“This is the spirit of Sky Valley in a much more mammoth-like shape” says a fan on Bandcamp, “and from an island without any deserts”. No deserts, but baking hot summers and bone-freezing winters. You get to experience such extreme weathers in Fatmate’s records and performances.
Anthony Sotelo (guitars/vox) and Harry Mecklenberg (bass) are childhood friends from Maidstone. They came to De Montfort University in 2013 and got together with drummer Luke Jones. There, they released two EPs: their homonymous debut, and Penenden Heath Sessions, before Luke left town and the band. After university, Ant and Harry were in different places; but once Leicester pulled them back in, they hooked up with Jordy Delaney.
Their first gig with Jordy was in March 2017 at Bodega in Nottingham, supporting Idles. Due to other ongoing projects, they’ve played less than ten times live ever since. Jordy drums with Kermes and organises gigs as Grilling Linda. Ant and Harry play with garage punk combo Knice, and as the more miscellaneous duo Spudge. Unfortunately, this multitasking has kept Fatmate “in the backburner”.
However, through the Internet, they’ve gained fans around the world. A guy in Kosovo plays their albums at his cafe. Another one in California listened to them on the way to his wedding and ended up singing one of their choruses instead of saying his vows. Jordy is flattered, but pessimistic. “I think they might disappear when we release the new record, ’cause it’s not stoner rock”.
Fatmate was making waves in the stoner rock community, the scene that let them join when they were teenagers. As they grew older, they also grew disenchanted by the same “recycled ideas”. They still like bands like Colour Haze, Sungrazer and Dead Meadow; but they prefer experimenting. The catalyst? Slint’s Spiderland.
“Their dynamics are second to none”, says Harry.
“They take their time with an idea and withdraw things out into something really simple”. Ant adds.
In Jordy’s words, “It refrains the way you think about how you make music”.
They recorded their upcoming album in just one weekend with Paul Warrener at Seamus Wong Studios, where they tried to funnel the energy from their initial nearly-daily rehearsals at Ant’s basement. There were a couple of stressful moments in the studio livetracking ten-minute songs, but they’re happy with every take.
Every band says their latest album is the best, but Fatmate means it. There was already a world of difference between the debut and Sessions; and while some fans felt alienated, some said it was their best to date.
They laugh when I ask them if they’re afraid of being called sell-outs, especially Ant:
“If we were sell-outs, we would’ve stuck to stoner rock and try to get on that bandwagon, but we didn’t. Maybe we shot ourselves on the foot but at the end of the day it was like, carry on playing the same formulaic stuff to try and make some sort of success in it or just do what we felt more interested in and see what happens”.
So we’ll see what happens.
Find and listen to Fatmate at fatmate.bandcamp.com