Fat Freddy's Dropped Tour
Iain Gordon has seen the future. He’s not exactly psyched about it.
The longstanding keyboardist for quintessential Kiwi band Fat Freddy’s Drop is into day four of self-isolation back home on the Kāpiti Coast after the group were forced to abandon their European tour as the COVID-19 crisis gripped the world.
As the wheels began to fall off their best-laid plans, Gordon was staying with friends in Berlin when, as he puts it, Germany “just stopped everything.”
He explains to Paekākāriki 88.2FM, “all the schools were shutting down, most of the restaurants were shut already, all of the clubs were shut. Everyone is being advised to stay home.
“So quite different than what it is here. I mean, I’m staying home (as per government instructions), but for the most part, everyone’s out and about doing most of the things that they’d do.”
No time is a good time for the world to grind to a halt, but the timing was undoubtedly poor for Fat Freddy’s. They were on a multi-show tour of Germany, Denmark, Czech Republic, Poland, France, Spain and Portugal. “We managed to do one gig of our tour, it’s a long way to go for one gig,” muses Gordon.
Fat Freddy's Drop in action during their Frankfurt gig. Photo: Emma Jensen.
“(at the Frankfurt show) the band was sounding really polished. After the NZ summer tour, we arrived over there and we were hanging out to play.
“We were amped for the rest of the shows.”
"It’s a long way to go for one gig."
But then the dominoes began to fall. “Italy dropped off first, then France. We were just hoping Germany would hang on another week, but the next day they did the same thing, and the whole place went down.”
Despite an attempt to sneak in a few shows in Demark under the 1000-person restrictions, their tour was canned. The 18 strong touring party with no choice but to make their way home, leaving more than just disappointed ticketholders behind.
“It’s a lot of airfares flying all the way to the other side of the world to not play and not much income, it’s quite a loss for us to soak up,” Gordon says. “We were caught between a rock and a hard place to make the choice to depart in the first instance. We had a lot of hotel rooms paid for, buses booked and a whole lot of stuff pre-paid before going - if we decided not to go and cancelled, all that stuff would still going to have to be paid for.
“So we took the chance that we’d be able to get over there and get a few shows under our belt which would have covered the costs, but as it turns out we didn’t manage to do that, we’ve gone backwards a bit.”
What the Future Holds
What happens now is still unknown - even a band the size of Fat Freddy’s Drop will surely need to have conversations with creditors, and Gordon is just one of many in the arts industry who operates as part of the gig economy. “We’re so sporadic, we do shows for a month then wait 6-8 months before our next batch.”
But Gordon does have a hopeful forecast for the rest for all Aotearoa’s performers.
“Once this is all passed, which it will do, everyone’s just going to go bananas for live shows, which will be fucking awesome. So it’s just being able to tread water for a little bit until it comes right and far out, once it comes right, we’ll be doing better than ever….for everyone involved. It’s just a matter of buckling down and staying safe for the meantime.”
Iain Gordon in concert mode. Photo: Maisy Riera/Radio 13.
“Once this is all passed... everyone’s just going to go bananas for live shows."
But for now, Gordon’s getting used to his new norm in self-isolation, which he describes as “weird” - not in the least for the band's loved ones. “When we go away, everyone starts to plan their own lives and the other halves plan for a month of not having us here, which is kind of a relief for them in a way,” he laughs.
He’s holed up in his studio in Paekākāriki, certainly having an easier time of it than one of his Auckland bandmates, who’s partner wasn’t too thrilled to hear of his sudden return. “His other half Is saying ‘ah babe, the house is kinda full, is there anywhere else you can go?’
“He’s had to find a place somewhere in the Coromandel.”
Compared to what was on offer in Germany, it’s unlikely any of the band are going to complain. “We’re OK,” agrees Gordon, “plenty of fish here.”