just before they hit Bluesfest, Sly Steve got on the blower with Saskwatch guitarist and songwriter Liam Mc Gorry to talk about their upcoming tour, the making of their second record Nosedive and the timeless beauty of vinyl.
It’s been busy year for you guys already, playing a bunch of shows including Panama Festival in Tasmania and Womadelaide. How was Womadelaide?
Liam McGorry: Yeah it was great man, to be honest I’ve never been before, a few of the other guys had been before playing in other bands and that sort of thing, It was amazing, just the whole set up of the festival in the park and the roaming around and the sheer size of it was amazing plus the shows went great so we were very fortunate in that respect as well.
You’ve done shows with John Newman and you’ve supported some amazing acts in the last few years, including cats like Earth, Wind and Fire, what’s been a highlight for you in the live scene?
Playing with Earth, Wind and Fire was great, I mean we’ve been fans of theirs for forever so that was pretty incredible. At the time that was sort of the biggest gig we’ve ever done in front of a few thousand people so for us that was pretty incredible. Also playing with one of our idols Daniel Merriwether was great and also the show with did with Sharon Jones down in Mossvale, they are definite heroes of ours.
Nosedive has just landed, how long have you guys been working on this new record?
Well to be honest we started writing even before the first record came out because there was a bit of a gap between us recording it (the first album) and putting it out. So I guess we had a year and a half of writing which was great – a different approach than the first one. With the first one we had like two or three years of getting used to writing songs and bringing stuff in, so I think this time we had a bit more time to refine things and test out the arrangements so that was one of the main differences.
Have you been testing out a few of the tunes out on the road in the live arena?
Yeah it’s definitely something we’ve always tried to do, as soon as we write a song we bring it into the fold for the live set, and we’re already looking forward to playing all of them for this tour.
There’s a bunch of you in the band, nine all up, as one of the main songwriters how does the songwriting process start? Is it a collaborative effort or do you bring ideas to the table and go from there?
I guess I’ll bring in a demo of a song or just a general sort of vibe to a song and then depending on if there’s a few active people involved that will push the song to a better form and really add their own touch to it so I think it does end up being quite a communal thing and something that’s refined over a period of time.
Your first few singles and the debut album were released digitally, but you are also big fans of vinyl, releasing all your albums on LP and a few 7”, what is it about vinyl that really captures your sound?
That’s a good question man, I think to be honest for us it just sounds better, I guess we all like a bit more of a distorted sound more than a clean sound. We all sort of listen to records and I guess we’re a fan of old production and recording techniques and you know that bit of grit in the songs so for us it’s like the perfect representation. Not that we want to sound exactly like that but having some kind of relation is good as well.
Then on the flip side of that you guys release a lot digitally as well and you can reach a much wider audience, how have you found releasing your music on Bandcamp, as a fairly newish platform?
Bandcamp is great man, it’s really easy and really user friendly for artists, it’s great to have something that’s so easy for bands to get their stuff out there for people to stumble across it, so to speak.
In May you’ve got your first show on the Gold Coast for the Live at Bond music series. For those who haven’t caught you live what can we expect?
Yeah we’re really looking forward to playing on the Gold Coast, we’ve always meant to make it but it hasn’t worked out timing wise, but we’ll be coming back later in the year as well for the tour so we’re really looking forward to coming up and hopefully staying for a bit.
We’ve been digging the new record Nosedive and there’s a couple of great film clips to accompany the first two singles, how do you guys go about matching up the visuals to your sound?
We pretty much just find people that we like, find some great people that make film clips, or artists with any of that sort of stuff we definitely just go about sort of finding directors that do great work and hopefully that will work out for us, we’ve had great luck so far so hopefully that will continue.
With the new record too, as well as bringing your trademark groove there seems to be a few more ballads, a few more down tempo moments too like Left me to die and Call your Name, was that a conscious shift in the writing this time around or did it come around more naturally?
I think it was a combination of both actually, like it did come about naturally we did start writing sort of different kind of songs and then I guess with the first album was more a product of that it was the first twelve or thirteen songs that we’d ever done. This one we had a bit more time to consider it and make a bit more of a classic album, so hopefully it’s a bit more rounded this time.
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Saskwatch play Live at Bond, 18 May from 1.00pm