Scottish alt-rock band Fat Goth have returned from a hiatus with fourth album Enorme! released at the start of May. We spoke to frontman, vocalist and guitarist Fraser Stewart about the band’s history and latest LP.
It’s difficult to look at the state of the World today and not feel highly motivated to say something in the face of unprecedented ignorance, depressingly regressive attitudes and general stupidity.
First up, tell us bit about yourself - what led you all to forming Fat Goth?
Hello there, zap! bang! I’m Fraser and I play guitar and sing in Fat Goth with my pals Kevin Black (bass and vocals) and Mark Keiller (drums). Mark and I went to the same school here in Dundee and grew up playing in numerous bands together, whereas Kevin hails from the nearby coastal town of Carnoustie.
Initially the band was just a recording project between myself, Mark and our old chum, Allan who played bass. We released our first album in 2010 and managed to do a bit more recording along with squeezing in a few live appearances before Allan immigrated to Australia in 2011. We were big fans of Kevin’s previous band, Laeto and he was the first person we thought to ask when it came to finding a replacement bass player. We were chuffed to bits when Kevin accepted our invitation and we’ve continued to write, record and play live ever since.
Were there any particular bands or artists you took inspiration from to form your musical and thematic style?
All three of us are big fans of music in general, but it would be fair to say Fat Goth is predominantly influenced by 90’s-era underground, guitar-lead rock/metal/punk music. As far as ‘Enorme!’ is concerned, I took a great deal of inspiration from the likes of NoMeansNo’s entire discography, Harvey Milk’s ‘The Pleaser’, 70’s-era ZZ Top and Sex Pistols’ ‘Nevermind The Bollocks’. That stuff tends to be quite direct in it’s approach and it was something we wanted to try and incorporate into this particular bunch of tunes.
How has this style developed since the release of your debut album ‘Mindless Crap’ in 2010?
We’ve always just allowed our sound to develop naturally. Our earlier stuff is quite schizophrenic and unpredictable in nature, whereas our later albums are more focused in their approach. We made a conscious decision to be quite direct with Enorme! and I reckon it’s probably our most accessible album to date, although that’s really up to the listener to decide. Regardless, I think all our albums have their own individual ‘personalities’ and it’s always fun embarking on the writing of a new record and seeing what we manage to come up with.
You decided to take a break after your third album One Hundred Percent Suave (released in 2014). Why did you feel the need for a hiatus?
One Hundred Percent Suave was written, recorded and released in little over a year after STUD, which I think is quite an achievement for a strictly part-time musical entity whose members all have jobs and numerous other commitments outside of the band. Looking back, we did put a fair amount of pressure on ourselves to produce a follow up in such a short timeframe, and there were certainly instances when tensions built up to the point where the whole process wasn’t as much fun as it should of been. We consider Suave to be one of our best and we’re glad we made the effort, but we definitely wanted to avoid making the same mistakes and decided to take our time writing the next record.
What brought you back together?
We never really stopped. Instead we just got together whenever we felt like it and simply took our time with the songwriting process. Enorme! was an infinitely more relaxed affair and we found ourselves having a lot more fun as a result. The three of us view the band as a hobby, so there’s really no need for us to put any unnecessary pressure on ourselves to produce an album every year. That said, there’s no doubt the World would be a better place if we did!
our fourth album Enorme! is out now. Where did you write it and what’s it about?
We’re fortunate enough to have a small practice space here in Dundee at our disposal and it’s where we’ve written all the Fat Goth stuff.
Thematically Enorme! comments on numerous aspects of the political and social landscape we currently find ourselves in, and it would be fair to say cynicism and contempt feature heavily throughout. In the past I have been reluctant to incorporate my own opinions on such matters in the band’s music, but it’s difficult to look at the state of the World today and not feel highly motivated to say something in the face of unprecedented ignorance, depressingly regressive attitudes and general stupidity.
Which song was hardest to write?
I can’t think of any that caused us any problems. Some songs come together quicker than others, but there’s no point in rushing and/or forcing creative endeavours to completion. Doing so will more often than not result in a less than satisfactory outcome, so taking your time and allowing your artistic expression to manifest itself naturally is undoubtedly the way to go!
Which song - or songs - are you most proud of?
Personally, I’m proud of everything Fat Goth does and I find it difficult to chose any favourites. I change my mind all the time anyway, so there would be little point in me trying.
Which do you most look forward to playing live?
99 percent of the stuff we write is written with the live performance in mind and our main objective is to have fun in the process. If a new idea or arrangement isn’t working out in the practise space, it gets ditched or re-worked until we’re happy. This means we end up with a repertoire of material all three of us enjoy performing. We’re now 4 albums in, so we have a lot of stuff to chose from when it comes to picking setlists. We’re always keen to showcase our latest work, but we still enjoy playing the older stuff and it’s fun to mix it up for every show.
What are your hopes for Enorme!?
I just hope people hear it and enjoy listening to it! Can’t ask for much more than that, really.
When and where can we expect to see you on tour next?
Touring has always been problematic for us due to work commitments, not to mention the fact we’re all in our mid 30’s and less inclined to spend long periods of time travelling in fart-filled transit vans, sleeping on stranger’s floors and living off of extortionately priced crap from service stations. That said, it’s always been great to play to new audiences on the few occasions we’ve managed to venture further afield, and with some recent positive changes in regards to employment, the possibility for us to do a bit more in the way of touring is certainly more tangible.
We’ll see what happens…
In the meantime we have some Scottish shows lined up to celebrate the release of Enorme! which we’re very much looking forward to:
Thursday June 8th - Inverness The Tooth and Claw (XPO North festival)
Friday June 23rd - Edinburgh Sneaky Pete’s
Saturday June 24th - Dundee Conroy’s
Friday June 30th - Glasgow Hug & Pint
Sunday August 13th - Carnival 56 Festival (Dundee Camperdown Park)
How do you inject the energy into your live shows?
Our music comes across best in the live setting and we spend a great deal of time refining our performance. Personally, I think we’re a particularly good live band and we always strive to put on a great show for those who wish to see it. Injections don’t come into it, but it certainly wouldn’t be heroin as I’ve heard it can be a tad troublesome once you develop a taste for it.
If you could collaborate with any living artist, who would it be?
Mike Patton. He’s an amazing vocalist and I’d be happy for him to take charge of that particular aspect of our music. I don’t really enjoy the singing side of things if I’m being honest, it’s a pain in the arse.
If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, when would it be and what would you say?
There would be no need, I’m a natural born winner and have never set a foot wrong*
Listen to Fat Goth on SoundCloud below. For news and tour dates visit the Fat Goth Facebook page.