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March 1, 2004 | by  | in Features |
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Katchafire: Giddy Up for Orientation Tour

“What’s up, bro?” It’s (relatively) early in the morning – but Ara Adams Tamatea bass player and manager for Katchafire is instantly a breath of fresh air. He’s chilling out at his Hamilton home, still buzzing about yesterday’s Superbowl and filling me in on the ins and outs of what has been a crazy last year and a bit for Katchafire. “You know, we just keep our heads firmly on our shoulders and do everything one step at a time. Was still pretty crazy when we started hearing our songs on the radio though man!” He says with a slight chuckle.

Katchafire will undoubtedly need no introduction. Their debut album Revival sits on the cusp of double platinum and its accompanying four singles have had heavy airplay both on the radio and on music television with their cheerful videos. Like their music or loathe it, it’s hard to dislike a band with such a positive feel. Their upbeat reggae tunes have struck a chord with New Zealand as a country – a country that ranks as one of the highest consumers of reggae in the world, a connection Ara struggles to explain – “Y’know, I still can’t answer this question. I think Kiwis love their summer time and the summer life, and reggae is a positive type of music that fits in really well with that vibe.” Don’t accuse Katchafire of being one-sided reggae fans though, Ara lists the bands influences as “Everything from rock and jazz, through to reggae and rap”.

The band are legendary for their relentless touring and four hour long sets. When I compliment Ara on this he chuckles modestly – “I wouldn’t exactly say legendary, bro! Nah – it’s just how long we play for – we just have to get the music out of us. It’s normal to us, it may seem like a marathon to some bands – yet it’s just what we are used to and what we enjoy.” Can Orientation fans expect the same thing? “Well, we are playing with other bands, under time constraints – so we’ll probably have to cut it back to a 60 or 90 minute show.” The band’s schedule borders on chaotic at times; on Waitangi day the band played 3 sets – in Hamilton, Auckland and Nelson.
How does touring strain the band? “It’s tough man, but touring gives back what it takes out of you – because playing live is a very rewarding thing.” The attitude towards the upcoming Orientation tour is positive – “ A new set of fans, a new set of ears. It may be a cutback show for us, but hopefully if they come and watch and like what they see, they can buy the album or come to another show. It’s kinda like a gateway for us.” Are they apprehensive about any legendary O week shenanigans turning bad? “ Nah, we can stick up for ourselves!”

Our conversation turn towards the New Zealand music scene at the moment and it’s current explosion, “The success of bands like Salmonella Dub and Nesian Mystik are inspirational for us, they showed us that it could be done.” I ask them if there is a feeling of victory now that all these other genres are getting recognition over the traditional Kiwi blah-rock. “Not at all bro! We don’t feel in competition with anyone. Just stoked that we are in a scene that can support both Katchafire and the Datsuns. We are complementary to them, not competition.”

Recently Katchafire took out a TUI award for highest selling single – “That was absolutely amazing man. To be recognised in front of an audience of your peers was a true honour.”

Coming up Katchafire have overseas dates in Fiji, Australia and Noumea planned, some more studio time and some benefit dates with Nesian Mystik in aid of awareness of domestic violence. Is it important to Katchafire to support such worthy causes? “Definitely man, real important. Because when you play shows like that it’s about something more than music. And that’s really cool.”

Recommended Listening
Revival (2003)

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About the Author ()

James Robinson is a university dropout turned journalist who likes to pretend he has an honours degree. Turn ons include soup, scarfs, a hot bath and some FM-smooth Kenny G-esque instrumental jazz. Turn offs include student politicians, the homeless, and people who pronounce it supposebly.

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