The Underground Sounds Of America: FIDLAR
For a certain kind of coldy-skulling keef-smoking skate punk, FIDLAR (an acronym for the mantra ‘Fuck It, Dog, Life’s A Risk’) are the only band anyone needs. The Los Angeles-based punk rock four-piece channel an honest mixture of devil-may-care good times and modern anxiety-riddled self-doubt through jangling guitars, foot-stomping beats, and sing-along choruses. As such, the band’s all-in approach to their sound has enamored an army of young diehards who like to get super fucked up but are smart enough to think about it, and have seen their shows regularly shut down by the fuzz.
Each of FIDLAR’s releases – 2013’s self-titled debut and 2015’s Too – have seen the band grow both in popularity and as human beings, with frontman Zac Carper dealing with his personal addictions and those of the people close to him. Now, they’re getting ready to release Almost Free, an album that sounds as fun, energetic, and out of control as anything they’ve ever written – which is the exact opposite of how it was written and recorded.
“it took us a while to make this record,” says Zac. “Each song was meticulously thought about. It was a bouncing back and forth between us and a producer over the course of a year and a half. Some of the songs, we had a beat and decided to add a bunch of shit to it, and that was the vibe. But there were moments that I never thought would’ve sounded how they do on the record. It’s just such a weird record for us, as a whole.”
Listening to Almost Free, the obvious shift in the band’s sound is something that might sound like a dirty word to some FIDLAR fans: maturity. Though tracks like Alcohol and Kick showcase the band’s traditional sense of good ol’ bad times, unexpected songs like the ultra-danceable By Myself and the bombastic horn-strewn Scam Likely, the band shows a purposeful turn in a more polished direction, showcasing influences picked up from touring the world with big-name acts like the Hives and the Pixies.
“Our taste keeps evolving,” says Zac. “We get influenced by all kinds of stuff. It’s not just music – we were in Europe a bunch and traveling had a big influence on us. But those were some of our craziest shows. But the best part is, we have a really great fanbase, so our shows are fun everywhere. We always have a good time.”
Excited to hear where the come-down is going, we reached out to Zac and guitarist/vocalist Elvis Kuehn to learn
If you had to play a newcomer one FIDLAR song to introduce them to the band, what would it be?
Zac Carper: I think Cheap Beer. It’s a classic.
Elvis Kuehn: Either that or maybe Alcohol from the new record. It has the vibe of our old stuff.
Who would you say are FIDLAR’s greatest musical influences?
Zac: When we were starting it was a lot of the garage rock revival stuff happening out here in LA. Black Lips, DOC, stuff like that. One of the first bonding moments that Elvis and I had was over Queens Of The Stone Age, Songs For The Deaf. A song like Millionnaires especially.
Elvis: Yeah, I’d say Queens, Beastie Boys, CCR… and the Three Six Mafia! We were obsessed with them.
Who would be on FIDLAR’s dream tour?
Zac: I’d love to play with the Rolling Stones in a small venue, but not what they’re doing now. That’d be daunting. I don’t want to play to 80,000 dads who’re going to yell at us. When we were on tour with the Pixies, every show there was some guy yelling, ‘GET OFF THE STAGE.’ It was like, ‘Thanks, dad!’
Elvis: I was talking to our booking agent recently, and was like, Why don’t you submit us for those any way? It’s never going to happen.
Zac: The Rolling Stones and Beastie Boys with FIDLAR. 2,000, 3,000-cap rooms entirely.
Outside of music, what hobby are you most passionate about?
Elvis: For me, I’d say cooking. I have a pretty good butternut squash with tahini. I make the tahini. That’s a pretty solid one.
Zac: Cooking! Wow, I did not see that one coming! I think it’d be surfing. That’d be my thing.
You guys have toured extensively, and are known for your drink- and drug-heavy lyrics – is there a specific city that’s always more insane than others?
Zac: New York for sure. Every time I go to New York, I feel like shit for two days afterwards, because you never sleep and you’re partying, running into old friends… for a little bit, it was Chicago. Every time we went to Chicago, we’d get into trouble. And Florida, because it’s so weird. It’s pretty island-y and hickish, and that’s what’s kind of tight about it. I like that pirate shit.
FIDLAR’s Almost Free drops on January 25 via Mom+Pop Records. Preorder it here.
Make sure to catch FIDLAR live at one of the live shows below:
Jan. 25 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
Jan. 26 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Teragram Ballroom
Feb. 13 - St. Louis, MO @ Delmar Hall
Feb. 14 - Kansas City, MO @ The Truman
Feb. 15 - Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Line Music Cafe
April 5 - Bogotá, Colombia @ Festival Estéreo Picnic
April 10 - Mexico City, Mexico @ Sala Corona
May 3-5 - Atlanta, GA @ Shaky Knees Festival
WORDS: Chris Krovatin
PHOTO: David Black