Translated and adapted by Valentina Ajello
Ph credits: Lou Smith
“Where is Saul?” This slogan has become famous among the most loyal fans of “Fat White Family” and of Saul himself.
In fact, where is Saul? But, above all, who is he really?
Surely this article won’t reveal, once and for all, the complex and many-sided personality of a character for whom paradox and desecration are a way of “not being”. I don’t think anyone will ever be able to reveal it. Maybe not even himself.
But the real news is that not only I was able to find him, but also to interview him. Therefore, perhaps, he does exist.
“He will never give you an interview. He wouldn’t even give it to “Pitchfork” (the very powerful and influential American webzine), let alone you, who no-one knows.” This is what, in essence, many people have told me before I succeeded, regardless of everybody and everything, in contacting him.
Saul founded, still under age, an indie/punk band called “The Metros”, quite successful among critics and audience, but they split in 2009.
In 2011 an earthquake shook the sleepy musical scene of the time: Saul founded together with brothers Lias and Nathan Saoudi, “Fat White Family”, who later in 2013 made their debut with an album that turned the tables: “Champagne Holocaust”.
From then on Fat White Family has started an incessant nihilist operation of desecration/destruction of the politically correct “transgressive respectability”, which is still spreading in the British underground musical scene and beyond.
And Saul himself has immediately stood out as the most uncompromising, mysterious, iconoclastic, destructive (and self-destructive) element of the band.
In the meantime Saul has started to be less present during gigs and has been replaced by other musicians.
The same happens when the band is interviewed: at some point he stopped giving interviews, leaving it to Lias (the lead singer).
In 2018 he surprised everyone by creating a band with a sound completely different from “FWF”.
In my opinion the choice of the name is genius: “Insicure Man”. The album probably reflects, at least partly, Saul’s most fragile poetical and delicate side. And poetical and fragile are the pieces in the album by the same name, which are, more or less, ethereal and dreamy ballads with grotesque, surreal, provocative and harrowing lyrics.
Now Saul has his first solo record ready. A wonderful gem I was so lucky to get a sneak peek of and that, I really wish, will soon be released. It is an album with, sometimes, a ghostly sound and, sometimes, of almost disarming sweetness and bluntness. A true masterpiece.
About the interview that everyone thought impossible, not only Saul has agreed, but he has turned out to be a surprisingly kind and humble human being.
After having received and read the answers to my questions, I can surely say what I have always thought about him: we have a true genius.
What shall we do with him? Do we deserve him? But, first and foremost, does he really want to be one? Probably not.
But being genius is a (marvellous) damnation that, I am sure, will haunt him until he keeps playing music.
I beg you: love him.
And if apparently he seems to despise you, remember what Oscar Wilde said “Each man kills the thing he loves.”
1)What’s the sense of life? But, above all, does living really have a meaning?
I guess I believe you can attach meaning to life. But it’s all an act… in reality we are born, we grow up and then we die and it’s all for nothing!
2) ‘Patheticism’ should be the title of your first solo album. Can you tell us why you have chosen it and can you explain who, in your opinion, is a pathetic person or what type of situation can be pathetic?
It’s not the title of my album. It’s actually a manifesto written by a few people including myself and Lias as well as our friend Lev Parker from “Morbid Books” and the writer Rob Doyle. We are pathetic people I suppose. The idea is to make a virtue out of the weaknesses we have. It really came from us spending our formative years hanging out with all kinds of freaks, losers and deranged psychos and seeing that even in these dark corners there was light to be found. It’s also an anti Woke Art manifesto. We hope to release it this year.
3) In 2019 I was at the “Insicure Men” live show at the Lexington, London. At the end of the gig, you shocked the audience by saying that you would have never played live again. Then I stumbled into you in the crowd at the end of the gig and asked you whether it was true. You gave me a sardonic grin and remained vague. Therefore can we expect a new album by Insecure Man in the future or do you consider it a closed chapter?
Yes we are recording a new album this spring. Hopefully it will be out by the end of the year.. As for gigs I’m sure if there’s any offers we will take them.
4) In 2006, when you were still very young, with a few schoolmates, you founded “The Metros”, which you broke up in 2009. In 2013 the extraordinary debut album “Champagne Holocaust” by “Fat White Family” was released. Personally it changed my life. What happened in the years previous to the release of this masterpiece? Can you tell us how you met the other members of the band and how the iconoclastic and irreverent ideas underlying all your work came up?
I don’t like to analyse it too much. I guess the ideas came from our degenerate young minds. There was much more of a sense of hope back then and we really didn’t care if people liked us or our music. It wasn’t until we had accepted our total failure as artists and people that we managed to turn “Fat White Family” into anything vaguely resembling success. The years before the band were mostly spent in the job centre and the pub. Not sure if this answers the question but it’ll have to do.
5) You seem to have a detached attitude towards the music you compose and play. But I know that during rehearsals you are very precise with the arrangements of the albums and the quality of the live performances. Is it true?
I feel detached because I don’t think we have ever done anything that good. The next thing is what interests me. I’ve tried in my own way to keep us from turning into a shit house indie rock band and to be honest I’d say that I have failed.
6) There is great anticipation for Fat White Family’s next album. Those who have listened to the demos say it is sensational. Can you tell us something more on what we should expect and on when the album is due to be released?
I’m not involved with that project at the moment. They might be making a record I really don’t know.
7) About “Patheticism”, can you tell us how it differs from your previous works? Who are the musicians involved? When is it due to be released?
God willing it will be out this year. I’ve had some trouble with the label and things have been postponed a few times. The record itself is far more personal than anything I’ve done before. Songs of misery and regret. The main people involved in the album were Lias and Alex White as well as the producer, my old friend Raf Rundell.
8) Besides doing politics in a provocative manner, a bit like in the punk era, but also in your totally personal and recognizable way, often during your gigs and not only, you hail Satan thanking your audience between songs. Is this, too, something purely provocative and irreverent or is there more to it?
Are politics and religion subjects that occupy an important role in your universe or is it just a nihilist and iconoclastic attitude?
Politics and religion occupy an important role in my universe but all that hailing of Satan really came from Lev Parker. He supported Insecure Men on tour reading poetry and spread his demonic seeds. By the end of the tour every other sentence that came out of my mouth was “Hail Satan”. I’m easily influenced I guess.
9) I’ve often flown from Italy to London to see “Fat White Family” and “Insecure Men” live, but also your solo shows or those with Alex White on the sax. Your audience adore you, but I’ve also heard, that they fear you. Rumour has it that you are a difficult character and also a bit antisocial. Having had the pleasure to talk to you a few times I was delighted to discover that you are kind, down to earth and also very humble. Is there a bias in how you are seen and perceived by those who follow you artistically but don’t know you personally?
It’s hard for me to have any clear idea of how I’m perceived by people I don’t know. I’m not too interested either… perhaps people confuse my shyness with arrogance. The less I think about things like this the better.
10) You are an excellent draughtsman/illustrator. Have you ever thought of publishing your works?
I have not considered it. But if someone is willing to publish them I’d be happy to.
11) About literature: observing you and listening to you, names such as Luis-Ferdinand Céline, Emil Cioran, De Sade, Arthur Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Jean Genet, Guy Debord come to my mind. Are there among these any writers you admire?
Or could you tell us which books have influenced your personal and artistic life and how?
Yeah I think it’s fair to say that a few of those writers have had a big influence on us as a band and on Lias’ lyrics in particular.. especially Emil Cioran, Luis-Ferdinand Céline and Jean Genet. I’m constantly being influenced by the books I read and everything else… just today I read a passage in a book called “Low life” by Jeffrey Bernard that made me get up and do a little dance in honour of alcoholics all over the world. But for me the best music we have made has been anti intellectual and anti art…
12) What are you listening to now and which are the artists and bands that have most influenced you?
The three bands that had the biggest influence on us at the beginning were “The Fall”, “The Make up” and “Country Teasers”… Our sound was really a composite of those 3 things… with a touch of the “Manson Family” thrown in for good measure… These days I’m listening to lots of different things. Mostly instrumental music and much slower stuff. Too many to list here.
13) “Where’s Saul?” has become a catchphrase invented by our common genius friend Lou Smith. Then it has become a T-shirt and a print designed by you. In fact often you’re not there: you give very few interviews, and sometimes you are not in the line-up of Fat White Family gigs, you are very seldom on social media. Personally, leaving aside the reasons that make you “not be there”, I find it fascinating especially in a period like this, imbued with selfishness and the pathetic quest for 24h visibility. Can you tell us more about your not being there for the media?
It’s just easier for me to do what I do without other people’s voices in my head constantly. I do use social media but I rarely post anything and have no interest in expressing my opinions through it… It seems like a mine field really. I’m better off keeping my head down and trying to make music.
14) What song would you use to torture someone?
Breaking into Aldi by “Fat White Family” or something by “Pregoblin”.
15) Which is the most hilarious feature of pop culture?
Mental health awareness.
16) Who is your least favourite member of Fat White Family past or present?
It used to be Dan Lyons our first drummer but he’s changed his ways. Now days I’d have to say Lias. Since he made loads of money doing car adverts he’s become a real diva.
17) What do your family think of your music?
They tolerate it lovingly.
18) I’m going to finish on a pathetic note. Perhaps you’ll appreciate. We don’t know each other, but I feel we have many things in common. I love you as if you were my best friend and I love your uniqueness. Moreover, thanks to your music, my life has taken an unforeseen and imaginative path. Thank you for the interview. I will cherish this experience as one of the most meaningful in my life. Do you think I have been pathetic enough?
You have. I love you too comrade! Fight the good fight. Hail Satan.