Fat Freddy's Drop: Reinvention a recipe for success

Fat Freddy's Drop Facebook
The band is set to play its second and final headliner on Sunday in Queenstown (Fat Freddy's Drop / Facebook)

Fat Freddy's Drop is the quintessential soundtrack to a New Zealand summer. They're the Corona to our limes, the fish to our chips, if you will.

There's no slowing down for the seven-piece band, whose psychedelic soul jam sessions come alive on stage to bewitch those in their teens right through to their twilight years.

"Our audience is pretty diverse and that's a good thing," saxophonist Scott 'Chopper Reed' Towers says. "We look out at the audience and there's a really good mix."

He's fresh from playing their sold-out show at Auckland's Villa Maria, which was their largest New Zealand headliner to date.

"For it to happen in New Zealand was something worth remembering, you know - it felt pretty good."

The band is set to play its second and final headliner on Sunday in Queenstown.

Towers says their refreshed touring schedule keeps them from doing the same thing year-in, year-out.

"You just need to keep reinventing your show for the audience and for you - it's got to be interesting and it's got to be fun for the band and for the people coming."

Fun is definitely something the band is good at - they are often found swinging a golf club or sharing kai before their shows.

They've come a long way since basement gigs on the mean streets of London to a smattering of 30 to 50 people - a stark contrast to last year's gig to 10,000 fans at London's Alexandra Palace, where the World Dart Championships is hosted.

"We're deep into it now. I think probably if you'd asked the guys 15 years ago, 'Is this going to be your full time gig for the next decade?' we might have thought 'Well, we'll give it a go and see what happens'."

"But it's pretty nice to feel like we've been able to do this for so long."

Fat Freddy's Drop are about to take on another overseas tour, swapping winter for a northern hemisphere summer. Typically they do around 25 shows in different locations, but they're continuing to shake things up.

"We're doing three big weekends with little gaps in between," Towers says.

"We're doing big, big festivals in big, big venues - it's a bit shorter, so the families will be pleased about that."

He says their audience is slowing edging out into the east of Europe, and last year the band debuted their sunshine reggae sound in Hong Kong and South Africa.

However, it's the headlining shows which hold a special place, with Towers saying they can play up to two-and-a-half hours straight. They've clocked up over a massive 1000 headliners.

"When it's your show you can talk to the lighting guy, you can talk to the sound guy and say 'We need more of this or less of that' and you can really get it exactly how you want it."

"With festivals, it's just what you see is what you get when you get on stage really - and it's chaos, but it's fun chaos."

It will be their second year touring fourth album BAYS. Previously songs are played and perfected while touring before being recorded however, BAYS is the first time the band took time off to write record in a studio right off the bat.

"The song writing is a bit more mature now than it was when we first started and we're more comfortable writings songs rather than being a jam band," Towers says.

"We feel like we can deliver a four-minute song really concisely, as well as doing a 14-minute song."

It's always well-received overseas - a simple scroll through Fat Freddy's social media channels tells you that - but Towers says back home is where the crowds "know all the words".

"They know all the songs, they know the history of the band, they know where we started with 'Based on a True Story'."

And the crowds will be waiting again when Fat Freddy's Drop returns for another summer of sonically soothing sounds.


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