INTERVIEW: Fat White Family
Exposed meets Fat White Family ahead of their Sheffield show at Plug on February 22nd. Words: Lewis Budden.
No other band has demanded the world’s attention quite like the Fat White Family in recent years. Since crawling out of South London in 2011, they have continued to push boundaries with front man Lias Saoudi bringing onstage nudity, masturbation and shit smearing to the table.
Understandably giving themselves quite the reputation, the gang have only ever been associated with anti-establishmentarianism and debauchery. Fat White Family first came onto many people’s radar through their left-wing (and tongue-in-cheek) activism, when members Saul and Nathan started ‘Yuppies Out’, a Facebook group that protested the opening of upscale Brixton bistro Champagne + Fromage by handing out White Ace cider and slices of Dairylea. This, combined with an iconic image of them waving their homemade ‘The Bitch Is Dead’ banner after Thatcher’s death, sustained the image that here was a group that embodied Cameron’s Britain, the genuine face of disillusioned youth staring back at society whilst happily opting out. Drug-addled, unsanitised and unpredictable – they are just what the UK music scene needed: a necessary reminder of what lurks beneath the Ed Sheerans and Sam Smiths of the world. Following all of the headlines, hype and coverage, Fat Whites took Champagne Holocaust, their debut album of unhinged anthems, around the world; accompanied with a plethora of frantic live performances. But with album number two soon to drop and a UK tour about to kick off, where does Fat White Family go from here? I caught up with Lias to find out…
Where in the world are you right now?
*Groggy* Ermmm, I’ve just woke up. I’m quite hungover and in… err, Krakow… I’m in Krakow.
Nice. You received a lot of hype and critical acclaim early after the release of Champagne Holocaust. Was the speed at which it all took off a positive or a negative thing?
A bit of both really; it is what it is man, you know? It can be encouraging yet distracting at the same time.
People say the band was born out of a squat in East London, right?
No, the band wasn’t born out of a squat in East London. I’m not sure why people keep saying that?
So you’re not still based there then?
No, no. We have definitely moved on from that.
So you have the second album coming out and a huge UK tour on the horizon. How do you feel The Fat Whites are going to adjust to the bigger venues?
To be honest, we’ve gotten used to playing bigger shows from our last few tours. A lot of festival dates have helped us with that as well.
How do UK shows differ from other countries?
You get treated better in Europe, but the drives are a lot longer. The accommodation is shit in the UK though, but the shows get better the further up north you go.
I’m currently calling from Sheffield, so that’s good to hear!
Sheffield’s great, man. I like Sheffield a lot. We have played up there quite a bit.
You were raised in Ireland, right?
Yeah, Ireland and Scotland – but my mum is from Yorkshire.
Do you think that had an effect on the music you make now?
Well, Northern Ireland is an externally bigoted place so maybe some of the bigotry has seeped into the music.
In your latest video, ‘Whites Boys on the Beach’, you all decide to shave your heads. Any particular thought process behind that?
I dunno – we just look for new ways to amaze ourselves, you know what I mean?
How’s the new album going to differ from Champagne Holocaust?
It has different songs on it…
Any new influences or themes on the album?
We got really into the Bee Gees. We like the Bee Gees and Donna Summer. Yeah, so lots of that.
And you also have side-project The Moonlandingz. How’s that going?
Yeah, we’ve just finished recording our album, which should be out by the summer – or maybe autumn.
You’ve collaborated with Sean Lennon for the project. How did that introduction happen?
We started working with him after we played a show with his band at SXSW festival in America.
You even got Yoko Ono to record with you as well.
Oh yeah, Yoko Ono features on the new Moonlandingz album, as does Randy from the Village People. It’s an all-star cast, man.
So how was it working with Yoko?
I didn’t really get to work with her. I met her first, but then she did the track afterwards. We had to do it all “the modern way”, you know?
Is there a primary writer or creative in Fat White Family or is it a collective force?
Me and Saul tend to write everything, but my brother writes some stuff too, and Jack our old drummer worked on some stuff, but generally we just work things out in the studio. Roughly speaking, I write all the words and Saul writes the music but sometimes it will work the other way round.
You’ve been quite honest about your apathy with the state of modern music. Is there any new music that you’re excited about?
I’m excited by a band called Meat Raffle. If you going to check anybody out, check them out.
What are your goals for the new album, Songs for our Mothers? Like, could you ever see Fat White Family headlining Wembley in the future?
I don’t really know. I don’t really like that goal though. I think once you have done an album you should just forget about it and start worrying about making the next one.
How long do you see Fat White Family running for? Could it go on for a Rolling Stones sort of span?
I’ve got no idea. The membership and line-up changes quite a bit really. We have a cool line-up now that have produced the album, but I don’t really know man. I try not to think much further than a year in the future. If it lasts a long time, then it lasts a long time.
What are you thoughts on the Bowie ‘super group’ that is apparently happening at the Brits?
I think they should probably avoid doing it at all. A Bowie super group with who exactly? Chris Martin and Bono? Really?
Have to sellotape your own face on every morning or be forced to eat all of your meals through a letterbox?
I’m not sure I could answer that… *pause* I think I would have to eat through a letterbox to be honest with you.
Get a tattoo of Margret Thatcher’s face on your hand or only be able to listen to Coldplay for the rest of your life?
Oh, obviously I would go for Thatcher’s face. I could definitely pull that off. Everyone would just think I was trying to be ironic and shit.
Eat a bowl of Saul’s (guitarist) hair once or have to lick Adam’s (other guitarist) sideburns for a whole day every month?
Awh, man it would have to be sideburns, I have no problem with that. Yeah, I would go for that one.
WIN! WIN! WIN!
Head here for the chance to win tickets to their Plug show on February 22nd.