INTERVIEW

“When there are other people around everyone is quite courteous”

fatwhitefamily

This is exactly how I’d imagined it to be. Terrifying. “I’d quite like to have these people lined up against the wall and shot, I think they’re absolute scum.” I’m being eyeballed now; spit flies from the mouth of the man sitting opposite. “I mean, Boris Johnson actually said greed is good. I would string him up and all his cronies, these people need to be removed from existence. Especially IDS, dying is too good for that cunt, he needs to go through some serious trauma first; can you print that?” I tell him of course, he smiles, wipes his mouth and we part ways.

Two hours earlier the doors of the Queen’s Head, Brixton, open to reveal an empty pub. At one end a Union Jack mural, at the other a barman called Dave. This is home for Fat White Family – six brothers in arms living life in the margins and beyond. Photos are taken in almost darkness; it feels tense when it needn’t be. Soon after, the band’s frontman, Lias Saudi, leans in at the bar and tells me, “I’ll be chatting to you on my own – we can be on stage together, but not in the same room, like Johnny and Joey Ramone.” His guttural laugh puts everyone but myself at ease.

Now we’re sat in the bands rehearsal space upstairs, a calm has fallen and Lias’ warmth is a welcome surprise. “We only ever fight amongst ourselves you know, when there are other people around everyone is quite courteous. It isn’t like we have too many divas; nobody is being an arsehole about it, yet!”

I tell him that’s contrary to what is on the Internet. “We give off the impression that we’re a bunch of wild guys,” he says. “I mean, we like to have a party. The reason we look and sound the way we do is because it’s in direct contradiction to what we saw was a problem.”

What we’re left with is an outlandish caricature of a band, grotesque in its output but strangely triumphant. Six years ago Lias and his brother Nathan Saudi were playing a country night in Peckham; since then they’ve been sketching out a ludicrous but bold portrait. “We had pig’s heads back then and we’d make a bit of a show of it,” Lias explains with what looks like a wink.  “After our old band the Saudi’s fell apart we called up a bunch of people we knew and came up with Auto Neutron, and we thought actually this is quite fucking good!” An anthem for the disenchanted and heavily influenced by a choral, almost gospel core, Auto Neutron was the template for the so called Cartoon Industrial sound they create today. “Yeah I stand by that,” Lias nods. “I think Saul (Adamczewski) who writes all the songs with me came up with the term. The new stuff is along that vein – irritable riffage but with a glam glaze; it’s monstrous but pathetic.”

By now we’re joined by the drummer Dan Lyons and brother Nathan. They’re sprawled across the room disinterested. “It’s subtle,’” shouts Dan.

“It’s not subtle at all, there is a total lack of subtlety,” Lias shouts back.

The rotten fruit of Fat White Family’s toil was let loose earlier this year. ‘Champagne Holocaust’ is an unapologetic album that bites and kicks and claws and scratches. “We don’t mind being out on a limb or a bit weird,” says Lias. “Even though the songs are ridiculous and have this absurd humour we all take it very seriously.”

Lias is right. Whilst the band’s debut contains songs called ‘Is it Raining in your Mouth’ and ‘Without Consent’ that liberally grease the pole, there are others such as ‘Bomb Disneyland’ that mark Fat White Family with a pronounced political bent. These are angry young men sufficiently fuelled to trouble a comfort driven demographic.

In the mid/late 2000s, band guitarist Saul Adamczewski almost enjoyed some major label success when his band The Metros signed a deal with Sony BMG imprint 1965 Records. Absent today, I wanted to ask him if Fat White Family – a band so clearly against the mainstream – is his retaliation to an industry that once promised the world and then turned its back on him. “Well you might be right,” says Lias. “One of the things we hate about this industry is there are so many bands who actually have a plan – they know what press guy they want and they know what artist they’re using for their front cover before they even start making the fucking music.”

And yet Fat White Family’s choreographed display of disgust has been delightfully assembled, and lurid videos for ‘Cream of the Young’ (carcass licking, nausea inducing) and ‘Heaven on Earth’ (directed by Mike Diana, the first artist to receive a criminal conviction for obscenity for artwork in the United States) have inflamed the revolt. And while they might not like it, being branded a squat band on the Web hasn’t hurt Fat White Family’s down at heel punk aesthetic either. “That’s Chinese whispers,” fumes Nathan. “What is a squat band? I really don’t get it. It’s been said like 40,000 times. This pub’s not a squat,” he says looking around. “A lot of people say it is, but it’s not.”

It all comes back to the Queen’s Head, Fat White Family headquarters and front page of the national newspapers when Margaret Thatcher died in April of this year. “We made a sign which had The Bitch is Dead on it but the landlord made us change it to the Witch is Dead, that’s when it made the headlines,” laughs Nathan. Lias leans in, a lengthy castigation is about to commence: “I won’t lie, we were really, really happy that day and if David Cameron died in a car crash tomorrow we would also be celebrating.”

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