Front cover of the Fat Freddy's Drop EP 'Hope for a Generation' (2004).

Joe Dukie, AKA Dallas Tamaira, is the lead singer of the New Zealand dub-reggae crossover band Fat Freddy's Drop. The group became the best-selling musical act in their home country with their album, 'Based on a True Story' (2003), and found cult popularity in Australia and Europe too. Tamaira illustrated the album cover and inside sleeve of their EP 'Hope for a Generation' (2004) which was done in comic strip format.

Fat Freddy's Drop
Dallas Tamaira was the son of a singer of Māori descent. He is heavily influenced by soul musician Bill Withers, Anthony Hamilton and D'Angelo and took his stage name from jazz musician Duke Ellington. In the early 1990s he started performing with the dub band Bongmaster, where he met Chris "Mu" Faimu, aka DJ Fitchie. In 1999 Tamaira and Faimu joined forces with trumpeter Toby Laing (of the reggae band The Black Seeds) to establish the dub band Fat Freddy's Drop. Their name was a reference to Fat Freddy's Cat from Gilbert Shelton's underground comic 'The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers' and the expression "dropping acid/LSD" - a favorite pastime of them. The same year Fat Freddy's Drop established their own independent music label: The Drop. Originally the band mostly jammed at parties and concert venues. They received a more permanent line-up when former Bongwater member Iain Gordon (keyboards), TrinityRoots member Warren Maxwell (tenor/alto saxophone) and Temihana Kerr (guitar) and Joe Lindsay (trombone) joined in. With so many musicians from different groups, styles and backgrounds, Fat Freddy's Drop naturally reflects a highly versatile crossover sound. Their music is an eclectic mix of various styles, among them jazz, blues, soul, hiphop, techno and traditional Māori folk music. Many of their songs can take up several minutes and are mostly the result of jams and improvisations.

Fat Freddy's Drop released a few musical singles. Their first album, 'Live at the Matterhorn' (2001) gradually became a bestseller. They toured through New Zealand and Australia. One of their singles, 'Midnight Marauders' (2003), became an unexpected hit when the labels Sonar Kollektiv and Best Seven released it in Germany. The German DJ collective Jazzanova remixed it several times. Alongside Sonar Kollektiv and Best Seven the English label Kartel promoted and distributed their music in the United Kingdom. Thanks to these successes, Fat Freddy's Drop was able to tour in Europe. In 2004 the group was even invited to play at the Cannes Film Festival. Flanked by their album 'Based on a True Story' (2005), Fat Freddy's Drop became the best-selling musical act of New Zealand. They continued their popularity in their home country and abroad. An attempt was made to tour in the United States and Canada in 2009, but the group mostly tours Europe on a regular basis.

Album cover art
In 2004 Fat Freddy's Drop released an EP, 'Hope For A Generation' (2004). The album cover and inside sleeve were drawn by Tamaira in the style of a black-and-white comic strip. The crudely drawn story involves the band members trying to reach one of the higher floors of a building. He also illustrated the single 'Hope', with 'Bluey' as its B-side. While another record by the band, 'Dr. Boondigga And The Big BW' (2009) also featured cartoony album cover art, it was illustrated by Dan Bussell and Otis Frizzell. The cover of 'Blackbird' (2013) was illustrated by Becca O'Shea and Harry A'Court in collaboration with Gina Kiel.

Along with musicians like Daniel Johnston, Urbanus, Lucia Pamela, Def P, Schoolly D, Serge Buyse, Kurt Cobain, Charlie Watts and Adam Wallenta, Dallas Tamaira is one of the few musicians to have illustrated his own album covers.

Third page from the comic strip accompaning the Fat Freddy's Drop EP 'Hope for a Generation' (2004).

Series and books by Dallas Tamaira you can order today:


If you want to help us continue and improve our ever- expanding database, we would appreciate your donation through Paypal.