Saul Adamczewski stands out as one of the most pervasive and tilted creative forces to grace music in the 21st Century. Hailing from South-East London, the guitarist is best known for being the skeletal figure spinning spidery guitar lines in The Fat White Family. Recent times, however, have seen the outsider troubadour turn his hand to a few other projects.
Unforgettably, he first emerged as lead guitarist with The Fat Whites; probably the most divisive, but ultimately one of the most important guitar band of the decade. With perverted, deranged and vulgar lyrics bleated over the top of Gun Club-style rockabilly, the band have gone on to influence just about every young band operating in the capital today. And you can bet the bands that The Fat Whites haven’t influenced are seldom worth even hearing.
Since ‘Songs For Our Mothers’, the last Fat White Family album, came out, Saul’s been a driving force at the wheel of Clams Baker’s garage-sleaze five-piece Warmduscher, as well as being a prominent part-player on last year’s exceptional Moonlandingz album. This year, before the Fat White Family get rolling again, the project Insecure Men is born.
A collaboration between Saul and ex-schoolmate/Childhood frontman Ben Romans-Hopcraft, Insecure Men are a place where both artists could express emotions and make sounds not commonly associated with their parent bands. Their self-titled debut album comes out on Friday (February 23rd), sounding like the bizarro child of The Beach Boys, Ben Wallers’ work under his The Rebel moniker, and thrift store library music compilations.
Clash spoke to Saul about all things Insecure Men, Fat White Family and Cliff Richard to get to the bottom of one of 2018’s most anomalous debut albums.
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How are you feeling about the album?
Good, I’m excited. It’s been done for a while now, so I’d kind of forgotten about it. Not forgotten about it, but stopped really listening to it. I’ve made another record with the Fat Whites in the meantime. The shows are going really well, and it’s been received okay.
Is this the first album you and Ben have made together? How did it come about?
It is. We just all happened to drink in the same pub, and we’d just be upstairs jamming and playing music. Ben was always there, Nathan was always there, I was always there. We didn’t wanna just play Childhood stuff, or Fat Whites stuff, so we just started playing new stuff.
What were your primary influences for the album?
I guess we listened to a lot of Denim, Go Kart Mozart, Lawrence and Felt kinda that stuff. But also we’re really into Joe Meek production, exotica, lounge records from the 50s, Martin Dennis and Arthur Lyman, and then a lot of children’s music and music made by kids in the sixties and stuff. I bought a lot of compilations that were that sort of thing.
That’s the kind of weird shit we listen to at home, but those are the influences.
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Initially we were microdosing acid every day, which was helpful...
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You recorded the album with Sean Lennon, have you got any stories about that?
I’ve got a few. What’s a good story to tell about that? I have loads of stories, but I don’t really wanna share them. I mean it was very fun, we had a laugh. It was a very good time. Initially we were microdosing acid every day, which was helpful. That was really good, I’ve never done that before. Like, doing a little microdose. You know? That was the most fun session we’ve ever had, we just sailed through it. Then it got harder, but making records is always like that when you’re putting in the little details at the end it’s painstaking because no one really knows what they’re doing.
At one point they flew in all the kids’ vocals that we recorded in London. They put this crazy reverb on it, and I didn’t know what it was. I was tripping and it sent me into this downward spiral. I thought: “I should never have made music in the first place,” I thought I had to give up and leave the studio. Really all they’d done was put some Michael Jackson 'Earth Song'-style reverb on the kids and it sounded fucking terrible.
Can you tell me about the track 'Cliff Has Left The Building'?
The song itself is just something I was always whistling and humming, I didn’t have any moment of inspiration, or anything like that. Initially it was called ‘Elvis Has Left the Building’, but we changed it to be about Cliff Richard. It’s kind of like a dream I had, in which I was having an affair with Cliff Richard. It’s a hallucination about him - some of the lyrics won’t make any sense to anyone other than me.
I’m not trying to say I know anything about Cliff Richard doing anything. And he’s dodgy as well, Cliff. He’s definitely dodgy. Something’s going on there. I don’t know what, but something is.
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Who is ‘The Saddest Man In Penge’?
That’s about me. I am the saddest man in Penge. Especially when I came up with that song. The saddest man in Penge, though, that could be anyone. Any man who lives in Penge has probably been the saddest man there at some point.
I was listening to your album as I was going through Penge the other day…
Did it make sense? Yeah, I really like that track. There’s something about Penge that I always associate with daytime television. My mum lives there, so when I’m at my mum’s house and she goes to work I just end up watching whatever shit’s on TV. The song’s got that kind of daytime TV vibe to it, which I was happy with. The place has that kind of feeling as well, it’s the beginning of the suburbs.
What about 'Mekong Glitter'? That sounds to me like the most obvious single, or 'hit', from the album.
The decisions that are being made about the songs that are coming out as singles is more the label than me. If it were up to me I’d make that a single. In fact, it’s probably up to me, but you just lose interests in things like that. But yeah, I’d rather plug the other stuff like ‘Cliff…’, ‘Ulster’ and that side of the record.
But ‘Mekong Glitter’ is just about Gary Glitter. The story of Gary. Gary’s story. I guess it’s written from his perspective. Some people might have a problem with that. It happened and he existed. But there’s no reason why we can’t explore that idea, if that’s what you do for a living; explore ideas.
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There’s something about Penge that I always associate with daytime television...
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What about your ode to Gerry Adams, ‘Ulster’?
'Ulster', that was a track that was supposed to go on [Fat White Family’s last album] 'Songs For Our Mothers'… but it just didn’t fit on that record at all because it was the opposite of that record, really. It was just going to be an instrumental, and then Lias wrote the words. It’s about growing up in small town Northern Ireland.
Him and Nathan grew up in Dungannon, or some place. I’ve been there, a small bungalow in the middle of nowhere, and it’s about growing in those places and being really alienated. They were real outsiders there. They were called things like “p*ki” and “n****r” at school because they were a bit Algerian.
Me and Lias talked about it, and we thought it would be funny to have a song called 'Ulster', but like you’re on a tropical beach.
You’ve been a public advocate of the band Shame for a while, are there any other bands from that scene that you’re into?
There’s a band called Peeping Drexels who are from Peckham. They sound like Shame, actually, but they sound a lot rough around the edges. I love Shame, they’re our little brothers. I love Shame, but I think there’s obviously someone behind the scenes that wants to push them to the mainstream and take them as far as you can go, you know? And to do that you have to clean it up, just a bit.
But yeah, Peeping Drexels. My mate Jason at Dropout Studios recorded a few demos with them the other day, and they sounded fucking great. I just past them on the street on their way to band practice. They’re like 18, and they’re fucking wicked.
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I love Shame, they’re our little brothers...
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What other new bands are there that you're interested in?
Have you heard [London band] Honkies yet?
Yeah! I like their drummer. He’s in a few other bands, I can’t remember who. He’s in a few other bands and he’s got one giant arm.
Lincoln? From the band Sorry…
Yeah, Lincoln! I fucking love that guy, man. Whatever he does, I’m gonna say that’s my favourite thing. I don’t even know what he does, but whatever he does I’m gonna say that’s my favourite thing.
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It’s sort of like a quaalude disco record...
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Finally, what plans do you have musically for the rest of the year?
Obviously I’m gonna have to tour this Insecure Men record; I’ve got a couple of headline shows in London with that. I’m doing some shows in theatres and sat down places like that. Then I’ve got a Warmduscher record coming out, which I’m also gonna be touring and doing a bunch of English and European dates with. It’s just going back to Captain Beefheart and rock ‘n’ roll sorta stuff, which is a nice antidote to what I’m doing right now.
Then, we’re finishing up the recording of The Fat Whites’ third record, which is basically done. We’re just adding strings and stuff to it now, and children’s choirs. That’s the final touches, then it’s off to be mixed. I’m not gonna be part of the touring band, but I will be playing a few shows. I don’t wanna get - as they say - burned out. So I’m pretty fucking busy, it’s great.
Can you tell me anything about the new Fat Whites record?
Well I can tell you... Lots of it sounds like Boney M, or Wham!, but like, on quaaludes. It’s sort of like a quaalude disco record. That’s the best way I’ve been able to describe it. That’s all I can say.
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Words: Cal Cashin
'Insecure Men' will be released on February 23rd. Catch the band live at the following shows:
8 London Scala
9 Bristol Thekla
10 Nottingham Bodega
11 Glasgow Broadcast
13 Newcastle Think Tank
14 Manchester The Soup Kitchen
15 Birmingham Hare & Hounds
16 Brighton Patterns
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