Last time the boys from Australian band Sticky Fingers came to Canberra, they were on the way to Transit Bar piled into the back of Beaker’s mum’s Tarago, which they’d fuelled with money earned from working at the Annandale Hotel in Sydney.
The band now returns on 23 October to “caress your soul” as one of the headliners for the sixth Grass Is Greener Festival. Other stellar acts for what organisers promise to be an event for the ages include Ty Dolla $ign, PNAU, OneFour, YG and Alok.
Sticky Fingers started making a name for itself in 2008 with its eclectic mix of reggae, rock, alternative and psychedelic. The band has since garnered more than one billion streams on Spotify and earned ARIA gold and platinum plaques.
It’s a long way from where they started at the Annandale Hotel, one of the city’s big rock venues.
“Paddy [Cornwall] was the bookie and the rest of us poured beers,” band member Freddy Crabs said. “Being able to support some of the big acts gave us a really organic following, since we didn’t get any Triple J play or anything for those first four or five years.
“A couple of us actually lived with Canberra rapper Turquoise Prince in the early days, so we had a really good mix of tastes and sounds around us.”
Freddy, who plays keys and synth, said the latest album “Lekkerboy” – the band’s fifth – was the most refined of all.
“The main difference is the level of musicianship,” he told Region.
“Sonically, it’s got some bigger rock feels, but it also pays homage to some of our earlier sounds. It really shows how far we’ve come as artists.
“Dylan’s [vocals/guitar] tone has completely changed, Beaker’s [drums/percussion] drumming has improved ten-fold, even the production value has significantly changed.”
Freddy said all this meant Canberra could expect one of Sticky Fingers’ best shows ever.
Getting to this unique sound has required mashing up each band member’s sound and tastes.
“We all liked these different styles. Paddy [bass/vocals] loved his Britpop. Dylan loved his Kiwi/Pacific Islander reggae, Seamus [lead/guitar] was in to heavier metal,” Freddy said.
“So we’d sit around in Beaker’s mum’s asbestos-ridden garage just listening to tunes. Then we’d try and write.”
Freddy acknowledged some of those genres had “conflicting music values” but said that sort of collaboration was how they began, and how they wanted to continue.
“It’s all about letting each musician apply their own unique style,” he said.
Expression is something Sticky Fingers has long advocated for, in an industry that can serve up numerous barriers.
“I think there’s a real shift in the way people are expressing themselves these days, and some people are afraid because they’re worried about getting radio play,” Freddy said.
“And a big shoutout to Grass Is Greener for allowing acts like OneFour to play and express themselves. We need more of that in the industry.”
He said Grass Is Greener followed a busy time for the band, having just toured South America. But there was still plenty to get excited about.
“Not only the sounds of `Lekkerboy’, but we’re also working on some more acoustic stuff as well, so stay tuned for that.”
The Grass Is Greener Festival comes to Canberra on 23 October at the Patrick White Lawns. Find out more information or grab your tickets here.