Fat Freddy's Drop lands at Eclipse2012 with new music
New Zealand's kings of cool lift the lid on new sounds in Cairns for the upcoming Eclipse2012 Festival, writes Jesse Kuch
Of all the bands to emerge from the Land of the Long White Cloud, very few (if any at all) attract the same kind of cult status as Fat Freddy’s Drop.
Effortlessly traversing the common ground between reggae, soul, dub, funk, R’n’B, roots and electronica, the Wellington seven-piece is a global touring juggernaut and without a doubt, New Zealand’s most popular band both at home and abroad.
After a sell-out show at Tanks Arts Centre a couple of years back, Fat Freddy’s Drop are making a highly anticipated return to the Far North in a couple of weeks time as one of the headline acts to the impending Eclipse2012 Festival in Palmer River.
And according to Fat Freddy’s trumpet maestro Toby Laing, the boys come armed with some new material, taken from the follow-up to their highly successful albums Based On A True Story and Dr Boondigga and The Big BW.
“We’re getting close now to getting the thing finished,” Toby says from a chilly day in his home in Wellington, preparing to fly out to Australia.
“It’s sounding good. For anyone who’s been following the group this past year or so, we’ve been playing a few of the new songs live. We’re committing those songs we’ve been doing to live to tape and we’ll be releasing them. If you want a bit of a sneak preview, have a look around for a few of the clips on YouTube of our shows in the past year.”
One thing that hasn’t changed with Fat Freddy’s Drop is the improvised approach to their craft.
Like their previous albums, all of the songs on their new and yet-to-be-titled work start their life as little more than a live, experimental jam.
“It’s the way we write all our music, we all contribute,” he says.
“It’s an improvised process and every song has its own journey from start to finish. We’re on our third studio album now and the process hasn’t really settled down. We thought this far in we might have come across some new, easier process, but if anything, it’s getting more complicated and more convoluted. We start playing around with new machines and before you know it, we’ve got a song. Our songs have their own life, you can’t plan too much. But it’s good we can still rely on our instincts to put a song together live on stage, our main focus is still rocking the live shows.”
Toby says when dealing with such a big group, democracy is the key that glues the band together – and when it comes to writing songs, sometimes the best policy is just to go with the flow.
“Different people take the lead at different times,” he says.
“If a couple of the guys are working on something, (the rest) usually leave them to sort it out. It’s no point having the horn section trying to make up what we’re going to play over the top. It’s about being patient really and seizing the opportunity to make your mark. Actually sometimes the best thing you can do is not make your mark at all.”
Toby says there are major advantages to having so many band members to fall back on, too.
“There are so many of us in the group,” he says.
“If there were only like two of us handling all the business, it might be a bit hectic. But you can share the load with seven members of the band, like the way a sports team or something would.”
With both their previous works experiencing stratospheric success in their native New Zealand (their first album still holds the title of the longest run at No1 on the New Zealand charts, with their second not far behind), it would be easy to feel pressure when it comes to the release of round three.
However in keeping with the band’s cool vibes, Toby says it’s not something that bothers them too much – especially because New Zealand is such a small country.
“I’m not very good with numbers, but for our first album, I saw a number that was quite preposterous, to be honest,” he says with a chuckle.
“The funny thing about releasing music in New Zealand is that if five people buy our CD, it rockets up the charts. If an album goes Gold, it’s far less sales than in somewhere like Australia. I’m really just looking forward to getting it out there. We’re just in the process of getting these tunes rubbed up how we want them, so finally getting out there will be awesome. The main thing is, we always thinking with our fans in mind, as much as our own taste in music. When we started, we were just making music for ourselves, jamming and stuff. We’re still doing that, but you do hope when you do things that it’s well received, you know? We don’t really feel any pressure, in fact we’re quite optimistic about it.”
Toby says the band will carry that optimism into their big set on the Earth Stage at Eclipse2012 Festival, adding that the band were “stoked” to be performing at such an epic event.
“It’s just amazing the number and quality of artists playing at the Eclipse Festival,” he says.
“I really hope to see (Jamaican reggae and roots legend) Johnny Clark play. I’ve been collecting his records for years and even though we play a fair bit around at festivals like this, I’ve never seen him live. We’re looking forward to getting back up there, and not just for the lovely climate.”
See Fat Freddy’s Drop at Eclipse2012 at Palmer River from November 10-16. General release tickets are still on sale for $400. See eclipse2012.com for full line-up and to purchase tickets and bus transfers to and from the festival site. Stay tuned for your full Eclipse2012 Festival guide in next week’s edition of Hit.
NEW CAIRNS.COM.AU COMMENT POLICY
We welcome your comments on this story. Comments are submitted for possible publication on the condition that they may be edited. Comments submitted without a full name and suburb/location will not be considered for publication. Please read our full comment policy and publication guidelines.
Share this article
Ready to drop: a new album is on the way from New Zealand's Fat Freddy's Drop.