Sticky Fingers’ music reeks of good times. This isn’t due to an unhinged musicality – in fact, despite their party-boy reputations, the Sydney fivesome displays considerable technical finesse. Rather, Sticky Fingers’ catalogue of much-loved releases over the past couple of years (including radio favourites ‘Caress Your Soul’, ‘Clouds And Cream’ and this year’s Hottest 100 entry ‘Australia Street’) possesses an unfettered positivity. Thus it makes sense that the group isn’t fazed by ongoing concerns about Sydney’s struggling music scene.
“I get really sick of people who just say how shit everything is now,” says bass player Paddy Cornwall. “I reckon they’ve all got a fucking bad case of nostalgia. When you look back the brain’s always going to favour the good and forget the bad. I reckon ultimately you can never really stop people from having a good time. So, as long as you want to have a good time, there’ll always be something going down.”
Musically, Sticky Fingers are perhaps the ones reliving the best elements of years gone by. Last year’s debut LP Caress Your Soul proudly displays its influences, meshing reggae relaxation with a baggy state of mind and a punk rock dismissal of unnecessary restrictions. A second album, Land Of Pleasure, is due for release mid-year and the eclectic genre embrace is set to continue.
“We like to think that the band is a bit of an ever-evolving project,” says Cornwall. “We’ve never thought we need to pigeonhole our sound. The songwriting is probably more advanced [now], because we’ve been doing it for longer. We’ve learnt what people are responding to strongly and what people aren’t responding to so much. We’ve honed in even further on what we find that people dig about what we do.”
The first single from the forthcoming LP, ‘Gold Snafu’, is already making its mark online – thanks in part to a hilarious video clip depicting sleazy 1970s debauchery inside a mattress store. Tickets for this month’s accompanying tour are quickly disappearing all over the country – a second show at the Metro Theatre has just been announced – proving the band’s eager following continues to grow.
“It feels good seeing how the band is organically growing rather than it being thrust up by any unnatural hype-based thing,” says Cornwall. “We always try to avoid [that] because we don’t want to be shot up and then fall down.”
Sticky Fingers have scarcely taken any time away from touring over the past three years, consequently establishing themselves as a not-to-be-missed live act. They’re attracting audiences in the UK and Europe too, and Cornwall underlines two essential features that catalysed their onstage bravado.
“One; we all live together in the inner west and we’ve got a home studio in our garage. Number two; I scored a job pouring beers at the Annandale and then within a year I managed to get all five members of the band jobs pouring beers too. We lived down the road from there as well, so we fell into this really cool fucking scene that grew around that pub. Everyone was either drinking there or playing there or working there. We never felt like there wasn’t a scene around us.”
The band clearly benefitted from joining the inner circle of that Sydney rock’n’roll institution. Feeling emboldened by the support network, Sticky Fingers were able to gather a considerable fan base while maintaining complete independence. “We just thrive off being a band that operates in a bit of an old-school manner – touring and releasing and not waiting around for any label or agent to come along. We try to make our own luck.”
Speaking of luck, playing in a band is always going to be a financial gamble. Sticky Fingers aren’t raking in the millions just yet, but Cornwall says the hard slog has put the five housemates in a somewhat comfortable position. “We’ve all gotten to a point that was once just a fucking dream, and that is that none of us work a day job. We’re hardly rolling in it, but we scrape by and we look after each other. And it’s a fucking lot of fun so I wouldn’t trade it for anything, really.”
Sticky Fingers keep up with their peers, too. “We’re good mates with The Preatures, Kingswood from Melbourne; we’re really excited for a particular mate’s band – they’re called DMA’s,” Cornwall says. “We’ve been in countless scenarios where we’ve been on the road and other bands have had us at their places. So in Sydney we do our best to accommodate other touring bands as well.”
However, it seems Sticky Fingers’ unruly ways haven’t endeared them to everyone. “There’s definitely some bands who not only don’t like us but fucking hate us because we got a bit too excited and fucked with them in some way or another.”
Cornwall won’t name names but he describes one instance of mischief that upset another band. “We played Homebake [in 2012] and we were going around being cheeky, stealing other bands’ riders. There was one particular band; they didn’t confront us about it but they dobbed on us to the festival promoters who are mates of ours. [The promoters] came laughing to us later, ‘You’ll never guess what blah blah did – they just tried to dob on you guys for sneaking their beers!’”
Also appearing at the Metro Theatre on Friday March 21 and Saturday March 22.