An Interview with Fat White Family

Photograph courtesy of Roger Sargent

I caught up with Fat White Family’s frontman, Lias Saoudi on their UK tour, to chat about their latest album and everything that drives them as a band on the road and in the studio.

So, we’re here in Birmingham at the start of your UK tour, are there any places that you’re particularly excited to play?

Oh Birmingham, definitely! Erm, no well Birmingham’s good. Where else are we going? Let’s have a look… Sheffield! Sheffield is like my home from home, Belfast… questionable, I hated growing up there, severely bigoted. Glasgow is a good one, the further up north you go the more out of touch they are with their sensibility and that’s a good thing.

Yeah, Glasgow have that reputation of being quite mad at gigs, don’t they?

Oh yeah, once I crowd-surfed and got out into the middle, the song had finished and the band just walked off stage and left me and I was deserted and basically raped by a gang of middle aged women, you know I could’ve pressed charges in Glasgow at that time but because I like playing there so much I left it out.

Bristol’s good, although we did a gig at Bristol at the weekend and we were escorted out of the premises because I went on stage wearing nothing but the words ‘Saville’ written on my chest, over and over again. London’s London innit, took them six years to stop scratching their chins.

You’ve done it, you’ve finally got through to them.

Yeah yeah, I think we’ve got through to them now, I hope so.

Your second album, ‘Songs for our Mothers’, came out last month, what’s the inspiration and drive behind this album?

The album is about fascism and abusive relationships. It’s an attempt to straddle the personal and political at the same time.

I really like the lyrics on this album, each song has some pretty interesting ones.

I put a lot of effort into the lyrics, because, erm, well I’m the lyricist.

It’s what you gotta do.

[laughs] It’s what I gotta do, man.

Whitest Boy on the Beach has been quite popular since it came out, did you expect this for this song?

We had a lot of slow, smacked out numbers there, it was sounding good and sounding textual but we needed something with a bit of snap, you know? Something that people could play at a party, play in a club, get people dancing. When that came along we knew we were onto something. So yeah, I expected that one to do well.

Are there any other songs on the album that you’re particularly proud of?

From a lyrical point of view? Goodbye Goebbels, is as good a romantic ballad as you’re likely to hear. Tinfoil Deathstar is a nice sketch of the realities of the brown cloud that seems to have descended the recession – nobody could afford cocaine at the weekends, so they sat at home with ten bags of heroin watching Jeremy Kyle all day, so I wanted to sum that up in song.

Satisfied is one of my favourites from the album, can you share what that one’s about?

Oh really? Satisfied is about sexual vertigo, chronic anxiety that comes on when you find yourself most alone when you’re supposed to be at your most intimate, it’s the height of alienation.

How would you describe your band to someone who’s never heard your music?

Well, I wish I could say Trapdoor Jazz, but Meatraffle have already claimed that.

Who are your musical influences?

Well, there’s the obvious ones; The Country Teasers, The Fall, Funkadelic, The Make-Up, Scooter.


Whitest Boy on the Beach, I wanted to go for a Scooter kind of vibe, that vocal in the middle.

Oh yeah, yeah I can definitely see it.

(Our interview got interrupted by a special non-descript delivery, I’ll leave that up to your imagination).

Scrap that, Birmingham is my favourite place, always Birmingham. Errrrm, where were we? Musical influences! I like a lot of folk music, there wasn’t a lot of alternative music in Belfast growing up, you know? There wasn’t an underground scene, hip kids on the ball, only the big guys fell through, like Nirvana.

What would be your ultimate venue to play?

Well, Brixton Academy, I got fed up of walking by and seeing signs like, ‘Hozier’ and ‘The 1975’ because I think they’re all shite, it’s local and it’s kind of the big one.

Are you playing any festivals this year?

Yeah, we can’t announce them yet, apparently there’s lots but we don’t know yet.

Oh right, well, where would you want to play this year?

Glastonbury is always our favourite but we’ve played it two years running, I don’t know if they let you play just every year, probably quite boring on their part.

At least you’ve done it two years running! If you could join any band on tour, who would it be and why?

I wouldn’t want to join The Fall because we’d end up scrapping. Um, Status Quo, they keep it simple, they shoot from the hip.

Thank you so much for taking time out to chat with me, are you doing anything interesting while you’re here in Birmingham?

I’ll probably be getting stoned now, I don’t know, I don’t spend much time in Birmingham.

For my first ever band interview, it was the most entertaining half hour of my life. Lias is a talented lyricist and an interesting person to chat to and listen to the stories of him and his band on tour.

Songs for our Mothers is available to buy on iTunes and record stores and to stream on Spotify.


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