At one point or another, we’ve all tried to make a plan of sorts in a group chat and failed, miserably.
Trying to sort out a simple dinner for six somehow requires detailed mathematical knowledge, a full year’s calendar laid out, a therapist to sort the disputes and a healthy supply of patience – so
even imagining trying to co-ordinate the schedules for a 13 piece band sends us straight into migraine territory.
Hence why we are in awe of Fat Suit, a Glasgow based ‘instrumental music collective’, who have performed across the UK and Europe, and are soon to be releasing their third, as-yet-untitled album, of which saxophonist, Scott Murphy, says, “all name suggestions are welcome”. Similarly, whilst it’s with “great difficulty” that the band manage to all organise their schedules for meetings, gigs and rehearsals, they also struggle to collectively agree on names.
The name ‘Fat Suit’ was the brainchild of band member Andrew, a ‘master of puns and wordplay’, who after setting up a gig without a name, was describing the full line-up to the promoter who replied ‘woah, that’s a large outfit’, from that Fat Suit was born and it’s stuck. “We had spent a month or so trying to come up with something, and it’s hard to get everyone to agree, so when something happens quite organically it’s good to just run with it,” said Murphy.
Guitar player Dorian Cloudsley, explained that the band was formed after a university module folded with a gig still planned in the diary: “That gig was still there in the diary and we had recently seen Snarky Puppy and we’d all been at the gig so we got a bunch of sheet music and thought why don’t we all play this? Then uncharacteristically for a jazz module gig lots of people turned up – so we thought cool maybe we should do something else and write our own music.”
The band may have started by covering Snarky Puppy, a New York based instrumental fusion band with even more members than Fat Suit, but they’ve now found their own unique sound. “I think the first batch of things we wrote were quite clearly Snarky influenced and you can hear that, but there isn’t really much of a template for writing for this sort of band with this line-up, so we were kind of taking it from that.
“I think as we’ve gotten further away, apart from the line-up and the sound of our instruments playing together, our style is getting further from Snarky’s. There’s definitely an influence there and I don’t think we ever would have started if we hadn’t seen them, so we’ll always take comparisons as a compliment,” said Cloudsley.
Even with their comparisons to the popular Snarky Puppy, no-one in the band expected their sound to be so well received, their first two albums – Kambr and Jugaad – were praised by critics and their tours are, usually, always well attended: “The very first [European tour] gig was very poorly attended and our hearts were sinking because we were thinking we’ve taken these people [the rest of the group] away from three weeks of work and we’re playing to a crowd of one, so we were dreading the rest but as soon as we moved on and had all the Polish gigs everything was really well attended, even Budapest on a Monday night was great.
“We were very relieved. Europe does have a better reputation for how instrumental music goes down but we were completely unknown so it was a bit of a leap of faith but it turned out well.”
That European tour – which brings back fond memories, with the two members recounting tales of playing on rooftops, piers and at castles – also took the full band to the Ukraine, which is where their favourite gigs were.
“Lviv and Rivne both in Ukraine were both really amazing, they were so welcoming and happy to have us. There was a group called ‘Art Jazz Coorporation’ who were basically a peaceful protest group in the midst of everything that was going on at that time and their slogan was ‘make jazz not war’ so they were very happy to have us and very accommodating and they set up all these incredible gigs. We hadn’t expected to go to Ukraine any time soon so to go somewhere you don’t think you’re going to go and be treated like that was amazing”, said Cloudsley.
Their next tour starts on 3 December and covers all of Scotland, starting in Inverness, before moving to St Andrews, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and finishing in Glasgow. Fat Suit are touring with singer-songwriter, Angus Munro, who was a special guest on their Rubix EP, and Murphy says the bulk of the tour will be Angus’ songs that they have worked with and rearranged.
Munro is an incredible musician and eccentric performer, according to Murphy and Cloudsley: “Angus – what a guy, he is amazing. He’s probably the most talented singer I’ve ever, met he’s phenomenal. His range and his ability to sing anything he wants is just unparalleled with anyone I know and he’s an absolute nutcase and he’s a born performer, he’s one of these people with who it’s like ‘this guy could go anywhere at any moment’”.
After the tour, Fat Suit will be focusing on releasing their third album, which will ‘probably be out in either April or June’, and are working out how exactly to do so: “We’ve got a few ideas. We always record everything, so we’re trying to work out how to make a bigger deal of that, this time around. “We were just in London at the weekend so we made some contacts there and we might try and have a bit of a launch tour that starts down there and then comes up to Scotland.”
If you can manage to co-ordinate everyone in your group chat well enough to make it to a Fat Suit gig, firstly we admire your patience, and secondly we’re sure it’ll be well worth it.