Eight-piece roots reggae band Katchafire is returning to Victoria for its second Ska Fest appearance, closing out the five-day festival at the grand finale concert Sat., July 14 at Ship Point.
The all-Maori band from New Zealand first played the mainstage in 2010, and lead vocalist and guitar player Logan Bell says the group is excited to be returning to North America’s largest and longest running ska festival.
“The land itself is really similar to New Zealand, it’s got a lot of beauty and right off the bat that was something all the boys took to. There are a lot of friendly people there, we made some friends and family there and we’re excited to be coming back,” says Bell.
“Festivals are my favourite gigs to play — it’s not just a Katchafire show where you’re the only band — you get to play with other musicians, hang out backstage, watch other acts you might not have seen, and just generally meet new people. That’s what it’s all about for me, travelling around the world making new friends and seeing new sights.”
And it’s those sights that inspired Katchafire’s newest album, On the Road Again, the band’s fourth full-length offering. Katchafire has been touring about six months each year for the last three years, bringing them to North and South America, Europe, Australia and more.
“A lot of the songs were written on the road,” says Bell. “They were written over three years while touring the world. There’s not a ton of time to concentrate on writing and recording, so we had to do it whilst on the road, whilst in airports, while travelling. A lot of the sights and sounds were the inspiration for the album.”
While the band basically kept the same template for this album, with five songwriters contributing, Bell says On the Road Again is more eclectic and diverse than previous offerings.
“The guys wanted to take a fresh approach with the new album,” says Bell. “We used new technology in the studio (that) we haven’t tried before, It’s more of a modern sound.”
The sound blends reggae with traditional Maori music, culture and language, plus jazz, pop, rock and even hip-hop influences to enhance a solid roots foundation.
“People say they can hear our culture coming through in the harmonies and the melodies we chose when we sing,” says Bell. “One point of difference is, even compared to other reggae bands, we love to harmonize — there’s usually three or four part harmonies in our songs.”
Katchafire is half-way through recording a fifth album, which is due to be released in early 2013, and are planning another world tour, which will hopefully include additional stops in Canada.
“Reggae music doesn’t get a lot of commercial push, it’s not played on a lot of commercial radio, but for some reason at festival time it’s one of the most sought after genres to listen to,” says Bell. “You know, outdoor, sun, fun, reggae, it just all goes hand in hand. I think it’s so important that these promoters keep putting in the work and keep these festivals alive for us.” M
Saturday, July 14
Leroy “heptone” Sibbles