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Pic by Cybele Malinowski

Bernard Fanning and Paul Dempsey are two of the most revered and successful Australian artists of the last 30 years. After a thrilling two-week build-up, the wait is finally over with the esteemed pair formally announcing their extraordinary new project Fanning Dempsey National Park. With a debut album in the works, Bernard and Paul today release their first single ‘Disconnect’ with the accompanying official video

Fanning Dempsey National Park marks new terrain for both artists, “We agreed straight away there’s no point doing something together if it’s going to be what people think it’s going to be,” says Paul. “It’s not the two of us with acoustic guitars singing campfire songs.” Instead, they’ve crafted a bold sound, exemplified by the new single ‘Disconnect’. The sonic masterpiece combines ethereal synths, robotic pulses, thwacking drums, and stabbing sax (played by legendary saxophonist Ron Dziubla)

As Bernard shares insight into the track, “The Idea of having to walk away from something that you love because it’s become unmanageable. Disconnect always had a lot of ‘serious moonlight’ energy, right from its beginnings. The swapping lead vocal plays with the idea of connecting and disconnecting by juxtaposing the confidence/ indecision with each consecutive line. We originally wanted to use sax on everything. After we roughly finished a demo we’d say, “What else does it need?” the Answer was inevitably more sax.”

Paul explains the evolution of the new single. “This started out with almost a gospel kinda feel but over a few drafts the drums got punchier, and the guitars got hookier and then we started throwing horns at everything and suddenly the party was on. “

Directed by Alex Badham, the official video transports us to the vibrant streets of early 80’s Berlin, where we follow the development of a new relationship. Shot in scrappy, cinema verite style with rough filmic aesthetics, the video follows the shenanigans of the two – affectionately known as The Ratbags.

“We didn’t want it to sound like a Fanning record or a Dempsey record, we wanted it to sound like a band,” says Bernard. That was the point of the National Park moniker, Paul says. “We wanted the sense of an organisation bigger than the two of us. We settled on the name,” he adds, “because it’s so pompous that it made us laugh every time we said it.”

Bernard and Paul have been fellow travellers since the heady alt-rock ‘90s. The world witnessed their first DIY duet during the lockdown panic of 2021: a lean acoustic simmer through Queen and David Bowie’s song for intense times, ‘Under Pressure’. That choice was within a defined ballpark of shared musical passions. In early 2020, the pair had joined the stage spectacular Celebrating David Bowie, the all-star tribute to the late Starman performed by handpicked Bowie alumni and aficionados at the Sydney Opera House.

The two singer-songwriters’ solo works and monumental respective bands, Powderfinger and Something For Kate, account for nine number one albums, millions of sales, a staggering 38 songs in triple j’s Hottest 100, scores of awards from ARIA to APRA and beyond, and reputations among the most skilled and thoughtful writers of their generation.

‘Disconnect’ Single Artwork Credit: Jonathan and Studio 3AM




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