Interview with Fat Goth

What better way to end our hiatus than to bring 2013 in with an amp exploding bang! Dundee based quirky rock masters Fat Goth are certainly making some noise with their new album ‘Stud’ set for release at the end of this month (28th Jan). We thought it a wise idea to catch up with the band before they become rock Gods and start throwing hissy fits in hotel rooms. Cat On The Wall’s Jo Whitby sent a few questions over to vocalist and guitarist Fraser Stewart…

Cat On The Wall: My first encounter with your music was via a live video on youtube where you’d strapped a video camera to Mark’s (the drummer) chest. I’ve found it again and it’s rather aptly called ‘I Think I Hate The General Public’ as I remember commenting on twitter at how motionless the audience seemed to be. What have you been up to since that gig? Have audiences improved since then?

Fraser Stewart: Hmm, that must of been one of the first shows we did once Kevin joined the band. The sound engineer from that night, Dave Neil who now runs that venue under the name of Non Zero’s had this action camera thing and suggested we try and capture some shots from a drummer’s perspective. I thought it worked pretty well. Hopefully that unusual angle goes someway to distract the viewer’s attention away from the rubbish sound on those videos. Camera mics can only cope with so much man-beef, I guess. We have a lot of footage like that online. I think it’s important to document as much of your band’s ventures as you can and phones/cameras are an easy way of capturing live appearances. It’s just a shame the quality is usually pretty poor. One of the things we would like to do at some point soon is capture some live footage of us either playing a show or in a studio with actual proper audio recordings. It all depends on cash and the fact we don’t have a great deal to splash around, sadly.We’ve been extremely busy over the course of last year: lots of shows, recorded a new album and have been busy coming up with new material in the practice space. To have been afforded the opportunity to do Fat Goth on a regular basis is fantastic and we’re having a lot of fun in the process! I think the crowds we attract tend to be appreciative of our efforts and it’s encouraging to see them gradually growing each time we return to somewhere we have played previously. We don’t usually have mosh pits or anything like that, our music is perhaps a little too unpredictable for it to translate in those terms but it’s always good to see some heads bobbing away every so often. I dunno, I have to concentrate so much on playing the guitar and singing I don’t really pay that much attention to anything else. Also, I’m a male. I struggle to multitask at the best of times!

fatgoth1BarrieMortonCOTW: Going back to when you first got together as a band in 2007. How did it all start? Do you feel any different now? Still the same goals?

FS: Mark and I had been playing together since school and jammed a great deal with our friend, Allan Mitchell over the years. Around 2007, I had written a bunch of tunes I wanted to do with a basic rock band setup and both Allan and Mark were game and had the time to spare. Initially I just thought it would be cool to just record the stuff properly and treat the band as a one-off studio project. However, once we had finished our first album, ‘Mindless Crap’, the other guys were keen on trying it out live so we ended up playing our first show a couple of weeks after the album’s release. Mark was also playing with a great band called Pensioner and Allan lived through in Edinburgh so Fat Goth was more of an occasional side project for us – just a bit of fun whenever we could get together. Regardless, we managed to make a number of live appearances and recorded an EP and single before Allan left for Australia in mid-2011.

Mark and I then approached Kevin Black to take on bass duties. We’re both huge fans of Kevin’s previous band, Laeto and knew his musical expertise was more than a match for our own ambitions. It became apparent very quickly the band’s general dynamic had drastically improved with Kevin’s input. He’s an excellent musician and I certainly appreciated the opportunity to collaborate with someone over the song writing process rather than constructing everything myself, which had been the case up until that point. The ‘chemistry’ was definitely there whenever we jammed and the vast majority of what we worked on during those first few months became the material featured on ‘Stud’.

I think our aims have remained the same throughout Fat Goth’s existence. Essentially, we want have fun making music together. It’s a very basic ideology but there’s absolutely no point in doing it otherwise. David Yow, who sang for one of my favourite bands, The Jesus Lizard said they decided to call it a day when it started feeling like a job. I like to think we have the common sense to do likewise if that particular scenario ever raised it’s ugly head. Hopefully it won’t, though. I want Fat Goth to go on forever. The World needs us!

COTW: Stud, your new album, is out this month. I’m really looking forward to hearing it. Can you tell us about the record? Where was it recorded? Does it have a concept?

FS: Thanks! We sincerely hope you enjoy it whenever it reaches your ears.

We recorded it with a guy called Ross McGowan who runs Chime Studios in Glasgow. He’s recorded the vast majority of our stuff and we always love the results. He’s a great engineer and works very quickly, which compliments the impatience both Mark and I share whenever we’re in a studio environment. We don’t indulge too much in studio trickery and prefer to capture an authentic sound: what the band sounds like on a good night. I always have more respect for bands and artists who follow that discipline. Another aspect of that is money and the fact we can’t afford to spend weeks in a studio. Therefore, we have to practise the material to death before heading in there and lay down the tracks as live takes. It’s not easy but it’s a fitting testament to your own abilities when you manage to nail it. ‘Stud’ was recorded, mixed and mastered in 6 days and I think we did a good job.

I’ve been asked a few times about the album’s ‘theme’ or ‘concept’. I certainly don’t intend ‘Stud’ to be considered in those ways. I just write lyrics that either create bizarre, uncomfortable and occasionally horrific imagery that suit the nature of the music or draw from my own day-to-day experiences. If there is any overall theme, it’s sex from a male’s perspective and the problems that come along with it. For example, I really enjoy having sex with women that turn me on in both the mental and physical senses. However, women don’t view me in the same way they would with someone like Ryan Gosling so I’m seldom afforded those opportunities, unfortunately. It’s not an ideal way to exist but it’s a goldmine in terms of inspiration!

COTW: What is your song writing process as a band?

FS: Both Kevin and I spend a huge amount of our time playing guitar and coming up with ideas we can work on in the practice space. I prefer to present large chunks or passages to the others while Kevin has an endless resource of smaller riffs and licks. We usually just jam the stuff out and once we feel happy with our own contributions, we start to piece it all together. As a result, our music can be quite erratic and unconventional. It won’t suit everyone’s tastes but I believe if the listener has patience, they’ll eventually tune in to what we’re doing and appreciate our own approach.

We want to create music that has longetivity and rewards the listener on repeated plays. I remember the first time I heard Fugazi years ago and feeling completely lost, not knowing what the hell I’m supposed to be appreciating. The guy who lent me Red Medicine said, ‘stick with it, you’ll understand it eventually’ and I’m glad I did! Once that penny dropped, I’ve never looked back and purposefully seek out music that will challenge me and broaden my musical pallet. That’s not to say I only listen to weird, noise stuff. I enjoy a well crafted pop song just as much but music is an art form and it should be treated as such.

fatgothliveEuanRobertsonCOTW: Can we expect to see you on tour this year? Any locations you’d love to play?

FS: Touring is a weird one. All three of us have played in previous bands when we tried to play the game and ‘make it’. A large part of that was travelling around the UK in unreliable vehicles and playing shows that were probably not worth the massive effort on our part. I suppose it’s all experience but that pursuit can certainly suck all the fun out of being in a band. That said, Fat Goth appears to have caught a lot of people’s attention in the last few months. We’re getting offered more shows and ‘Stud’ is receiving positive reviews in places we never thought would ever consider it! I’m sitting here being interviewed by Cat On The Wall. Someone has gone out of their way to enquire about the band I play in. I feel ridiculously flattered and perplexed whenever this stuff happens but rest assured, we’re extremely grateful for these opportunities and it would seem absurd not to try and push the boat out a little more. Therefore, we’re hoping to maybe do an actual tour at some point this year. It’s tricky when we all have full-time jobs and rent to pay but fingers crossed we’ll manage to sort something out.

We played The Wickerman last summer, which was Fat Goth’s first festival experience. It would be amazing to do some more of that in 2013! Ultimately, we just want to play as much as possible and a few support slots for some of our favourite bands wouldn’t go amiss either.

COTW: What are you listening to at the moment?

FS: The three of us listen to all sorts and I could sit here all day listing our preferences. I’m not going to do that, though as neither myself or your readers will have time for such things. However, I can certainly mention a few things I’ve enjoyed of late:

Weightlifting – Trashcan Sinatras

A phenomenally beautiful and well-crafted pop record. We’re good pals with fellow Dundonians, The Hazey Janes and they do an amazing cover of the title track, which was the first time I became aware of the Trashcan Sinatras. Every song is perfectly arranged and executed with both an uplifting and heart-breaking vibe throughout. It gets better with every listen and I absolutely love it!

Harmonicraft – Torche

Kevin is a huge fan of this Florida-based band and turned Mark and I onto them with this, their latest album. It’s doom guitars and drums meets fist pumping, party happiness. Ridiculously enjoyable and probably what the Foo Fighters would sound like in an ideal world. Their lead guitarist, Andrew plays in a band called Tilts who have a self titled album out and it’s just as good. Folk should investigate!

Mondegreen – Aberdoom!

Mondegreen are a Glasgow based band who have a couple of EP’s available from their bandcamp page. I believe Aberdoom! is their latest offering and it’s fantastic. It’s like a more complex take on what Pavement do and that boy has some seriously impressive guitar chops. I’m hoping to catch them live at some point!

COTW: And finally… what are your plans for the near future?

FS: Well, we have a few live dates lined up for the release of ‘Stud’, which comes out on the 28th January as download through our bandcamp. It will also be available through iTunes, Spotify and the like but if folk want to help us out, we would very much appreciate them acquiring it through the former. It’ll be on sale for £5. Confirmed live dates so far are Edinburgh’s Electric Circus on 1st February and Dundee’s Non Zero’s on 9th February. We’ll be back through in Glasgow on 9th March for the Tenement Trail Festival followed by a show at Aberdeen’s The Tunnels on 29th March.

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