When you ask someone off the island what you’ll find on the Isle of Wight, you’ll often be met with visions of hot sunny days on the beach and summer homes. Luke Curtis and Kyle Abram think that’s bloody boring.
Their two-piece outfit Fat Earthers channels that boredom into a garagey psych-punk sound that wants to shake you silly, to have a bit of fun, get wild, break the monotony. That energy comes out in their recordings, and even more so on stage. Verge first came across Fat Earthers when they opened for The Pinheads and Bad//Dreems at the Shacklewell Arms in June – their sense of fun was contagious and the crowd loved it.
Verge had the pleasure of travelling down to Luke’s hometown of Ventnor to have a chat with Luke and Kyle ahead of their headline show at The Rose Inn with Wet Leg and Luna Tear in support. We sat down over a couple of burgers and had a yarn about how they came about, making music without much to work with, and what they’re up to next.
We were recording in the complete darkness!
How’d you two get to know each other and how’d the band get off the ground?
Luke Curtis: [Struggling with his burger] My mouth’s full.
Kyle Abram: Luke had a band before called Quim Reaper.
Thomas Lace: Yeah I had to look that one up because I had no idea what that meant.
Kyle: Yeah no I saw Luke at a Newport gig.
Luke: Yeah I’ve known Kyle since…
Kyle: Since you were a lifeguard in Sandown.
Luke: Kyle owns a beach concession and café down in Sandown. So working as a lifeguard I was just like “how’s it goin man?” I didn’t know he played music. Saw a video edit one day and was like, “oh that’s cool he plays music” and then you know it kind of wittles it down and…
Kyle: Yeah I dunno, you came down to the café and I was like, “ey what’s goin on,” you were doing Quim and I didn’t know if you were deciding to end that or not but I was like “let’s have a go.”
Luke: Quim ended on a sour note sadly. So I was like “f**k that then I’ll do this.”
Kyle: Yeah and originally in the band, we had two drummers. Yeah, Henry, he was in the band.
Luke: And he stood up drumming! It sounded really tribal.
Kyle: Yeah he was doing that and I was like, “I don’t know if I like this, I can’t do it man I’ve gotta go.”
Luke: Yeah it was madness.
Kyle: I can’t remember after that and then we just reformed.
Luke: Henry was keen and Kyle was keen. I was like “right, Henry’s got this other band and Kyle’s got nothing so I’ll do it with Kyle.”
Ah brilliant. So you released two EPs last year, your self titled as well as “Three Chords and The Truth.” What was the recording process like?
[They both laugh]
Thomas: Alright go on.
Kyle: Brilliant obviously, [another laugh] smooth sailing.
Thomas: Something you’re not letting on?
Luke: I dunno, we did it on Kyle’s laptop.
Kyle: Yeah I’d been trying to record for a bit so I was like ‘oh yeah I’ll record it, it’ll be fine’. We had this studio in Cowes and… we didn’t actually have it. You rent out the space but we weren’t really practising there and we were just like “let’s record it in there.” The first EP was like “yeah I’ll just do it” and we literally put some mics up and a laptop and just went for it.
Luke: We were also using someone else’s recording studio when they weren’t there and Kyle recorded it.
Kyle: Basically yeah, hijacked their recording studio.
Luke: And the second EP, what did we do?
Kyle: We did the same thing!
Luke: Went straight back in there and recorded the rest and we’ve done overdubs at Kyle’s house or my house.
Kyle: The best bit about the second one was didn’t the electricity cut out and it was pitch black?
Luke: Oh my god yeah! We were recording in the complete darkness!
Kyle: Luke was holding a phone over my drum kit cuz I couldn’t see. It was pitch black!
Luke: I was lighting up the chords like, it’s a G now.. that’s an F. The [studio in Cowes] was like 20 quid an hour and we were lucky they gave it to us for free. “We were like ‘oh we just recorded the whole EP for free!” So the DIY aesthetic kind of pays off but at the same time, we don’t have any external input. Nobody’s coming in and being like “hey you guys should do this, you should do that.” That’s the only thing you miss but for us, we can just go, “yeah that doesn’t work, delete that yeah alright, scrub this, yeah turn that up.” We’ll see what happens one day.
Kyle: It’s a fun new process, it’s quick, it’s hard.
Luke: It’s a hard process yeah.
Kyle: And I know we can get it sounding better if we had a full-on amazing studio but we haven’t so we just do what we do.
So in your songwriting obviously it’s quite political. Could you tell us a bit more about the motivations behind that? Because that’s partly what I loved about seeing you guys for the first time at Shacklewell Arms because it was a lot of fun but it still had that message.
Luke: Yeah that tongue-in-cheekness.
Kyle: That’s all Luke that is.
Luke: I knew you were going to say that!
Kyle: It is though!
Luke: Kyle – bless him – gives me the freedom to write what I want and say stupid s**t and keep it within a realm of not being too offensive. There’s a place for offensiveness but you should never just be offensive to be offensive, that’s just being a twat y’know? But if you’ve got something to say you should say it. A good friend of mine Rob always said, “I think you’ve got something to say man, when you play the guitar actually f**king say something.”
So ever since then, when I got a bit angry about past relationships and horrible things instead of putting the anger onto others I put it into music and writing. And I guess the lyrics come from boredom. Total utter boredom I would say. But at the same time you can’t be bored all the time, can you? You’ve gotta laugh at it. Laughing at anxiety, laughing at depression, stuff like this. Laughing at “yeah they’re a pr**k, but so am I! Bugger it, I love you all!” sort of thing.
So have you guys got some new music coming out soon? I heard a couple of your new tracks that aren’t available online yet at Shacklewell Arms. Have you guys got another EP coming out or what’s the go?
Kyle: We’ve started recording.
Luke: A few [songs] are pretty much finished but…
Kyle: We don’t know how long it’s gonna be.
Luke: I think we’re going to send it to a few people before we even release. It might just be a single, it might be an EP, it might be a single that leads onto an album. The way we’re working at the moment it’s going to be an album – almost every week we’re doing a bloody song.
Kyle: There’s a lot we have to record definitely.
Luke: It’s slowing ourselves down isn’t it? Being like “oh what do we like about that?” and taking that onto the next recording.
Kyle: And the whole releasing process now is crazy. The internet’s blown up you can release it however you want. You’ve people telling you “you should do this, you should do that,” “you should just do singles” or “just do EPs.” There’s so many ways you can do it.
And aside from obviously continuing to record, have you got any other goals for the band over the next 12 months?
Luke: [Without skipping a beat] Getting written up in Verge Magazine.
[Laughs all around]
Thomas: Yeah alright well played mate, well played.
Luke: Yeah we’re playing London quite a few times.
Kyle: Yeah we haven’t set any big goals yet because we don’t know where we’re going to go. All of a sudden it’s like “we’re playing London” and [Shacklewell Arms] was a cool gig. I never thought we’d play that.
Luke: For 7 months we couldn’t get a gig in London, and now we’ve had like 5 gigs in the last 2 months. It was like “f**ks sake, f**ks sake, f**ks sake” and now we’ve got loads. We gotta pace ourselves, and at the same time, it’s very DIY, very early stages.
The lads will be out on stage again in support of JOHN at The Birdcage in Southsea, Hampshire on October 18th. You can give Fat Earthers a listen on Spotify, iTunes and Bandcamp, as well as keep an eye on what Luke and Kyle are up to on Facebook and Instagram.