New Zealand band drops in to rock Mother City

Joe Lindsay, of Fat Freddy's Drop, enjoying his first experience of Cape Town.

The seven-piece New Zealand based-band, Fat Freddy’s Drop, touched down in Cape Town for the first time last week.

They performed in Cape Town and Johannesburg as part of the Red Bull Music Academy Festival.

The band has built up a dedicated fan-base over the nearly 20 years they’ve been together. They are known for their improvisation and energy on stage.

The Tatler sat down with Joe Lindsay “Hopepa” the band’s trombone player and Tehimana Kerr “Jetlag Johnson”, the band’s guitar player at their Orange Street hotel before their show on Friday.

The band, originally from Wellington, New Zealand, formed 17 years ago and have released seven albums.

By the time they met with the Tatler, they felt they had already experienced some of the best that Cape Town had to offer, from Table Mountain to First Thursdays.

“The landscape here is just so impressive,” said Mr Lindsay.

“We also went to a few bars on Kloof Street and saw a great band at a Cuban joint. I also came across a marimba band with a sax player and that was cool and not a sound we hear often at home. We have also had some really great food so far.”

Mr Kerr joked that what he had enjoyed the most so far were the prices. “It’s been a great so far,” he said.

Asked about the themes they explored through their work, they said family and community were a very important part of their music. “It’s a part of our culture. Coming from a small town, Wellington is quite small in the global scheme of things. There is a real sense of community there,” said Mr Lindsay.

“There is also a community of artists and musicians that we work with. In a band, you’re in this collective of musicians and it is really important to foster that family vibe. Music is a collaborative art so fostering those relationships are really important.”

Mr Lindsay said he was an avid collector of South African music and some of his favourite artists included Cape Town piano legend Abdullah Ibrahim, Mariam Makeba, Hugh Masekela and Chris McGregor.

“I really love South African music and I listen to it a lot. It strikes a chord with me. Even just on the street, everyone’s got good rhythm and that’s really cool.”

The band is currently touring to promote their latest album Bays, which was released last year.

The band says one of the major changes in the music industry is that you don’t really make money from album sales any more.

“When we get home we will start writing some new tunes and we’ve got a few new ideas that we’ve gotten from being on the road,” said Mr Kerr.

“The longer we spend in the studio the less money we make,” to which Mr Lindsay added: “With the modern music industry you can’t take too long with the record.”

For the band, no live show is ever the same, and they are known for their improvisation while on stage. Turning a five-minute song into a 15-minute one with solos is commonplace.

“We’ve been wanting to come and play in Cape Town for a few years,” said Mr Kerr. “It’s on our way home from (touring Europe) so it’s a nice way to break up that long trip.”

Mr Lindsay said it was cool that despite the fact that they’ve never been to the country before, they had a big fan base who knew their music. “It makes you appreciate word of mouth. I love coming to a new town and introducing ourselves to new people. We’ve got a broader audience and people now know about us due to the internet. People can share their love of the band and you can have a personal connection with your fans. I hope they come along and enjoy themselves and hopefully we will be back soon with some new tunes.”

The band performed a two-hour set in gale force winds at Trafalgar Park in Woodstock last week. The howling wind didn’t bother them, however, as they were used to windy conditions in Wellington, lead singer Dallas Tamaira “Joe Dukie” told the crowd.