They may call New Zealand home, but reggae band Katchafire tour so extensively that it’s safe to admit they’re men of many lands. Australia will become their home away from home next month with a four-week tour planned.
“The one thing I notice about crowds in Australia is that Kiwis and Aussies have this rivalry,” declares lead vocalist, Logan Bell, “but somehow the vibe and atmosphere in our shows unite the two and always electrify the vibe. It makes for an awesome night.”
‘On The Road’, the title of their latest album, is certainly fitting for Katchafire and their lifestyle, as it was recorded over a three year period while the band was touring.
“We took inspiration from wherever it would come on the road and missing home really helped to inspire some of the lyrics.”
The record takes the listener on a relaxing journey; even if you're a reggae novice, you can't help but feel your hips moving to the rhythm. The album’s latest single, ‘Irie’, is a die-hard love song.
“It's my wife's favourite song obviously, and she is the woman who features in the video … It definitely was kind of a soundtrack for my kids and the early part of their lives and being a young married couple.
"Just that whole transition, growing up and having responsibility. It's definitely an enriching thing.” Katchafire started out as a Bob Marley cover band. Bell credits their success to this.
“It was a great training ground to learn reggae music, playing songs by one of the greatest reggae artists/ composers that ever lived. It definitely rubs off and you learn a lot from that. I pay tribute to those early days; it's where a lot of the power comes from… The love of reggae music and Bob Marley songs helped to solidify us as a unit and give us a goal and a purpose to work towards.”
But fame was never on the agenda. “We never really sat down and thought about our success, it's just what we love to do and we kind of naturally gravitated to each other and got it started.”
Katchafire identify themselves as an all-Maori band, but Bell explains their culture doesn’t have a major influence on their music.
“We don't think a lot about trying to get our culture in the music, but I guess we just naturally let it come through … We do feel a lot of responsibility to uphold our culture and perpetuate our culture as positively as we can.”
The band’s global adventures are a constant, with Katchafire’s following spreading to such far flung places as Brazil.
“We've recently completed our second tour of Brazil. It's a very interesting place and we were very surprised to see a huge fan base in Brazil. Our average attendance for each show was three or four thousand which totally blew us away … I guess through the Internet and YouTube, people from all over the world have been able to hear about us.”
Funnily enough, Bell sees their success as an upside to music piracy. “We wouldn't be so [well] known if it wasn't for illegal downloading and sharing, so I guess there is an upside,” Bell jokes.
So what can you expect from Katchafire this time ‘round?
“We really work on bringing a set that a majority of fans and people have never seen before. We've definitely been honing the set and it's bit of a best of all four albums. I can't wait for this Aussie tour, it's going to be one of our biggest Aussie tours to date, even non reggae lovers will get to our shows. Combined with the boys going hard and giving everything, it's sure to be magic.”
Katchafire play the Hi-Fi Aug. 31, Reggaetown Festival (Cairns) Sept. 1, Kings Beach Tavern Sept. 6 and Southport RSL Sept. 7.