'Cay’s crays' live on French TV. This clip highlights the international attention gained in the wake of Based on a true story.
In May 2005 the Wellington band (or perhaps the musical collective) Fat Freddy’s Drop burst onto the national scene with the release of their first studio album Based on a true story. The album went gold on its first day. Recorded in a basement studio in the home of one of the band members, it was released on the band's own label, The Drop. It was the first independently distributed album to hit number one on the New Zealand album charts.
This was not a case of overnight success. The members of the band were part of a loose collective of Wellington musicians who had established a strong following as a live act. Combining reggae, dub, funk, jazz, soul and club rhythms to produce a uniquely Polynesian sound, their first major release was Live at the Matterhorn. This was essentially a lengthy jam session recorded in a popular Wellington night club. Largely through word of mouth it sold over 11,000 copies.
Based on a true story sold over 100,000 copies in New Zealand. At the 2005 New Zealand Music Awards it won Album of the Year, Best Aotearoa Roots Album and the People’s Choice Award. Fat Freddy's Drop also won Best Group. The album received critical acclaim internationally, and 20,000 listeners voted it Worldwide Album of the Year at the Radio 1 Gilles Peterson Worldwide Music Awards in 2005.
Despite the success of Based on a true story, Fat Freddy’s Drop has enjoyed its greatest moments as a live act. Music.net.nz describes the live act as a fusion of:
skanking urban Pacific roots, soul, dub, jazz and electronica into hypnotic and thunderous grooves. No two Freddy’s gigs are the same as the midnight marauders improvise and jam each song into mystic supernovas of future funk, fakes and freaky sidesteps ...
A feature of the band is the three-piece horn section of Warryn Maxwell (aka Fulla Flash), Toby Laing (aka Tony Chang) and Joe Lindsay (aka Hopepa). They met at the Wellington Jazz School in the mid-1990s and are the core of a new musical movement in New Zealand that is centred on bands such as Little Bushman, The Black Seeds and Trinity Roots.
The band’s name comes from the name of the cat in the United States cult comic strip The fabulous furry freak brothers. (It was also the name of a popular type of acid in Wellington in the early to mid-1990s).