FIDLAR's Zac Carper Talks Cheap Beer, Getting Fucked Up, and The Future Of Snotty Punk.
The debut full-length from LA ne'er-do-wells FIDLAR is saturated with lines about its members being fucked up, broke and having too much fun skating to really care about getting their lives in order.
But, though much of the situations described are potentially bleak (read: living in one's car, experiencing seemingly endless boredom, avoiding sobriety and/or 9-to-5 jobs like the plague) there's a certain degree of optimism scattered throughout the disc's 14 tracks. Chalk that up to the fact that much of the “problems” here are self-imposed, or otherwise side effects from an attempt at hanging on to perpetual youth. Or, perhaps, all this can be attributed to the “fuck it dog, life's a risk” mantra from which the band has derived its name.
For what it's worth, the bandâ€™s carefree attitude has been working in its favor. The band released a full-length for Mom + Pop Records this year, embarked on a seemingly never-ending tour thatâ€™s taken them to Europe and Australia, and, next year, will be opening a spate of dates for the Pixies.
First, though, the band is in Texas this week to play the Austin Cit Limits Festival and, tomorrow night, Forth Worth venue Lolaâ€™s Saloon. In advance of that Fort Worth date, we caught up with singer/guitarist Zac Carper to see how things on the band's first US tour as headliners are going.
From the sounds of things, the band's been experiencing just as many drugged-up, caution-to-the-wind moments as one might expect.
How's everything going right now on tour?
Good, good. We just saw some crackhead beating up another crackhead. That was pretty interesting.
Where are you guys?
In Tucson. We played a show last night in Tucson.
This is your first headlining tour, right?
This is our first time. I mean, we did the headlining tour thing in Europe and Australia, but this is the first time we're doing a headlining tour in America. It's pretty exciting.
What's your living situation like these days? Are you pretty much on the road all the time?
Yeah, pretty much. It's just living in the van and being on tour the whole time and having five dudes in a fucking hotel room.
You guys all share one room? Do you have a rotation or some kind of system of who has to sleep on the floor?
Yeah, we're still broke. We've been getting a cot. Everybody's been fighting for the cot. Otherwise, you'd have to share a bed with somebody in the band. But that's pretty much it. We're just kind of living on the road and doing that. We were in Europe all summer, so it was kind of easy. We just got used to it, to tell you the truth. We just kind of got used to it. Now whenever I'm back at home for more than, like, a week, I start freaking out a little bit. I get so bored.
The road's got to be tough, too. One of the last times you guys were in town, you mistakenly referred to the Dallas crowd as Houston crowd.
Wait. We were in Dallas and I said, “Hello Houston!” or something?
Something like that.
Yeah, yeah. I did that a lot.
That being said, what are some of the dumber things that have happened onstage at some of your shows?
We played this show at a trailer park — we played right in front of this trailer — and some girl just shit off the trailer while we were playing. I think she missed the people, but it was still like, “What the hell?” I've never seen that before my entire life. It was pretty whack. In Sweden, I climbed something at the end of the set and I looked down and it was insane. I was like, “Oh shit. That's really far.” It gets kinda rowdy. Sometimes you just get bored. For me, I'll get bored playing the same shit, so you've got to do things to entertain yourself.
Tell us a little about your music video with Nick Offerman. How did that come about? Were the Funny or Die folks big fans of yours?
Elvis and Max [Kuehn] — they're brothers in the band and are family friends with Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally, his wife. What happened was, we were on the road and we got an email from Nick Offerman saying he read about us in some magazine in the dentist's office. He actually came up with the whole treatment of it. That's how that happened. He just came over one day and we shot it. It was super easy and super relaxed. He's super rad. It was just really funny. He had this whole email saying what he wanted to do, and it was really funny. It was a super spur-of-the-moment, improv-type thing.
That same spur-of-the-moment, carefree, party vibe comes through in a lot of the band's music and lyrics. But, from what we read, the band was really born, more or less, in the studio. What are some other ways where people's perceptions of the band maybe don't quite match up with the real FIDLAR?
There's this whole thing about the punk rock, party lifestyle. We all grew up listening to punk music and stuff and everybody always associates us with, like, “Oh man, they must get fucked up a lot.” I mean, we do, but as much as any fucking kid in their 20s. There's been dark moments in my past with drugs and stuff, but it's just what people go through. A lot of people will be like, “Wanna do a line of meth with me?” And it's just, like, “I'd love to, but I gotta say no. I have to do this all over again tomorrow.” This one kid at our record release show came up to me and said, “Hey man, do you wanna smoke a bowl?” And I was like, “Yeah, I'll smoke a bowl.” I'm just thinking it was weed, y'know? He goes into the bathroom and pulls out a crack pipe. I was like, “Whoa! OK, that kind of bowl! But I ended up smoking it.”
You guys do sing about drugs a lot. Do you think you have to do a lot of drugs or have certain experiences with drugs in order to write a good drug song?
No, I don't think so. You can write whatever you want. You don't have to write about experience or anything. You can write a song without ever having experiencing something — you're just writing a song. But drugs help. It does give you a sense of direction.
One of our favorite of your songs is “Cheap Beer.” Is that song a reaction to the big craft beer boom that's kind of going on right now?
No. Me and my brother-in-law were in the studio talking about going to a party and some bro talking shit on the beer that you're drinking. I was drinking a lot of malt liquor, like King Cobras, and I'd always have somebody being like, “Man, that's disgusting.” But it's like, “Fuck you, man. You're not drinking it.” I remember talking about that with him and telling him I just wanted this song to be like, “I drink cheap beer. So what? Fuck you.” And he was like, “Why don't you just sing that?” That was pretty funny.
What are some of your other favorite cheap beers?
My favorite would probably be Coors Light. The silver bullet!
Thereâ€™s another song on the album where you refer to your friends as “pieces of shit.” Have any of them called you out on that yet?
No, because it's true. They all know that.
Your band's name insinuates that life's all about taking risks. What are some of the biggest risks you've taken as a band?
I donâ€™t know. Probably signing to a label. When we were shopping around for labels, we wanted to find one that would just do whatever we wanted to do. We've found that with [Mom + Pop]. We just need full creative control. That happens to a lot of bands where everyone's idea of what they want it to be like just gets tainted.
We've found that a lot of punk bands — and maybe this is not a good example, but take Green Day — start out writing songs about masturbation and drugs and then eventually that has to go somewhere and they end up writing rock operas or whatever. Where do you guys see yourself in the future? What's the shelf life on writing snotty punk songs?
I don't know. We don't really think about it that much. It reminds me: I just saw this documentary called The Other F-Word. It's like the old punk dads having kids and stuff. I remember Mark Hoppus saying, “When we got back on tour, there were some songs I couldn't sing because I didn't want to sing about jerking off anymore.” It's just kind of true. Maybe we'll have a cheap wine song on the next album. I think a lot of bands get wrapped up in what they want it to be presented as and they kind of lose touch. They're more concerned with the image and how people perceive it than the actual music. You've just got to be yourself.
FIDLAR performs Wednesday, October 9, at Lola's Saloon.