Incoming: Fat White Family's Lias Saoudi talks survival, industry woes and Forgiveness Is Yours

Incoming: Fat White Family's Lias Saoudi talks survival, industry woes and Forgiveness Is Yours

Fat White Family have battled in-fighting and addiction since their inception, but the exit of guitarist Saul Adamczewski during the making of their fourth album Forgiveness Is Yours rocked them to the core. Here, singer Lias Saoudi explains their survival plan and talks indie rock, life on Domino and his industry issues...

INTERVIEW: Ben Homewood
PHOTO: Louise Mason

Given that Saul, your creative partner, left the band for good during recording, are you surprised that the new album even got finished?  

“It was a miracle that it came off at all, the interpersonal stuff just got to a point where it was just untenable. After the pandemic, we had grown out of each other in fundamental ways – and then when we tried to patch things up, it wouldn’t budge. It’s messy, your characters bleed into each other in really abstract and unhealthy ways. But that’s as old as the hills, that’s what makes a good band. It’s sad, you go into it when you’re young and naive and there’s all this optimism, but it’s so often the way with British bands where there’s a pair in the middle of it and they always end up fucking hating each other.” 

So are those indie rock tropes getting the better of Fat White Family?

“We followed that tradition of sensationalism and iconoclasm. But low-life indie rock is a dead medium now, isn’t it? A hopeless anachronism. The progressive arm of capitalism has convinced everybody that it’s just not worth it. Maybe people are right, but also, maybe they’re not. Part of the idea for us is trying to prove them wrong. It’s a way of resistance, just through sheer self-destruction. But then, you approach 40 and it’s like, ‘Well, I’m not dead yet, but I’m tired. I’d like somewhere to live, normal relationships.’ I don’t know, it’s a young person’s game.”

The indie generation before yours is still going strong though, bands like The Wombats and The Kooks

“I’ve never even heard of anybody who’s heard of anybody that listens to that stuff. Maybe it’s a psy-op? [Laughs]. Maybe it’s the alt-right, the wokes, Elon Musk, or the Sacklers? I mean, they’ve got that kind of clout, to engineer mobs of fucking sleeper agents. They’ve been faux fans for so long, they can’t remember it was all an act! [Laughs].”

Now you’re on your second record with Domino, is the band edging closer to the kind of commercial success Arctic Monkeys and Wet Leg enjoy?

“Those are the bands that pay for this band! I like Laurence [Bell, Domino co-founder], he’s into karmic redistribution in the musical landscape, the reallocation of funds! [Laughs]. But I don’t think about things in that sense at all. This album is written in a more intimate way – it’s more lyrical and literary – but I don’t think the songs are going to be any kind of worldwide smash. I see the band as more of a kind of experiential, running art project.”

Have you learned any more about the industry since signing to Domino?

“Back in the day, a more artsy project would still bring in some [income]. I was reading about Dave Berman, and he had a house in Texas through Silver Jews’ record sales. I found that amazing. Even a little house seems utterly fantastical these days. You can sell 4,000 tickets in London and you still have to play in other bands, write a book and maybe even pull the odd pint just to pay the rent. So, you’re fucked off with that, but then at the same time, you’re pitifully grateful for whatever you can get and you’re in this life of endless precarity because it’s all just completely fucked.”

What is your biggest problem with the industry? 

“It’s like the world has got together and agreed, ‘We just don’t wish to pay you any more for the job that you do.’ It’s obscene, it’s cataclysmic, where the industry is concerned. Arena shows are going through the roof, while all the grassroots venues are closing. It’s the end of an epoch, from the 1960s up to now – a period with a socio-political and technological situation that was able to cultivate artists capable of scaling incredible heights, where people that were outsiders had backing. Now, banality smothers everything.”


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