Fat White Family frontman Lias looking forward to Irish `homecoming' gigs

London indie band Fat White Family are back with a fantastic second album and play Belfast and Dublin next week. Frontman Lias Saoudi, who spent some of his youth in Co Tyrone, talks to Brian Campbell

Fat White Family play Belfast on February 25

FAT White Family’s song titles include Goodbye Goebbels, Tinfoil Deathstar, Bomb Disneyland and Who Shot Lee Oswald, so it’s safe to say the London six-piece won’t be popping up on The One Show or The Late Late Show any time soon.

Their musical style has been dubbed `psycho-country’, `glam funk’ and `Kraut ‘n’ Western’, but whatever label you might want to place on their new album Songs For Our Mothers, it’s darkly brilliant and makes for compulsive listening.

Fronted by Lias Saoudi, the band's line-up is completed by Saul Adamczewski, Severin Black, Adam J Harmer, Taishi Nagasaka and the singer’s brother Nathan.

Lias spoke to Scene ahead of gigs in Belfast and Dublin next week.

Where are you based now?

I kind of just float around. When we tour I get to see all the Travelodges. I could write a guide. Maybe I could be the Lenny Henry [the face of Premier Inns] of Travelodges. And Sleaford Mods can do Ibis (laughs).

Have you been over to Ireland much recently?

Well my mum lives there - she’s married to a fella from Dungannon - so my last time over would have been to Tyrone. I spent six years there. With the band we’ve done one gig and one festival in Dublin and one gig in Belfast. I’m looking forward to getting back.

There's a story that when you were in school in Cookstown you were asked by some other teenagers if you liked The Sash and got beaten up because you said no – thinking that they meant the German dance act (Sash!) and not the loyalist song. Is that true?

That is a true story. You’d be hard pressed to make a story like that up, wouldn’t you? Yeah, I wasn't so fond of school life in Cookstown...

Were you in bands when you lived in Tyrone?

I loved music and started playing guitar, but I wasn't in a band. Nobody was in a band. I don't remember ever seeing a band in Cookstown. It didn't seem like a realistic prospect. I'd quite like to do a gig there some time; a homecoming gig.

Has your mum been to see the band live?

Yeah, my mum has come to our shows. She came to Glastonbury last year. She even missed Lionel Richie to come and see us play, which was quite something for her. She likes a bit of Rod Stewart and that's pretty much the only common ground I have with my mum when it comes to music. She's big into Michael Buble and that kind of thing.

The new album opens in some style with Whitest Boy on the Beach. Was that one written when you were in Barcelona?

Yeah, that was conceived on the beach in Barcelona in pure self-pity. It's a real fun one live. We're only doing about half of the new record at the moment. We didn't play these songs live before we recorded them; it was the other way around for the first album. Tinfoil Deathstar is another one that's really fun to do.

The band always gets great live reviews. Is the live stuff the best part of it for you?

It is for me, yeah. I never get bored with it. At first I was really bad at it; it was embarrassing, actually. I think that's what drove me on. I'm a glutton for punishment.

Spinal Tap style, you’ve gone through quite a few drummers to date…

Yeah, we like to go through as many drummers as possible. When you start out, you'll take any drummer you can get. Drummers are kind of hot property. It's a shame that Jack [Everett] left, because he was a really good drummer and a lovely guy. He just didn't want to be on the road all the time. But Severin [Black, the current drummer] is really cool.

When did you meet Sean Lennon and how many songs from your session at his US studio made it on to the album?

We did a lot of stuff there but it was more of a developmental period, so Satisfied was the only one he co-produced that made the album. We first met him in Texas. His band played after us and we became friends. He's a lovely guy.

The press release that came with the new album describes Fat White Family as `the last truly great rock band in the world’ – would you agree with that?

Well I didn't write that, but there is a lot of drudgery and industry rubbish that's packaged as indie alternative music out there, whether it's Wolf Alice or Slaves or Peace or any of those sh** bands.

You and the band aren’t shy about voicing your political opinions and you recently posted a message saying, to Americans, that there was no point in backing presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Why?

Well she’s not exactly progressive. She changes her tune every five minutes; she’s a corporate candidate and she’s completely see-through. As for Trump, I think [his bid to become the Republican nominee] is dead in the water.

You got a lot of publicity in 2013 on the day that Margaret Thatcher died, when you and a few others painted “The Witch Is Dead” on a sheet and hung it outside a Brixton pub.

We’re still glad she’s dead. I think our reaction was the only healthy reaction. We should have a party every year on that day.

Fat White Family play The Limelight in Belfast on Thursday February 25 (doors 7pm, tickets £12), with support from Shame. Songs For Our Mothers is out now

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access