It is difficult for a group to stay together, let alone thrive. It takes courage, energy, and a kind of camaraderie that you can’t buy in the market or even attempt to actually manufacture. Sometimes it can even take a break, a break to take a step back and remember what is most important about groups. There is a I do not know what when it comes to the chemistry of a band and when you see it, you know it. It is so special. He leaps at the limbs on stage.
You can see that chemistry with Australian indie rock band Sticky Fingers. The group, formed in 2008 in Sydney, took a hiatus in 2016 and rebuilt better than ever in 20187, claiming an eclectic sound, half rock, half pop and half reggae. Yet in the end, it’s all up to them. And the way the band’s bassist Paddy Cornwall talks about his “buddies”, there’s an obvious reverence between them all. The way he showcases them, makes you want to join the group.
The American singer-songwriter caught up with Cornwall to talk about his personal origins in music, how he bonded with the members of Sticky Fingers and the new music they have in store for the world in general, including their latest single, “We Can Make The World Glow,” which is out now.
American Songwriter: When did you first discover music, when did music enter your world in a meaningful way as a youngster??
Paddy Cornwall: I was 15 when a rock ‘n’ roll renaissance exploded in Australia. I was in music since I was little, What’s the story (Morning Glory) being my first album when I was seven. It was different though. It was the first time I had seen all of this literally happen in my front yard.
I lived across the street from the Annandale Hotel and it was screwed up. Bands played there every night, and there were parties that went well after sunrise. It was a time when The Vines was on the cover of American Rolling stone and Kings of Leon were the fine print. It was inspiring to see Australian bands making it big and I wanted to be part of the culture.
When I was 18 I was pouring beers at Annandale and from that position I was able to start scoring gigs for Sticky Fingers there. I also managed to find work for the rest of the group. When we weren’t working we would pay our money in the cash register, drink and party there. And when we weren’t doing that, we would roam the coast playing shows of all shapes and sizes. I will always be grateful to the Rule Brothers who owned this special seal. Allowing us to find their stage and a job even if we went on tour for weeks. We were literally the worst bartenders in the world. I don’t know why they support us.
AS: What struck you at the beginning around 2008 about the band and the members? Specifically, how and why the group’s chemistry worked and has that spark persisted since?
computer : Sticky Fingers is a band that on paper never really should have worked. You have 5 guys with totally different musical tastes. More than half of the group didn’t even have any real musical experience. We convinced Beaks to buy drums because he had a garage we could play in. We also convinced him later to buy a van as he was the only one with the money for the concrete. I borrowed my dad’s bass rig, and I don’t think Dylan knows how to tune a guitar yet.
I think what is rare in the group is that we were a circle of friends before the group formed. That we had finished school and had gone out on the road all flaming guns. No backup plan. We really started to run and gave it our all. Sticky is about as real and raw as it gets. An outfit that shows its flaws and has all the scars to show. People fuck with this shit.
AS: How does Australia influence the band, their topography, their energy, their food or their music??
computer : Unlike New Zealand, Australia is unfortunately very out of touch with the culture of our original landowners. The Whites came here and really messed up. There was a beautiful way of life before we arrived. Living off the land, not just zapping all available resources until they’re gone.
Don’t get me wrong, Australia is a beautiful country. Coming from here you forget how far it is from the rest of the world. It’s funny coming to places like America and being treated exotic. From our perspective, Australia is kind of a pretty high and low joint. I think it’s an advantage to come over here and have people say, “Hey, there’s this fucking Australian band in town.”
To be honest, the only true Australian culture that Sticky has been a part of is the culture of drinking. And for a long time, it really worked for us too. Five best friends who travel the world, play music and have a blast. It wasn’t until our mid-twenties that our lifestyles became a problem. Rehabs, psychiatric services, court cases, trips to the hospital. Sticky is a band that has indeed been to hell. Our own story alone has always been the best material to write about. I am extremely grateful that we have five albums. Neither of us died, and we’re still together.
AS: What was the genesis of the next 2022 album, entirely produced during the pandemic?
computer : We started in 2019 trying to release an acoustic record in Byron Bay at Rocking Horse Studios. It was between two Arena concerts. It seemed like a really good idea at the time, but looking back we really should have waited until the tour was over. Beaks left the group after him and I had a fight on the plane (I was definitely acting). And Diz only did that for the last two days, during which he ate a whole cheesecake and slept the rest of the time. Bless him. In the end, the Byron session had been a failure. On the bright side, we were sitting on these simple and beautiful mega songs. Unlike the last two albums, they were written with acoustic guitars, paper and pen. I always thought if you could have a song that sounds good like that it’s gonna be fucking crack no matter how you go about it.
AS: What was the genesis of the titular single from the album, “We Can Make the World Glow”, its sound and its content??
computer : Damn knows why this is the song that comes out of the front row. I have heard it several times now. I’ve had it up to here. There are so many other better songs on the album than this one. I do not know. I think I just need to trust the self of three months ago that thought it was a good idea when it was still fresh. We Can Make the World Glow was an easy decision to make the title track. It’s a beautiful feeling. It is a good representative of the positive and upbeat nature of the record. The world can certainly do with a little light and positivity right now. This is what we are trying to deliver.
AS: What have you learned in recent years about your ability to grow as an artist and as a person in and out of the group, and, perhaps, what has been the role of forgiveness in this? process?
computer : This year I felt like I was facing the hangover of the last ten years of my life. I went to rehab in February, which keeps me sober and sober for months. I’m damn proud of it. I have had a lot of time this year to reflect on my past. Bad decisions I made and beautiful memories I created. I was afraid to come back to the studio to write sober music. An activity that I have traditionally done while intoxicated in one way or another. I was very afraid that I would not be able to weave my magic dry. And was overwhelmed with relief to realize that this is all bullshit. I’m still here. Everything comes from the heart. And I love the challenge of opening up to the world without any cool-aid.
AS: Today, what is the secret of the group’s success or the quintessence of its sound??
computer : We share everything equally. Writing songs, the lot. For this reason, we have never had any small arguments over money. We are all equal in our Sticky family. If I could give any new band two pieces of advice it would be to work with what you have and never break up.
AS: With all that you and the band have been through over the past three to ten years, what do you love most about music??
computer : We all love the road. It is a way of life that we cherish very closely. While it probably took many years to end our lives, I don’t think any of us would trade it for anything. I don’t think there is another lifestyle where you can cram so many good times into such a short period. Bad times too, but that’s all part of it. Play a show in one city and wake up in another country. Make friends all over the world, do what we love, and make people happy while doing it. And the fact that this is a “job” is still crazy to me. We’re pretty darn lucky.