Fat Freddy's Drop have proven themselves to be a festival staple in recent years and will be returning to the UK to headline Standon Calling on August 5th.
We caught up with Chopper Reeds aka Scott Towers, saxophone player in Fat Dreddy’s Drop to learn more about headlining festivals, engaging in Glastonbury's excesses and just what the band's 'delicious, absinthe-laced dream' is exactly.
Hello Chopper! Are you looking forward to your upcoming European tour?
Definitely. We're in the middle of winter down here in the Southern Hemisphere, so any chance to come and leap about on stage in the sun, or otherwise, this is the UK after all, should be grabbed with both hands. It's going to be great to be out playing live after 6 months in the studio - that can really do your head in.
Where are your favourite place to play in Europe?
There are some venues we love visting; Vega in Copenhagen, Paradiso in Amsterdam and Le Trianon in Paris are consistently amongst our top 5 or 6 places to play anywhere in the world, and they are ALL on the schedule this time. That said, it's great getting out places and festivals that we've no been to before. We've heard great things about Standon Calling and we're playing alongside people like DJs Cosmo and Greg Wilson, so it'll be great to be there.
You're known for your unique and improvised live sets, do you play differently in Europe than in NZ?
Not really, but some songs do seem to have a more immediate impact with the audience in certain places so we often change our set list accordingly. Other than that we really just try to bring the same energy and approach to every show we do.
Is it a nightmare trying to record with such a big band and with everyone keen to improvise?
Not so much a nightmare as a delicious, absinthe-laced dream. We've got a good process for recording - after years of 'practise' - so its really about trying to come up with an arrangement that everybody buys into and then capturing really good performances. The trickiest bit is working out who is going to play what - normally there are few people fighting over who can nail the bass line the best, and our horn players like to flex their keyboard, er, 'skills'...
You're playing four gigs in the UK as part of the tour, what are your memories of playing in the UK?
We've been coming to the UK at least once a year for nearly a decade now, so hopefully that answers that. It's a pity we never get to spend much time outside of London to be honest, there are plenty of great places and people to see.
You're headlining Sunday at Standon Calling Festival, what's your experience of UK festivals?
Like most people we've had festival experiences that run that gamut from the sublime to the ridiculous. In fact playing Glastonbury was both extremes wrapped up in one muddy adventure. Personally I've always really liked the musical programming at the more boutique festivals - the line ups are always quality and interesting, and that makes coming to do the shows all the more fun.
Is it true the name for the band came from an acid fuelled recording session? And if so, can you tell us a little more...?
Yes, and no. My memory isn't what it once was... in fact much of my mind is in that condition.
Why did you choose to distribute your own material rather than sign with a big record label?
Being truly independent has certainly meant there are some hurdles to get over - especially given we are based about as far away from Europe as you can possibly be. But it has also meant we've never been told what to do in terms of how our music sounds, or what our videos look like, or where and when we tour.
Do any of the members still play in side projects?
Almost everyone of us has our fingers in several muscial pies; whether it be engineering and producing for other people, recording and releasing our own music, or putting on DJ-based events. It's actually really important for us to do that, not just because it helps pay the bills but because it keeps us fresh, tuned-up and in touch with what's happening musically.
After being in the industry for so long, do you still take influence from other, maybe younger artists?
Yes, definitely. We listen to a huge variety of music both recent and from years and decades past, and it all seeps in one way or another. There are some amazing young musicians in NZ too - those guys keep us on our toes.
What made you want to put out 'Fat Electric Drop', a remix EP?
We've had a long association with DJ Vadim - who is really the brains behind this. The EP is essentially his group, The Electric, reworking FFD material and we'll be making it available for free (yes! for free!) while we're on tour. Keep you eyes and ears peeled people.
You're running a design competition for the EP, what sort of graphics are you looking for?
We're open to pretty much anything and everything. We like collecting records, and label / cover art is a big part of the attraction. I guess that means something that will last to test of time is the main requirement. We have no real design skills ourselves, but plenty of opinions...so, good luck!
Catch Fat Freddy's Drop headlining this year's Standon Calling - which runs from 3-5 August. Tickets are on sale now, for more information visit Gigwise Gig Tickets.