Fat White Family are the greatest young rock band in the UK and this probably extends to the rest of the world as well. What’s that? You want to know more? Christ on callipers, ok, let’s see what we’ve got here then…
It won’t come as news to anyone who has been to one of their regular Slide-In nights at their local pub and HQ, The Queens Head in Brixton, South London but for a band that only really coalesced as the Fat White Family in 2011, the six piece have already got several once-in-a-lifetime/ ‘OMG - were you there?’ gigs under their belt. On December 10th 2013 they rattled the walls of the legendary 100 Club, thus aligning themselves with the numerous legends who have trod the very same stage. The band summoned up the feral electric skronk blues of The Magic Band and The Birthday Party, the proto-punk pummelling of The Monks and The Modern Lovers and the twisted folk of Charles Manson and The Country Teasers. And as singer Lias Saoudi, clad in nothing but a pair of back to front, skin tight rubber trousers, was carried at head height off stage by a crowd of howling devotees, it was clear that something special had just happened.
However, it’s not all been plain sailing. When confronted by London’s pay to play, indie toilet circuit, the Fat Whites aren’t known for toeing the line. They’re already adept at sniffing out bullshit. At a recent gig in a down at heel dive that shall remain nameless it took less than three songs for the train to come screaming off the tracks.
Nathan Saoudi, Lias’ young brother and the group’s raven haired organist, says: “It was more of a fight than a gig. It was promoted by these guys who weren’t in it for the right reasons. They were just dodgy businessmen. They wouldn’t let us play. They cut the microphones. They put bouncers on stage with us. So we just started smashing the equipment up. I remember looking round and my brother Lias was naked and masturbating and it was kicking off everywhere. I was laughing my head off, ‘Oh my god what the hell’s happening?’”
Saul Adamczewski, the gap-toothed musical director of the group adds: “Literally one minute I was on stage and the next I was outside on the pavement. One by one everyone came flying out of the same door. Then some locals came steaming out and there was a brawl in the middle of the road which only stopped when the police turned up…” He pauses and continues: “But it’s not really about the venue or what kind of night it is. I think how good the show is has got a lot to do with how we react off each other. Unless you can go in fearless it doesn’t really happen. It doesn’t matter how many people are there. The best gig we ever played was to two people. We played for five hours. And it was great that Halloween in Hastings when Lias got naked and painted his cock black so it looked like he had no genitals…”
Fat White Family were formed out of the ashes of two bands. In 2006 the 17-year-old Saul’s band The Metros were signed to a major deal and touted as the next Libertines. However it was the classic case of too much too young and the band never lived up to their initial promise, fizzling out by 2009. (Saul says: “It was sickening really - telling us we’re going to be the next Arctic Monkeys! [laughs] I was just completely lost. I went from having pocket money to having a really big record deal. In the long run it was good though because I became sufficiently jaded. And that’s how that became this.”) The second was a South London pub rock band called The Saudis, featuring brothers Nathan and Lias. (Lias says: “We were the worst band in London. Always third on the bill at the New Cross Inn on a Tuesday.” Although it should be noted that good or not, they still managed to complete a three month tour of Algeria.) They would attend each others gigs but it was a meeting of minds that almost never happened.
Saul explains: “Yeah, the first time I met Lias was at a Metros gig. He was wearing a gold sequined vest and ended up getting off with this girl that I came with and really fancied. I remember saying to her afterwards: ‘I can’t believe you got off with that guy… did you not see he had a massive nose! He looked like a prick!’”
But despite this setback the trio moved into a house together with drummer Dan Lyons. (Dan describes the song-writing partnership of Lias and Saul as being like that of a blackbird and a boa constrictor, however he’d like to leave it to your imagination to work out which one is which.) The line-up has since been augmented by the mysterious guitarist Adam J Harmer who looks like a hungover hit man and the bassist Joe Pancucci who is so insouciant that he actually fell asleep on stage during his first ever gig with the Fat Whites.
The group played their first open mic night in 2009 and honed their sound at Hank Dog’s Easycome, a regular South London folk event but by the time of their first headline gig under their current name in 2011, they’d added a heavier, more psychedelic and electric element to the music. An early fan of these shows was Liam from Trashmouth Records who would eventually put out their awesome Champagne Holocaust album in 2013. This LP – a mix of class war, Communist themed surrealism, odes to auto sex and to sex in autos, calls for full scale insurrection, unabashed sleaze and grooves that will just not fucking let up – has become that old fashioned thing:a word of mouth success. Their second release, the Wet Hot Beef EP (a split with Taman Shud) was released on Xmas day and points towards a viciously bright future for the group.
The Fat White Family then: sharp as knives, thick as thieves, completely moral when it counts, completely immoral when it doesn’t. They’re the best young rock band in the world. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.