For Logan Bell of NZ reggae stars Katchafire, and for many others around the world, a deep love for reggae culture is born from its alpha and omega, Bob Marley. Because of Marley, no matter how long you’ve enjoyed reggae, no matter how many reggae gigs you’ve been to, no matter how involved in the culture you are, there is one thing that puts a face to the entire reggae and Rastafarian scene that cannot be changed: dreadlocks. It’s not a topic up for argument. Dreadlocks are a physical representation of peace, poverty, sun, hardship, herbs and love; traits that have been lovingly embraced by reggae culture at large.

 

Having a strong foundation within the reggae scene, dreadlocks included, Katchafire have always remained true to their roots, something very evident in their music. “We begun as a group of guys sitting around with a guitar singing harmonies together,” says Bell. “What really bonded us was a love of reggae music.” Recognising their calling was a different prospect altogether. “In 2002 we released a single [‘Giddy Up’] that became the number one selling single of the year in NZ, so we took that to be a testament to us.”

 

Since those early successes, Katchafire have shared stages with some reggae neo-royalty. “We’ve played with existing members from The Wailers a few times. On one particular occasion, I think it was Al Anderson and Junior Marvin, and it was extra special because they were in Wellington so we were on our native land.”

 

“They had some great memories of NZ from when they were on tour back in the day as Bob Marley and the Wailers. I remember being with them just sitting in our native meeting house absorbing the energy, and the feeling of the culture and the oldness of the building, you know. It was intense.”

 

Over the years, of course, Katchafire have stood in front of hundreds of thousands across the world, but a most recent highlight was Glastonbury. “Glastonbury is like no festival I’ve been to before. There are like seven different zones, and each zone is almost the size of a city,” Bell says. “I’ve been to a festival where there’s maybe 100,000 people coming and going, but this festival has like 250,000 people that just stay in one place for a whole week.”

 

“The only real way to tell how many people are actually there to see you is by how many people you can hear singing your songs in the crowd. From what I could tell there were quite a few people who knew us. I was happy with the turnout, well, more than happy with the turnout – it was packed right back to the bleachers.”

 

Katchafire land in Byron Bay in early October to start the Australian leg of their Best So Far tour, and Bell’s excited to be sharing a tour bus with Hawaiian group Common Kings. “We’ve toured with Common Kings a number of times in the States, it’s a great dynamic on the road – we’re family [laughs]. I think the boys are absolutely huge; next time they come out to Australia it will be without us and they’ll be headlining their own shows.”

 

In the meantime, this tour follows the recent release of Katchafire’s Best So Far album, a selection of sweet tracks hand-picked by the boys themselves and primed for their audience across the ditch. “We just can’t wait to get to Australia, your waves are too good. You can’t keep us away man. Bring it on.”

 

BY LIZ ELLESON 

 

Best So Farout now through Lion House Records/MGM. Katchafire play Big Top, Luna Park on Friday October 18 with Common Kings.

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