Fraser Stewart of Scottish noisemongers Fat Goth has kindly provided us with all you could possibly want to know about his excellent band, who released the brilliant 'Stud' earlier this year. Read on...
(((o))): So, first and foremost, who are Fat Goth and what are your musical backgrounds?
Hello there. My name is Fraser Stewart and I play the guitar and provide vocal beef for Fat Goth, a rock band based in the Scottish city of Dundee. Joining me in this quest to create aural joy is Mark Keiller, who brings percussion to the creative fold while simultaneously managing all the band's affairs and Kevin Black, a bass player of the finest calibre and a keen enthusiast of having a good time all the time.
We all hail from the Tayside area and have been forging our own paths in the music game for over ten years now. Fat Goth is the first time the three of us have actually experienced any degree of notable critical acclaim and although all the praise and support we've been fortunate enough to receive over the course of the last year is undoubtedly welcome and fully appreciated; our jadedness and general non-plussed attitudes remain. I predict at some point the public will recognise us for the hacks we are and cast us back into the abyss of obscurity.
(((o))): How did the band come together?
In 2007 I had written a number of abrasive rock songs. However, I had no band at my disposal to enable these creations to reach their full potential. Mark and I had played together in previous bands so I enquired about his willingness to partake in this new project. He was playing with an excellent band called Pensioner around that time but agreed to participate whenever he could. I then turned to our old school pal, Allan Mitchell and asked him to take on the bass duties.
We rehearsed the material and gradually reached the point where our efforts were of a suitable standard to be documented in a studio environment. This resulted in Fat Goth's first album, 'Mindless Crap', which was recorded by Ross McGowan of Chime Studios in Glasgow and was released in 2010 via our Bandcamp page for free.
Fat Goth made its live debut a couple of weeks after the album's release and we continued to practice, record and play live as often as we could until Allan immigrated to Australia in the spring of 2011. Mark and I then asked Kevin to join the band. Kevin played in one of our favourite local bands, Laeto. We immediately started work on a follow up album to 'Mindless Crap', which resulted in the material featured on 'Stud' and we've been having a blast ever since.
(((o))): Please describe your sound in the form of either a haiku, a rhyming couplet or, if you are feeling massively ambitious, an acrostic...
"I fear this request is beyond my limited capabilities. How's this?
Three suave brutes hailing fae The 'dee,
Massive swinging cocks and balls aplenty,
Big, banging' beats and riffs that are ripping
Fat Goth's here to get all the lassies dripping"
(((o))): Has your local music scene had any impact on you as a band?
Certainly; we draw influence from a variety of different sources and the talent based here in Dundee is just one. Glasgow and Edinburgh tend to be at the forefront whenever the music media/industry casts its gaze over Scotland, which makes sense given their respective size and vibrancy. Dundee along with various other smaller scenes located north of the central belt tends to get over looked but it would be entirely inaccurate to state they have nothing to offer. The underdog status of places like Dundee inspires their creative communities to work harder in order to be heard, resulting in art that's just as relevant as you would find anywhere else - sometimes more so! That ideology is something I've always believed in and I feel I'm a better artist, musician and person as a result.
(((o))): ‘Stud’, your latest record came out recently. Tell us a little bit about it...
Hmm, well I suppose the title and cover are a pretty clear indication of what the album is about. You could argue Elvis shaking his hips in front of audiences of screaming girls was the first time the marriage between rock and roll and sex was fully established. It's a trend that's stayed throughout the centuries and many have profited from it. Most popular music nowadays glamourises sex to the point of it becoming this unobtainable, yet highly desirable, thing everyone craves. Personally, I've always found it impossible to relate to music of that nature. I'm not a handsome millionaire with swimming pools and yachts, nor is it common place for me to have beautiful, bikini-clad girls dancing around my general vicinity, much to my disappointment. However, I know a great deal about making a colossal arse out of myself trying to appeal to members of the opposite sex and all the negative and self-destructive traits that occur in the wake of such regrettable instances. A large part of Fat Goth's music represents that particular aspect of sex appeal and if I was to hazard a guess, I reckon the vast majority of people in the world could relate to that more than what Rihanna and folk like her are going on about. Therefore, our ticket and album sales should be through the roof, but they're not. I wonder why...
(((o))): What do you think is the most difficult challenge facing new bands starting out in the music industry today?
Maintaining the will to live? I have no idea. All we've ever done is simply focus on making the best music we can. I've always believed if you get that right, you'll eventually find an audience that appreciates and enjoys your efforts. Agreeably, it's taken me over 10 years to get to the point where I'm doing interviews about the music I'm involved with but you know, better late than never.
The internet has had an immeasurable effect on the music industry. One of the many upsides is your music can be potentially heard by millions all over the world, which is incredible when you think about it! However, we're still in a transitional period and there isn't any clear indication of where the artist can make significant money, if at all. Rest assured, the days of having a private jet for your band are well and truly gone but if reasons like that are the only motivations for you making music in the first place, you deserve to fail. Music is an art form and should be treated as such. Want cash? Try people trafficking.
(((o))): Every band has different aims. What would have to happen for Fat Goth to make you feel that you’d “made it”, so to speak?
Becoming completely irresistible to the global female population would be a start! I dunno, by the time Fat Goth came into existence we all had extensive experience in the pitfalls of 'playing the game' and had long since abandoned the teenage dream of becoming rock stars. Personally, I take great pleasure in whatever we manage to achieve together, no matter how small or insignificant: a good practise, a fun show, a productive studio session, etc. Making sure you're enjoying yourself is the only thing that matters!
(((o))): What makes fat goths better than obese supporters of any other cultural/musical subtypes?
Regardless of whether you appreciate gothic creativity or not, you have to give credit to those who follow that culture and wear it for the whole world to see. I have a pretty morbid personality and often consider myself as a bit of a goth; only I'm too much of a coward to don all the makeup, long leather jackets, chains, etc.
We called our band Fat Goth because we wanted a totally ridiculous and stupid moniker, something that would suit the absurdity of the music. We never thought anyone outside of our circle of friends would ever listen to us so it didn't really matter what we were called. Ironically, the name has been extremely beneficially in capturing other's attention so perhaps there's a lot to be said for a stupid name. It's certainly not a slight against actual obese goths, which is something I feel I need to state more often nowadays. We're a liberal bunch and everyone is welcome to come and join our party, except for white extremist organisations and the like. They can all go and get fucked.
(((o))): We have another column called Echoes of the Past in which we get people to write about albums that have particularly influenced them. What would you guys choose to write about in that column?
I can only speak for myself but I think Mark and Kevin would agree something like 'Nevermind' was a pivotal moment in our lives, which is probably the case for countless other noisy, guitar-orientated bands around the globe. Apologies for being so generic!
Hearing Nirvana and 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' for the first time was an experience I'll never forget. It was just so profound and it completely captivated me. I never expected music to have any influence on my life but 'Nevermind' and Nirvana undoubtedly changed everything: I instantly knew I wanted to become a musician and that pursuit has remained a constant in my life ever since. I can't really say anything about 'Nevermind' that hasn't be already discussed to death over the course of the past 22 years, so I won't bother. Anyone who has heard it and shared the same passion will know exactly where I'm coming from anyway. Without it, I seriously doubt I would be where I am today. Whether or not that's a good thing is something else entirely!
(((o))): This is ostensibly a column for introducing new bands. Any suggestions as to who we ought to include in the near future?
There is a new band in Dundee called The Sparrowhawk Orkestral who we like a lot. We're massive fans of Edinburgh's Vasquez; instrumental rock music can often be a bit of a chore, especially if it's veering towards the well-worn paths of Mogwai and the like but Vasquez bring something new and exciting to the plate. Finally, there’s Thumpermonkey from London, who sound like Peter Gabriel fronting a more aggressive and visceral version of Genesis while also incorporating elements of Jeff Buckley and Nick Drake in places; superb!
(((o))): What are Fat Goth’s plans for the near future?
We're currently gearing up for appearing at a number of the summer festivals. Folk can expect to see us at Go North, Belladrum, The Wickerman and Arctangent in the coming months, all of which should be fun. Aside from that we're hard at work on the follow up to 'Stud' and if all goes to plan we'll be recording again before the year is out.