17 Dec 2016

Katchafire – Kiwi roots ambassadors

From RNZ Music, 4:00 pm on 17 December 2016

Katchafire are not only one of New Zealand's hardest working bands, they are now one of our most internationally recognised.

They join Alex Behan for a chat and perform Bob Marley's 'Punky Reggae Party'.

It’s twenty years next year since Katchafire first started performing together. Back then they didn’t have a name, they were strictly a Bob Marley tribute band, and lead singer Logan Bell was playing drums.

Their debut album Revival spawned the biggest selling single of 2002, ‘Giddy Up’, and now Katchafire are one of New Zealand’s most beloved bands and some of our most important international musical ambassadors.

“We had an average of 107 shows a year for the last seven years. When we go to America we’ll be playing five, six shows a week, or Europe or anywhere when we’re away for months on end. We play a lot of big summer festivals but we get to mix it up also and play our own intimate pub shows as well.

"Overseas there’s a ‘new’ factor. We’re new to them and that’s exciting. Back here we're almost on the ‘Herbs’ level, the old guys in the industry you know? There are lots of places we still have to go and see. We’re very new at that international level.”

After more than fifty shows in the US this year, thirty or so in Australia, a European tour, shows in Indonesia, 2016 has been a big year for the Hamilton band who now cite Hawaii as a second home.

“They think we’re Hawaiian, actually. A lot of the locals over there don’t even know we’re from New Zealand. In the early 2000s the radio stations just started picking it up and playing it.

"It’s many peoples soundtrack to Hawaii now because it plays so much on the radio over there. Every twenty minutes you can hear a Katchafire song. That’s kind of served as the back door into the mainland of the USA, as well, because a lot of people will hear us while they’re holidaying there and take us home”

The relentless touring only has one downside – it’s been several years since they gave us a new album.

But there is one on the horizon and it’s preceded by their new single ‘Burn It Down’.

“Burn It Down' will be attached to an album. It’s taken a little bit longer than we’ve planned, just because, well, I think we really have to stop touring just to hit the studio hard. But we’re trying as hard as we can to do it in between our tours and get that new music to you family.”

For a festive good time you can catch Katchafire touring this summer with Aaradhna, Kora and Sons of Zion.