Sticky Fingers interviewed by Adrian Pedic, and photographed by Peter Dovgan
It’s the first warm day after a long winter, and Sticky Fingers are doing what they do best: enjoying a cold beer and good company at their local, the Lord Gladstone Hotel.
They’re about to hit the road for another US tour, before releasing their eagerly awaited new album, Westway (The Glitter and the Slums), and doing the victory lap with an Australian tour.
Paddy Cornwall, Freddy Crabs and Dylan Frost are talking about the album, and their recent touring anecdotes, as well as music in general. They are funny, eloquent, excited and – maybe most surprisingly, depending on your view of the band – very self aware.
“The band certainly has a reputation for debauchery, but I certainly think a bit of that is misunderstood. Coming out of high school, all of us realised that we didn’t want to spend our weekends hanging out in the same pub, doing the same old shit, and we all had our eyes on some adventure and escapism from the nine to five,” Paddy said.
“We’re a band that’s done a really good job at having an amazing fucking time for what we’ve done. I think last year, after seven or eight years of doing this, we’d somewhat grown up a bit, and maybe learned the consequences for some of our actions, and some of our mistakes. So the record tells the story of the last 12 to 16 months of us as the band, and as brothers.”
Their new record arrives after the acclaimed Land of Pleasure, as well as the similarly well-received, and extensive, tours the band has done since.
“It was very different from the process of recording Land of Pleasure,” Paddy said.
“Land of Pleasure was a bit harder [to recreate live] because we delved into this world of production with all the things that we wanted to push for, that we still love, but was harder to sit down and nut that out live,” Freddy said.
The album also represented a more philosophical break for Sticky Fingers, who have become known as symbols of a mythologised rock ‘n’ roll spirit, and purveyors of a dying musical lifestyle.
“It was sort of weird, as we’d come off the back of touring, and we’d drunk ourselves to where we’d just lost our minds, basically. So we come here, to this beautiful villa attached to a studio, which kind of felt like we were in rehab, playing music to help us clear our minds and come back to reality. Which in many ways, it sort of was,” Freddy said.
“I reckon we went over there to sort of try and clean up our acts, you know, come back down to earth, but almost the opposite happened. We almost drifted even further away. If you look at photos of the time, we were constantly dressed in white, clad in cotton get-ups. “We should have become this demented cult that was on this grandiose mission to accomplish this album on the shores of Thailand. It sounds fucking great, which is the upside to it,” Paddy said.
Photos by Peter Dovgan – Instagram: petedov
The album itself is certainly a reflection of this regained focus. Westway is clearly a step forward for the group, who opted for a more live-based sound, and it certainly tells a story lyrically. It’s the most focused record from Sticky Fingers to date.
“The quality of the music, and our musicianship. It’s better. Lyrically as well, it’s a whole new kettle of fish. There were some experiences that some members of the band went through that are portrayed in this album,” Freddy said.
Paddy elaborated about a spiritual enlightenment he found during his sometimes-rough time in Thailand.
“I had a more spiritual experience in Thailand, one of the more spiritual experiences of my life. In going into Thailand, we tried to sober up and get healthy, but as a result of that I believe I was suffering from a form of withdrawal, and I got unwell for a bit, then I kind of went to hospital in Thailand to make sure everything was sweet.”
“I had a bit of a nervous breakdown, and there was this period where I wasn’t sleeping well, where I wasn’t feeling too well in the head, so I was going out into this field next to our villa, and I was lying on the grass, talking to stars. I’m pretty sure I was trying to talk to David Bowie, because he died the day we started making the album,” he said.
“Then I heard this rustling from the bushes, and I looked over, and there was this Buddhist shrine there, and I don’t know, and I took this as a sign, you know, from the Buddhist shrine, like ‘this is my land, don’t talk to the stars, talk to me’ and things like that.”
“So I started having a few chats to Buddha, and I found out the next day that David Bowie had actually had a secret funeral in Thailand, like in Buddhist tradition. I thought that was pretty cool,” Paddy said.
“I think that’s a sign man. Like I’m a pretty full-blown atheist… but fuck,” Freddy said, as the group laughed.
While Paddy admitted that the group were feeling “demented and inspired” in the lead-up to their US tour, and the subsequent release of their album, there’s no doubt that the band’s sense of focus seems to be tighter.
“Obviously the music always comes first, and antics should never be put on. You sort of see some rappers, like Kanye West, and it’s obvious that they’ve got a PR team behind them. I like to think that our band has been an organic movement from the start.”
“I think that everybody in the band has a large heart, and a passion for life. Sometimes that works out for the best, and sometimes that’s lead us into many exciting adventures, and a fuckload of mistakes as well,” Paddy said.
“It’s one of them things. You could be a boring motherfucker, and go straight, save your money, be a straighy-one-eighty, or you could have a good time and go around. But at the end of the day, you’re always going to end up at that point- you know? So fuck ‘em. Fuck ‘em all,” Dylan said, with a laugh.
The band laughed too, and the lack of self-seriousness between them was apparent. Despite they have done, and will go on to do, it’s clear that Sticky Fingers are in it to make good music – to enjoy what they do and each other’s company, and to have a laugh while they’re doing it. In other words, Sticky Fingers are doing it for all the right reasons.
Sticky Fingers are heading out on a national tour in October (dates below), and will be counting in the new year at Beyond The Valley. Their new album Westway (The Glitter and the Slums) will be released this Friday via Warner/Sureshaker.
Sticky Fingers Tour Dates
Friday 28 October – Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Friday 4 November – The Tivoli, Brisbane
Saturday 5 November – NightQuarter, Gold Coast
Friday 11 November – Odeon Theatre, Hobart
Saturday 12 November – Festival Hall, Melbourne
Friday 18 November – Metro City, Perth
Saturday 19 November – Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide
Wednesday 30 November – Beyond The Valley Music Festival, Lardner VIC