Katchafire Are "A Bit Of A Liquorice Allsorts Bunch" After Major Line-Up Changes

8 September 2015 | 11:46 am | Michael Smith

"We've had some big changes in the last six to 12 months with a couple of long-time members leaving."

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"The band just gets bigger and bigger and busier and busier every year," an obviously pumped Logan Bell, frontman of eight-piece New Zealand reggae band Katchafire says from his home studio in Hamilton. Considering the band only recently returned from a tour of Europe that took in all the major reggae festivals and are set to return to the US after their forthcoming Australian dates, Bell isn't far wrong. They began the year touring the US with Rebelution and they've also seen their latest release, Down With You, peak at number three in the iTunes Reggae Singles. Not that it's all been plain sailing, however.

"We've had some big changes in the last six to 12 months with a couple of long-time members leaving."

"Yes, we've had some big changes in the last six to 12 months with a couple of long-time members leaving. The core band is the four of us — myself, my brother Jordan on drums, my brother in law [Leon Davey] on percussion and vocals, and Tere Ngarua our bass player. Then we're using a couple of different horn sections from New Zealand for all the Australasian and South Pacific shows, and we're using another horn section over in America and Europe: a couple of guys from the Bay Area. And we've also got a Jamaican keyboardist [Stephen Maxwell] and just recently my dad [Grenville Bell] has retired and we've had Jordan T taking over the roll of lead guitarist and he's also an amazing vocalist — he's from Maui in Hawaii. So we're a bit of a liquorice allsorts bunch at the moment, but finding some great gumption and enjoying playing, you know?"  

Katchafire managed to record Down With You, written and sung by Jordan Bell, at the legendary Tuff Gong Studios in Kingston, Jamaica, pretty much the birthplace of reggae.

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"We're on the road so much [which] is why we got this one done at Tuff Gong," Bell explains. "We've been making some pretty strongs links there and were looking to go out there and record. It was mixed down by Roland McDermott, who's a pretty legendary producer and engineer out of Jamaica. There were even a couple of pretty big name musos [who] had a hand in this track. The sound from there just has a lot of integrity and I can't wait to go back next year and do some more work there. 

"It's a little snippet of things to come as well. We have several songs on the go for the next album — a couple from the Tuff Gong sessions, a couple we're recording in a studio 'round here in New Zealand and a couple in my garage, my home studio. So it's gonna be a lot different. Most of our albums have been done in one studio with the same engineer, so this one is gonna be a lot more eclectic in the sense of where we've recorded and how the tracks have been treated."   

Katchafire haven't actually played in Jamaica yet, but they've been breaking into South America — "a pretty crazy place to tour," he laughs. "But the boys are looking at going back there in the New Year. America's going well and Europe was absolutely awesome — that's finally taking off."