I first met the Fat White Family at the King’s Arms Tavern on France street. I was with my sister, who was also photographing them, as they pulled up. At first sight, the boys in the band seemed to be IRL characters of washed out indie rock kids, tired of their life on the road, moving from one flight to another, in and out of grungy bars and only being served pickles, vodka and white bread in their green room.
They had probably assumed that I, the interviewer, only bothered to put a couple minutes of work into researching the band, decided they were a joke but came along for the gig anyway. What they didn’t know is recently, I’ve had the urge to get fat, married and pregnant and the band truly resonated with that part of my destiny. Interviewing these musicians was a real honor.
The band is a punk mess dream and their videos were garish and decadent. Thier music is a crazy wave of zoned out rock that can make you mosh but can also move you into a nice slumber.
Fat White Family are known for their #DGAF antics on and off the stage and can be intimidatingly reckless. They have a total disregard for how they may be perceived while at the same time being crushingly insecure and critical. One of the guys in the band had told me pinot noir was his second favorite wine. He also showed me three and a-half teeth he’d pulled out of his own mouth, and described the band as a, “bad sitcom version of The Fall”.
They seemed desperate for sleep. They were tired and done in by touring, searching for some peace. Unfortunately, their sadistic and spastic tour manager, Pete, who has delusions of war in Vietnam, and is intent on riding their ass, keeps booking them for gigs. One thing that was going for Pete was the fact he was a vegetarian, but that was discredited by the idea that he was doing it, “to get girls, and “definitely not to save pigs.” That little sentiment was all tied together by an overall agreement by the band that having a nice rest would be great for the bands moral and a way to “rediscover their feelings.” These feelings were then specified as pain, guilt, regret, elation followed by plans of suicide.
“The percentage of time we spend discussing suicide has increased lately.” guitarist Saul Adamczewski chimes in.
The “suicide dream” consensus was, first Xanax , then gassing themselves in a tour van while Savage Garden’s, “Truly Madly Deeply,” played the death march.
From then on, weed, wine, cigarettes and “goon sacks” were prevalently discussed. Lias confidently identified himself as the Hugh Grant version of Mark E Smith. I wasn’t that interested in asking the band any typical interview questions at that point. They seemed more enthusiastic about unleashing cliche jaded monologues upon the room about traveling from city to city, having semi-staged meltdowns, drinking beer and complaining about each other’s drug habits, than talking about music. Conversations continued to be a joyous punch of bleak and somber topics then a brilliant name drop was entered into the mix. Lias Saudi’s last girlfriend was Rosanna Arquette’s daughter.
“Rosanna Arquette came to a few of our shows and came backstage.” guitarist Adam J Harmer called out, completed by an impersonation, “Aw boys you were so brilliant, you’re rock stars oh my god.”
When I asked about their inspiration for their music video, Cream of the Young. One of my favorite cinematic fetes and a spectacle of gore and gluttony they tell me it was about…flagellation. Let me define that for you, “flogging or beating, either as a religious discipline or for sexual gratification.”
Why’d you decide to play New Zealand? Another question I asked. It seemed like a reasonable question at the time. One of the guys thought about it for a minute said,
“We are here covering up some of the atrocious colonization your country has been doing and giving something back through music. For a small fee. New Zealand has problems, every country in the world has problems. There are problems, problems, and potential solutions.” Adam says.
Lias flattened the mood by saying “That’s the problem with our culture that we have the fantastic spectacles that are so accessible but then so blatantly inaccessible.We’re totally accessible, we are a breath away from turning tricks on the corner of the street. We’re accessible and we’re open for business.”
Getting on to romance, I asked the band who their celebrity crushes were. This list was precise: Phoebe Cates from Drop Dead Fred, and Milla Jovovich from the Fifth Element.
“When I was a kid I remember watching the Fifth Element and being totally in love with the girl from the fifth element and I used to be upset that I’d never be able to get anywhere near that, to be her boyfriend. And take her in one of those taxis. Well yeah, I actually got depressed about it,” Adam J Harmer says sadly.
Words of wisdom were the last things thrown down upon me and my sister as we were leaving. “When you’re as young and beautiful as you girls you shouldn’t be ashamed to say what age you are.”
True words I’d admit and a brilliant message to the ladies out there.
The only bone to pick was where were the ladies. Surely the Fat White Family should have some female energy.
Signing off this is Rose Thomas reporting from Mt Eden.
story / Lola Rose
photos / Rebecca Thomas