Rockin’ Out With Fatboy
Interview By Pete Alander / November 2014
Ever since I first injected my first dose of metal music to my ears I noticed the remarkable musical similarities they had with artists such like Elvis and Chuck Berry. The pounding rhythms, very guitar oriented playing and songs in high speed with rebellious attitude. After seeing Jerry Lee Lewis setting his piano on fire and raging like a madman there is much that conventions of hard rock and heavy metal owns to rockabilly genre. Obviously this all evolved from the embryo that is called Blues which is the base core for rock music in generally. Listen to bands like Mustach and especially Volbeat who pretty much hails towards the sound of The King himself. Even Judas Priest metallized Johnny B. Goode.
All this in mind I attended to Rock’n Roll Nights vol 21 in Hyvinkää to catch up with one of todays finest rockabilly acts called Fatboy. These Swedish rockers started out with the idea of playing country music with a hint of rockabilly yet so far all their four albums have been slightly more based on songs that rock and kick your butt with melodies to die for. After seeing them day before playing an astonishing show on the next day I went to catch up with their “Kerry King of rockabilly” Hannu Kiviaho who was really friendly to talk about the bands history and future and even gave me the chance to listen a demo song from their upcoming so far untitled album. I must say it sounded excellent with a solid recognizable Fatboy sound! New album will be released on 2015.
As a genre, rockabilly is the one with many legends. When asking about bands own role models and heroes Hannu Kiviaho explains: “Well, I guess we all are huge fans of Elvis. That’s where it all comes from to our music and even stage presence. Also Hurriganes has made a huge impact to me. I remember listening the guitar playing of Albert Järvinen when I was 11 years old in a family summer holiday. I was stunned and listened their album ‘Roadrunner’ over and over again. That is the number one rock album to me.”
It is easy to understand guitarist Kiviaho, Hurriganes made a huge impact to many kids and bands in the 70’s. Especially in Nordic countries the whole genre spread widely and corrupted the youth as former parents would say back then. “Before Fatboy there has always been rockabilly bands playing in Sweden but actually nothing remarkable. Top Cats is one of the best ones. I believe we started something when we began to play our music and published our debut album ‘Steelhearted’ back in 2004. This year we are actually celebrating the anniversary of that album with a very special concert at Nalen, Stockholm. It’s gonna be lot of fun with a few surprises as well.”
Not like many other band who has been playing over 10 years Fatboy has kept it’s original style and almost the same line-up. “It might be a bit of a cliche but we are a family. A tight package that works well together. We believe it is very important that everything works from personal relationships to songwriting and playing together. It is almost sacred you might say.” Hannu Kiviaho explains the true meanings of being a member of Fatboy family.
“Rockabilly scene has evolved and changed throughout the years but it is a lifestyle. Maybe not that rebellious nowadays as it was but you live it in your heart, like you do as a metalhead. This genre has it’s conventions and visual style in it’s language, clothing and the way we people act. You got various hairstyles, tattoos and even cars you drive. Funny fact but I believe we are the only rock band in the world who has no tattoos at all!” Hannu realises with a grin.
Within ten years of releasing albums and touring in various places there are still countries to conquer. “We’ve toured in Germany, Poland, Russia, Switzerland among other countries but of course we would like to visit more places. There is a demand of us in the United States for example. We have lot of connections there and it is in our future plans. Also Spain, UK, France and Australia are about to witness the hard hitting Fatboy in future.”
When asked about touring memories Hannu remembers a trip to Poland where they travelled with cars, helicopters and airplanes to play just one song in Poland’s national tv. “It was still all worth it and we would do it again anytime for sure!” he states with confident. Fatboy feels it’s better to perform in smaller clubs instead of massive festivals. “Don’t get me wrong, it is great to have masses in front of you in festivals and in Sweden we have great festivals. We would really like to conquer Sweden Rock one day. Playing it smaller clubs has a very different feel in it. People are there just to see you and it feeds the performance and the hunger to play.”
Other future plans for Fatboy besides releasing a new album next year is to stick around and play as long as possible. “We are in a lucky position we don’t really need to ask any permissions from the record company. We can do whatever feels right for us and when we want. Business is growing for us and we have a great hunger to play and to create class act rockabilly albums in future.”
When asked about the changes of music industry Hannu gives an example how they like to work, “We are still publishing albums also in vinyl format and will do so in future. That is part of the culture in this genre and people still by LP record players. Mine is broken though, gotta get a new one, hah. Also we like to have all the creative freedom what comes to music and album covers. We have our own recognisable visual identity seen in on our band logo, album covers, colours and photography. That’s the way it needs to be.” Indeed.
I end up the interview thanking mr. Kiviaho and leave the band to prepare the ferry trip back to Sweden. Hope to catch them anytime soon and I recommend you to do the same. Meanwhile, check their websites and videos: