Interview – Sticky Fingers
The new film clip for Australia Street, the current single from Newtown boys Sticky Fingers, encapsulates the uninhibited ride of a misspent youth surely worth misspending. Cruising through the Inner West streets with your mates, drinking cider and jamming in a crowded buddy’s terrace house, these are the ways to have ye a good time. So on the week of their debut album Caress Your Soul being released, we caught up with Dylan, Beaker and Seamus from the band to see just how fun a time they really are having.
“We just got all our mates to the park,” says Seamus of the filming of Australia Street, “and we were like ‘we’ll buy a couple of cases and let’s just get everyone a bit liquored up’.”
“I didn’t realise until the next day that I actually spent like $600 on champagne,” adds drummer Beaker, “I thought I was getting the cheaper stuff.”
We’re sitting upstairs in a café overlooking Australia Street in Newtown, the location the song was based on, but not exactly where the film clip is set.
“It looks cooler where it was,” says guitarist Seamus. “We did a couple of test runs as well, the plan was to start on Australia Street and then end up at a mate’s house, but we didn’t realise it was quite a long walk and so we did a couple of rehearsals where we ended up running,” he laughs.
“The song is also, like, it’s about a house that’s on Australia Street that our friends used to own. Its about that time,” adds Sticky Fingers’ frontman Dylan Frost.
No matter where it is in Newtown, the boys’ persona as a band has come to be rather synonymous with this Sydney inner city suburb.
“All our friends live here,” says Dylan, “and we’re always getting pissed here.”
“We’ve always kind of lingered around these parts,” explains Seamus.
But from humble beginnings as a band kicking around Camperdown park and the ‘Courty’ (Courthouse pub) and playing local shows, they have come a long way. When asked the turning point, Beaker is clear: “The defining moment was Newtown Festival”.
The 2011 performance on home turf gained them more than a few fans, who became enraptured with their energetic mix of dub, rock, psychedelia, and whatever other influences you can pinpoint. The mash-up sound has become one of their signature traits, and it draws you to pay attention to their musical adventure.
It was not long after this Camperdown Park show, that Dylan and Seamus took to the road for an acoustic tour supporting Donovan Frankenreiter.
“We never would have pictured ourselves doing that,” says guitarist Seamus, “but then it was like, ‘sweet, we can do this’, a couple of rehearsals and we were on the road the next day. That was one of the first tours we did, ever, it was really cool.”
And the momentum kept building.
“We got hooked up with this gig in New Caledonia once, it was awesome. Like a week,” explains Seamus.
“We got sponsored by a beer company to go play there,” continues Beaker.
When asked about their ability to speak French, Dylan laughs.
“Yeah, well, Beaker was speaking Portuguese to them. They were like, shut the fuck up man.”
In addition to these aforementioned tours, the band has supported the likes of Tame Impala, Art Vs Science and Urthboy, and played a feast of shows and festivals across Australia, including main stage at Homebake and the New Years countdown set at Woodford Folk Music Festival, but it was being voted number 61 on Triple J’s Hottest 100 that truly marked that the band had arrived. Or was it?
“We were busting our arse for ages and then we got a bit of Triple J love finally after all, which was really cool, but we just started hitting the road anyway…we were just touring around, so that was also how we got ‘oh, OK, I’ve heard of these guys’. We’d been playing to five people in Perth for a while now, so, yeah it’s cool,” said Seamus.
Released on Wednesday, Caress Your Soul is Sticky Fingers’ first full-length album. For a band that sets out to create music about getting high, the melancholic haze that hangs over the entire album hints at a masterful ability to realise their intended sound, multi-genre or not.
“When we set out, we never had a real set kind of vision about the genre that we wanted to do,” says Frost, “It all just kind of came together.”
Despite a multitude of sounds, there appears to be but a couple of themes that keep flowing throughout the album, being those of relationships, break-ups, sex.
“We all coincidentally broke up with chicks sort of the same time and all the songs became a bit about that,” clarifies Seamus. But Dylan assures us that the lyrics he has already been working on for the next album contain no such themes.
“What I’ve been doing is a weird mash up of all sorts of shit – horror, clown, fuckin’ I don’t know, carnival stuff, and…just summery little reggae jams.”
And it’s this summery sound, found on Caress Your Soul tracks like How to Fly and Freddy Crabs, that Australian’s find synonymous with our surfing culture, resulting in the boys regularly being asked on tour if they surf.
“We go to all these surfie towns everywhere and people all go, ‘hey wanna come for a surf tomorrow morning?’ and we’re like” (Seamus pulls a face akin to ‘what the?’), “We’re from Newtown bro, we don’t go to the beach much.”
But Dylan is much more certain: “we can’t surf for shit.”
Not surfing in a surf town near you, but playing what is an exciting and assured debut album, Sticky Fingers will be touring nationally from March 22. Dates here:
Fri Mar 22: Manning Bar – Sydney, NSW
Sat Mar 23: Mona Vale Hotel - Mona Vale, NSW
Wed Mar 27: Rosemount Hotel – Northbridge, WA
Thur Mar 28: The Prince Hotel – Bunbury, WA
Sat Mar 30: Settlers Tavern- Maragret River , WA
Sun Mar 31: White Star – Albany, WA
Fri Apr 5: The Entrance Leagues – Gosford, NSW
Fri Apr 12: Republic Bar – Hobart, TAS
Sat Apr 13: Royal Oaks – Launceston, TAS
Thur Apr 18: The Zoo – Brisbane, QLD
Fri Apr 19: Great Northern Hotel - Byron Bay, NSW
Sat Apr 20: The Big Pineapple Festival – QLD
Sun Apr 21: Hoey Moey – Coffs Harbour, NSW
Thur Apr 25: The Corner, Melbourne VIC
Fri Apr 26: Baha, Rye VIC
Fri May 10: The Gov – Adelaide, SA
Caress Your Soul is out now through Independent/MGM. Purchase through iTunes.
Words and interview by Katie Mayors