Music Interview Interview

Top image: Insecure Men / photography by Sacha Lecca

The world of Insecure Men may at first seem like a far cry from the hedonistic Fat White Family realm in which Saul Adamczewski has been known to reside, but as the man himself exclaims, “it’s all from my mind, it comes from me.”

With that said, the project formed with friend and Childhood main-man Ben Romans-Hopcraft, retains elements of storytelling through song that err on the side of the weird and surreal. Their self-titled debut album features songs such as Cliff Has Left The Building about “Operation Yew Tree’s greatest urban myth,” and Mekong Glitter about the now disgraced Gary Glitter, yet however controversial the topic, Saul has carved a path of his own to express his thoughts, and it’s one doused in tender and dreamy melodies. This is also Saul at his most honest and most comfortable (but he’s still trying to adjust to the whole ‘playing live shows’ thing).

Clementine Zawadzki: You and Ben became friends at school, but just how old were you both?
Saul Adamczewski: We went to primary school, so we were about seven or eight when we met each other, but he was in the year below me and we lived in the same part of South London. We were never really friends, but we’ve been around each other our entire lives – he was doing music and I was doing music. It wasn’t until we started playing together that we became friends.

Clementine: So music was the common ground?
Saul: Yeah… and other things…

Clementine: I read that you relentlessly tried to corrupt him?
Saul: I used to… well once I tried to get him and his twin brother to bunk off school with me, but he didn’t do it. That’s something I said because I thought it sounded cool and funny, but I don’t really try and corrupt him, because I don’t want him to be corrupted.

Clementine: Do you think any kind of disparity in your personalities lends itself to your working relationship?
Saul: Yeah, for sure. Ben’s quite level-headed – me and him have been producing the new Fat White Family record together – he’s a calming presence in any situation.

Clementine: You started writing these songs post-Fat White Family as a sort of catharsis. At what point did you realise you wanted to release them to the world?
Saul: I had these songs… and then I got kicked out of the Fat White Family… but I knew I had these songs. I said we should make it a Fat White’s record, but it just didn’t really work. I wanted to sing all the songs and Lias is the singer. It was more of a continual recording project for like over a year, and we would go to Sean Lennon’s studio – me, Ben, Lias and Nathan – and we’d stay there for a month at a time just working on these songs and not really thinking about where they were going, we just knew it was good, and now it’s this live thing because you have to do that. Ideally I’d like to play maybe one gig every season – once in winter, once in summer. Four gigs a year would be good for me I think.

Clementine: You’ve got a whole tour coming up…
Saul: I fucking know [laughs]

Clementine: You both have countless projects, you don’t seem to really stop, but this seems like your baby. Were there any challenges you personally had to overcome putting this out or was it quite liberating?
Saul: Not when recording, because I feel very comfortable doing that and I love doing that, but playing gigs… I’ve started to kind of get into it now, but I don’t feel very comfortable fronting a band. I’d come out of a band with Lias, and I felt like we’d get some kind of disgruntled Fat White Family people looking confused at some of our early shows. I think they thought it was going to be some sort of crazy punk band or something. But I’m getting used to it now though, and it’s really nice with the band I’ve put together.

Clementine: Are you conscious of making sure this project doesn’t suddenly have a frenetic energy?
Saul: Yeah, I mean there’s no pressure to do that and it’s completely relative because everyone’s band drinks and gets fucked up as well, people aren’t like meditating backstage or anything like that, but it is quite serene. The thing is, all the songs sound lighter and the personal connections in the band don’t have years of history, so it’s easier not to fight each other because we don’t know each other that well, which is good. I don’t want this to sound bad, but Fat White Family is all about hatred and all those horrible kind of feelings, and it had a knock-on effect and I started to live in that kind of world and it was a bit too much, a bit grim. It’s okay if it’s art, but I don’t want to live there.

Clementine: How’s the jump from one project to the other?
Saul: I mean, I’m doing Insecure Men, and the Fat White Family record which we’ve kind of nearly finished, and then I have another record coming out with Warmduscher, so I’m busy with all of it all of the time – it’s just full on! Spending my days playing the same songs and hanging out…

“Fat White Family is all about hatred and all those horrible kind of feelings, and it had a knock-on effect and I started to live in that kind of world and it was a bit too much, a bit grim. It’s okay if it’s art, but I don’t want to live there.”

Clementine: How do you unwind? You must need a break with all of that going on?
Saul: I drink a lot of wine and pass out.

Clementine: We spoke about Fat White Family being darker in a lot of ways, but lyrically Insecure Men falls in line with a lot of those themes.
Saul: It’s true, but I think there’s more tenderness even in the darkness of the lyrics. I mean, it’s dark and it’s coming out of the same mind, it’s just a kind of less abrasive, violent approach, which I love. When it came to the writing of the lyrics and especially the ones that Lias was doing, the music was already there, so we just sat down in the studio with the songs and tried to emulate the general vibe of the song.

Clementine: What do you and Ben individually bring to the table?
Saul: I’ve introduced Ben to a lot of country and folk music, and he’s introduced me to a lot of soul and Brazilian stuff. He has great taste in music for sure.

Clementine: What was your time in New York like? Did the atmosphere have an effect?
Saul: Definitely in terms of having Sean [Lennon, who produced the record] there to play on the record because he’s such a competent musician in a way that me and even Ben aren’t – although Ben’s very good too. We’re really close friends and I love working with him, and I’d rather work with him than anyone else, he’s my favourite person to work with. He hasn’t got much of an ego. He’s just happy to nurture people’s ideas – even if they’re crap – all the way to the end until they realise they’re crap.

Clementine: I hear you’ve always liked ‘Insecure Men’ as a band name.
Saul: Yeah, it made sense with the music. I always thought it’d be better if there was a girl band called that, and I was always trying to get my mates who are girls in bands to call themselves that, but everyone thought it was too silly or something. I just had to take it in the end because no one else was going to do it.

Clementine: You’ve said I Don’t Want to Dance (With My Baby) is a more honest account of who you are. How so?
Saul: I feel like I know I’m not imitating other people, and it’s probably the first time there’s been no element of me trying to be like Mark E. Smith or trying to be like the guy from the Country Teasers. It’s more about letting go and being more comfortable with yourself. It’s more honest, I’m sure of that.

Clementine: Another icon who features on your Instagram is George Michael.
Saul: That’s right! The new Fat White Family record is actually quite heavily inspired by George Michael…

Clementine: Really? That’s brilliant!
Saul: Yeah, I know. It’s not a straight down the middle ‘George Michael sound’ but there’s definitely a strong influence running through the whole thing. It’s very very homoerotic.

Insecure Men‘s debut record is out 23rd February on Fat Possum Records.
The band play at Rough Trade East, London, on 26th February.