Album Focus: Fat Freddy’s Drop

29 October 2015 | 6:58 pm | Jai Chouhan

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For more than 15 years, Fat Freddy’s Drop successfully pioneered the concept of a jam band. Developing tracks on the stage then shaping them for the studio, their instrumental prowess has made them known throughout the world. 

Now up to their fourth studio album, Bays, Fat Freddy’s Drop are adhering to a new approach with a completely studio-developed project.

“We’d done quite a lot of that other style of recording and songwriting," says saxophonist, Scott Towers. "Songs had various iterations live and then we’d go into the studio trying to figure out how to piece together the successful live parts into a studio song. 

"This was completely 'round the other way. We just let the songs evolve in a very natural way and not be influenced by a good or bad crowd reaction. We were doing some rehearsing this week and were just sort of playing through the songs and it was all happening very naturally. We’ve ended up with songs that, to us, mean a lot of musical sense. Everything seems very logical.”

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Some may be nervous about a departure from what’s made the band so successful, but Towers believes Bays (named after Fat Freddy’s Wellington studio) further embodies the elements that have made them great thus far.

“I think it’s going to be a little bit different but I think that people will be pleased with it," he says. "You can’t just keep repeating yourself endlessly. We clearly have distinct styles of music that mean a lot to us; dub, reggae... techno. Those things have always been a part of the band, but each of them probably gets a little bit more time in the sunshine on this record. It’ll make a lot of sense for people that have been listening to us for a long time but we’re also jumping a lot deeper into some of those electronic areas.”

It’s no lie that Fat Freddy’s reputation stems from their intense live shows and jamming ability. Having travelled all corners of the globe, Towers admits they’ve been pretty lucky, but there’s still nothing sweeter than being close to home.

“Not many bands from New Zealand have had decade long careers touring around the world. We worked bloody hard to get to that position but we need to maintain those relationships with the fans, the venues, and the promoters. We travel to some pretty exotic places, but the fact that we can go to Australia and do 10 or 12 sold-out shows feels like more of an achievement in some ways. Yes it’s a bigger market than New Zealand, but it’s not bottomless. Europe is so huge that you can exist in all sorts of levels of the scene over there. 

"But in Australia and New Zealand to be able to do two or three shows in a city is a real achievement. We really appreciate how the audience has grown with us over the years. It’s been brilliant.”

Originally published in X-Press Magazine