Not fighting the obesity epidemic

Fat Children (from left) George Driver, Paul Cathro and Oli Bridgman share a joke. The fourth...
Fat Children (from left) George Driver, Paul Cathro and Oli Bridgman share a joke. The fourth member of the Dunedin band is Louis Smith. Photo by Daniel Alexander.

On their Facebook page, Dunedin band Fat Children list two of their interests as ''cigarettes'' and ''taking the piss''.

As such, I invited guitarist/vocalist Louis Smith and drummer Oli Bridgman for a midday drink to discuss the band, their recently released debut album, and almost any topic the hilariously sardonic pair had pop into their heads.

The pop foursome, completed by vocalist/guitarist Paul Cathro (also of Dunedin psych-rockers Alizarin Lizard, and the now Auckland-based trio Brown) and bassist George Driver, initially formed out of the laziness of a mutual friend.

''Paul, George and I just started jamming for some reason,'' drummer Bridgman tells me, lighting up the first of many cigarettes.

''I think we went around to Bugs' house [Chris Miller] to have a jam with him, and he just couldn't be bothered, so we started playing together.''

Smith, known for his prolific musical output in numerous bands, and clever misanthropic, often self-deprecating lyrical content, soon joined the trio as a second guitarist and songwriter.

''Paul had been thinking about getting someone else to play guitar anyway, and I just browbeat him into letting it be me,'' Smith says.

''I liked the songs and wanted the chance to make them more like what I would like. Then Alizarin Lizard went on tour [an epic 30-plus dates around New Zealand] and I opened for them, meaning Paul and I were stuck in a van sharing bad ideas for three months which helped Fat Children move along once we got back.''

Returning in March, the group set about readying their debut album, recorded over the space of a weekend in local art space The Attic, of which Bridgman and Driver are residents.

After a half-hour diversion featuring a myriad of tangents including the intelligence of Marilyn Manson and copyright law surrounding stolen album artwork, I prompt Smith to discuss their album Three Quarters of a Fistful, the group's idiosyncratic take on the classic pop structures of the Beatles, the Kinks and Bowie.

''There's a bit of a routine to the classic pop song,'' Smith says.

''We'll always start with something very poppy, a standard verse chorus set-up, but where most bands would put a middle eight, we put pieces filled with delay, freakouts and drum fills.

''We are a pop band, which I don't think any of our other bands are really. We want to make pop songs, although not pop as in what pop actually means. I don't think we have any interest in being popular,'' Smith says, laughing.

On Three Quarters of a Fistful, it's a winning viewpoint. Songs like Hey Karl, Put that Girl and Got the Time have the feel of early period Beatles, yet without sounding dated or cliche. Built around excellent hooks and the vocal harmonies of Cathro and Smith, they're catchy, smart and immediate.

With the album now done, Fat Children will be turning their attention to new material and plans for a national tour.

''We've got six songs that are already done, and a few more that won't take long,'' Smith says. If you've got the time, check out Fat Children.



The music

Fat Children's debut album Three Quarters of a Fistful is now available for pay-as-you-like on bandcamp. Head to

For more information, or for inquires about physical copies head to

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