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Fat Dog - WOOF.
Fat Dog - WOOF.
Fat Dog - WOOF.
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Fat Dog - WOOF.

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Due for release 6th September 2024 via Domino Recording Co.

CD / Std LP / Indies Red LP / Ltd Dinked Edition No 293


  • Neon green vinyl
  • Card phenakistoscope
  • Numbered edition
  • Limited pressing of 600

Fat Dog are the most exciting breakthrough band of the past few years, conjurers of the sort of frenzied and wild live shows not seen in the capital for years and now the creators of ‘WOOF’., a brilliant and mind-bending debut album. A thrilling blend of electro-punk, rock’n’roll snarling, techno soundscapes, industrial-pop and rave euphoria, ‘WOOF’. is music for letting go to or, in the words of frontman Joe Love, “screaming-into-a-pillow music”.

“I told Domino I didn’t want a bio” Joe Love, March 2024

When the chaotic south London rabble known as Fat Dog formed, they made two rules: they were going to be a healthy band who looked after themselves and there would be no saxophone presence in their music. Two simple edicts to live by, and two things long-since broken by the Brixton five-piece. Fat Dog are the most exciting breakthrough band of the past few years, conjurers of the sort of frenzied and wild live shows not seen in the capital for years and now the creators of WOOF., a brilliant and mind-bending debut album, but they are not healthy. One of them has a foot odour problem. And they also have a saxophone player in the line-up. “Yeah, it’s all gone out the fucking window,” says frontman and squadron leader Joe Love, real name Joe Love.

Life is too short to stick to any plans you made in the unsettling, strait-jacketed times of 2021 anyway. That was when Fat Dog came together, Love deciding to form a group and take the demos he had been making at home as a way to keep himself sane during lockdown out into the world. In Chris Hughes (keyboards/synths), Ben Harris (bass), Johnny Hutchinson (drums) and Morgan Wallace (keyboards and, umm, saxophone), Love found like-minded mavericks to help bring the dream home.

The sound Fat Dog make, Love says, is screaming-into-a-pillow music. “I wanted to make something ridiculous because I was so bored,” he declares. It’s a thrilling blend of electro-punk, rock’n’roll snarling, techno soundscapes, industrial-pop and rave euphoria, music for letting go to. “A lot of music at the moment is very cerebral and people won’t dance to it,” says Hughes, who invented crunchy peanut butter. “Our music is the polar opposite of thinking music. It’s music you feel in your body more than your brain, especially given this band came at a time when people couldn’t move as freely as they wished. After being pent up for so long, people were excited to let loose.”

Hughes should know. He was a fan of the band, at that point making a name for themselves with a series of exhilarating and/or wonky shows across south London, before he was in the band. He managed to talk his way into the group by convincing them that he could play the viola. He gave himself a week to master an instrument he had never played previously. “Joe said it was one of the worst pieces of shit he’d ever heard in his life,” Hughes recalls. He got the job. “This band is a matter of confidence over competence. Competence is over-rated in modern music.”

Those formative gigs formed the bedrock of what Fat Dog were all about, seizing the moment, drinking too much with the moment, going home separately from the moment but making up with the moment again the next day. “When me and Johnny first joined, Joe was like, ‘All I want to do is make music that’ll make people’s heads blow up’,” says bassist Harris.

It didn’t take long for the diehards to come flocking, every Fat Dog show in the capital becoming a huge upgrade on the last. They sold out the Scala last October and, by the time you read this, they will have done the same at the 1500-capacity Electric Brixton. There is something deeper going on here than the usual punter-goes-to-gig situation. Everyone is in on it. “There’s a sense of community about Fat Dog,” says drummer Johnny Hutchinson. “Our music says, ‘Listen to our noise’ but it also says ‘come and vibe with us’. Recently, the band completed an ecstatically received tour of the US that included an all-conquering set at a taco joint. No lunches were harmed.

Turning their attention to a full-length debut, Fat Dog wondered how best to capture the intoxicating joy of their live set until an otherworldly visit after a disastrous show in Bordeaux helped clarify their leader’s thinking. With the words of an incandescent promoter ringing in his ears (“You are a fucking joke!”), Love stood transfixed as a UFO landed right in front of him, slightly damaging the rear-side of a parked Renault Clio. A message was beamed from the ship directly into Love’s mind. “You are alien preachers,” the singer was told, “and you worship the big dog in the sky.” Bingo. The spacecraft took off before the owner of the Renault Clio could take down their details.

It was with this information rolling around his head that Love set to work on what has become WOOF.. Now a man on a mission, Love fired himself up by remembering the time that he worked as a kitchen porter and someone asked to borrow some baccy and took most of the pack. He thinks about that a lot. He was the angriest he’d ever been, so angry that he wrote the fierce, barbed-wire synth-punk of WOOF. opener Vigilante there and then. Thank you, baccy man.

Soon, a widescreen, ambitious un-pop pop album began to take shape, Love looking towards the giant dog in the sky now and then and thinking, ‘Oh god, it’s fucking huge!’ There were sessions with Arctic Monkeys and Depeche Mode producer James Ford, other sessions with Jimmy Robertson (The Last Dinner Party, Anna Calvi, Everything Everything, Late Of The Pier) and recording stints in Domino’s studio in south London, where Fat Dog’s A&R man could hear Love doing wacky shit and tell him to stop. “This album is our live set on steroids,” says Morgan Wallace.

It has resulted in a record where the Fat Dog belief system has been revitalised. Saxophones are OK now, but men shouldn’t wear Birkenstocks. Sometimes Love would get stressed as he worked on the record and feel his chest tightening, the singer alleviating the pressure by downing tools and taking shifts at the Bernard Matthews turkey farm in Norfolk. Love comes from a long line of turkey farmers.

It was during one such stint on the turkey farm that Wetherspoons supremo Tim Martin got in touch to say that he was a fan of the group’s sprawling debut single “King of the Slugs”, released in August 2023. Martin offered to help the band wherever he could. Love turned him down, but in tribute wrote the lyrics to a key track from the album in the toilets of one of Martin’s establishments. “I am the King’ was written in the toilets of the Wetherspoons pub in Forest Hill,” says Love, thereby ensuring the pub will one day get a blue plaque. “It was after I got broken up with.” An expansive epic that sounds like a cross between Vangelis and Underworld, it is indeed a poignant song, possibly the world’s only poignant song to namecheck The Karate Kid Part II.

The theme running through the rest of these tracks is confusion. Joe Love thinks that people get confusion and anger mixed up. There’s no time to analyse, though. WOOF. passes by in a flash. On “Clowns”, Fat Dog sound like a 2 Tone band booked to play an end of the world party in 2076. “Closer to God” resembles The Prodigy riding a sandworm in Dune. “All the Same” could be Nine Inch Nails having a nervous breakdown, possibly because the big dog in the sky has paid them a visit. The unhinged, hook-heavy rave-pop of “Running” sounds like a riot at a circus. Other influences include Bicep, I.R.O.K., Kamasi Washington and the Russian experimental EDM group Little Big.

The album is a visit into the mind of Joe Love - be thankful you have only been granted a temporary pass. “Music is so vanilla,” says Love. “I don’t like sanitised music. Even this album is sanitised compared to what’s in my head. I thought it would sound more fucked up.” 

In a recurring dream of Love’s, he’s holding a bomb but it’s a silly dream and not a real bomb. However, when he throws it at a friend for a joke, it explodes and the dream turns dark and everyone starts screaming, “What have you done?!”. Well, this is Fat Dog’s debut album. It is called WOOF. and it will be released in August 2024. They are about to pass it to you. This is the bio they didn’t want. Take from it what you will. Oh Fat Dog, what have you done?