Interview

Fat Children
Cornered
Cornered, by Fat Children
From: It Came From The Attic, (2012)
http://www.undertheradar.co.nz/interview/519/Fat-Children.utr

Fat Children

By Sam Valentine

Thursday, 6th September 2012 3:19PM

Brought together by their love of Jarvis Cocker, Fat Children is a quartet of prolific Dunedin musicians. We sent Sam Valentine to chat with newest member Louis Smith who reveals how the group operate, the inspiration for their contribution to the It Came From The Attic compilation and the worst music in New Zealand.

Hey Louis, how’s it going?

It's going well at this moment Sam, it's going just fine.

How long have you been playing together?

George, Paul and Oli started tinkering about with some tunes together in early 2011 and I joined some months later, we've been sporadically operational gig-wise since December 2011 or thereabouts.

I take it you guys are pretty big Jarvis Cocker fans?

Oh absolutely. Jarvis is a brilliant lyricist, a fantastic songwriter and simply oozes sexual charisma. We named our band after one of his songs and Paul has even taken to wearing a shirt and tie onstage these days, it's all we can do to keep our hands off him throughout a gig.

You and Paul are both bandleaders, and prolific songwriters in your own right (Alizarin Lizard and Maybe Pile et al) but now you’re working together. How does the song writing work between the two of you?

In a Word: Variously.

We have songs Paul wrote, songs I wrote, songs Paul and I wrote together, songs Paul, George and Oli wrote before I joined and songs we've all written together. Writing together is in many ways better than writing alone, we egg each other on. Lyrically Paul and I chip away at each other's material and musically everybody just does what they think best unless somebody thinks they have a better idea, in which case we fight each other with those big foam sticks they used to have on Gladiators, over a pit of scorpions.*

*it's the most expensive part of The Attic to maintain

How did you become involved with the Attic?

Fat Children live at The Attic. Both Oli and George are rent-paying inhabitants. It's where we practice, it's where Oli keeps his drums, it's where George writes his own songs, it's where all the people we borrow gear from keep their stuff. It's a nice place, lot of scorpions.

Tell us about your song ‘Cornered’.

A while back one of Paul's other bands had a song reviewed by that website 'the corner' in their usual swift, dismissive and dare I say slightly obvious manner, and he wrote the song about his reactions to that, to that inevitable pigeonholing, off-hand style of music journalism, I guess it's about the clichés of criticism basically. I believe it was one of the first songs the guys worked out together when they started jamming, when I came along all I did was add a riff as close to early 3Ds style as I could get without any actual guitar playing ability. The drums at the start are fat.

It feels like your songs take pop music conventions and undermine and subvert them, catching the listener off guard. Is this a conscious decision you’re making?

Well, yes and no. We definitely go for catchy melodies in Fat Children songs, if a tune is too dense for what we want to do as a band we can just use it for our other projects so that does rather keep things honed into that poppy sound. We are naturally inclined towards incomprehensible middle sections full of spazzy delay and drum fills, cheeky wee bass slides and the odd fizz and grunt of distortion though so that may mix things up somewhat. Lyrically we're crass, there's no other way to put it. Our lives, though merry, are squalid and hedonistic and that does not fail to come across, but we're plotting a ten percent increase in lyrical maturity and social responsibility over the next financial quarter. Dreaming's free.

What’s your favourite song on the compilation, excluding your own?

Gosh, everyone else being interviewed about the compilation has been so kind and inclusive.. ..I just got the lads to each give the name of a single song with no qualifying remarks.

Louis: Brown – Apostate
George: Space Bats, Attack! - Death To You And All You Love Human
Oli: Space Bats, Attack! - Death To You And All You Love Human
Paul: The Entire Alphabet - Fight Of The Blowfly

What’s Dunedin (in general) like as a space to be creative?

It's great. There are countless talented people making great music, there are supportive sound engineers and recording engineers, there are fledgling recording studios and record labels.. There’s love and loss, triumph and tribulation, art, sleaze, death, money, politics and sport... plus you can buy guitar strings, drum sticks, pens, paper, tobacco, alcohol, energy drinks and pies just like anywhere else.. Dunedin has everything you need to write a song.

You’ve just finished recording an album at the Attic too I understand?

Indeed we have. We recorded 12 songs up there, over the course of a hectic and thoroughly enjoyable weekend, which we hope to release in the next couple of months. Our top-secret plan is for it to sound good.

You’re known for your honesty, so this might be a bit fun, but tell us, who is New Zealand’s worst band?

Oh wow. There's a lot to consider here, forgive me if I gabble…

The Feelers get all the money but they're just too boring to despise. Knives At Noon have the depth of a paddling pool with a hole in the bottom but can be disqualified for much the same reason. There's all those indie bands with things like bang bang and clap clap in the title, yuck. All the ghastly hipster noise bands, I mean, I like the Dead C too but that horse has sailed guys. Does Elemeno P still exist?

I can't give you a straight answer I guess because I don't really listen to the radio or watch tv, but let's disqualify music that's in the charts, because that is children's music and we're not (technically) children anymore. That narrows it down... we'll say...whatever the worst band in New Zealand is…they'll have hairdos (possibly even a hat), at least one guitar, get played on bfm stations and sing empty rehashed happy go lucky summer time fun party dance sex love baby songs for people who don't care much about music to listen to. Yep.

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Here is Jarvis performing his tune 'Fat Children'

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