Wednesday, 9 January 2013

We're Only Here For The Banter - Fat Goth

It's time to start up our 'We're Only Here For The Banter' feature again, and what better way to kick start things than with three piece Dundee band Fat Goth.  Fresh from a Vic Galloway session late last year, and with album 'Stud' due to drop on 28th January, the band are on the ascendancy to riotous fame!  Grab a cuppa and have a read, as we spoke to Fraser from the band.

Hello, how are you?

Hello, Scottish Fiction!  My name is Fraser Stewart and when I'm not selling my soul to a popular UK retail giant or out chasing skirt, I like to spend as much of my free time as possible playing guitar and singing for Fat Goth, the band I play in with my two dear disciples, Mark Keiller (drums) and Kevin Black (bass/vocals).  I'm currently doing okay, thank you!  It's late afternoon on Sat 5th January 2013 and I must confess I've been sleeping for most of it, which is obviously nothing to be proud of in the grand scheme of things.  However, I believe an exception can be made here when you consider Fat Goth played Aberdeen last night and we didn't return to our native Dundee until around 1am.  I work early morning shifts and had to haul my rancid carcass out of my 'sin alter' at 5am so it's been a day of feeling generally fatigued.  Not to worry, though!  I'm now presented with the task of answering your queries so I'm sure this process will energise my brain box and get me back into the land of the living.  Praise be!

It's the question everyone hates, but could you tell us a little bit about your music and your influences?

Ach, away with that sort of chat!  I like being asked questions about the music I'm involved in.  I did a fair few interviews over the course of the last year and I'm always astonished and flattered people are actually interested in what we do and want to know more.  It's kinda weird but a lot of fun at the same time.   Anyway, getting back to your question.  I suppose it would be fair to consider our music as hard-hitting rock of the left-field variety, meaning that we try to experiment and explore within the confines of a basic three piece setup.  We're big advocates of loud, visceral and aggressive metal, punk, etc, and it features a great deal in our own music.  However, our listening materials are diverse and we don't really have any rules when it comes to writing.  Anything goes as long as it's good, which I believe makes for a more interesting and rewarding experience for the listener.  Bands and artists like The Melvins are prime examples of this mentality and continually pump out awesome music while proving to be an excellent source of inspiration.  They're definitely a big influence on Fat Goth along with the likes of Mike Patton, The Jesus Lizard, Mastodon and countless other off-kilter, noisy types.  In addition to all of that, I've also been enjoying more 'pop' orientated stuff recently like Teenage Fanclub, Trashcan Sinatras and Redd Kross so it'll be interesting to see how that affects the shape of our creative orifice.  Time will tell…

What's your song writing process like?

Generally Kevin or I will bring an idea to practise and the three of us will just jam it out.  I tend to bring more fully-formed or large chunks of tunes to the table whereas Kevin has an endless supply of smaller ideas/riffs, which come in handy when we start assembling sections of new songs we've been working on.  Sometimes this happens very quickly, others times it takes months.  We have some ideas that have been hanging around for years!  It's just a case of waiting for the penny to drop: that eureka moment when it all becomes clear and you know exactly how things should be arranged.  I remember our friend, Gordon Matheson who performs as The Strangers Almanac likened the song writing process to fishing - you sit there for hours waiting for something to bite and you frantically reel it in while the opportunity is there.  It's an analogy I can certainly relate to!  We enjoy playing around with song structure and as a result, our tunes usually end in a completely different place to where they start.  I love songs that suck you into their world and take you on an adventure. That's not to to say everything should be a 10 minute+ progressive epic (although we do have a few of those in our back catalogue) but I think it's important to maintain the music's intrigue, appeal and longevity as much as possible.  That way, people will hopefully keep coming back and still find more to enjoy even after X amounts of previous listens.  Ultimately, we try to make music that has a long shelf life.

What could we expect to see from a live show?

We practise a great deal and always strive to be a tight and cohesive unit onstage.  The nature of our music doesn't really allow a large margin of error in terms of performance so we have to work at it pretty hard.  I'm probably the least musically gifted member of the band so it can be extremely tricky at times but I like rising to the challenge and pushing my abilities to the limit.  It just means it's extremely rewarding when we play a good show and both the band and the audience have enjoyed themselves.  Folk who come to see us can expect to bear witness to anything from 30 minutes to 1 hours worth of visceral, aggressive and intense rock with a few quieter moments thrown in every so often.  We try to give as much bang for the punter's buck as possible!  One thing we do not do is get naked on stage.

If it were all to end tomorrow, what would you say has been your greatest achievement?

I would say everything we've done so far has been a total achievement, even the few gigs where we've played to a handful of folk or have been told we can only play for 15 minutes due to promoters with poor stage management skills.  It's all experience and although Fat Goth has only really become regularly active in the last year since Kevin joined, we've achieved so much in that time and we're proud and grateful for all of it!  I hope we can keep making music together forever but if it were to end for whatever reason, I certainly wouldn't feel bitter or cheated, just sad.  If I was to pick one instance from the last year that stood out for us, I reckon our show at The Wickerman Festival would be it.  About an hour or so before we were due to leave, I accidentally sliced open my right thumb on a plate that broke in two while doing the dishes.  I had to go to A+E and ended up with 3 stitches.  It took 4 hours to get to the site and the whole time I wasn't sure if I could actually play, which would of been a nightmare as we had been looking forward to making our first festival appearance for months.  Thankfully, the onsite medic cleaned my newly acquired gash and pumped me full of some formidable painkillers, which did the trick so major kudos to that particular gent!  To avoid that potential disaster and play to so many receptive folk in unfamiliar surroundings was a blast and a half!

What have you got planned for 2013?

Well, we're due to make our first appearance at Glasgow's King Tuts Wah Wah Hut on 11th January along with Black International, Poor Things and Chris Devotion and The Expectations.  It's part of their New Years Revolution Festival, a showcase featuring 75 Scottish bands over the course of 15 nights so it should be a lot fun.  Following that we release our new record, 'Stud' on 28th January through our own Hefty Dafty label.  Needless to say we're pretty excited about that!  We'll be playing some shows in support of it and so far we have bookings for 1st February at Edinburgh's Electric Circus with Vasquez and Hagana and 9th February at Dundee's Non Zeros with Cuddly Shark and Carson Wells.  Folk can keep up to speed with that sort of thing via our Facebook and Twitter pages.  I think the general consensus is to get out there and play as many decent shows as we can.  2012 was excellent in that respect so we're hoping we can maintain the momentum and maybe even manage an actual tour at some point.  We've also started work on new material and the plan is to head into the studio and make another record before 2013 is out.

Were you ever, or did you know, any Fat Goths?

There have been occasions when I've found my waistline expanding due to over-indulgences at various points in my life but I've never felt compelled to don any black eyeliner or Matrix-esk trench coats.  I suppose in many ways I am a Goth and harbour all the usual mental traits you would associate with those individuals, minus the theatrics.  I dunno, Goths may well have low self-esteem but they certainly have a lot of balls when it comes to how they present themselves and you have to give them credit for that!  The gothic look is so striking and works so well in the right visual context, be it film, photography, painting, etc.  However, to see a grim-faced figure shrouded in black and decorative chains cruising up your bog average city centre high street in front of a Poundland window display doesn't seem to work as well and will probably provoke unintended reactions, like hilarity.  That said, they're doing their own thing and not causing anyone any harm so fair play!  Thinking about it, I reckon 'Fat Goth' is the perfect name for our band: something that initially appears quite ridiculous, bizarre and somewhat comedic but with undeniable dark undertones.

What other artists (Scottish or not) would you recommend to the Scottish Fiction readers?

Hmm, who do we like in the Scottish scene?  Well, we draw a lot of influence from our contemporaries and I guess some are more obvious than others.  We certainly rate the likes of The Hazey Janes, Vasquez, Min Diesel, Monde Green, Super Adventure Club, Cuddly Shark, The Shithawks, Kaddish along with tonnes of others.  There are also plenty of bands from these parts who are sadly no longer going who we still love.  Kevin's old band, Laeto is definitely up there along with Glasgow's Macrosmica and Lapsus Linguae.   In terms of stuff from further afield, you really can't go wrong with the likes of The Jesus Lizard, Melvins, Torche, Tilts, Mike Patton-related stuff, etc.

Thanks for speaking with us, would you care to share a joke with us?

Thank you!  I had fun answering your questions and hope my answers are of some interest to you and your readers.  A joke you say?  Hmm.

How do you turn a duck into a soul singer?

Put it in the microwave until its Bill Withers.

That one always works a charm whenever I'm out on the sniff.

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