In The Studio With... Fat Dog

Interview In The Studio With… Fat Dog

Ahead of September’s fittingly-titled debut album ‘WOOF.’, Fat Dog’s Joe Love and Chris Hughes give us a chaotic peek into their musical pound.

Fat Dog’s frontman and core songwriter Joe Love has figured out the key to writing a hit. “It’s like problem-solving,” he muses, sitting in a Brixton pub garden on the first truly spring-like day of the year. “You’ve got something that’s shit and you’ve got to make it not shit.”

Deeply unflowery comments such as these are typical of both Love and keyboardist Chris Hughes – last seen on these pages with his face painted entirely gold for our Class of 2024 issue, and then sporting a monk’s cloak and conducting the crowd in a sideways crab dance during the subsequent issue launch show (“I wore the cloak in the studio when we were recording,” he notes. “It’s still in there actually, unless Wet Leg’s taken it, those mischievous imps!”). Where many hyped bands in their position are keen to capitalise on the momentum, Fat Dog are the opposite – so much so, in fact, that Hughes is convinced their label Domino are about to fit him with “a little electricity buzzer in his neck” to stop him saying stupid shit in interviews. “If I say the wrong thing it’ll go off. ‘He died of a stroke’,” he narrates by way of their future cover-up line. “I’m telling you now: IT WAS NOT A STROKE. I’m the Julian Assange of trash music…”

South London’s most unlikely whistleblowers they may turn out to be, but Fat Dog have also been knuckling down – in their own, unique way – to the task in hand. Forthcoming debut album ‘WOOF.’, set for release on 6th September, was co-produced by James Ford, with the band sandwiched between Blur and Pet Shop Boys amidst his storied recent roster. For his part, Love describes going so deep into the recording process that he made himself ill. “At the end, I actually started getting heart tremors. Something went a bit funny,” he shudders. “That’s when I gave up.”

Though the band aren’t ones to toot their own horns (“You don’t wanna make a great album on your first one,” shrugs the frontman), Love’s almost ruinous dedication to the cause shows they really do care – not about the traditional industry markers of success per se, but about making the best version they can of their particular strand of musical fever dream. Hughes jokes that his bandmate used to be a relentless taskmaster in the vein of “that fucking bald guy from Whiplash”, while the making of ‘WOOF.’ was only completed because, after months of endless fiddling, the powers that be forced Love to call it and hand something in.

Much like the giant hound towering over the dystopian city on its album sleeve, ‘WOOF.’ is set to sound both massive and unsurprisingly odd. The two band members describe it as a loose concept album of “like, end times, maaaan. Fucking heart of darkness, maaan”. Nestled within its electronic-punk-kletzmer-rave-whatever, meanwhile, are characters including David Feta-man: a late night talk show host with a head made out of feta cheese. “He’s an important character within the lore of the album,” Hughes nods sagely, bringing up the band’s new merch designs, featuring Love shaking hands with their dairy-based creation.

“‘Why not?’ That’s probably the motto.” - Joe Love

In The Studio With... Fat Dog In The Studio With... Fat Dog

“If we win the Mercury Prize, we’re breaking up.” - Chris Hughes

Elsewhere, they enlisted Dead Man’s Shoes actor Neil Bell to provide an ominous, spoken word introduction to the album on ‘Vigilante’, while new track ‘Wither’ features the line “Like a phoenix from the flame / Don’t hang your bald head in shame” – a moment that Love has taken to eulogising on stage by accosting unsuspecting hairless members of the crowd. “When you see someone with a hat it’s like, ‘Am I gonna risk it…?’” he chuckles. “I did it once at SXSW and he was bald underneath. I was so gassed. That was a gamble!”

There’s the deceptively euphoric ‘I am the King’, whose rallying sonics hide their “most grim” message of bleak self-deception so far, while, according to Hughes, ‘Clowns’ sounds like Kanye West. “The newest era – post anti-semitism,” he jokes. They might have gained a reputation as one of the most chaotic and wild live bands in recent memory, but both members are adamant that Fat Dog aren’t actually as intense as they may seem. “People think it’s anger and I think it’s just confusion,” shrugs Love. “It’s like when you hit your head on a pole because you’re looking at your phone,” nods Hughes. “You can’t be angry at a lamppost.”

Yet though the band themselves might be happy cracking jokes and sending up the pseudo-professional situation they’ve found themselves in, from last year’s sprawling, sensory overload of a debut ‘King of the Slugs’ onwards, Fat Dog have proven themselves truly unique sonic adventurers among the modern musical landscape. The polar opposite of following the algorithm, their ethos on ‘WOOF.’ was to sniff the trail down whatever wild avenues it led them. “‘Why not?’ That’s probably the motto,” nods Love.

Now, all that’s left is for the band to dream of what might follow… “The Mercury [Prize] always goes to the shittest thing. If we win the Mercury, we’re breaking up ‘cos the public has decided that we’re crap,” resolves Hughes. “Until we win it, and then we can say we’re the best band of all time,” Love caveats. Whichever way the dice rolls, when ‘WOOF.’ finally leaves Fat Dog’s kennel to bound out on its own, the musical world won’t know what’s hit it.

‘WOOF.’ is out 6th September via Domino.

Fat Dog play Wide Awake (25th May) where DIY is an official media partner. Tickets are on sale now. Visit for more information.

Tags: Fat Dog, From The Magazine, Features, Interviews

As featured in the May 2024 issue of DIY, out now.

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