When we were starting HTF – I thought about all the bands in the world I’d want to interview – and Fat Freddy’s Drop was right up there. Their music is a smooth mix of reggae, jazz, soul, lo-fi — it’s undefinable. This enigmatic and sensually atmospheric 7 piece have already become huge in their homeland – New Zealand with chart and record sale success in abundance – and they also have a big following in the UK with packed out gigs (we just wish there was more of them). Luckily, I was able to shoot some questions at Chopper Reedz – A.K.A. Scott Towers – A.K.A. sax player extraordinaire from Fat Freddy’s Drop – so here’s what he had to say:
HTF – Hit The Floor
CR – Chopper Reedz
HTF: First and foremost I have to ask – who is Fat Freddy and how did the band come to be called Fat Freddy’s Drop?
CR: Fat Freddy is actually one of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, from Gilbert Shelton’s underground comic. Fat Freddy’s Cat was a character from the comic too, a feline with a certain ‘loose’ attitude to life and a cult following here in Wellington…. so we bastardised his name and embraced his joie de vivre.
HTF: All the band members have nicknames – how was ‘Chopper Reedz’ created? Are you too tooth-friendly on your sax reeds?
CR: Like all members of FFD I was ‘named’ by our singer Joe Dukie – I was schleping around Melbourne airport looking and feeling very hungover, and had borrowed a pair of dodgy aviator sunglasses from our roadie. It came to Dukie in a flash and has stuck ever since. Actually, if Dukie names everyone else…. who named Dukie?
HTF: (For all of you that don’t know – Chopper Read is an Australian convict – known to don dodgy aviator sunglasses)
HTF: Part of your uniqueness lies in the diversity of styles you incorporate. How would you describe your sound to those who haven’t heard it?
CR: Spaced-out-jazz’n’bass-meets-techtronic-dub’n’blues. Actually, all I can say is come to a live show and experience it firsthand yourself. Between our ever-fluctuating moods, and what weird and wonderful new instruments we’ve discovered that week, the sound of the band is always changing.
HTF: Jamming and improvisation play a big part in your performances – is this also how you write songs?
CR: It is actually. We have marathon jam sessions in the livingroom/studio of Hopepa (our trombonist and satorial shining light) where we hash out the bare bones of songs and try to find a few nuggets that can become the basis for an addition to the repetoire. That’s why you’ll often hear both completely new songs and new versions of older matertial in our live shows.
HTF: You’re from New Zealand. I was searching Kiwi phrases and you have quite similar sayings to us in the UK.. but there are a few crazy sounding terms that I need you to explain:
“box of budgies” – CR: a snack food that Dobie Blaze often prepares in lieu of fried chicken if we’re not particularly hungry. As in “I don’t know if I could do a chicken and gravy combo, but I could kill a box of budgies”
“bugalugs” – CR: what my two year old son calls ants. He is quite partial to bugalugs, spidey-wideys and squirms.
“get off the grass!” – CR: now that marijuana has been decriminalised it hardly seems rebellious – and it makes some punters very slow moving, so this is often yelled at the front row of a quiet crowd…. just before we pass out the free meth. Actually we don’t advocate that.
HTF: The UK is in serious need of some more FFD action! Do you have any plans to tour here in the near future?
CR: Well, we did play in London and Manchester before Christmas – and it was freezing! So turn on the sunshine and you never know we might just jump on a plane.
HTF: (see – there is an upside to the effects of global warming!)
HTF: Finally – can you tell me what IS the world with no soul?
CR: Hull. Opps, I mean Hell. Honest mistake.
So there it is – the speakings of a master. Thank you Chopper Reedz, it’s been an honour! To have a listen to some FFD amazingness for yourself, visit their myspace or website.
Interviewer: Jen Jaconelli