The Musical Wizards Of Aus: Sticky Fingers

On my own quest through the down under territory, I’m slowly finding my way through the streets of Sydney, Australia. Getting familiar with the local slang and parking hacks, you can’t help but feel the energy of various communities and memories that shaped the city into what it is today. Walking around the area of Marrickville and Newtown, the Sticky Fingers artistic stamp is hard to miss. 

Doing my research, and as I later find out myself, the five men formation Sticky Fingers (Dylan, Paddy, Seamus, Freddie, and Beaker) are a great bunch of boys that like to have fun, have been around the town, and inhibit immense talent for storytelling, making them one of the most successful bands to come out of the country. 

To celebrate the release of their highly-anticipated fifth studio album ‘Lekkerboy,’ Freddie Crabs and Beaker Best hop on a call to discuss what they have been up to, their come-up, and essentially, we all just had a laugh. 

Freddie, accompanied by Beaker, answers the phone on a quiet Thursday morning, and right off the bat, feeling starstruck, I ask about what a little birdie told me the night before: “What can you tell us about Cooks River Motor Boat Club?”, Freddie and Beaker pause and go on by explaining the story: “I think we played our second ever show there. We were supporting Pat’s dad’s band, and they were called 50 Million Beers”, they laugh, “at that time, we fucking sucked. They let us support them. We were just kids. It was like 2010, or 2011; we were around 20”. 

Currently living on Central Coast, Freddie and Beaker take us on a trip down memory lane. When a group of five men decides to make music together, you wonder how it all started, and trust me, the story of Sticky Fingers does not disappoint. As a wholly independent act since 2008, Beaker details how it all went down: “Pat and I went to school together in high school, and then he left my high school cause he couldn’t do the subjects he wanted, and he went to Newtown. While Pat was doing his last years at Newtown, we were all living around there. We met this huge influx of people. It was fucking crazy. Pad and Nelson were walking past, I must’ve been shit-faced, and I saw Dylan busking, and because Dylan also went to Newtown Performing Arts, so Pat and Dylan also met in school. Dylan dropped out a couple of weeks after, but we all stayed in touch. So it was me, Pat, Dylan, hanging out, and it naturally happened, we started sharing music, and then, we came up with this stupid idea to start a fucking band, and then we got committed to that”.

He continues: “We started jamming in my mom’s garage. So the band was originally a three-piece, but then Seamus was in the area as well as Freddie Crabs, and it happened organically through going to house parties and just getting shit-faced. You just start talking like, oh man, what do you do? Oh, I’m in a band. Oh yeah. Well, we should fucking jam man shit: the next thing we started jamming”.

Freddie adds to the story and also mentions the first official band name: “The first time I met Dylan was at a house party. I think I was talking to Patty about jamming and starting to play the keys with these guys. And then I saw Dylan, and he wanted to start a fight with my friend. And I thought, who’s this little dickhead. And then I found myself a week later jamming with him being like, It’s actually really good, isn’t it?” he giggles. 

“That was the whole setup for us. Everyone is going to all these house parties. And then we started playing all these shows together, and the band was originally called Greenleaf because we played heaps of our versions of reggae, like white boy reggae. It was real, real, real shit house”, Freddie says, as Beaker jumps in: “Really like Bob Murray, and covering Sublime. I think our first ever song was called ‘Green man.’ Everyone would be like, ‘you guys sound like the biggest stoners,’ and we were like, we kind of do, so we changed the name. We’ve matured a lot since then”, we all laugh. 

Then, for the iconic moment of how the stage name first came up, Beaker says: “Well, that was Pat’s idea. He was just chilling with his dad at his house, and he was just asking him questions about how bands get their names. His dad was like, well, usually bands will steal a name from their favorite bands, album kind of thing. Then, Pat went through all these albums in his dad’s collection. He saw the Rolling Stones, saw Sticky Fingers, and picked it. He looked it up. No other band had taken it. Surprisingly, no one had taken it”. 

“It’s probably worth mentioning,” Freddie wants to add, “Actually, the guy Beaker mentioned a fellow called Nelson before; he was there at the start when Greenleaf was formed, in the formation of Sticky Fingers. We’re in the process of finishing off a book that he’s written about the band. So that’s going to come out really soon, and that’ll detail all of our origins and beginnings and probably explain this in a bit more detail”. 

Screaming inside about this subtle exclusive the guys just shared, knowing this book will unveil some never heard before stories. “Nelson’s the guy writing it, and he’s been a close friend of the bands for so long. He’s been able to get everything out of us, and it’s going to be a fun little read. It’s going to be amazing”, Freddy shares proudly. 

The album that pulled me in hard was the Sticky Fingers legendary record ‘Caress Your Soul,’ released in 2013. Beaker talks us through what this album documents: “I guess that album, we were in a pretty debaucherous place. Deep in the house party scene. We weren’t playing big shows, and when we were gone on tour, we would just be getting on it and parting with everyone. And this album is a journal of that time. All albums are pretty much like that. We like storytelling, telling what we’ve been gone through”. 

He then mentions beautiful teen angst depicting music video, walking through the streets of Newtown in a continual shot: “Australia Street is a perfect example of that. Australia street was, is the name of a house that we used to frequent a lot. So if you watch the clip’ Headlock’, which is like an original kind of EP song, pre Caress Your Soul, it shows us at that very house”, Beaker explains. 

‘Headlock’ shows the boys unofficially headlining Newtown Festival from their backyard in 2010 after being rejected for two years. The Sticky Fingers video clips portray their infectious energy, people being captivated from far away with their DIY one house Woodstock experience with an Australian twist. What was a chaotic, smashing beer bottles on the roof kind of a vibe; it is an event that started a whole new era for Sticky Fingers. 

Beaker starts off by telling the story of how this even kicked off: “After two years of being rejected, we were fucking pissed off, and I was like, you know, boys, we’re going to build our own fucking stage. I went around Newtown, looking for new crates; I got like fucking 200 mil crates. We built this stage that was high enough that when you were standing on it, you could see the stage. We just officially had this festival”.

Having the best time of their lives, life happened, and it all came full circle: “Funnily enough, the next year, they offered us a headline spot at the actual festival, which we took up, and it was a big deal. We got a bit of good press around the whole show, and one of the people watching was the guy called Dan Hume, who used to be the lead singer of a band called Evermore from New Zealand. He ended up listening to us and loving us and our music. After the show, when he saw we sold out of the only two CDs we brought with us, he started chatting to our manager, and since then, Danny has made all our music, so that’s kind of another real natural way.”

The boys have gone through the old-school evolution, bumping into the right people and putting on their own events. Once Danny came into the picture with his music engineering expertise after he’s heard the songs that were already written, “he schmicked them up,” as Freddie says. “The songs finally sound big, and not like they were recorded in a fucking laundry.” 

With a combination of great songs written by Paddy and Danny’s help out with elevating the sound quality, Sticky Fingers started to get a bit more support from triple J and other radio, started getting a bit more of an international presence, started hitting the road, and from that moment on; it was a full-time band. Freddie adds: “Ever since, Caress Your Soul came out, it’s been pretty solid; everything’s has been steadily growing for us.” 

After ‘Caress Your Soul,’ the boys were keen to return back to the studio. It wasn’t long until they had put out ‘Land Of Pleasure.’ They were hungry and invested in recording this album at the Rockinghorse Studios in Byron Bay’s hinterland. Freddie also says: “Lekkerboy captures some of the essence of those earlier records, and knowing that we’re doing in a different way. We’re not smashing ourselves as much; at least we’re trying to look after ourselves a bit better when we can. Because there’s been some pretty close shaves with ODs and things that happened behind the scenes. The way it was going, we always had to pul the breaks on at one point”. 

They share more on the structure behind ‘Lekkerboy’: “As opposed to ‘Yours To Keep,’ it’s a lot more uplifting, still got a lot of that energy from the first two records. I think it really speaks to all of us, and we still talk about a lot of the same shit, you know, we still do enjoy the party when we can, but we also still battle from things that go on in our heads and mental health stuff that we don’t really like talking about. But that’s the power of music”. 

The collection of lucky 13 tracks on ‘Lekkerboy’ can be traced to two years ago, as well as picking up older songs from their musical vault. Freddie elaborates: “Two years ago, we started really working on these songs and then being recorded about a year ago. There’s one song that was written; some parts were recorded when we recorded ‘Land Of Pleasure.’ One song is from the time when we were writing ‘Westway’. It’s an amalgamation of a lot of the collection of the 16 years. Some of the songs are picked up from the vault”.  

Titled initially after the album’s first single, ‘We Can Make The World Gow,’ released late last year, a song that gave people hope during very unprecedented times. As much as the track meant a lot to the band, it just did not sound right as the album title: “We were just sitting around, and I think someone pointed out that it sounded a bit Christian and were like shit that sounds so lame, we’re changing it,” Beaker says. “We thought Lekkerboy flows with more of the story, of how the album was written and how it all came out. ‘Lekkerboy,’ the song, in particular, is a big ballad that talks about addiction then also has a bit more uplifting. The record is a big record. It has the most songs we’ve put out on a record. I think that’s important for how long it’s taken since ‘Yours To Keep.’ It’ll be good for the fans some shit to listen to”. 

Everything about the ‘Lekkerboy’ release demonstrates the band’s ora, writing new and including older songs, still playing around with their inner child while maintaining a healthier, more stable lifestyle. The same goes for the cover art. The original idea was to have a picture of an old fellow, with grills in his mouth, smoking a cigar. After not deciding to go ahead with this particular image, Beaker came up with the idea of using Danny. 

Danny is a very known inspiring figure in Sydney, especially New Town, for wearing his board and spreading joy. Freddie shares more about him: “Danny is such a cool dude. Everything that he does is about spreading peace and love, and he fights for all the right things. He also has a bit of a cheekiness about him too. He’s not afraid to stick it to the man, and in a way where it’s still like, he’s kind of the embodiment of pure activism. I guess he wakes up in the morning and then gets on a train and puts on his sandwich boards, and it’s on the street like he’s on the highway. He’s out there every fucking day”.

Making the cover art for ‘Lekkerboy’ was a collaborative effort. Danny suggested spelling out his infamous CVNT on his grill and, after all, refused any compensation. “He insisted he didn’t want any money. After all, I guess we’ve agreed on donating a certain percentage of all proceeds to go a fund or to go to a charity. Danny’s already picked this charity that supports nurses cause they’d been doing it fucking tough at the moment. I think it’s like 15% will go there”. 

‘Lekkerboy’ marks an incredible comeback for the formation. It is beautiful to see a real-time band that lived their rockstar years and built up an astonishing collection of work over admirable sixteen years.

Sticky Fingers are also heading out on tour, so make sure you get your tickets now, as they will go fast. 

Follow Sticky Fingers On Instagram

Words: Karolina Kramplova