New Zealand reggae outfit Katchafire are back in Australia for their Love Today tour celebrating the release of fifth album Legacy. The band will be bringing along Jamaican act EarthKry for their five shows in Western Australia from Wednesday, November 14 to Sunday, November 18 at the Prince of Wales Hotel in Bunbury, The River in Margaret River, Bar1 Nightclub Hillary’s, Port Beach Garden Bar in Fremantle and The Rosemount Hotel in North Perth. It comes as Katchafire have been nominated for two NZ Music awards including Best Roots Artist and Best Maori Artist, set to be announced on November 15. BRAYDEN EDWARDS caught up with lead singer Logan Bell to hear the backstory of the group, the new album, how they still enjoying sharing the love and good times of their songs across the world and what we can look forward to at their live shows in WA.
You’re currently half way through a massive 20-date tour around Australia. How has it been so far?
Yeah, we’re three weeks in to a six week tour and the boys are pretty stoked to be here, playing new songs. The crowds have been amazing and most of the shows have been sold out. We usually come to Aussie once a year and always do that amount of shows which is a lot more than most of my friends from other bands in New Zealand get to do. We don’t just do the big shows we also do the smaller towns and it’s good. Our music is definitely crossing more into the mainstream here in Australia. We usually have about a 50/50 mix of Australians and New Zealanders and it’s definitely one of our favourite places to tour for sure.
You’ve just come off a tour of the USA with Jamaican band EarthKry. You must have really enjoyed touring with them because you’re bringing them over for the Australian tour as well?
Yeah we’ve had our eye on them for a while now and they really impressed us in the USA so are really happy to bring them to Australia. We’ve been having a ball with them. We’ve been travelling a lot more closely and staying in hotels together. The other time we were in a tour bus and they were in a van travelling behind us so this feels like we get to know them a little bit better and build a bit of a closer brotherhood.
Your latest album Legacy was recorded in a number of studios across the world. Do you think the way you travel a lot and see a lot of the world informs and inspires the sound and the message of the songs that you write?
Yes, the touring definitely helps us fill up the cup for ideas and inspiration. We’re always on the road and and the go and missing home so it’s inevitably going to be somewhere in the music. Recording helps us stay productive when we’re on the road and keeps the music coming for us.
Are you surprised by the representation of people from your home country at some of the shows on the other side of the world?
Yeah it’s always a big reunion and a “missing home fest” when we play abroad. Kiwis gravitate to Kiwis no matter wherever we are in the world. They’re our champions everywhere in the world, they’re there supporting and spreading the fire out there for us too. We all have a lot of family and we’re all from different tribes in New Zealand. Everybody is somebody’s uncle or cousin or…(laughs)
Looking at the number of people involved in Katchafire including all the brothers and cousins, you guys have often changed the people in the band or changed who is playing what instrument over the time that you’ve been together. What do you think has been the thing that has kept it all together that has kept the passion going despite all the changes?
I think our fans have been such a big help, just keeping the support alive. We’ve never played to any empty room you know? There’s enough people that want to see and hear what we’re doing. We’re a family too and that’s the other thing that has kept it all going. We know when one of our brothers needs a pick me up and needs some help. We approach everything as a family and more hands make light work. I think that’s something from out culture and upbringing so we try to keep it within the band; that brotherhood and that respect and treating people how you’d expect to be treated. It’s just how it is when you’re part of a family.
So what was different about the new album and what you were you trying to do on it compared to those before?
The main difference really is in our network now. The band is in a better position to work with some of the dream producers and dream studios that we wanted to and have for a while. So when we’re touring we can have an idea and be like “Miami is actually not that far from Jamaica. Let’s go to Jamaica for two weeks and record!” At the start these things were more of a dream but now they’re more achievable so you look at the list of people that we worked with on this latest album, there’s a lot more producers and musicians and external help that I feel has made the product a whole lot slicker.
And what about the style of music? How do you feel that has changed and grown over the time you have been a band and culminating in what you are producing now?
I think that as a songwriter the studio is a whole different artform than live music. We’re all a little bit wiser with techniques and have been able to work with so many people that we really respect. Those are the kinds of things that make your game get better and the boys are growing not just musically but as men too and that’s all culminating and coming through in the music.
Onto the shows in WA, what can we expect from those? How many of you are on the road right now and what’s the vibe going to be?
We’re playing most of the new album and it’s going to be the first time you’ll be hearing that stuff live. We’re travelling with EarthKry from Jamaica as a travelling party I believe of 16. We’re all really excited to be here. As I said Australia is like one of our second homes. You’re our neighbours, we really get along and definitely have good parties together and we can’t wait to shed some of our vibrations and spread some love.