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On the road with Sticky Fingers—Australia’s Number One Band

Photo of sticky fingers by Trevor Standfill

Photo by Trevor Standfill

On the road with Sticky FingersAustralia’s Number One Band

With humble roots busking in Newtown, Australia, Sticky Fingers rose up to bring a new fusion of reggae, indie rock, and pop that’s spread around the world. The five-man band includes Dylan “Diz” Frost, Paddy “Fingers” Cornwall, Seamus “Hollywood” Coyle, Freddy Crabs, and Beaker Best.

Their first album, Caress Your Soul, hit #39 on the Australian Charts in 2013, and since then, the trend has continued upwards, with their sophomore album, Land of Pleasure, going all the way up to #3 in 2014. But it’s their newest release, Westway (The Glitter & the Slums), that has made them #1.

Americans and Canadians get to see what all the fuss is about this October as the band crisscrosses North America on tour, before returning home to Australia for the rest of the year.

Picture of Seamus “Hollywood” Coyle

Seamus “Hollywood” Coyle

While hurtling down the highway toward Seattle, Sticky Fingers’ guitarist, Seamus “Hollywood” Coyle, talked with us about the new album, the tour, the fans, and un-Christmas-y Australia.

Rawckus: First of all, let me say congratulations on the new album release. That must be super exciting for your guys!

Seamus Coyle: Yeah, yeah, it gets to the point where after such a long process in the final weeks you're kind just like, “Ugh, fuck it, get it out.”

I read that you guys recorded it in Thailand? What was that about?

SC: Yeah, well, we wrote it over a couple years at home when we weren't touring, then, we somehow came across the brilliant idea to go and record it in Thailand–which was fucking fantastic. The place we were recording at was very nice. It wasn't a little fishing village; it was a really nice place with a studio attached.

How do you think this album is different from the other albums you released – Caress Your Soul and Land of Pleasure?

SC: I used to say that the natural progression towards – you know you can't write songs, you can't be writing songs like we were when we were 18 years old because we're not 18 years old anymore, we're older. You can't hang around and write that music cause it's not who you are anymore. You're always going to write about what you know and be real. So yeah I guess it's been a natural progression forward. We're a bit older and a bit dumber, yet wiser

What's the story behind the album cover? I see it has some “glitter” and some “slums” on it, but it's also the first time we see you guys on a cover of your album, too.

SC: [Laughs.] So the album cover, it's one of those ideas that, you're hanging with your friends at the bar and you have some ideas and it actually comes to fruition. We're at this place called Long Balls, and it's a bowling club kinda, where a lot of old people hang out and drink beer just across the road from our studio. In the window they have this stained glass, like medieval stained glass, with people playing balls. And we're like, “How funny would it be if we did that ourselves and put it in the pub and then we're like, let's fucking try it.” So we went to someone we knew in the pub and we proposed it to him and to our amazement he's like, “Alright, just fucking do it,” so yeah. And hilariously, that avenue, that actually is in a pub that we go to all the time.

Did you guys show the people in the pub the album cover?

SC: Oh, not yet, not yet actually. It's like, literally there, that window is in their pub. It's there for life. We're immortalized in some shitty pub somewhere.

You're always going to write about what you know and be real. So yeah I guess it's been a natural progression forward. We're a bit older and a bit dumber, yet wiser.

That's fantastic! What are your plans for after this North American tour you're on?

SC: We're going to go back home, it'll be an Australian summer so, you know, Christmas in Australia, which is very, very sunny and hot and very un-Christmas-y. Sometimes you walk down the street and you see all these Christmas lights and like fucking snowmen and it's 33 degrees Celsius. What would that be in Fahrenheit?

Um...

SC: A hundred-billion-million Fahrenheit degrees!! Australia is very un-Christmas-y, so we're going to go back there, and we're going to do some summer shows, doing festivals, and such, just putting the news of the new album – spreading the news. I think we have a little bit of time before the New Year's Eve starts up, like two days, and I'm going to hang with my mom.

What are some of the differences between crowds over here in North America and the crowds you guys have back home?

SC: I guess over here [America] we're still pretty fresh. This is our third time here. And we're doing so good and we're stoked. When we first came to America actually, we weren't sure what to expect. We thought we were going to have to play to the sound guy and the bartender. And we arrived and there were people here singing along. We're just stoked people know the fucking words.

Picture of Sticky Fingers

Sticky Fingers

Are you going to try to go back to Europe at some point?

SC: Europe? We've done Europe many a time. In England you'd just look out and there are clouds 20 meters above you. No wonder they all just drink so much, it's fucking dark over there [Laughs]. There's no sun at fucking 4 pm.

I actually have a friend who talked to you at one of your shows and she told me that you're interested in stones and gemstones and the meanings behind those?

SC: [Laughs.] Was this at Baby's All Right? [Laughs.] I'm not interested, but I'm always interested in people who are in love with it and someone came to me and they gave me a stone, yeah they did, and I was intrigued! That's right, someone gave me a stone in like California and I was wearing it at Baby's All Right and she comes up to me and says, “Hey, what's that stone you got on, man?” But I didn't even know and, “Well you gotta fucking know, you're wearing it around your neck! You gotta know what it is!” And I said, “Well, please tell me!” I was very open to it, yeah I remember that, must have been your friend! What was that stone I had on? I had on a...my stone was, you know, I can't even tell you anymore, it was a long time ago. When was that? Oh, last year.

What's behind your nickname, the “Hollywood” part of your name?

SC: Hollywood. Our manager calls me that. Whenever he says it, he says, “Hollywood” and then he laughs afterwards like, “Heh-heh-heh-heh” so I'm not sure if it's a good thing. But that's where that comes from. He's just convinced I'm some plastic prick. I'm not going to lie, I do love LA. I love it because I know that it's shit, you know what I mean? And when you know what it is, you know what you're doing there, it's alright. But yeah that's where my name comes from; he calls me that and then laughs.

Do you think you'll do another mini-documentary again like Deep in the Land of Pleasure?

SC: Yeah, of course somewhere down the line. I think it's a matter of sifting through what is acceptable for the fucking public eye. [Laughs.]

You guys have been political in some of your work over the years, is that still important to you guys, to keep having a message?

SC: We've never strived to be a political band or anything, we just always write about what we know. Sometimes we write about this big social climate of Sydney from like the lock-out laws there, how it's just ruining the night life and stuff. Yeah, we never strive to be a political band we just write about what we know.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

SC: Let's do the old-fashioned, “Westway (Glitter & Slums) out now!” [Laughs.] Thank you for listening to my babble.