Fat White Family tickets

Fat White Family Tickets

Fat White Family + WORKING MEN’S CLUB Tramshed, Cardiff

Wednesday 27th November 2019

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Friday 29th November 2019

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Monday 2nd December 2019

Fat White Family plus guests London EartH, London

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Fat White Family plus guests London EartH, London

Wednesday 4th December 2019

Fat White Family plus guests London EartH, London

Thursday 5th December 2019
Blake lied. The road of excess is littered with twitching corpses and leads only to a portcullis kept firmly shut to those mouthy proles who dare to voyage deep into a prolonged derangement of the senses. But fear not: Fat White Family, the band you hate to love, have stormed the palace, ceased the throne and with their third album Serfs Up! are set to embark on their imperial phase as overlords of a kingdom of their own making. It also marks the most gratifying and unexpected creative volte face in living musical memory.

Seven years into a career defined by collapsing masculinity, Celtic mysticism, pound shop shamanism, provocation, eroticism, wanton violence, joy, radical empathy, narcissism, hog-like indulgence, personality defects and a fondness for both extreme left and right-wing aesthetics - and some of the best musical performances this fractured isle has ever witnessed - and the South London-spawned band return, clean(ish) and serene(ish).

Serfs Up! could be called a career-defining moment, were the Fat Whites - always a drug band with a rock problem - to ever have considered this a career. It’s not. It’s so much more. It’s struggle. It’s survival. Potential, finally, has been realised, the odds have been defied, and the Fat White Family’s greatness can no longer be denied.

But it could have all have been so very different. So charge your glasses, stoke the fire, and we’ll tell you all about it…

At the close of 2016 when Fat White Family should have been celebrating their largest headline show at Brixton Academy after four years of touring, they were running on fumes. Incarcerated in a fiscal Gulag, every single member of the group had developed serious problems with alcohol and/or hard drugs; most were homeless. They were just about held together by singer Lias Saoudi who had led, Rommel-like, from day one. Despite hinting at a more streamlined direction on tracks such as the motoric death disco of ‘Whitest Boy On The Beach’ (chosen by Danny Boyle to feature on T2 Trainspotting), their second album Songs For Our Mothers was the product of psychically-incinerated, part-feral men, an undernourished musical morass described by the band at the time “as going to the extremes.”

The album’s hidden strengths were only truly glimpsed at in their legendary live show - part exorcistic pagan ritual, part violent bacchanalian assault of the senses. No two nights the same. Worst of all though, Saoudi’s songwriting partner and band director Saul Adamczewski had been jettisoned from the band due to heroin addiction.

“It felt like the end of Das Boot,” says Lias today. “After all of that struggle, pain and exhaustion we would surely be dropped like a bad habit and consigned to the waste bin of history, despite our obvious aesthetic prevalence, and despite the fact we had inspired countless kids to pick up the craft and inject some fucking menace into music for the first time in years. It looked like all we would have to show would be an assortment of mental health issues and penury.”
Saoudi had previously tried to implement a (failed) plan to save the band by relocating them to Sheffield, where he had worked with The Moondlandingz as an escape from the carnage of the Fat Whites. Deep in debt, salvation came in 2017 via the intervention of Domino, who signed the band and backed their frontman’s stratagem to move the band away from temptation. “Sheffield has a fantastic musical history and struck me as utterly unpretentious, if a little grim aesthetically, but that kind of added to it,” says Lias of this new power-base. “It was an ideal place for me to cut out the crap, do some writing and avoid the narcotic cesspit that was South London.”

Ah yes… South London. It was here on the Brixton/Peckham axis that Fat White Family first crawled out of the city’s transpontine squat scene in 2011 with the low-born looks and general subterranean demeanour of the lice that live on the rats that gnaw on the discarded bones of fried chicken parts in the dawn’s half-light. From the offing, guitarist Saul Adamczewski and the Algerian-English / Scotland/Northern Ireland-raised singer Lias Saoudi presented a classic dysfunctional songwriting partnership - more Lenin and McCarthy, then Lennon and McCartney. Lias’s keyboard playing brother Nathan Saoudi provided the perfect foil for this troubled but productive relationship.

Released on Trashmouth Records, their debut album Champagne Holocaust was released on April Fools’ Day 2013; two weeks later Margaret Thatcher was dead. We’re not suggesting the former PM was murdered by the threnodies for the austerity age that was suddenly being pumped into the minds of the nation’s young and impressionable, but Fat White Family’s arrival certainly heralded a psychic shift towards darkness deep in chthonic England. (Photographs of the infamous ‘Thatcher death party’ thrown by the band in Brixton swiftly reached the front page of the tabloids.)

The psilocybin mind-melt of ‘Auto Neutron’ or the clanging concrete jungle outlaw country of ‘Is It Raining In Your Mouth?’ suggested… Holocaust was an iconoclastic debut set to disrupt and disturb. The furtive pop frottage of their first single ‘Touch The Leather’ followed in 2014 and a cult was born. Fat White Family seemed perhaps the only band worth giving your life for - a freakshow that reminded that, as with Throbbing Gristle/The Gun Club/Butthole Surfers/Jane’s Addiction before them, the outside is the only viable place from which to make true art. America and beyond beckoned, and all the temptations and troubles that go with the touring life. Then the carousel began to spin faster and faster…

Onwards to the end of 2016, bloodied but now not unbowed, Fat White Family rented a four-bedroom terrace house in the sprawling red brick Sheffield suburb of Sharrow, a move that summons to mind the image of Lemmy’s oft-quoted line about how “if Motorhead moved in next door, your lawn would die”. The band also rented a tiny box studio overlooking a refuse-filled canal in the post-industrial hinterlands of Attercliffe.

Ensconced in South Yorkshire they hunkered down, with Nathan honing his own songwriting contributions to the Fat Whites on the house’s upright piano. Cocaine and heroin were replaced by ketamine and weed: “Far more creative drugs in my opinion,” sniffs Lias with the convincing tone of a connoisseur sampling a dusty vintage. They spent weeks on end at the precipice of a k-hole, listening to Wham! B-sides and Yeezus by Kanye West at disgustingly anti-social volume until the early hours. “Something about the intensely decadent aesthetic realm that Kanye inhabits and the deep grey monotony of Sheffield, mixed with gram after gram of horse tranquilliser, really triggered something in me,” says the frontman.

But a crucial piece of the puzzle was still missing: Saul. Could they realistically call this thing Fat White Family anymore? Would anyone buy it? And how do you even begin to replace a toothless rickets-stricken wunderkid capable of crafting gutter symphonies to God?

“I couldn’t bring myself to attempt to flog some ersatz version to the public under the same banner purely because I was incapable of letting go of my position in the world of music - the only role I’ve ever held other than bartender,” Lias reflects. “Up until that period my main contribution to the group had been lyrics and the occasional song that Saul would then fully realise, discovering in it all kinds of angles that sonically I hadn’t the faintest clue were possible. Because even on a really shitty day - and despite an occasionally gruesome temperament - Saul is a powerhouse in the studio.”

During the demo stages of what was to become Serfs Up (working title: ‘Dash The Henge), Saul returned from both rehab and time working with his other band Insecure Man. Freed from the past burdens of musically carrying the project, he returned with a plethora of stockpiled songs ideas, and found the brothers Saoudi had diligently done the same for him to sink his teeth into as arranger-producer.

At last, a consensus. With borrowed money they established Champzone studios in the same industrial block as their demo studio. The collective mission statement: to make a pop record, something to distance the band from the many Fat Whites imitators who had formed in their wake, and leave the land of lo-fi far behind them. Lias’s lyrical irony, previously adopted as a protective layer against insecurity and criticism, was discarded in favour of a forensic examination of the self, what the frontman describes as “a genuine mapping out of my innermost psychological landscape, without ever patronising the listener, which for me is the lowliest crime in lyricism.”

They brought in their former collaborator, Trashmouth’s Liam D. May, to help with the difficult birth, while Insecure Men’s Ben Romans-Hopcraft and saxophonist Alex White became intrinsic to the new recordings too. This being the dysfunctional Fat White Family however, it was far from a smooth process. “With Nathan uncertain about submitting songs so personal to him and us no longer deferring entirely to Saul, a power vacuum emerged,” says Lias. “It was an unspoken battle for the heart and soul of the group one that ended up derailing the process sometimes for months at a time. Ironically, it was a problem that only came about through our attempt at properly respecting each other for the first time. Such is life. Until very recently, a large part of me didn't think we would ever resolve these issues, and that the war would rage on forever.”

With the smoke now clearing and the battlefield-free of casualties, Fat White Family now re-emerge triumphant. The results on Serfs Up offer something utterly sensual. It’s a lush and masterful work, lascivious and personal. Tropical, sympathetic and grandiose. It invites the listener in rather than repel them through wilful abrasion. Fat White Family have broken previous default patterns of behaviour, and as such their third album heralds a new day dawning for a new world.


Here unexpected Gregorian chants give way to the jackboot glam stomp of ‘Tastes Good With The Money’, which features Baxter Dury delivering a state-of-the-nation soliloquy. Embellished with string flourishes, ‘Rock Fishes’ offers sophisticated and lush cocktail exotica, a distant cousin to Spiritualized if you will. On the 80s-tinged electro funk ‘Fringe Runner’, Lias channels the twin spirits of Alan Vega and Afrika Bambaataa over stabbing synths, while the dramatic production of ‘Feet’ is as immaculately-rendered as ‘Hounds of Love’-era Kate Bush. The dirt is still there of course, but scrape it away and you’ll find a purring engine, gleaming chrome.

But there’s more. Check out the celestial sax tones on the laconic and louche jazz-funk of ‘Vagina Dentata’, the Jah Wobble-like bass lines and subtle steel pan percussion of ‘Kim’s Sunsets’ or the subtle death-tripping vibes of the Bad Seeds / Lynchian ‘When I Leave’, “a response to Dory Previns ‘Lady With the Braid’” and easily one of the Fat White’s most moving moments to date. Echoing within the arrangements throughout are traces of blissed-out 60s Tropicalia, Velvets/Bowie sleaze-making and star-gazing, 80s digital dancehall, David Axelrod-style easy listening, joyous Pet Shop Boys synth crescendos, acid house, post-PIL dub, metropolitan murder ballads, doom-disco and mouth-gurning, slow-mo psychedelia. By the time we reach the string-lead anthem for the disenfranchised ‘Oh Sebastian’ - sung with the intimacy of a tongue probing your ear, but as expansive as the infinite universe itself - only a fool would deny that Serfs Up is something very special. No longer is unadulterated music malevolence Fat White Family’s stock in trade; this is cultivated music for the head, the heart. For tomorrow’s unborn children.

Where once they soundtracked a grubby Britain of vape shops, Fray Bentos dinners and blackened tin-foil, a crepuscular comedown realm stalked by Shipman, Goebbels and Mark E. Smith, Fat White Family now inhabit another cosmos entirely. Serfs Up! is the product of a band of outlaws reborn. Few but themselves could have forecast it: Fat White Family survived. Fat White Family got wise. Fat White Family got sophisticated.

“This album truly represents this band - and not simply myself and Saul with a little peppering from the other guys,” says Lias. “While this might sound idyllic, rest assured the legacy of the past five years of abusive behaviour from all members, the psychological fall out of hard drug abuse and all of the other dirty water that had run under our bridge, eventually took it’s shitty toll. But that’s in the past now and this is the group finally living up to its own expectations. The fact this album exists is the thing in my life I am most proud of.”

The struggle continues, always, but for now… Serfs Up!

Artist Bio

Some people will call Songs For Our Mothers the most unpleasant album of this year, if not of their entire generation; the work of a bunch of drink and drug wracked nihilist degenerates. Some will say that it is a thrilling statement of disgust, defiance and complete creative independence made by the only rock band in the UK that really counts for anything at all anymore. But it is likely that few who hear it will walk away from the second album by the Fat White Family, released on their own label Without Consent, not caring one way or the other.

Some will hail this hair-raising, pulse-quickening and indignant collection of glitterball disco, smacked out psych, glam funk, heart-breaking torch songs and otherworldly slabs of Kraut n’ western as the shot in the arm that independent rock has been ailing after. And a shot in the arm is exactly what this album is. For if modern indie rock, DIY, alt-country - call it what you will - is sick, then the Fat Whites are the pretty nurse with Munchausen’s Syndrome by proxy, pushing down the plunger on the syringe; murdering the bed-ridden patient with a tainted injection right under everyone’s noses. They have witnessed an entire musical scene teetering on the verge of terminal irrelevancy and given it a hard shove void-wards.

And the dark irony is that physically, mentally and psychically the band nearly disintegrated themselves long before they got chance to deliver the goods. After working so hard on the band for so long, when it looked like their time was finally here, frontman Lias had no intention of letting three serious illnesses one after another stop them from having their moment. “I had pneumonia and was coughing up blood at one point… I thought I was done for”, he says, “It was a result of snorting and drinking every day and living at the Queens [their one time Brixton pub HQ] but then instead of recuperating going out on a really long tour and ending up in a really bad way.”

And no wonder some of this sickness and deathliness has saturated the new album. Those looking for dark, subversive, thrilling, transgressive (and sometimes satirical) art that unwaveringly holds a mirror up to the morally blank times we live in will find what they want in the Songs For Our Mothers; just as those who revel in being offended will do likewise. It’s hard not to wonder - especially when you look at some of the song titles (Love Is The Crack? Goodbye Goebels? Leibensraum? When Shipman Decides?! Hoooo boy: they’ve pushed the boat out this time!) - if the band are just handing ammunition to perma-outraged liberal detractors who will inevitably call them fascists, advocates of hard drug use, serial killer fanboys (among many other things) instead of looking for deeper meaning.

Lead singer and lyric writer Lias Saoudi grins: “Yeah, and we’re handing them the ammunition gladly… because people who get up in the morning to look for Nazis end up seeing them everywhere by lunchtime.”

Lead guitarist and music writer Saul Adamczewski is deadly serious when he adds: “I think what I learned from our debut Champagne Holocaust is that if you were going to listen to all of your online critics it would pretty much be impossible to do anything other than toe the line completely and make the most conservative music imaginable. We’ve already been called fascists. We’ve already been called Stalinists.... So what do we actually care? And besides, these are the best questions to ask and the best scenarios to explore. Who cares about the artistic potential of singing about good people and good situations?”

Before Lias adds laughing: “So we just thought we might as well crank it up to 11.”

But if the album nearly didn’t happen because of illness, it also nearly didn’t happen because of Saul and Lias’ obsessional idea of what the band should sound like. Scores and scores of songs were scrapped and several recording sessions were abandoned because the music just wasn’t sounding exactly right; and that was including one attempt to make the album at new pal Sean Lennon’s studio in Woodstock. Saul says: “I’ve met a lot of people since the last album… the millionaire set, the sons and daughters of famous people, and most of them are horrible but Sean’s really sound. A nice guy. We’ve become good friends.” (One track from that session did make it onto the album however, Satisfied, which is about “the vertigo, or fear of sex” and involves the unlikely scenario of receiving oral relief from revered literary titan and holocaust survivor, Primo Levi.)

But it wasn’t until the band returned to England and decided to throw disco into the mix that the project really took off. Saul says: “We’d been playing ‘The Whitest Boy On The Beach’ live for ages but it wasn’t until we tried it in this Giorgio Moroder producing Donna Summer style that I realised we had something that we could use.

After we finished the last album two years ago we were convinced it had been a massive waste of time so we ran away to Spain to become buskers. We went to live on a beach in Barcelona for two weeks. It was so hot we were hiding in this tiny bit of shade, just cowering away from the sunlight. And there were 12-year-old boys with muscles and beautiful girlfriends, just striding round in the heat. And we were just pathetic; the weakest links in the chain, as the song says.”

The song mixes together the aesthetic of Throbbing Gristle (Lias, Saul and organist Nathan took a trip up to Beachy Head to recreate the cover for 20 Jazz Funk Greats for the single cover) with a sound that owes as much to the Sparks as it does to Donna Summer as it does to Naffi Sandwich (while still finding space to throw in a reference to TS Eliot’s ‘The Hollow Men’).

There is a theme of abusive relationships that runs through the album - a metaphor for Saul and Lias’ fractious but creative relationship. “I guess I am a bit of a masochist”, sighs Lias. “And that’s just as well because I’m definitely a sadist”, says Saul. “There are only so many times you can have a tambourine thrown at your head before you start imagining you’re in the bunker with Hitler or that you’re Tina Turner”, adds Lias, only partially joking.

One of these songs ‘Hits Hits Hits’ was inspired by an attempt to unpick the creativity from the violence in Ike and Tina’s relationship. Lias says: “When I got seriously ill I had to go to my dad’s to recuperate and I got obsessed with their story. ‘Hits Hits Hits’ isn’t making light of what happened to Tina Turner - it isn’t necessarily even about them it’s just about the kind of situation you can find yourself in, in a creative partnership. On one side of their relationship you’ve got this amazing songwriting and performing partnership and on the other side you’ve got this horrific domestic violence and these things are definitely connected as uncomfortable as that thought might be. You play a character when you sing this kind of song and if people have trouble with that idea then they really have to question their stance toward art full stop.”

Of course another of these songs, ‘Goodbye Goebels’, finds inspiration from an even bleaker source - the bunker in which Hitler and his last allies in national socialism committed suicide. “This was my idea”, says Saul gleefully, “I came up with the concept as a challenge to us. I asked Lias would it be possible to write our most sincere and heartfelt song ever but about the last few hours in Hitler’s bunker just before they took their own lives. I think the lyrics are beautiful. They’re my favourite Fat White Family lyrics. Regardless of who they were, they genuinely believed in what they were doing and there must have been love in that relationship.”

Lias adds: “The song definitely derived from the situation that had built up around us trying to make this second album. It is a grotesque extension of an egotistical fantasy: the melodies, the memories, the music and what felt like the whole fucking world waiting for us at the door, ready to hang us from meat hooks, just like self-righteous scum like us deserve.”

One of the darkest and most surreal songs on the album is ‘Tinfoil Deathstar’ - a ghost story which deals with heroin abuse and the spectre of austerity victim, David Clapson.

Saul says: “There’s no hiding it, it’s about smoking heroin. It’s become massively popular among young people in London over the last few years. Part of it is to do with getting older and naturally progressing into harder drugs but it’s also to do with people being impoverished. We’re not making a judgement about it, just writing about it.”

Lias says: “A few years ago no one was on it but then this brown cloud rolled through London. The three nights a week on cocaine? No one can afford that any more. At the end of the song the ghost of David Clapson is standing at the window asking to be let into the party. He was a former soldier, a veteran, who had his benefits cut after he missed one appointment and they found him dead in his apartment. He had diabetes and couldn’t afford to keep his fridge on and keep his insulin cool, which was the thing that killed him. He was found next to a stack of CVs… it’s fucking disgusting. He had £3.44 to his name and the autopsy showed he had no food in his stomach when he died. He had worked his whole life and only started claiming dole so he could look after his mum.”

Saul adds bluntly: “It’s just murder. He was murdered.”

Lias concludes: “It was murder. I like how the song sounds really gleeful and upbeat; the idea of having a warm heroin glow surrounding all of these young people having their youthful opiate adventures but right at the end the ghost of David Clapson is outside the room looking in, tapping on the glass with a bunch of CVs in his hand, waiting to be let in. He is like their Ghost Of Christmas Future. These are two separate realities and they may be disparate but they are linked and I was just trying to bring out this underlying link.”

The pair are keen to point out that it is easy for them to fill the vacuum created by the pusillanimous nature of other bands in 2016.

Saul spits: “We really are living through the worst times but that makes it easier for us. I think we’re a good band and I’m proud of what we do but the reason why we get as much attention as we do is that there’s nothing else going on. Some people talk about us as though we’re the best band there is but there just isn’t anything else… especially at the level we’ve risen to. So we’re competing with big indie bands who have signed to major labels like Peace and Slaves but we’ve got literally nothing in common with them. Those bands are just toeing the line and making bland commercial music. What we do is not commercial and it is hard to digest and bracket so it’s not surprising that people pay attention to us.”

Unpleasant or not, the Fat White Family are the last truly great rock band in the world and in Songs For Our Mothers they have created an album that demands to be heard.

John Doran, Utrecht, November 2015

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