Reggae. It’s all too easily co-opted by trendy pseudo-Rastafarian white boys who like smoking weed and talking about… well, not much really. Not that there’s anything wrong with that per se, but it’s always refreshing to see a band coming up that put their own spin on it, and avoid the tacky clichés that seem to permeate so much of the mainstream of the genre these days.
Sticky Fingers (not to be confused with “Scotland’s number one Rolling Stones tribute band”, who happen to share the name) are doing just that, fusing traditional reggae-inspired grooves with more psychedelic rock influences. Sure, they like to smoke weed and party like well-behaved animals, but they’re not just going through the motions to look cool to their hipster friends.
With an EP launch looming this Friday, resident rasta-in-waiting Jesse Hayward caught up with bass player Pat Cornwall to find out more.
Music Feeds: So give us the lowdown. How did you guys form?
Pat Cornwall: Dylan (Frost, singer/songwriter) had moved down from New Zealand a couple of years back. He was having a busk outside the Coopers Arms Hotel on King St. The bouncer of the pub, a fellow Kiwi, was hustlin’ passers-by to spare Dyl some change. He made sure that me (bass) and Beaks (Beaker Best, drums) left him some coinage as we went past.
We ran into him a few more times after that, guitar in hand, and ended up out on the piss together. Next thing we were good mates and after that we were a band. The other two are old mates of mine who just naturally joined the group as time went on.
MF: What drew you guys to reggae?
PC: We never set down and said “lets make reggae music”. It’s just one of the many sounds that came out of our early jams. When people ask, we describe our sound as psychedelic reggae. This is our signature sound that stands out from the rest. Though if you listen to the EP you’ll hear it’s not the only flavor in the pot.
MF: Do you feel like you’re following in the footsteps of other whiteboy reggae groups like UB40? Or even 10cc?
PC: A few people have related Dylan’s style to Joe Strummer. The Clash were more famous for their rebel rock numbers, but they produced some great reggae stuff too. These guys became a great influence after people had started making the Joe Strummer comment. They have helped build our confidence with our sound that differs from the Sydney music scene.
MF: So who are your biggest influences?
PC: The Clash, Fat Freddy’s Drop, The Flaming Lips, The Specials & The Smiths.
MF: What kind of old school reggae do you like?
PC: Toots & The Maytals, Desmond Dekker, Jimmy Cliff. Love the really old stuff by the Wailers when the others used to sing more; they recorded all their early stuff in a 40 degree heated garage somewhere in Jamaica. What a beautiful dutchy that would have been.
MF: Speaking of dutchys, how big is the biggest joint you ever smoked?
PC: Nothing big enough to mention. We don’t really have the money to fund the novelty size doobies you speak of.
MF: Haha. Fair enough. Do you think Sydney is ready for a psychedelic reggae band?
PC: Not sure… Sydney has never been a trend setter. It’s a paranoid and hostile city.
MF: What’s your favourite old reggae song?
PC: The Slickers – Johnny Too Bad
MF: Do you remember the first time you became aware of reggae as distinct from other types of music?
PC: Reggae is a pretty popular guy. He’s hard to not get along with. Always smiling, even when he’s really sad.
MF: Touché. By the way, what’s with the name?
PC: It’s just a name. Simple as that.
MF: So the EP launch is this Friday. Are you guys looking forward to it?
PC: We’re all pretty amped for it. We’ve held off playing shows for the last couple of months to ensure it’s a rippa. It’s gonna be a good night.
MF: What can we expect from your live show?
PC: A crowd that dances, on stage banta, and a big messy celebration afterwards (oh yeah and the music is pretty good too).
MF: Can we expect to see an album in the future? If so, when? Don’t lie to me!
PC: Late next year.
Catch Sticky Fingers when they launch their EP this Friday night, 9th October, at the Oxford Art Factory with support from Made in Japan and megastick fanfare. For more info, head over to their myspace page.