Australia’s Sticky Fingers is truly one of a kind, having crafted a unique melting pot of mind- altering genres that blends the most eccentric elements of pop with the defiant attitude of rock. The group is following its acclaimed debut, Caress Your Soul, with the sophomore album, Land Of Pleasure, which dropped in the U.S. on August 5 via Sureshaker.
Sticky Fingers hybrid of often contrasting genres has helped them tour Australia and Europe with a diverse selection of tourmates. Sticky Fingers recently completed its Gold Snafu National Single Tour, playing in front of sold out crowds during the two-month trek. The band intends to continue touring nonstop both in Australia and internationally following its appearance at this year’s Splendour In The Grass, a three-day Australian festival that will see Sticky Fingers on the same bill as Outkast, Lily Allen, Interpol, Foals, Sky Ferreira, Future Islands and many more.
Ghettoblaster recently caught up with keyboardist Freddy Crabs to discuss Land of Pleasure and this is what he told us about it.
When did you begin writing the material for your most recent album?
We started writing the tunes as soon as we got back from our first Euro trip in August last year. We had plans to have an album finished by the start of 2014 so we only had a few months to really finish writing it all. After we got back we were heaps keen to get writing in the studio and had plenty of riffs and ideas ready to work with. We spent every day in August and September finishing demo after demo until we were confident we had an album. It was a pretty flat out run but we were stoked with the end result.
What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing? Why was it so troublesome?
I’d say probably “Just For You.” That song is one that really sticks out on the album and nothing like we’ve written before. It has a real drum n’ bass feel, plus it required some strong musicianship to pull it off. We haven’t always been the biggest wizards behind our instruments so it took a lot of practicing to make it sound big.
When you listen to the track, you can hear it drenched in a lot of effects, so we were never gonna pull that off in a demo. Our producer Dann Hume, who also produced Caress Your Soul, was critical in making it sound large. What made it tougher was the back and forth sending of mix notes to Dann. He’s such a chiller, but I reckon he was pretty over our inability to clear the song for mastering. We knew it had the potential to be a banger so in retrospect we can see how it was all worth it.
Which of the songs on the record is most different from your original concept for the song?
I’d say the second last track – “Dreamland.” We were actually playing that track live on the road in Europe so we felt like that one was already good the way it was. We got Dann to fuck around with it and he ended up making it a lot dubbier than how we were playing it. The intro changed and we took out a lot of guitars so it wasn’t drawing out the vocals too much. We still kept dirtiness to it, just gave it more space and let the track really breathe. The dubbier verses that we ended up working with gave rise to the massive hook in the chorus so the change was all for the better. The track also used to be called “Tropical Munchies,” which sounds like balls so it was worth a revamp.
Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?
We did. The one and only Lyall Moloney. Lyall’s been a close friend of ours and has toured with us round Oz and more recently round Europe. He’s a one man loopin band with a guitar and some soaring soulful hooks. Big things are gonna happen to Lyall I can tell.
We got Lyall on board because we always had a plan to put him on one of our records and it just so happened that “Velvet Skies” was screaming his name. Lyall has a real unique flow that mixes singing and rapping, plus he has his roots in dub so he was always gonna sound solid over the beat.
My favorite part of “Velvet Skies” is when he really takes off towards the end of the track over the piano solo. In the studio we told him to just go for it and he churned out some waling vocals like no other. True, raw emotion that couldn’t be faked.
What input did Dann Hume have that changed the face of the record?
Dann Hume is so tight with all of us now he’s pretty much a silent member. He first came across us at Newtown Festival in Sydney and wanted to get involved when he found out we were making a debut record Caress Your Soul. He mixed that album from his desk in Melbourne, but with Land of Pleasure he was insistent on being there with us not just for mixing but for the whole recording process. It meant that we had close attention to every layer and nothing flew under the radar or got overlooked. That’s why we think this record is a vast improvement from the last.
Dann’s also a pro musician and master of all trades so he always had mad advice. He also loved a good time and so he earned our respect from the start. Funny thing is he’s already threw around ideas for the next record, so I think you’ll expect to hear about some moves made next year.
Is there an overarching concept behind your new album that ties the record together?
It’s hard to say cos we have a mixture of themes present throughout but it definitely all ties in with a Land of Pleasure. We’re all living it large at the moment and copping the good with the bad, whether that be break ups, ladies, life on the road or just having a good time. Land of Pleasure is a celebration of all those things that define who we are.
Have you begun playing these songs live and which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans?
We’ve been jamming these new tracks ever since we got back from Europe in July. We were definitely ready to smash out the new material and they’re already sounding massive. We’ve got a lot of responses for pretty much all the tunes on the album, some from our last record and even loads from our EPs so punters can expect to hear some from all. It’s just dope to finally now have that many songs to choose from. We can’t possibly please everyone, but I already know from how it’s sounding in rehearsals that we won’t be far off.
(Watch the official video for “Just For You”: www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIP49DQTInw
Watch the official video for “Gold Snafu”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0UXhHUk6PI
Visit the band here: www.stickyfingerstheband.com.)