Beginnings, the future and everything in between with Dorsal Fins

Dorsal Fins

Planning can be good sometimes, but when you just allow the weight of something special to shift and pull on all by itself, the journey shared with its motions can be that much more magical and rewarding. Much like what happened with Liam McGorry‘s baby, Dorsal Fins.

Only ever intended to be a one-off double-single release with some of his mates that he idolises musically, two singles has become two albums with a large live band colouring stages around the country and abroad; primarily consisting of McGorry (Eagle & The WormSaskwatch), Ella Thompson (GL, The Bamboos) and Jarrad Brown (Eagle & The Worm) alongside a fleet of others to comprise this Melbourne supergroup.

Just about ready to release their second record, Digital ZodiacDorsal Fins will take its first live spin on a run of festival dates over the following months; making appearances at Oxford Art Factory’s 8th BirthdayKennedys CreekDeadlam and The Plot.

So excited to cop the new album, we caught up with Liam McGorry – the man who brought Dorsal Fins to fruition.

Your work with Saskwatch and Eagle & The Worm must already use up a lot of your energy. What inspired you to start Dorsal Fins?

I guess it was a new chance to work with two singers that I love – love their voice, love everything they do, love their songwriting. I’ve obviously played with Eagle & The Worm for a while, with Jarrad [Brown], and then kind of worked with Ella [Thompson] on and off. It was a new frontier, no limits kind of thing. When you play in a band, even like Saskwatch, there’s already a clearly defined thing going on, where Dorsal Fins started off as a new frontier, a chance to experiment, try out new ideas, but also to mainly collaborate with friends.

So when you started the band, you already had Jarrad and Ella in mind to be singing for you?

Yeah. We just did two songs on the first day, six months before we finished the first album, which was, ‘Nothing Left To Hide’ and, ‘Fell’. We just figured they’d do one song each, as that was all it was really meant to be – just two songs on a 7” or 12”, that was just something new with no boundaries.

A band that can have up to 15 members on stage, talk us through how the band came to be of such a big size.

I guess it just happened the same way, it was like half of Eagle & The Worm and half of Saskwatch playing in the band. Initially it wasn’t going to be a live thing at all. It was more just to get in the studio and have some fun, see what happens. It was so much fun we decided to do one gig, and then got asked to do another. It was a pretty organic type of thing, it’s not like we went out there deliberately with an 8 / 9 / 10 –piece band or anything.

Is it difficult getting Dorsal Fins together for shows and rehearsal, being such a big group made up of working musicians?

Yeah definitely, it’s pretty hard to get everyone to rehearsals, everyone’s pretty busy with a lot of stuff going on themselves, so we try to rehearse when we can. The gigs are obviously fine, but yeah mainly the rehearsal and getting everyone around is expensive and a time consuming endeavour, but it’s a lot of fun to play those gigs as well!

Do you write all of the music and lyricism, or is it shared?

The music side is mostly my writing, but the lyrics and melodies are written by Jarrad and Ella, and a few guests in some cases, as well.

You’ve released the first track from your second record, Digital Zodiac. Why has, ‘Sedated’ been chosen as the leading single?

I’m not too good at choosing the singles to be honest [laughs], but a lot of people said that was their favourite song, so we went with that. It was a pretty un-sought out sort of thing, I guess it’s just a fun song, which is why people like it.

Digital Zodiac definitely sounds more refined compared to Mind Renovation. Was there a conscious decision to critique it more this time?

Yeah definitely, thank you for saying that, yeah that was the aim, definitely. The first album was done all up in five or six days, so it was pretty unconsidered and really throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. This one had a lot more time spent on it, and was done in bits and parts over about six months, so it was a lot more considered with a lot more effort into trying to make it more homogenous sounding, and overall more consistent.

Does it follow a certain theme or story?

Not really. I guess in terms of that consideration, we love albums like The Avalanches’ albums, bands like Javellin, I guess the ones that really take you on a journey? So I think just trying to follow that aesthetic, all the way through.

You recently performed at Unleashed in Melbourne, that promoted youth social change. Is this a movement that Dorsal Fins feels strongly about?

Yeah, you know, the youth is quite often silenced in society, there’s not much of a youth voice. It’s great to support young people in whatever they want to do, so of course we want to do that. It was a really great day, hopefully more organisations like that start up and promote youth in society, it’s great.

You’re playing a stack of festivals in the coming months. Are there any in particular that you’re most looking forward to?

To be honest, every festival show is different and has a certain vibe. We’re playing a lot in country Victoria this year, which is great; something we’ve never really done. This year has probably the most shows we’ve played all up, it’s just great to get on the road and play a lot of different shows.

When can we expect the official launch tour of Digital Zodiac?

I think it’ll be next year, to be honest, we’ve got a few things ticking away until the end of the year, a few festivals as you said. I think the next solo block of time we could get with everyone free [laughs] was early next year, so we’ll be announcing a tour around album release time.

Dorsal Fins‘ second album, Digital Zodiac, will be available through Remote Control Records (and Captured Tracks in North America) via Dot Dash on Friday, 28th October.

Catch Dorsal Fins at the following dates:

Kyneton Music Festival
October 21-22, 2016
Kyneton, VIC
More info

Kennedys Creek Music Festival
October 21-23, 2016
Kennedys Creek, VIC
More info

Deadlam Halloween
November 4, 2016
The Brightside, QLD
More info

The Plot
November 19, 2016
Parramatta Park, NSW
More info

Words by Hannah Galvin.





An avid fan of Sydney’s jazz and found sound scene, as well as eating peanut butter from the jar.