Meet Fat Dog, the band whose live shows are as thrilling as their mind-bending debut ‘WOOF’

Meet Fat Dog, the band whose live shows are as thrilling as their mind-bending debut ‘WOOF’

Fat Dog have very quickly become one of the most talked about bands in the UK – and for good reason. Having got their start after building a reputation for their live shows, the London group have conquered the States and are now gearing up to release their debut album WOOF in September. Produced by Joe Love, James Ford and Jimmy Robertson, the snarling record will likely make it one of 2024’s most popular releases. Irrespective of how it fares, frontman and self-taught guitarist Joe Love says that he is “just excited to get it out there now, because the songs have been around for ages… in my head at least”.

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Feeling bored during the first lockdown in 2020, he decided to make some music for two reasons: “so that I wouldn’t go crazy, and because I wanted to get some energy out”. While he crafted the songs himself at home, he knew that he wanted it to be an electronic project but with a band behind it. After taking the songs to the other members, they started practicing them together with the aim of figuring out what worked.
“I think the most exciting thing about music, especially now, is that you can listen to whatever the fuck you want,” Love says when we ask which artists or bands influenced the songs he created. Landing on a guitar-driven sound that fuses elements of rock, Americana, industrial, techno, pop and punk, sprawling debut single King of the Slugs sounded like very little else upon its arrival in August 2023. If there are two groups that share similarities with the Fat Dog sound, however, it’s Paranoid London and Idols (or at least what a collaboration between them might sound like).
“It did take a lot of time because it was trying to come up with the mix between electronic, the band stuff and all other bits,” he says, speaking in the middle of a tour of intimate UK venues. “But we got in the flow with it in the end,” he adds, citing the work ethic of Prince as being particularly inspirational; “he was constantly making music”.
Image: Pooneh Ghana
Proper Shows
After some “terrible” socially-distanced seated gigs, Fat Dog made up for lost time and, once restrictions were eased, started to play their first “proper” shows in 2021. With everyone now standing and able to move, Joe recalls that “it was a really nice feeling” because it made him realise ‘Ah shit, people actually do like it’.
In terms of their live sound – which includes Joe’s Mexican-made Fender Stratocaster, a 1982 American-made Peavey T-40 and a Fender Jazz bass, Love says it’s “really pushed” by guitar and bass. Describing himself as “a bit of a noob when it comes to “tech-y guitar-y bits”, keyboardist Chris concurs: “we’re like cavemen; we’re not really the most technical,” he admits. “You put us in the van, we go onto the stage and play the songs and try not to think about it too much.”
I just find that people put so much energy into what guitar they are going to play, but I think it’s just about how you play it… and having a nice amp
Love adds: “I like synths and other stuff. I just find that people put so much energy into what guitar they are going to play, but I think it’s just about how you play it… and having a nice amp.” Personally, he says, “I like my guitar to sound a little bit cowboy-y and have a Western twang, but surfy also.” He adds that the band’s gigs are “always layered with synth bass; there’s two synth basses and a bass to get the thick sound” live.
Bolstered by their instrument skills, the band developed a reputation for frenzied performances. “It sometimes gets a bit hectic, not too hectic. I think there’s space for it to not be too manly, shouting stuff… and good times maybe,” Joe says. Those formative shows were helpful, he adds, because it allowed him and the band to see what worked and what didn’t. “When you go from having nothing, you’re writing quicker because you have to make songs otherwise you have no set,” he reflects.

Community Service
Owing to the fact that they know a lot of their fans, Fat Dog have also built a strong community among their fanbase. “They decided what song they wanted us to release first, and helped suggest track names for the majority of them too.” He adds that giving others the power to choose took the pressure off them. “We only had shitty working title names, but it was probably just because we’re too lazy,” he laughs.
Rather than thinking about songs in terms of genre, he says it has always been more a case of making each song “closest enough to what you want in your head. But sometimes that doesn’t work and it sounds totally different, which is good also”. While suggesting that “emotional sort of dance” single I am the King shares similarities with electronic duo Bicep – “I just like having loads of sound effects” – Love says he likes the ‘let’s see what happens and go for it’ way of working. “It’s liberating,” he adds, “especially not thinking ‘it has to sound like this’.”
It certainly worked, as the band signed to Domino long before releasing any music. While he says “some people have said ‘you shot up quickly’, it doesn’t feel like it; we’ve had the tracks a while and, because of the pandemic, we had time to procrastinate, but now it’s go go go.” Understandably, Love is keen to get the debut Fat Dog record out in the world. “The songs were done for me about two years ago, so my thing is just to make some new songs and keep it going”.
Image: Dylan Coates
Love also explains that he went against Domino’s suggestion to add more songs onto WOOF, which passes by in flash and whose highlights include the unhinged and hook-heavy Running. “I didn’t really want to,” he says. “Some bands like to make 55-minute debut albums and I appreciate what they’re doing, but it just gets fucking boring. I think, if you’re introducing yourself, it’s got to be short and snappy. Then, with the second one, you’ve still got people’s attention span.” He adds that certain artists can do it already “but we’re trying to get people on our sides first”.
That shouldn’t be a problem, especially as the band have already been working on new music. “I want to make some new songs so I don’t go crazy,” he says, adding that he’s cautious not to “copy ourselves… because that always ends up really bad, especially with our stuff where it’s the same scale and we’ve rinsed it”. He also believes quantity rather than quality is the best approach. “I don’t think you should shit out everything, but the more music you make, the more good stuff you make,” Love suggests. “Just keep cracking on like that.”
Image: Pooneh Ghana
There’s one thing left to ask… how did Love come up with the band name Fat Dog in the first place. “There’s no big story,” he says. “It’s so I can gain weight. I used to be thinner but now I can tell my girlfriend that I’m fat because I have to be… her mum’s been feeding me well,” he laughs. Downplaying Guitar’s suggestion that it reflects how big the band’s sound is, Love adds that it was just another product of lockdown boredom. “It was just at the time where I got into looking at fat dogs. It was lockdown so you had to make a bit of fun out of everything really,” he recalls.
Keyboardist Chris jumps in to relate the name to the music: “When you look at a fat dog, you laugh, but then there is this tinge of sadness when you’re looking at them”, he says, rather poetically. “You know that it’s not good for them. And that’s very much the same with this band and the music that we play and what we do every night.”
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