Public:The Fat Men
The Fat Men
The Fat Men all enjoying a spliff.
|Also known as
|Amsterdam, The Netherlands
|2005 – 2009
|thefatmen.nl (artist page, archived)
The Fat Men were a group of musicians and internet radio broadcasters from Amsterdam, The Netherlands. They mostly made novelty songs, which were mainly influenced by hip hop and electronic music, but also at times by other genres such as rock. Their music could be considered outsider music. The group was masterminded by, and grew out of earlier musical projects by, Yasja de Miranda—who produced all of the group’s music and managed most of their affairs—Watson Waterstone, and Ahmed El Jappaoui. All of the group’s lyrics were in Dutch, with a lot of youth slang, and often contained neologisms, in-jokes, and references to people and events from the group members’ everyday lives.
Waterstone and de Miranda (then known under the name Trent Easton) were childhood friends and had previously cooperated for several years on various projects, most notably All Kids One (AK1). De Miranda, whose father worked as a layout designer for a magazine, had grown up around Apple computers and was skilled at programming, digital image manipulation, and digital music production. Waterstone enjoyed the arts, including music and drawing, and together the two would produce magazines, game concepts, and various kinds of videos. Their videos included both live-action and animation; an especially notable example of the latter was Tavukball Z, for which Waterstone composed music and wrote lyrics. He would record songs together with de Miranda, using the latter’s electronic keyboard.
|Amsterdam, The Netherlands
|2003 or 2004
|The Fat Men
Aside from his activities with de Miranda, Waterstone had been using a stage persona named MCWaris for school performances and the like, including a talent show at his old primary school, where he performed a Frans Bauer parody. MCWaris was an over-the-top caricature of a white rapper who imitates a black (gangsta) rapper, and had been inspired by Def Rhymz and Ali G. In addition to Waterstone performing the character in real life, MCWaris also featured in his fiction. Between 2002 and 2004, when Waterstone and de Miranda were at different schools, de Miranda and his keyboard helped Waterstone record a song used as a project for a music class in school, as well as MCWaris’ first single, an electro-pop song with après-ski elements titled “Ziet Tiedeldiet”. In December of either 2003 or 2004, Waterstone appeared at an open mic event organized by his school, the Cartesius Lyceum. Together with classmates Ahmed El Jappaoui and Reinier van Velzen, under the name De Tostiband, he performed a novelty song titled “Sjaantje En Marĳntje Hardcore Bongo Remix” (“Sjaantje And Marĳntje Hardcore Bongo Remix”). As the title indicates, this was not an original work but a remixed version of a song (“Sjaantje en Marĳntje”) El Jappaoui had heard somewhere and thought amusing. The name “De Tostiband”, meanwhile, is a jocular reference to the Jostiband Orchestra, a Dutch music group for the intellectually challenged. It is not clear if the name was merely intended as a pun on this, or if it was also a reference to the tosti (‘toastie’), a Dutch variation of the croque monsieur. However, it is known that toasties were frequently eaten in the Cartesius Lyceum cafeteria; furthermore, in the kind of slang spoken there at the time, tosti was also a pejorative form of address, referring to a stupid person (itself likely a reference to josti). On stage, Waterstone acted as the lead singer, while El Jappaoui and van Velzen played a four-on-the-floor beat on bongos during the chorus. The performance was very well received by the audience, and the three gained some notoriety as a result.
By this time, de Miranda had joined the Cartesius Lyceum, which facilitated more interaction with Waterstone and his new friends. De Miranda produced another version of “Sjaantje en Marĳntje” on CD single, titled “Sjaantje En Marĳntje Hardcore Remix”, released under the name De Tostiband m.m.v. DJ Katmaï (De Tostiband in collaboration with DJ Katmaï). Waterstone introduced him to El Jappaoui, and the three soon formed a club called De Banaantjes (“The Bananas”), which El Jappaoui’s brother Bos Nooĳ later joined as well (see also here). In the summer of 2005, Waterstone and El Jappaoui recorded a song at de Miranda’s house, titled “Meneer De Jong Is KAAL” (“Mr. De Jong Is BALD”), under the name MCWaris ft. CDEFG. The song was released as a single, produced by de Miranda, and quickly spread among classmates and acquaintances, increasing the group’s notoriety. This was to become the beginning of The Fat Men.
“Meneer De Jong Is KAAL” (single)
|“Meneer De Jong Is KAAL”
|Single by MCWaris ft. CDEFG
|from the album The Fat Man's Diary
|“Meneer De Jong Is KAAL (Russische Mafia Versie)”
|SP4C3KAKE Studios, Studio 1
|Katmadron Records (uncredited)
“Meneer De Jong Is KAAL” was written by Waterstone. The song’s lyrics and title refer to Dirk Jan de Jong, who was a physics teacher at the Cartesius Lyceum at the time. In the kind of slang then commonly in use at the school, je kale ‘your bald one’ (Dutch pronunciation: [jə ˈkaːlə]) was an insult. One day, de Jong, who was bald, overheard someone saying “je kale” in the school hallway where El Jappaoui and Waterstone were present (it is no longer known who used the insult, or against whom it was directed). De Jong mistakenly thought it was a reference to himself, and asked “are you talking about me?”. This caused great hilarity to El Jappaoui and Waterstone, who then decided that je kale was not only an insult, but simultaneously referred to de Jong, who was therefore “everyone’s bald one” (since he would be referred to whenever anyone says “je kale” to anyone). This quickly became an in-joke in their circle of friends, and ended up spawning several related in-jokes about insults that simultaneously refer to people.
The melody of the song is written in the key of D major and played on organ (generated by de Miranda’s keyboard). In the verse, the organ acts alone and plays a moderately slow chord progression that includes suspended 7th chords. Together with MCWaris’ singing, this is intended to invoke a “gospel” feeling. By contrast, the organ plays much faster in the chorus, accompanied by a pre-fab electronic drum beat from the keyboard. MCWaris frequently sings out of key and very forcefully, which would become a common feature in later The Fat Men work (it is not known whether or not this was deliberate). CDEFG provides backing vocals, which are sampled throughout, frequently repeated or with several different samples played at the same time, which causes them to almost sound like sound effects. This is another technique The Fat Men would use again in later work.
The song was produced by de Miranda (using Audacity software) and released as a single almost immediately. The B-side is a remix of the song titled the “Russische Mafia Versie” (“Russian Mafia Version”), which is simply the song played backwards. This sounded like Russian to the group’s ears, hence the title. It is also something of an ironic commentary on the notion that backmasking is often used to include all sorts of inappropriate subliminal messages. While the metadata for the song lists the title as “Менеер де Ёнг ис КААЛ”, which is the Dutch “Meneer de Jong is KAAL” transliterated into the Russian alphabet (note the difference in capitalization), the filename gives the title as “Meneer De Jong Is KAAL (Russische Mafia Versie)”. Because there is no record of any liner notes for the single, it is not clear which was intended to be the official title. It could be the case that the Dutch title was presented as the translation of the pseudo-Russian, with the implication that the song is actually in Russian.
One time, de Miranda and Waterstone tried to have “Meneer De Jong Is KAAL” played in a club where the DJ accepted requests, having brought the song with them on CD; however, the DJ did not like it, and it was turned off after the first chorus.
A remix of the song titled “Meneer De Jong Is KAAL Dhamaal” was later produced, but not officially released. This is a mashup of the song with the item song “Kaal Dhamaal” from the 2005 Bollywood film Kaal.
The Fat Man’s Diary
|The Fat Man’s Diary
|Studio album by
The Fat Men
|2005 – 2006
|SP4C3KAKE Studios, Studios 1 and 3
|Singles from The Fat Men
Following “Meneer De Jong Is KAAL”, the three friends became increasingly interested in the idea of making music together. In September 2005, Waterstone left the Cartesius to go to a different school (the Hervormd Lyceum Zuid). There, he vigorously advertised the song and his friends, which quickly gained them notoriety even among people who had never met de Miranda or El Jappaoui. The recording setup in de Miranda’s room was named “SP4C3KAKE Studios, Studio 1”, and was to be the group’s dedicated recording studio. Later, an area in El Jappaoui’s house was added to this as “Studio 3” (“Studio 2” was Waterstone’s room, which was generally not used for recording music, but mostly for radio broadcasts; see below). The rest of 2005 and early 2006 was spent creating an album, which initially had no title. Over the course of the project, the group was joined by Giorgos Kourelis (Körälli), Ben Cleerdin (De Kleine Baas, later also known by other names), Thomas Haertlein (Toman The Great), Reinier van Velzen (Arvie), and Bos Nooĳ (Robosstem), and they eventually adopted the name The Fat Men. This was likely coined by Waterstone, who at the time had somewhat of an obsession with corpulence, despite not being overweight himself. While the album was still a work in progress, the group settled on the title The Fat Man’s Diary, which was originally de Miranda’s idea. It is not clear why the album title refers to a singular fat man rather than to the group The Fat Men. The album title is not related to George “The Fat Man” Sanger, who was unknown to the members of The Fat Men at the time.
De Miranda, who had by now adopted the stage name DJ Katmaï, officially included the entire project under the “Katmadron Enterprise” banner, which included SP4C3KAKE Studios and an imprint label called Katmadron Records. The recording of the songs was a rather loose affair; different group members would cooperate on different songs. For this reason, each song is listed with its own artist(s), and only two songs are credited to “The Fat Men”. For the song “Teh Gruwelĳke Hardcore” (performed by five out of the eight members), the name of the group is listed as “MAN”. This is simply the word ‘man’ in capital letters; it is not an acronym, although it is also a highly obscure reference to a weapon of the same name that Waterstone had designed years earlier and which looked like an extremely ugly man—so ugly, in fact, that anyone who saw it would die instantly (this may or may not also have been a reference to the father of Waterstone’s childhood friend Wim Dikkers, who was nicknamed Man). The unusual artist name “Köralli & CDEFG ft. CDEFG” for “Het Gesticht (Cartesius Lyceum)” came about as a result of the refusal by Cleerdin, who was originally supposed to perform part of the song, to do so. The song, which is about the school that all members except Nooĳ attended at the time, mentions several individuals by name and includes elements of dis as well as props; the title translates to “The Madhouse (Cartesius Lyceum)”. Originally, it was to be credited to “Körälli & De Kleine Baas ft. CDEFG”, but Cleerdin refused to record his verses, wishing to avoid negative repercussions. Consequently, Waterstone suggested that El Jappaoui (who was originally supposed to perform only backing vocals) perform the part in his place and that De Kleine Baas be replaced with CDEFG in the artist name as well; however, El Jappaoui only ever performed his original backing vocals, and Cleerdin’s verses were in fact performed by Waterstone doing an impersonation of Cleerdin’s voice. Nonetheless, the song was officially credited to the artist containing the duplicate of CDEFG’s name, which was considered by Waterstone to be a justly ridiculous reflection of the affair. The other band members, who enjoyed a bit of ridiculosity themselves, accepted this. To complicate matters further, de Miranda then wrote “CDEFG ft. Körälli” on the album back card due to lack of space.
Most of the lyrics for the album were written by Waterstone, while most of the music was composed by de Miranda (who is credited as Easton, the name he was known as at the time). The lyrics to “The Blender Song” were not written by any of the band members, but were taken from various pop songs and Greek folk songs and compiled by Kourelis. The music for “Kerst Met Ome Kattebrand” is an arrangement by de Miranda of “World 3 Map”, a background track from the video game Super Mario Bros. 3, composed by Koji Kondo. Two of the tracks on the album, “De Dikke Man Hem Ze Nieuws” and “De Dikke Man Hem Ze Nieuws (Bloopers)” are not songs, but spoken word recordings that simulate a news broadcast, with Toman The Great as the newsreader. As the title indicates, the latter is a blooper reel of the former. The text for “De Dikke Man Hem Ze Nieuws”, as well as the lyrics to the title song “The Fat Man’s Diary”, was written by all of the band members. They wrote the final news item by taking turns saying one word at a time, leading to a highly ridiculous and nearly incomprehensible news item that had to be re-recorded many times before Haertlein was able to read it out without misspeaking or bursting into laughter. The writing for these tracks was actually the only occasion on which all members of the group were present at the same time; because all were attending school, and they lived in different parts of Amsterdam, it was often logistically difficult to organize meetings.
The group chose to include the previous year’s single “Meneer De Jong Is KAAL” on the album; the B-side of the single was not included.
The album was released in early 2006 to a lukewarm critical reception, likely owing to its poor musical quality. The intended audience was the same that had earlier enjoyed “Meneer De Jong Is KAAL” (i.e. mainly classmates, friends and acquaintances), but the music’s novelty effect had worn off by now and it was not good enough for people to want to listen to it for its own sake. The album went on sale at a price of €5, which at the time was the price of two döner kebap sandwiches. Not many copies were sold, however, and the group failed to break through in the music scene. Later that year, de Miranda, Waterstone, and El Jappaoui met with a band from Groningen called SNELLE FELLAS. Waterstone had recently bought their album and was interested in collaboration; none ever happened, however, and attention for The Fat Men soon dried up.
|Artist (as listed on album)
|“Toman The Great Introtune”
|“The Blender Song”
|(various, compiled by Kourelis)
|“Meneer De Jong Is KAAL”
|MCWaris ft. CDEFG
|“Het Gesticht (Cartesius Lyceum)”
|Körälli & CDEFG ft. CDEFG
|“Kerst Met Ome Kattebrand”
|Easton (arr. of “World 3 Map” by Koji Kondo)
|The Fat Men
|“Teh Gruwelĳke Hardcore”
|“De Koning Van Bananistan Revisited”
|“The Fat Man’s Diary”
|Cleerdin/Easton/El Jappaoui/Haertlein/Kourelis/Nooĳ/van Velzen/Waterstone
|The Fat Men
|“De Dikke Man Hem Ze Nieuws”
|Cleerdin/Easton/El Jappaoui/Haertlein/Kourelis/Nooĳ/van Velzen/Waterstone
|Easton (news open)
|Toman The Great
|“De Dikke Man Hem Ze Nieuws (Bloopers)”
|Cleerdin/Easton/El Jappaoui/Haertlein/Kourelis/Nooĳ/van Velzen/Waterstone
|Toman The Great
After The Fat Man’s Diary was released, loose plans were in place for a second album (possibly to be titled Subcutaneous Fat Layer, a tongue-in-cheek reference to Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues”); however, these plans were never realized. Several new songs were written (by Waterstone)—among which were some parodies of De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig songs—and music was composed (by de Miranda, now no longer known as Easton, as well as by Waterstone). In an effort to increase the group’s professionalism as well as streamline meeting and recording proceedings, Waterstone enlisted Joep Bollinger, a classmate at the time, as a “freelance musical advisor”. Bollinger had plenty of experience playing in bands (including performing live on stage, which Waterstone saw as the next step for The Fat Men) and was therefore familiar with the issues that come with managing band activities and producing music. Without himself becoming part of the band, Bollinger was supposed to provide the group with advice about how to increase the quality of their music, both musically and technically, and stimulate the members to make plans, meet deadlines, and attend meetings. A plan was also in the works for Bollinger, a bassist, to play a bassline as a guest musician on a The Fat Men song. The song, titled “Wat Doe Je.” (“What You Doing.”) was written, with lyrics by Waterstone and Bollinger, and music was composed by de Miranda and Bollinger. The chorus contained a sample from the Tonari no Totoro theme song “Sanpo –Opening Shudaika–” by Joe Hisaishi, while the verse was to be rapped over a dubstep beat. An instrumental track was produced (without bass), but the lyrics had not been finished and production of the song got stuck before anything more could be recorded.
Around the same time, in order to help the band members be timely with attending meetings and fulfilling their commitments, the group devised a software application that would allow members to send messages to each other and loudly remind each member of any unread messages. Titled KHZPOBTK, which stood for Katmaï Hem Ze Programma Om Berichten Te Krakken (only loosely translatable as Katmaï’s Program For Making Messages Crack[note 1]), the program was to automatically generate an audio message—played at extremely high volume—that reminded the user of the number of unread messages they had. Samples for these audio messages were in fact recorded, by Waterstone, but the application itself was never completed. Eventually, after growing increasingly frustrated with some of the band members’ apparent lack of commitment, Bollinger left his role as musical advisor. Meanwhile, van Velzen had also left the band in 2008.
|Single by The Fat Men
|2007(digital release only)
|9 September 2007
|SP4C3KAKE Studios, Studio 3
Only one recording survives of a The Fat Men song that was recorded after The Fat Man’s Diary. The song, titled “Terrortubbies”, was recorded on 9 September 2007 at SP4C3KAKE Studios, Studio 3 (possibly with the aim of a release on 11 September, although it is no longer known what the exact release date was). It was a parody of the Teletubbies opening theme, with the names of the Teletubbies replaced by Islamic phrases (Allah Akbar, Islam, Jihad, and Mo); the lyrics related to Islamist terrorism (including words such as ‘suicide attack’ and ‘shoe bomb’), as well as including references to Morocco and Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders. Because Waterstone, who wrote the lyrics and sang the part of the narrator, wanted to do the counting at the beginning of the song in Arabic but did not know how to count in Arabic, assistance in this area was provided by Rachid Chafi. An attempt was also made to record a song titled “BAMPO Is Dik En Kaal”, but this recording was never completed; another song, titled “Jouw Moeder Is Fokking Lelĳk” and based on Mastermovies references, was written and rehearsed, but is not known to have been recorded. Near the end of The Fat Men’s existence, group members only recorded radio material such as jingles (see below).
Fat Men FM 133.7 FM
|usually 90.3 MHz
|First air date
|Last air date
|The Fat Men
Feeling the need for a vehicle to revive interest in the group’s music after the album had failed to attain success, Waterstone decided that there should be a dedicated radio station on which they could promote their music in order to attract a larger audience. At the time, Waterstone had already appeared several times on Haertlein’s brother Kevin’s online KevFM station. Thomas Haertlein himself was also a keen radio amateur, and with Kevin’s help an online radio station was founded. Kevin, who sometimes worked for a slightly more professional Dutch radio station named LichtSnel in addition to his own station, owned a web hosting company named Click2. Since Click2’s servers already hosted The Fat Men’s website, streaming facilities were easily added. The station was named Fat Men FM 133.7 FM, abbreviated as FMFM 133.7 FM or simply FMFM, and was also at times informally known as Radio The Fat Men. The “133.7 FM” was part of the station’s name; it was not an FM broadcasting frequency, but a reference to 1337speak, and always read aloud in full when pronounced (Dutch: honderd drieëndertig punt zeven FM). The form “FMFM 133.7 FM” was often used in jingles, including in a parody of a Sky Radio jingle. The station normally broadcasted in the form of online streams via SHOUTcast. Since Kevin Haertlein’s home studio in the Bĳlmermeer (a suburb of Amsterdam) had a radio transmitter, broadcasts from there were sometimes also transmitted over a short distance in the ether (without a licence, making the station a pirate).
Programming consisted of a number of shows, each with their own format and designated presenter. Most shows were presented by Haertlein and Waterstone, but de Miranda also occasionally presented in the early stages. Van Velzen was a recurring guest on one of Waterstone’s shows, while Kourelis and El Jappaoui were also supposed to present, but never did, although El Jappaoui did help record some jingles and promos. Programming usually started at 6 p.m., except on Sundays, when it started in the afternoon. During its existence, FMFM changed its broadcasting schedule several times. A major reorganization may have been executed sometime after the 2007 summer break, and one was certainly executed in December 2008, with the aim of creating and maintaining a more regular schedule; this involved scrapping some shows, adding new shows, assigning presenting duties, and some changes to formats. There were special broadcasts around Christmas (usually with Haertlein and Waterstone presenting together) and the New Year, while normal programming was suspended in summer in favour of irregular, summer-themed broadcasts that often involved Hawaiian music. The Top 40 show also featured a special annual summer broadcast revolving around the fictional Top 40 Rally (see below). Waterstone’s shows were broadcast (and sometimes recorded) at SP4C3KAKE Studios, Studio 2; while promotional material like jingles, ads, promos and intros were recorded at Studio 2 or Studio 3 and often featured a high degree of creativity. Despite being an integral part of the The Fat Men system at the time, the broadcasting-and-recording setup at Haertlein’s house was never included under the banner of SP4C3KAKE Studios.
Most of the songs played on FMFM were in English, with Dutch-language songs also featuring regularly; the ratio of English to Dutch songs varied roughly between 60:40 and 70:30. There was one show especially for songs in Japanese, and songs in other languages were also occasionally played. Because there were various shows each dedicated to a different genre of music, as well as shows featuring an eclectic mix of music, a wide range of genres was aired on FMFM. Initially, in keeping with the station’s original raison d'être, The Fat Men’s own music was heavily promoted (the shows Da Mix and Toman In De Avond, both of which had an eclectic format, were chosen for this). However, the station’s focus gradually shifted to simply being a radio station in general, with emphasis on talk, news, football commentary, and the music the presenters liked, plus the audience’s ability to influence what music was played through requests and the Top 40. Even in later years, FMFM was nonetheless used to promote the Extreem Extremistische Sport (Extremely Extremist Sports) events created by El Jappaoui, his cousin Bart Visbeek, and Waterstone, as well as the The Fat Men football team (see below). The selection of songs often went outside the mainstream and regularly included so-called foute muziek (‘wrong music’, a term used in the Netherlands to refer to pop music perceived as tacky, exemplary of poor taste, or “guilty pleasures”; German Schlager is a notorious example). The music found in fanimutation often served as an inspiration. Artists such as David Hasselhoff, Happa-tai, ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic, Normaal, Richard Cheese, Cartoons, Def Rhymz, and Arie Ribbens frequently received airtime.
Broadcasts featured plenty of improvisation and were often chaotic, with studio equipment malfunctioning or presenters making mistakes. This was all used to comedic effect. Especially Waterstone’s broadcasts, but to a lesser extent also Haertlein’s, were characterized by disorderly elements such as the presenter talking over the music, forgetting to switch on the microphone, interrupting the music, cursing, laughing loudly, and using a sampler to frequently interject sound effects. Sound effects often used on FMFM included an air horn; the sound of a falling anvil such as featured in Looney Tunes; an extremely loud gong; various short clips from television broadcasts and the like, which were used whenever topical (for example to comment on a song or on the words of a co-presenter); and a recording of a man known as “Imam Ahmed de Dikke” (“Imam Ahmed the Fat”; in reality, this was Waterstone) reciting the takbir in an extremely drawn-out fashion, like a muezzin speaking from atop a minaret. The use of such disorderliness to comedic effect was partly inspired by Dutch humorous radio shows Radio Bergeĳk and Ronflonflon avec Jacques Plafond as well as the music-themed TV show Van Oekel’s Discohoek. References were also often made to people from the presenters’ everyday lives, such as schoolteachers, and to various in-jokes then known in the presenters’ circle of friends. In addition to ads for Click2 and fictional companies, outdated ads were also aired purely for comedic effect, such as a Heinz Sandwich Spread ad from the 1980s.
FMFM never managed to attracted a very large audience; the number of listeners varied from around two or three on a normal day up to around 30 during particularly well-received broadcasts. The station stopped broadcasting (in its original form) in late April 2009, after the amount of time Waterstone (who by now was one of only two presenters, the other being Haertlein) spent working on the project quickly declined.
The following overview of shows is not exhaustive and may not be fully accurate. There may have been a plan for Ben Cleerdin to present a show centered around R&B and hip hop, but no reliable record of this is known to exist.
|Yasja de Miranda (as DJ Katmaï)
|Aired with some regularity in the early days of FMFM, but de Miranda was notorious for his lack of timeliness, and eventually stopped broadcasting altogether.
|Giorgos Kourelis (uncredited)
|Show planned, but never aired.
|Back To The ’50s and ’60s
|Tuesdays and Thursdays
|Retired following reorganization. Oldies were thereupon mixed into the programming for Da Mix and Toman In De Avond, where they did not feature as prominently.
|Watson Waterstone (as MCWaris)
|Format: eclectic mix of various genres, with The Fat Men’s own music to feature prominently, as well as random talk by Waterstone. The format was eventually retired and merged into Praatgesprek, which was itself later retired.
|J-Pop Brain Channel
|Apart from J-pop and Japanese songs in general (including BGM from Japanese video games), this show was also supposed to feature binaural beats and other types of audio claimed to be “good for the brain” (hence the Brain Channel); this was uncommon, though. Eventually retired.
|Presented by Waterstone with van Velzen as the recurring guest, this was a talk show discussing football in the vein of similar television shows, with the focus mainly on the Dutch Eredivisie, as well as Dutch players abroad and international football of some importance. Only a few episodes were aired. The show’s title translates to Margin, which drew an analogy between the margin of a page and the touchline of a football pitch (Dutch: zĳlĳn). The slogan was “The show that plays out in the margin of professional football” (Dutch: de show die zich afspeelt in de kantlĳn van het betaalde voetbal).
|The show’s title is a pun on the Dutch words klassiek ‘classical’ and ziek ‘sick’ (used here with the slang meaning ‘excellent’); thus, an appropriate English translation would have been ClasSICKal. Apart from classical music, orchestral film music and orchestral arrangements of video game music were also played. Initially presented by Haertlein, later by Waterstone.
|Title translates to Talking-Conversation (an ad-hoc Dutch compound word formation). The format was supposed to be that of a talk show occasionally interspersed with music, where all DJs who were available were supposed to present together, while listeners had the opportunity to call in. Only Waterstone, de Miranda, and Haertlein ever presented, though, with Waterstone being the only presenter most of the time, and the show was eventually retired.
|Retteketet Met Ahmed
|Ahmed El Jappaoui
|The show was planned, and a jingle was recorded, but El Jappaoui repeatedly failed to start broadcasting at his designated starting time, preferring to play the MMORPG Maple Story instead. This increasingly frustrated Waterstone, who presented during the preceding timeslot and thus had to transfer control of the broadcast to El Jappaoui. The show was duly cancelled, having never actually been aired.
|Toman In De Avond
Eredivisie Live (on Sundays)
|usually 3 hours
|Thomas Haertlein (as Toman The Great)
|Title translates to Toman In The Evening. On Friday and Saturday evenings, the show featured live commentary on Eredivisie matches, which was an item titled Eredivisie Live. On Sunday afternoons, this was used as the name of the show itself (since the afternoon is not the evening), although Sunday afternoon broadcasts would sometimes continue into a regular Toman In De Avond broadcast at Haertlein’s discretion. The show also featured various other items, including Willem Keurig Bellen Met De Fapperpomptang Met Toman The Great (a tongue-in-cheek reference to the song Hup, daar is Willem met de Waterpomptang from the Dutch children’s show De Fabeltjeskrant). This was an item in which Haertlein would randomly call people, which included friends of his as well as prank calls.
|Toman op de Voetbalavond
|at least 90 minutes
|Matches of Dutch clubs (especially AFC Ajax) in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup, interspersed with music and news much like in regular Toman In De Avond broadcasts.
|up to 3 hours
|See description below.
FMFM Top 40
On Sunday afternoons, Waterstone presented a show titled simply Top 40. The format involved a voting form on the The Fat Men website, during which listeners could vote for songs aired in Monday through Saturday broadcasts. The votes were then counted up, with the 40 songs that received the most votes ranked into a Top 40 and broadcast in order of votes from least to most, i.e., from the number 40 to the number 1. Broadcasts were centered on the music and were usually bare, with Waterstone only talking sparingly between songs to announce the next song, its position in the chart, and any changes in its position compared to the previous week. A short drum roll and ‘tada’ sound effect were played before each song, with special sound effects replacing the ‘tada’ for the top 10 songs (a loud gong for #10 through #4 and the same loud gong combined with the takbir for the top three songs). Broadcasts lasted as long as needed to play all songs, which was usually between two and three hours, and usually started around noon so that Waterstone would have time to watch the Formula One race afterwards, which usually started at 2 or 3 p.m. (on days when the race started at a different time, or there was no F1, broadcasts sometimes started later). One Sunday each summer was dedicated to the fictional Top 40 Rally, for which the usual voting system was not used; rather, this was a nonstop music broadcast, featuring a specially compiled playlist interspersed with ads for companies sponsoring the event (Cola Burqa, Kakman Verzekeringen). This was presented as broadcast from the location of the race; the idea being that the drivers joined the audience while driving in the race, using their in-car radio. At the end of each year, in the days preceding New Year’s Day (usually starting on Boxing Day), a long compilation edition was broadcast featuring all songs that had made the Top 40 that year (mirroring the Top 2000, although it was not a nonstop marathon broadcast but a new one each day). For this edition, a scoring system was used in which songs received points for their position in each week’s chart (40 points for the #1, counting down to one point for the #40); the points were then added together, leading to a final ranking that was played from bottom to top, like the regular Top 40. This edition of the Top 40 was known as the Top 285 in 2007 and simply as the Top heleboel (Top whole bunch) in 2008.
On several occasions, FMFM went off-air for extended periods owing to computer crashes or internet connection troubles, which caused the Top 40 to stall for weeks on end. This caused the songs occupying the list in those weeks to rank especially high in the end-of-season ranking, which they might not otherwise have.
The Fat Men football team
|The Fat Men
In 2007 and 2008, FMFM was becoming increasingly football-focused, with Haertlein’s football commentary increasingly gaining notoriety (and hence popularity). As a result, Waterstone and Haertlein—who regularly engaged in virtual and fictional football exploits together, as well as now and then playing together in real life—decided that it was time for a The Fat Men football team. This team may have been known as “Fat Men FC” or “The Fat Men FC”, but no records of an official name exist. The concept was that of an ‘all-star’ team that would convene at irregular intervals to play exhibition matches on various locations in Amsterdam, after the fashion of the Harlem Globetrotters. Waterstone and El Jappaoui had seen the film Shaolin Soccer in 2003, and liked the idea of presenting football in a glitzy, showy way with over-the-top, drawn-out announcements, stylized moves, and elaborate instant replays (so-called “kung fu replays”). No matches were ever played, however; in fact, the team folded before the players had even trained together.
Since The Fat Men only consisted of eight people (seven after van Velzen left the band), which is not enough to form a football team, several people were added to the team as players. This included van Velzen; Kevin Haertlein; Bart Visbeek; van Velzen’s friend David “Divad” Kempenaar, who was also an acquaintance of The Fat Men’s; and others. In order to further boost the apparent size of the squad, two fictional players were also added: Willep de Vriep (a reference to a Dutch television commercial) and Giannis “Yiannis” Astimarakis. Astimarakis (Greek: Γιάννης Αστιμαράκις) was a caricature of a lazy centre-forward who merely waits near the opponent’s goal until he is given the ball, rather than actively involving himself in play (i.e. a ‘goal-hanger’, Dutch: ballenwachter); a real-life example of this at the time was Greek Ajax striker Giannis Anastasiou. Giannis Astimarakis’ given name is a reference to Anastasiou, while his family name is a pun on the Dutch as-t-ie maar raak is [ˌɑstimaˈɾaːkɪs] (a colloquial way of saying ‘as long as it’s in the net’). The character had previously been featured on a segment in one of Waterstone’s shows on FMFM, titled De Avonturen van Yiannis Astimarakis (The Adventures of Yiannis Astimarakis), which itself was part of an item titled De Karel en Arie Show (The Karel and Arie Show). Given that these latter two players were fictional, it was simply decided to always list them as unused substitutes on the bench.
Waterstone had plans to order custom shirts and have the players’ names and squad numbers printed on them. However, van Velzen, a staunch Ajax supporter, refused to wear Waterstone’s design—which featured a vertical split through the middle with red on the sinister side and white on the dexter—on the grounds that it looked too similar to the Feyenoord shirt. Waterstone, a Feyenoord supporter, responded to this by swapping the red with the orange of the sleeves; van Velzen, however, remained unsatisfied with the design. It is not known if this disagreement was ultimately the reason the team never got off the ground, although it is likely to have at least played a part.
Legacy and subsequent activities
In early 2009, Waterstone occasionally worked as a DJ on LichtSnel in addition to his activities for FMFM. This had come about through his connection with Kevin Haertlein. Although his broadcasts were generally well received by the audience, which was considerably larger than that of FMFM, he soon left this position again because he felt the required commitment was too great (in fact, he missed the starting time for his broadcast several times).
After Waterstone—who would later change his name to J.A. Brown—began to suffer from depression and gender dysphoria in the summer of that same year, he stopped working on all The Fat Men-related projects, including FMFM. This left Haertlein as the only person in charge of the radio station. Starting on or around 21 August, Haertlein continued the station’s broadcasts (under the name “Radio FMFM”) in a watered-down form, sometimes with the help of his brother. He maintained the Top 40 (now reduced to a Top 20) and the concept of the audience voting for songs. This continued until early 2013, although the station appears to have kept broadcasting in a fully automated nonstop format, similar to the ‘request’ format used on LichtSnel and KevFM, until at least 24 September 2017.
The Fat Men never performed live on stage. At one point, there was a plan for a live-action feature film, to be produced by de Miranda, with a script and music in the works. This film was supposed to be a comedy in the vein of Dutch comedy films of the time such as All Stars and Shouf Shouf Habibi!, with a story revolving around Toman The Great as André, the bartender of neighbourhood bar “De Lachende Kroes” (“The Laughing Chalice”). The plan was for members of the band to appear in the film as themselves, although there was also a cast list that featured well-known Dutch actors in the roles of The Fat Men. However, the film never progressed past the draft stage. Most of the group’s members graduated from secondary school in 2008 or 2009 and then gradually lost touch with one another. Waterstone/Brown briefly worked on several projects with Bollinger in 2009 (when both had a job at the Dutch mail) and possibly 2010, and kept interacting with Haertlein until at least late 2010. After that, no records are known to exist of any former The Fat Men members working on projects together. De Miranda would keep making music as a solo artist for several years, while Bollinger would go on to play in many bands, sometimes with great success.
One of The Fat Men’s major influences was electronic music, both the electro-pop sound as heard in MCWaris’ earlier song “Ziet Tiedeldiet” and DJ Katmaï’s more hardcore sound, which was influenced by artists like Benny Benassi (cf. “Teh Gruwelĳke Hardcore”). Another major contributing influence in this area were De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig, whose electronic hip-hop hit single “Watskeburt?!” was released in May 2005, shortly before work on what was to become The Fat Man’s Diary started. Lyrically, De Jeugd influenced The Fat Men as well, especially in later (unreleased) Waterstone-lyricized songs, some of which were straight parodies of De Jeugd songs. The concept of writing parodies of popular songs, meanwhile, was influenced by “Weird Al” Yankovic. Other hip-hop influences were Ali G and Def Rhymz. Furthermore, the influence of St Germain’s jazzy lounge can be clearly heard on “SmoothWiriFlava”. Finally, video game music especially by Nintendo’s Koji Kondo (as heard on “Kerst Met Ome Kattebrand”) was an influence; several band members, specifically de Miranda and Waterstone, were frequent listeners to video game music remixes on OC ReMix.
The Fat Men only ever released one single and one album on a physical compact disc; plans for a second album were in the works, but ultimately fell through, and the song Terrortubbies was only released digitally.
- The Fat Man’s Diary (2006)
- “Artists” page at The Fat Men official website (archived), June 2008
- Radio FMFM Twitter (has not been used since 2013)
- Archive of Radio FMFM site, February 2010
- Introduction video for the group, listing the music style each member supposedly performed. YouTube.
- Making-of video for Terrortubbies. YouTube.
- The “Artists” page on the official The Fat Men website (archived) mentions that it was a project from the 2004–2005 school year, but there is unclarity regarding other sources. The open mic night took place once a year, in December.
- Blog post describing the return of FMFM with a new schedule. tomanthegreat.nl, 15 December 2008
- “About”. tomanthegreat.nl, 21 August 2009
- Blog post in which Haertlein describes a lack of on-air activity in August and September. tomanthegreat.nl, 20 September 2008
- Blog post mentioning FMFM returning on 16 December after months of inactivity. tomanthegreat.nl, 17 December 2008
- Last Tweet relating to FMFM activity, 8 January 2013
- Archive of radiofmfm.nl, 24 September 2017
- Waterstone’s old Twitter, last used in 2011, last mentions Haertlein on 14 September 2010
- The verb krakken is not normally used in Dutch, and was an ad-hoc neologism derived from the onomatopoeia krak ‘crack’; it does not refer to cracking messages, but rather describes some undefined action related to delivering and opening.