Bluesfest has been a staple of the Australian festival calendar for over three decades, but it’s currently being rocked by its biggest controversy yet, all thanks to the addition of one band: Sticky Fingers.

The group, who hail from Sydney’s inner west, have drawn controversy throughout their career for a string of incidents involving allegations of verbal abuse and physical intimidation aimed at other artists, as well a history of putting venues and promoters offside.

A Sticky Situation. Anthony Albanese poses with Sticky Fingers during their sold out show at the Enmore Theatre in 2016.Credit:Facebook

But despite the band’s chequered past they have previously counted one of the most powerful people in Australia as a supporter: Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

Albanese is the member for Grayndler, which covers Sydney’s inner west, including Newtown, the suburb where Sticky Fingers formed in 2008.

The band released their debut album Caress Your Soul, in 2013, before backing it up the following year with their sophomore record, Land of Pleasure. Land of Pleasure reached number three on the ARIA albums chart and helped cement the group as one of Australia’s most popular bands.

Off the back of their high energy and unpredictable live shows, Sticky Fingers cultivated an image of rock-and-rollers with a rap sheet to match. In 2013, frontman Dylan Frost was arrested at Perth’s Rottofest festival after climbing the stage’s scaffolding and diving into the crowd.

In 2014, Frost narrowly avoided jail for a high-range drunk-driving charge. After blowing five times the legal limit, magistrate Gary Still disqualified Frost from driving for three years and sentenced him to a nine-month suspended jail term.

That same year, Sticky Fingers were banned from Wagga Wagga’s Union Club Hotel after the manager alleged poor behaviour during their set.

It was in 2016 that Albanese’s support for the band first became public knowledge.

During an interview, bassist, Paddy Cornwall revealed that the Federal Member for Grayndler, who regularly supports live music and has cultivated a “DJ Albo” persona, had helped the group tour the United States in 2015 after they were denied a visa.

A noted supporter of Australian music (and part-time DJ), Anthony Albanese helped Sticky Fingers secure a US visa in 2015 after the band ran into trouble.Credit:Robert Shakespeare

“Anthony Albanese got wise to the fact that we were having some trouble because of minor criminal record stuff like drink-driving charges et cetera,” Cornwall told Music Feeds.

“But it turns out he was a fan of the band, so he got us all cleared and got us over there.”

Albanese later confirmed the story to The Huffington Post, stating, “it would have been a disaster for them if they hadn’t been able to tour.”

“They contacted us, I spoke to the US ambassador John Berry who I know, and essentially, it got fixed pretty quickly. It was just one of those things; it just needs a push sometimes. The bureaucracy can sometimes take a long time in the US and Australia.”

But it was later in 2016 that Sticky Fingers began to make headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Controversy has followed Australian band Sticky Fingers.Credit:Nic Walker

Despite seeing their third album Westway (The Glitter & the Slums), debut at number one, the group came under heavy criticism when Frost was accused of being physically threatening towards Indigenous musician Thelma Plum.

Frost, who has publicly shared that he has been diagnosed with bipolar schizophrenia, later made a statement on social media saying he was “ashamed” he had made a woman feel unsafe and “violence against women is never OK”.

The incident occurred in December 2016 and that same month the ARIA-nominated group said they were going on indefinite hiatus and had been dealing with internal issues in the band for some time, which had “heightened to the point where it’s not fair to anyone involved for us not to do something.”

In the same statement, Frost said that he would be entering rehab and therapy.

The band hit pause until 2018, after which Frost was accused of harassing a transgender woman in a pub, which the band denied. Frost also denied that the altercation was related to gender. Sticky Fingers have released two albums since and, earlier this week, completed a tour of the UK and Europe.

Albanese’s last public interaction with the band came in April 2016, when he attended Sticky Fingers’ sold-out show at the Enmore Theatre, posing for a snap with the band backstage. Since then, Albanese has not appeared with the band publicly, though he did name-check the group in 2018 ahead of a DJ performance for a Labor Party fundraiser at Adelaide’s King’s Head Hotel.

Over the past few years, Sticky Fingers have predominantly performed overseas or headlined their own shows around the country, avoiding the festival circuit in Australia.

However, their addition to this year’s Bluesfest lineup has seen big acts withdraw, including King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and Sampa The Great.

Anthony Albanese did not respond to questions about his involvement in Sticky Finger’s US visa issue or whether he still counts himself as a supporter of the band. A spokesperson for the US Embassy said “Visa records are confidential under US law. We are not able to provide details on individual visa cases.”

Sticky Fingers did not respond to questions.

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