Fatty Freelunch has been around the block.
“We were the first band to play SOMA, and we were the last band when it closed.” Ms. Freelunch is talking about Len Paul’s original south-of-Market venue downtown. She was the backup singer/dancer for Daddy Long Leggs, a San Diego staple on the band scene from 1984 to 1996. The punk/funk/ska band was founded by her older brother, Damien Dunmore, and played places such as L.A. punk showcase Madame Wong’s and the Palladium, where they opened for Fishbone.
“There was Fishbone and Bad Brains, but we were the only black punk rockers on the local scene when we started.... I’ve had a mohawk since I was 12.”
While in Daddy Long Leggs, Freelunch opened for Mighty Joe Young (later Stone Temple Pilots) in 1990.
“I loved the way Scott Weiland danced,” she recalls of that show at the now-defunct Bodie’s in the Gaslamp. “He asked me to go up onstage with him and dance with him on ‘I Call My Baby Pussy,’ by George Clinton.
“It was hard times for us black punk rockers back then because we had to go to white clubs to hear the music we liked. We’d be having a great time onstage, and then we’d see the crowd separating. You’d see skinheads coming to the front of the stage. They came in to do damage. You could see it in their eyes. It was hard to tell between the white-supremacist-Nazi-skinhead punks and the regular punk rockers who had the chains, suspenders, combat boots, and bomber jackets. My friends told me terrible stories of being attacked by skinheads. At least four to five shows were shut down because of them.”
Now in her 40s with four children, ranging in age from 2 to 24, Freelunch fronts her own six-member reggae/funk/rap/R&B band called Fatty Freelunch and the Natives. Though she raps in her new group, Freelunch says she’s trying to get fans to know that there’s more to music than hip-hop.
“It’s getting so predictable. I’m really tired of seeing 12 [rappers] onstage with one microphone. I’m trying to infiltrate my music into the hip-hop scene. Anyone can talk about bling and titties all day. I say [to the rappers] that since you don’t sing and you don’t play an instrument, you should at least have lyrics that mean something. A lot of hip-hop is very shallow to me.”
Fatty says she has made some headway into connecting with the predominantly hip-hop crowd that comes to see her band play every Wednesday night at Riley’s in Point Loma.
“The world is fucked up. I write to keep from cussing people out. We have to do something. Writing lyrics keeps you sane.”
Fatty says she is working on a musical play. “It’s Fatty Freelunch’s Fudge Factory. It’s a black version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory...pygmys instead of umpa-lumpas.”
Freelunch has bounced back and forth between L.A. and San Diego. “I ran away when I was in sixth grade. I would hang out with the Hollywood punk rockers in abandoned buildings like Errol Flynn’s mansion. Tourists from Australia and China would see our mohawks and take our pictures standing on the corner. We made them pay us for that.... After six months up there, my mom found me and took me back.
“I had to get out. L.A. is an evil place. If you ask me, it needs a big bucket of bleach to be dumped over it. There is gum on the sidewalk every six feet. San Diego is a much cleaner place.”