Kiwi Music Royalty: Our Interview with Fat Freddy's Drop

Fat Freddys Drop Fat Freddy’s drop have been leading the Kiwi music scene for the last decade, and things show no sign of slowing down. They currently spend their time chasing summer, headlining huge festivals in Europe, and coming back to sell out shows at home. Remix writer Jamie Clements sat down with Mu from the group to have a quick chat about their new album, summer plans and the weirdest thing that’s ever happened on tour… So you just released your new album Bays, Are you happy with how the album has turned out? Yeah for sure! It’s probably our most focused album we’ve done so far. We decided to take a whole lot of time off touring to finish the album and we don’t usually get a chance to do that so we’re really happy with how it’s all come together. How long was the recording process and was it difficult to gather all seven members in the studio at one time? It was a lot quicker than we usually do. We kinda, on average, come out with a new album every three to four years, but this one came out in two years. Apart from our saxophone player who lives in Auckland, the rest of us are all in Wellington so it works well. Do you have a favorite song on the album? My favourite song changes all the time, but at the moment it’s ‘Wheels’… Because I did most of the writing on that (laughs) When did you guys come together, and when did you know you were going to be Fat Freddy’s? We met each other just shortly before we put the band together. Dallas and I hooked up first. I was doing lots of DJing around Wellington, playing at Matterhorn when it first opened. I would get Dallas down, and he would improvise vocals over my sets, and then Toby would come down on the Trumpet and it just grew from there. We started on turntables and it eventually grew to being a full band. You spend so much time together on the road… Do you each have things that annoy each other about one another? Oh god yeah, everyone pisses everyone off! I mean, you have your good days and your bad days, but we have been touring for fifteen years, we know when to back off and give people some space. You’ve been around as a band for a long time now. How do you stay current? We just have seriously good taste in music (laughs). As a producer I’m still buying really current records and I’m still buying hard to find underground techno from Germany. It’s just about listening to music and knowing where it’s going. I think being in a band and touring, even though we are a bit older now, it keeps you young. You guys are have played over 1000 gigs, 500 of those being played in Europe. How have touring and your experiences changed or shaped your music? It all goes into the pot and all helps. The album is definitely more electronic. There are definitely influences from Europe in there. How do you keep yourself balanced with such a crazy lifestyle? Sleep is good! We all like to have a drink and party up a wee bit, but you just can’t do it everyday on tour. You’ve got to go to sleep every night. Usually we just pick our times to have a bit of fun, you know when you’ve got some days off. Otherwise we just try and behave, its quite hard though. What are your plans over summer? We are playing in New Zealand quite a bit. We have lot of gigs starting at the end of December and right through to the start of February, so that’ll be good! It’s cool how even though you’re all based in NZ, you still manage to sell out huge shows here. Well we must be alright! We don’t play a lot either - we play once or twice a year, and that allows you to sell out a big show. If we got a bit greedy and played two or three times a year, you’d find that we wouldn’t sell out. We just don’t try and overdo it in New Zealand. We talked to Rudimental on the phone the other day and they they’re big fans of yours, which is pretty cool Yeah, we all get along really well. I’m actually working on a remix for them right now from their new album and they’re doing one of ours, so that should be good. What songs do you guys listen to on tour? Best road trip song for summer? We listen to D'angelo’s new album, that’s been on a lot lately. But everyday when you’re doing shows everyday, I mean we are doing four shows a week in Europe. You get back on the bus and either watch a movie or go to bed. Is it a buzz to think how big you are in NZ and overseas, is it crazy that people know the lyrics? Yeah totally, it’s only just really picked up, we have only just broken through Europe, and it’s taken this long. We are doing really big shows over there now. It’s exciting! We are kind of at a different place here than we are over there. If you had the chance to change something about the New Zealand music industry what would it be? I think the live scene here is terrible, we need more venues. The venues need to be the right size. There is a good club and DJ scene, but for live bands to get out and play music, there’s just nowhere to play. They are either too big, or too small, even The Powerstation is too small. The hard thing about New Zealand though, is we just don’t have the numbers for the audience. Auckland is good for us, we sell out shows easy of here. We don’t even bother performing in Wellington anymore though, no one wants to pay for tickets down there. What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened on tour? Years ago when we were in Spain we lost our roadie and our guitarist, for like, three days. We called the New Zealand Consulate because we couldn’t find them and turns out they had been arrested and put in prison. They were somewhere they weren’t supposed to be and got into a fight with some locals, but it wasn’t even their fault they were just trying to get out of the situation. In Spain, Barcelona, they kinda arrest you first and ask questions later. Do your kids appreciate your work? Are they musicians or wanting to become musicians? Yeah, I mean some of them definitely. My daughter is 16 now and she’s a bit over it. The other guy’s kids are a bit younger. Our Trombone player’s son, he’s going to be a better horn player than his dad within the year! We’ll probably kick his dad out and put him in the band instead.