The first round acts announced to play November’s Harvest Festival already had tongues wagging.
Now, with the addition of UK house and nu-disco outfit Crazy P to the line-up, it’s got them positively salivating.
Having already confirmed the likes of Beck, Ben Folds Five, Santigold, Sigur Ros, Grizzly Bear and Ozomatli, Harvest’s second round announcement last week further raised anticipation levels.
Dexys Midnight Runners, Silversun Pickups and Los Campesinos! have all been added, but it was the announcement of Crazy P that really stood out. Aside from a one-off New Year’s Day date in Sydney earlier this year, it’s been a few years between Australian tours for the much loved five-piece, and some fans were understandably getting anxious.
Not that Crazy P have been quiet. On the contrary, it’s been a whirlwind of touring and excess since the release of their fifth album, ‘When We On’, late last year. Released on Ralph Lawson’s 2020 Vision label, the album demonstrated in spectacular fashion Crazy P’s enduring ability to blend soulful grooves with electronic beats, all accompanied with a healthy dose of disco cool.
For Jim Baron, who started Crazy Penis with Chris Todd way back in 1995, ‘When We On’ was a chance for the group to rework the production process with vocalist Danielle Moore.
“It’s probably a bit more… grown-up,” says Baron of ‘When We On’. “With [fourth album] ‘Stop Space Return’, we wrote the majority of that as a band; for ‘When We On’, we decided to strip it back to me and Toddy [Chris Todd] writing with Danielle.
“We gave Danielle the loop station and she’s really taken to it. You can layer vocals, you can hear harmonies immediately, so she can jam along with us now. It shaped a lot of the vocal sound for the album.”
The vocal-heavy offerings on ‘When We On’ contrast with Crazy P’s earlier releases on seminal house label Paper Recordings. 1999’s ‘A Nice Hot Bath With’ and 2002’s ‘The Wicked Is Music’ featured more dancefloor-aimed deep house tracks like the classic ‘There’s A Better Place’ — which famously sampled Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka — ‘You Are We’ and ‘3 Play It Cool’.
Moore’s addition to the line-up, however, added a new dimension to the group. 2003’s ‘24 Hour Psychedelic Freakout’ and 2005’s ‘A Night On Earth’ showcased ever more of her powerful vocals on standout tracks like ‘Lady T’ and ‘The Time Is Right’, and saw the band develop a reputation for their energetic live shows.
Interestingly though, Baron reveals planning for the eagerly-anticipated sixth album is already underway, and that this time, vocals may take a back seat.
“We’re potentially looking at more electronic sounds,” he says, “but we’ll deal with that when we get to it. We’ve struck October out of the diary; October is pure Crazy P time. We’re going to lock ourselves in and do a full month on the new record then; we’re looking forward to that.
“We’re generally quick workers so I’m hoping we can come up … with a fair bit of material in that month and then we’ll see where we’re up to.”
Even as Baron contemplates forthcoming tours to the US and Brazil before October, the prospect of showing Harvest-bound fans a performance that is “slipping up a notch every time” is proving most exciting for the group.
“We still really enjoy working together,” he explains of the Crazy P group dynamic. “I’ve been working with Chris since 1995; we have a stronger working relationship now than we ever have done. Also… because we’ve never had a big hit, so to speak, we’ve got a really loyal fanbase who look on us as a bit of a little secret.”
With Baron and Todd’s respective solo work (as Ron Basejam and Hot Toddy, respectively), it’s a fair assumption that this “little secret” is set to become one of Harvest’s worst kept ones come November.
Crazy P play the Harvest Festival at the City Botanic Gardens Sunday November 18. ‘When We On’ is out now.