On September 4th 1996, 18 years to the day, the now legendary British rock band Oasis became infamous in America, a country they would never fit into, when lead singer Liam Gallagher caused outrage by spitting, swearing and throwing beer on stage. If America couldn’t handle that without controversy, they aren’t ready for Fat White Family.
The Fat Whites are taking the UK underground by storm and are now emerging as one of the great acts of 2014, despite their debut album Champagne Holocaust being released in 2013. To react to this new notoriety led demand, the record is being re-released for American audiences with bonus tracks like “Touch The Leather”, a dirty nonsensical song with a simple but lewd, mooning video.
The band’s infamy began to spread as they were discovered by leading music magazines who had witnessed the chaotic spectacle of their live performances in their local pub, The Queens Head. Their haphazard approach to health, safety and timekeeping led to subsequent banning from venues across the country, only adding to the must have factor of the band.
Their previous visit to America was funded entirely by fans, as they sold their cooking, drumming lessons and personalised crack pipes in exchange for donations. Their promise to ‘save America’ resulted in complete shock and awe by the viewers and reviewers present at the South by Southwest festival. With his trademark glazed, wild eyes, Lias Saoudi, leader of the Fat Whites, fronted them through three shirtless, sweaty and stinky shows. Each one filling the crowd with a feeling something truly special was happening. His aggressive droning, shrieking and bouncing fill every gig with energy that never once drops below maximum. While the rest of the band move around in their own unique ways, it’s Lias who joins the mosh pits, sometimes covered in butter, and often naked. As their shows become almost legendary, their dirty authenticity has shone through in each and every interview and show they’ve played. They may just be the most legitimate punk band of the millennia.
The album is just a taste of the sleazy brilliance they have to offer. While some tracks have the quality of sounding like they have been recorded live in a kitchen, doom-laden monotone voices cross over between moments of inaudible rambling and clear and faultless production, showcasing the filth and fury under even closer inspection.
With a name like Champagne Holocaust, you’d be right to expect messy celebrations of all things controversial. The wailing drone of opener “Auto Neutron” is a messily weird track typical of the band, with multiple groaning voices and wailing riff tempting you to turn the album up and leave it there.
Despite the coarsely vulgarly named song, “Baby Is It Raining In Your Mouth”, it’s perhaps their strongest pop moment on the album, but I urge you to listen to these tracks live, this one in particular. Songs like “Heaven On Earth” are shockingly hectic, and push the idea of their greatness and potential deeper into your skull. While the brilliant “Bomb Disneyland” may seem crude and offensive, there is no endorsement of violence, only a highlight of Disney’s damaging power over youth. Their political views also feel like a breath of fresh air, with the sharing of wealth and free healthcare being paramount.
In this world of health & safety, expectations and corporately funded pop music, the Fat White Family are an extremist antidote to the dull, clean poseurs who remain in immovable, unchangeable musical boundaries. Like The Stooges before them, their live shows are immense, sweaty and genuine. Great things are expected from a hope found in the most unlikely of forms. And if things go right, they could make it work in America and become unlikely legends. As Lias wrote in his American tour fundraiser “Don’t let those yanks go away thinking that all this country produces is middle of the road, safe as houses homogenized industry crap, send them the Fat White Family”. They may not be for everyone, but they are the future. Believe the hype. The Fat White Family’s Tour Of Tenderness starts 15th of October and runs for just under a month.