Lias Saoudi is anxiously smoking outside the bar, weighed down slightly on one side by the thick paperback novels shoved into his jacket pocket. The air outside is crisp enough to be caffeinated. Alphabet City is just waking up for the night. When I ask him what he’s reading, his eyes dart around quickly under a formidable mess of dark, sticky hair. Saoudi is perplexed that anyone from the press would want to talk to him, despite being the crux of Sean Lennon’s latest project and the grungy, underground legend from Fat White Family. (For the record, he’s reading Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier and something of the Dan Brown variety).
“I’ve eaten a few too many codeine. I feel a little bit tired. Not tired, but like, spaced, you know?” he says after several lengthy pauses. I nod as if I’m well-versed in the symptoms of a codeine daze. “I hate being onstage – no I love being onstage!” he interjects rapidly. “Which one?” I laugh. “Ahh, both. It’s very liberating, but I hate the preamble. I get really bad stage fright, so I try to numb it.”
Stage fright is the very last thing you’d expect from Saoudi, who has a penchant for stripping stark naked during shows and using his bodily fluids like paint. In his defense, it takes a lot to shock a generation that was born and raised on shock. But with Sean Lennon acting as fatherly mentor in recent months, he and fellow Fat White Family member Saul Adamczewski have reigned things in a bit. Smash them together with the UK’s Eccentronic Research Council and you have The Moonlandingz, the Lennon-described “fictional band” that is now breaking through in the grimiest corners of the psychedelic punk scene.
Appropriately (a word that doesn’t get much use where Fat White Family is concerned), The Moonlandingz’ US premiere was a secret show in E.Vil’s newest and spookiest venue, Berlin – located under longstanding watering hole 2A. With a narrow staircase carving the way down, Berlin is deep enough under the city that Dante could have been a regular. Making it a true inferno, Saoudi was soon millimeters from the audience, growling and screaming in the warm bath of red lights. Judging from his trademark aroma, it’s still the only kind of bath he subscribes to. The letter R was drawn all over his body in a liquid that only glowed red on camera, and a bottle of water had replaced the books in his pocket. But it was a foaming Red Stripe that held most of his attention as he convulsed to The Moonlandingz’ groovy sound, his eyes filled with terror.
“This song is called… something something red rose?” slurred Adamczewski, while his counterpart either struggled to untangle his mic cords or attempted to knit a sweater with them (jury’s still out). But as frenzied as The Moonlandingz were, each new progression seemed to soak them in a kind of agonizing bliss. The elegantly-dressed crowd was right there with them, draping themselves in the sound like they did with their furs. It doesn’t get much trippier than Sean Lennon suddenly materializing behind you; pole vaulting over your shoulders to go shred guitar with Lias Saoudi. When the whole thing was through, I had a much better understanding of the high he’d described.
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley