Fat White Family creating music from mayhem as they head to The Wedgewood Rooms

Fat White Family. Photo by Steve Gullick
Fat White Family. Photo by Steve Gullick

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Being asked by the interviewee if I mind them using the toilet while we chat is a first for this writer.

But when it comes to Fat White Family, nothing should be taken for granted.

Their recently-released second album, Songs For Our Mothers, is a drink and drug-fuelled ride into the underbelly of the modern world.

With the music blending Krautrock drones, glam, funk and punk, the subject matter veers from domestic violence to our failure to support veterans, to Hitler’s imagined love letter to Goebbels.

‘We’ve had one star and we’ve had glowing reviews,’ says frontman Lias Saoudi of the album’s reception.

‘The hipster press knocked it down, those people drinking lattes in East London, that Crack magazine, the recent comment they made was that we’re “gimmicky shock merchants”, given the title of their magazine...’ He trails off to leave the hipocrisy hanging.

When you’re down there, in absolute failure, it’s a powerful thing – you’re utterly free as you’ve got nothing to lose

Lias Saoudi

While recording the album there was no subject that was off-limits, as they searched for ‘cultural totems that people can gather around and experience themselves in a new light’.

Lias is clearly more philosophical than the band’s reputation as a bunch of squat-dwelling degenerates would suggest.

‘It’s that whole question – like with art after the holocaust, how do you deal with that?

‘From my point of view, the good things about this country were born out of that cataclysm of the Second World War – the welfare state, the NHS, these things came out of the shock of that disaster, and to watch it slowly be dismantled over the past 20-30 years, I see the rumblings of fascism on the rise again.

‘Even though people call us shock merchants, blah, blah, blah, I think it’s quite valid subject matter right now.

‘You’ve got a Mussolini on the warpath within a whisper of being president of the United States. He regards the Mexicans as rapists and goes on about how he could shoot a man in the streets, and this is taken seriously by people – it’s become dangerously mainstream.

‘To write a concept album about fascism is a reaction to that.’

And he explains how it was a position of ‘absolute hopelessness’ that led to the band’s creation.

‘You get to a point where you’ve given up caring completely what anybody says or thinks, because you know you’re screwed.

‘When you’re down there, in absolute failure, it’s a powerful thing – you’re utterly free as you’ve got nothing to lose. That was the catalyst for the creativity that came out of that squat we all shared in Peckham.’

Even now, Lias describes his situation as ‘bleak’ as he is unable to afford a place of his own to live in the capital.

But it’s in the live arena that the band really come alive, and although Lias is renowned for throwing off his clothes, he says: ‘That’s not part of a programme, that’s incidental.

‘Sometimes it’s nice to focus on the notes, I don’t feel like I need to behave a certain way every time, that would be boring.

‘But I don’t think about that when I’m up there, that’s the only time I feel truly relaxed.’

The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea

Tuesday, March 8

wedgewood-rooms.co.uk