Fat Children Were:
and Henry Francis
with Alex Vaatstra
Recorded at The Attic and Southlight Studios
Mixed by Andy Straight
Mastered by DJ Champion
Cover Art by Mishca Rhys Hill
all songs written and performed by Fat Children
Fat Children are 'morally' obliged to thank Andrew Straight, DJ Champion, Iain Sweetman, Mishca Rhys-Hill, Andy Straight, The Attic, Andy, Timmy Cooper, Chantal, Marielle, Bex, Andy Straight, Lee Nicolson, PMK, Daniel Alexander, Adrian Ng, Andrew Straight, Evan Sunley James, Gordon Duncan, Andy, All The Bands We Ever Played With and Andy Straight
released November 20, 2014
About This Album
Well, where to begin? Long ago..
The Story of Fat Children
In the far off misty past of 2010 or 2011 Paul Cathro (guitar and vocals), George Driver (bass guitar) and Oli Bridgman (drums) began to jam and write together under the eminently respectable soubriquet 'Low Class Hookers', I'm told that several of the initial songs were put together by writing three or four chords down on a piece of paper and essentially smashing them together into a song (often with a big hole in the middle for extravagant delayed guitar and drum rolls)
Songs are easy to come by, or at least we have always found them so, and 'Cornered' 'On The Fritz' 'Apricot Pie' and other Fat Children 'classics' date back to these initial jam sessions that sparked the whole sordid business off.
At the time Paul was living with my fabulous girlfriend in a glamorous log cabin on Fea Street, and terminally unemployable chaps that we are we would spend our days engulfing coffee and cigarettes, talking smack and fiddling about with songs including the Low Class Hookers material. Paul was at that time enamoured with the idea of not having to play guitar and sing at the same time, so various delightful friends were 'in the running' to join the band as a guitarist (whether they knew it or not) and eventually by happenstance and proximity i inveigled my way into the position, enter Louis Smith (guitar and vocals) completing the lineup that recorded all of our available material.
We began to sporadically perform and to write further songs in The Attic (George Street's hip-cool studio space that George and Oli were co-initiators of) quickly abandoning the idea of Paul sans guitar as a) two are better than one and b) his command of the delay-pedal-stomp-for-a-middle-section-that-has-no-proper-structure is unrivalled among our contemporaries and added the necessary kink to our pop songs/beatles knockoffs.
Shortly after the band started to get to grips with its existence Paul's 'other band' Alizarin Lizard departed for one of their mammoth tours and i found myself travelling with them as an opening act, that's another (largely unwriteable) story but it did mean that Paul and I spent a lot of time together and out of all the various conversations emerged the notion that we had to change the Low Class Hookers band name. Suitable to our style as it undoubtedly was it made us look like dicks before we'd even had the chance to do so ourselves, and we had determined to try to get people to actually listen to this band, maybe even to dance and smile and all that junk if at all possible. No doubt we bandied many suggestions about but the one that sticks in my mind is from a road sign halfway between the middle of nowhere and somewhere else at the bottom of the South Island "Knobs Flat".. "That's It! That's The Band Name Man!" we crowed to each other and fired off exultant text messages to Oli and George before dipping out of cellphone reception for an hour or so. The exact nature of their responses is lost to memory, but suffice it to say that they both greeted the suggestion extremely negatively suggesting that we might perhaps fuck off and that we were surely joking, wise heads the pair of them, or wiser at any rate.
Returning to Dunedin, land of the free, home of the brave, headquarters of the music-snob and the music-snob-snob we recommenced activity with gusto and eventually settled on the Jarvis Cocker song title 'Fat Children' as a band name (narrowly losing out to the near perfect suggestion 'Titillate Me Tono') and before long we embarked upon the recording of our first album 'Three Quarters of a Fistful' (coined by George when advising how much coffee to stock the attic plunger with) over a crazed weekend, twelve songs were recorded and only one was deemed to be too utterly dire for release. The phenomenally talented Thundercub drummer and long time chum Samdrub Dawa mixed it for us, his equally phenomenal bandmate DJ Champion mastered it and in November 2012 we released it in classic Dunedin indie band style, a tiny run of shitty burned CDs and it's own spiffing little bandcamp page. People seemed to like it okay for all it's sleaze and stagger and we were quietly pleased with ourselves for a month or two, well done us, jolly good show.
It is perhaps time to inform you that Fat Children is, was and will always be the most disorganised entity i have ever been involved with or encountered. Band practices would be suggested, scheduled, re-scheduled, re-re-scheduled, unscheduled entirely, re-scheduled, postponed and then, when finally engaged upon we would discover that at least half the band (hint: George and Oli had gear that they kept in the practice room) would have no instruments or necessary accessories, never has a band required so many favours to keep going and it is a testament to the generosity of our friends and musical colleagues that we were able to do so. We were as likely to refuse a gig as to play it, being both lazy and busy people, and when we did play it would usually involve walking with what gear we had from the attic to the performance venue and then borrowing the rest of the necessary equipment from the other bands on the bill. Massive thanks are due to these people and, of course, to Iain Sweetman of Livesoundengineering Dunedin who did sound for the majority of our shows and, trademark grumpy facade aside, was incredibly patient with our unique brand of demanding ineptitude, all hail.
Thus months of alternating stagnation and stressful activity followed until George announced that he was soon due to move to Wellington to pursue studies in journalism, thus suddenly slapping a deadline on our plans to put together a second album.. and what do Fat Children do when they have a deadline? Why they faff around of course!
So we faffed and we faffed, occasionally writing, occasionally performing and generally failing to plan anything beyond a vague notion that sometime before George left we had to record the darned thing so as not to deprive posterity of another vital slice of Fat Children class and musical dignity..
Wind forward to February(ish) 2013, and here begins the bit that's actually "About this album" as this bandcamp text box is titled. With less than a week to go before George set sail into the rose-tinted future Fat Children geared up for the oncoming attack with this facebook message:
"Hi, I'm Fat Children and I'm the stupidest, laziest, most disorganised band you ever met.. i need your help: tonight I (yes we're sticking with the personification throughout) am recording an EP in an insane hurry because one of my limbs is moving to wellington to learn how to journalist like a boss. I need to borrow your gear, really quite urgently.. if you're based in dunedin and have even the slightest willingness and ability to help me get microphones and cables into the attic for this evening then comment below and i'll try to suck up your help like a bottom feeding fish with an eating disorder.. obviously you would have the 'massively wonderful incentive' of getting given the finished product if i get it finished, and the piffling incentive of the eternal gratitude of fat children.. probably you should share this somehow too if you're yknow, vaguely keen on the band in any way.. aha.. please please sorry sorry thank you please."
Yep, we're that good at this..
Amazingly the aforementioned Iain Sweetman responded and with startling generosity met me at his truck and doled out the necessary microphones and cables, there would be no Dog's Breakfast album without him and once again I say thank you thank you thank you you radiant brilliance of a man..
Our gear related hurdles were not yet over however, Attic regular and techno whizz Lee Nicolson had graciously allowed us the use of his computer and a two channel interface for recording, four channels were required though and we resolved this issue with an inspired lack of knowledge and professionalism by setting up another two channel interface attached to another computer and determined to attempt to sync up the resulting recordings at a later date. I'm genuinely fucking astonished that we got away with that, it's basically just stupid.. but it worked.
As to the recording session itself it's a small tragedy that it wasn't captured on film as with only a four channel setup we were limited to recording just the bass and the drums, and the solution to cueing guitar or vocal led sections was for Paul and myself to be dancing about idiotically miming with our guitars and mouthing along silently, songs were restarted due to uncontrollable laughter on more than one occasion. That's the glamour of rock'n'roll right there i tell ya.
Despite all these obstacles the session was a success and on top of the six tracks we had prepared were two more spontaneous compositions which were to become 'Is This The Line?' and 'Stupid' (the latter of which was a running musical joke in the practice room and the fact that it was never played live is downright criminal).
George soared away to Wellington and the rest of us were left unsure of the band's future but with a record to finish, and initially the progress was uncharacteristically swift with all the guitar, vocal and extra parts being laid down in one ridiculous 11 hour recording session. This session started slowly, as such things do, with Paul and i gradually getting over the embarrassment of the charming-but-driving pop band Trick Mammoth next door being able to hear our ludicrous warblings and still more gradually getting used to the fact that we sometimes had to tune different parts of our instruments to different tunings and sometimes even had to avoid certain strings completely in order to keep things appropriately melodic.
Later in the night things grew faster and looser and Oli joined us when he finished work enabling us to lay down a ninth track 'Not About You' a campfire acoustic piece of silliness Paul and i had written together many moons earlier. So far so good, in theory all the parts were laid down and it only remained for us to find someone to mix and master the thing and we'd be set for release.. but it's Fat Children so.. Faff faff faff faff faff...
The band elected to continue without George and with his blessing we were joined by our good friend and coconspirator Henry Francis on bass, who quickly got the parts together & reinjected the bottom end and suave good looks that the band so desperately needed with George gone.
Another period of very sporadic performance and complete inactivity on the album followed, much fun was had and all was much as it ever was until, with distressing familiarity Oli informed us that he too was departing Dunedin's sainted shores and moving to Wellington. Hilarious as his brief spell of drunken homelessness had been he could not ignore the lure of having an actual job and an actual house and an actual future. Fair enough really wouldn't you say.
Thus Fat Children drew to a close with a frenzied final show supporting Brown with Trick Mammoth at Taste Merchants. The band had grown steadily lazier over the course of our career and there wasn't even any suggestion of finding a new drummer and pressing on, these things have their lifespan and we were all content enough to have the existence of Fat Children as a performing entity come to a relatively dignified end. We did still have a record to finish though didn't we..
Speed ahead into 2014, more than a YEAR after the initial recordings were completed and finally, for some reason, things started moving again. Inestimable gentleman, musician, friend and sound engineer extraordinaire Andy Straight agreed to mix the record for us and proceeded to do so with skill and dedication far outstripping that which we could rightfully expect from him, even going so far as to gather Paul, myself and the best violinist i have ever met Alex Vaatstra in His and Evan Sunley James' Southlight Studios to record a couple of pickup pieces of guitar and to have Alex lend some much needed class and sweep to proceedings with his violin, phenomenal lads the pair of them.
Andy also arranged to have DJ Champion master the record for us as he had done with 'Fistful' and he too has done a smashing job, between them they have taken the songs from the frenetic scrapings and bashings that they were and made them into something that i at least would be proud to claim a part in.
It's a weird little record, too long for an EP too short for an LP
..but we were a weird little group, too good to be a shit band, too shit to be a good band.
There you have the long and unnecessary story of Fat Children to date, enjoy the record if you can, spread it, stream it, download it, criticise it, praise it, ignore it, do whatever it's up to you now.
- Louis Smith October 2014
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