For a while there, explosive soul purveyors Saskwatch were something of a loosely kept secret amongst the Melbourne underground, with the nine-piece establishing themselves as lauded denizens of Thursday nights at Cherry Bar in AC/DC Lane. The secret soon got out, seeing Saskwatch tear up stages and dancefloors at festivals across the globe. Following up from debut Leave It All Behind, new album Nose Dive sees the outfit flex its honed musical acumen into stylistic grounds that extend beyond the rhythm-and-blues core.
“I think we’re trying to prove we’re not just a niche at the moment, that we are a credible, and incredible, band,” says vocalist Nkechi Anele. “That’s what we’re trying to do with this album. I guess what makes us different is that these are songs we’ve tried out for at least a year to live audiences – some of these songs were being played when the first album came out. It has taken a lot of work to make sure the stuff that’s different, songs you wouldn’t normally link with what Saskwatch is, still has merit, that they’re not just an idea outlined on the album. That’s been hard to make sure people take it seriously, that it’s not us trying to do somebody else’s genre badly.”
Though it explores a variety of genres, the album retains a striking sonic cohesion. “We recorded with Lachlan Goold, also known as Magoo, who lives in Queensland,” Anele says. “We recorded at his place in a converted church an hour out of Brisbane. It’s the first time, apart from the single, that we’ve had a producer really work on an album with us, having a strong input in where we could take songs. Recording in that space, being taken away from Melbourne, we were able to put that focus on the sonics of the album. Magoo has so much input into the sound, he’s one of the engineers that works on songs like he’s an instrumentalist, getting the best out of every song.”
In the video clip for new single ‘Born To Break Your Heart’, Anele assumes the role of seductive serial killer, taking out her bandmates with increasingly ridiculous aplomb. “I cannot tell you how much fun I had being evil. I loved pretending to kill every member of the band,” she laughs. “When we got given the idea for the clip, we were all really excited and wanted to do it straight away. The funny thing is that the song isn’t dark, and we’re not a dark band – well, at least I’d like to think that people don’t see me as a serial killer beneath this friendly surface. It was great to do a clip like that. The most awkward part was the scene at the start where me and Liam [McGorry] had to hold hands; we laughed for about five minutes before we could shoot. It was a lot of fun.”
The clip also features an appearance from a perhaps supernatural rabbit, continuing the motif featured in the ‘Hands’video. As for the significance of the band’s floppy-eared mascots, Anele isn’t exactly forthcoming. “I like that people are asking, ‘What is with the bunnies?’ That’s the best part, so I don’t want to say anything. Especially if bunnies end up making it into every film clip.”
Looking back on those early days at Cherry in Melbourne, Anele feels a mix of pride and slight wistfulness. “From the band perspective, nothing’s really changed. We were playing Cherry every week for three years, so the challenge was to make sure we were getting better, that we didn’t have a shit week, thinking that people would get sick of coming to see us. But that wasn’t the case. We have played bigger venues, supported big acts, played overseas, played festivals we never imagined playing at this age.”
Nose Dive out Friday April 11 through Northside/Remote Control