FAULT Interviews: cult NZ band Fat Freddy’s Drop

Fat Freddy’s Drop have come a long way since their early years as a jam band in New Zealand. Their 2003 single ‘Midnight Marauders’ catapulted them into the musical consciousness after it was championed by Germany’s top DJs, winning the band a new legion of fans all over Europe. Fast forward a few years and they’ve got some formidable achievements under their belt, from playing at the Cannes Film Festival to achieving a nine-times-platinum album in New Zealand with their 2005 LP Based on a True Story.

Trombonist Joe Lindsay spoke to FAULT in between preparing for their UK shows.

Fat Freddy’s Drop on-stage at Brixton Academy – 5th Oct ‘ 13

FAULT: You released your latest album Blackbird in June, how’s that been received so far?
Joe: Really good, we’re stoked with the public’s reaction both in Europe and New Zealand. It’s great coming over here and singing to an audience that knows the words.

Do you see the release and reaction to ‘Midnight Marauders’ in 2003 as a pivotal moment in your career?
Yeah, it was picked up by a Detroit DJ, Recluse, who took it over to Germany, then it started getting noticed by people like Gilles Peterson. We planned a lot of gigs on the back of the interest it got. We’ve been back to Europe almost every year since then and we see a new crowd each time, which is great, but we’ve managed to build a loyal fan base there too. We don’t take any of it for granted; it’s really pleasing to see the shows getting bigger every time we come back.


Tell us a bit about the music scene in your native New Zealand.
It’s a tight scene because it’s a small country so everyone knows everyone and celebrates each other’s success. It’s great to see young talent, like Lorde – she’s from Auckland – getting recognition outside of New Zealand. There comes a point, though, when you need to leave, or you’d never break out of those circles.

How do you feel about the present-day popular music industry, with its powerful marketing and ‘manufactured’ acts?
I’m not against it, but that wouldn’t have worked for us. We did things our way and I think that’s given us our longevity. If you treat music as a brand, it will go out of fashion. I guess I feel a kind of protectiveness to youngsters who are in that position because you’ve got to be careful how you play the game. Some of the young acts around today play good songs, but I worry they’ll be chewed up and spat out.


America hasn’t featured heavily on any of your past tours. Is it a priority to you to ‘crack’ America as it is with many other bands?
America’s great and we would love to do more there, but Europe has always been our priority because it’s been so good to us and that’s where our fans are. We really enjoyed playing in California though, so I think if we went back we’d focus on there.

Tell us a bit about your musical and cultural influences.
We’re all from different musical backgrounds so there’s all sorts in there; jazz, electro, reggae, rock…we each have our own preferences and we try to include them all in our music. With some of us being of Maori origin, that’s also a big part of what we do but it’s not what defines us. Some of Dallas’s [Tamaira, the lead singer] lyrics are very evocative of the landscape and culture of New Zealand.

Lindsay, known for his on-stage antics, gets his sweat on (and kit off) at the Brixton Academy gig

A few of you are fathers – are your kids showing any signs of following in your musical footsteps?
Well, my boy’s nearly ten now and he wants to be a rapper. I keep telling him the lyrics aren’t appropriate! I want him to follow his own path so I’m not going to be the guy who takes him to auditions. Music is there if he wants it.

What’s your FAULT?
I’m sure the woman in my life would tell you it’s my messiness!

FFD’s latest album, Blackbird, is out now:



Words by Thea de Gallier
Images by Charlie Page