It’s not often that we have an opportunity to catch up with a group like Fat Freddy’s Drop out of Wellington, New Zealand, but we were fortunate enough to have a quick exchange regarding the release of their new album BAYS and whether or not 2016 will see the group visiting the U.S.
Starting off in the 90’s as an improve jam band, Fat Freddy’s Drop is a 7-piece multi-genre group that likes to incorporate elements of Funk, Jazz, R&B, Soul, Reggae and Dance. They have a strong cult-following in the U.S. that is only magnified when the group announces that they’ll be coming to America for a tour, which isn’t often.
The Pier was able to catch up with Saxophonist Chopper Reed and with the Oct 23rd release of their new album BAYS, Reed explained that the group is hoping for a return to the U.S.: “We’d love to come back through the US, it’s right at the top of the list. We’ve been invited to both North & South America quite a number of times recently and are close to getting a couple things off the ground. I don’t want to jinx it by spilling the beans, but fingers crossed we’ll be up your way in 2016.”
Since 2005, the group has released four studio albums with Based On A True Story (2005), Dr Boondigga & The Big BW (2009), Blackbird (2013) a long with this year’s BAYS. In addition to their studio work, the group has two live albums, Live At The Matterhorn (2001) and Live At Roundhouse (2010) not to mention limited edition vinyl singles, including Midnight Marauders and Hope For A Generation.
The new album Bays was recorded at their studio that is also called Bays and as Reed says: “It’s a direct reference to that. We had all sorts of clever (and I use that word loosely) titles lined up that included ‘Bays’, but in the end a simple nod to our musical ‘club house’ seemed that best option.”
While the album only has 9 total tracks, there’s a lot of musical depth to each song that makes the record feel longer than the 9 songs on it’s track-list. What makes this record unique to previous releases, as Reed explains, is: “We stopped touring and were able to pour all our energy into the writing and crafting of the album, rather than having to break the studio down to rehearse for a tour. Then try and pick up the threads of the recording process several weeks later. It meant it was more intense than usual; 12-14 hour days, 4-5 days a week for 7 months. It took a physical toll by the end – we all got sick. But it also meant we could start from bare bones on most tracks and follow them through to a logical conclusion.”
Vocalist, Joe Dukie adds that: “It’s been a more creative process writing this album in the studio rather than recording songs which have been well road-tested.”
Having the time to see songs through from start to finish without much distraction, we were curious as to which songs might have been outside their realm, to which Reed replied: “‘Razor’ is a bit of a departure for us sonically and stylistically, and it took some getting used to in the studio. But ‘Fish In The Sea’ was the most complex to arrange and mix.”
With a new album, the group has wasted no time to road-test their new songs as they are billed to be on planes, trains and automobiles through the UK, Australia, back to New Zealand before going back to the UK a long with a trip to Portugal, all before the month of April 2016 is done. It’s safe to assume that if they do come to the U.S., they will be here after April 2016… Cali-Roots in May possibly? Time will most certainly tell.
FFD sets their sights high on who they’d like to hit the road with. When asked, Reed acknowledged that: “We toured Australia with Erykah Badu a few years ago and that was simply incredible; I’d happily hit the road with those guys any time. And Prince, that guy is a genius.”
When the group hits the U.S., there’s no doubt they’ll stick out on stage given their unique attire and custom hats. When asked what the love was for their unique get-up, Reed responds with: “Someone once described us as the ‘worst dressed band in the land’. We actually wear that as a badge of honor in this time of uber-styled (read: Contractually Obliged) artists hawking the latest designer watches/sunglasses/shoes. We’ve countered that visual mayhem with some of the best hats you’ll find anywhere, but made right here in Wellington by Hills Hats. Simon, the proprietor, looks after us unbelievably well and hand makes one off pieces for us for each tour.”
Take a look below at all of the upcoming tour dates to check out those sweet hats in person. While you’re at it, pick up a physical copy of Fat Freddy’s Drop new album Bays on their site by clicking HERE!
Watch: Fat Freddys Drop – “Slings and Arrows Jam”