“Hi! We’re a band called FIDLAR. That’s F-I-D-L-A-R. It stands for Fuck It Dog, Life’s A Risk!”
This is the introductory line spouted at the beginning of every FIDLAR show, as ubiquitous as “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash” or “We’re Mötörhead, we play rock & roll.” It would also lead you into one of the sweatiest, loosest and most debaucherous live shows around. It’s what FIDLAR have defined themselves on for the last few years – with rallying cries of defiance and blazing (pun intended) odes to all of rock’s greater narcotic excesses, the FIDLAR acronym basically became garage-rock’s version of YOLO.
Cut to the present day, however, and things are a little different. The good times nearly killed FIDLAR, and they’ve got a darker, weirder and more aggressive new LP to show for it. Too, from its boozy beginnings to its hazy end, takes what has been established in the world of FIDLAR previously and expands it into strange new lands. It’s not the follow-up people were expecting – and that’s exactly why it succeeds.
Music Feeds got a quick chat out of the band’s lead singer & guitarist, Zac Carper, to shoot the shit on Too, discuss songwriting and explain how to be Missy Elliott on a budget… yes, really.
Watch: FIDLAR – Leave Me Alone
Music Feeds: Talk us through the beginnings of making Too. Did the band intentionally set out to make a record considerably different from the last, or was it simply a matter of finding interest in other styles of songwriting?
Zac Carper: Yes to both, to be honest. Growing up’s weird, isn’t it? [laughs] When we started FIDLAR, I was 20. I was buying beer for the rest of the guys! Max was still in high school, Elvis had just started college… it was a different time. It didn’t make sense to make another blown-out garage record. It didn’t feel like it would have been true, y’know?
It’s crazy, because we didn’t really have a plan of how we wanted it to sound. It just came out like that – the songs kept getting weirder and weirder, and the more weird stuff that we added, the more that we liked it. After the whole thing, the one thing I remember is that we knew it didn’t sound like anything that’s out right now. The elements all together make it something really crazy for us.
MF: Which song was the first where you had an idea of where Too was headed?
ZC: It was probably Bad Habits, which is the last song on the record. Once I wrote that song, there were like ten after that which pretty [much] made up the record. Before that, I wrote about 30 fucking songs, trying to get somewhere with it. The first 20 were terrible. Something wasn’t clicking. The songs sounded like they were trying to be FIDLAR. It didn’t feel like it was true to me.
MF: What do you draw that back to? Why do you think it took you that long to find your feet again?
ZC: Y’know what it was? It was the garage rock scene in LA. When FIDLAR was starting out, there was no-one our age that was really doing the garage rock thing – maybe a handful of bands. Rock & roll bands, y’know? I wanted to make this a three-chord “fuck you” to anyone that would listen… then, after we went on tour and came back home, that was the scene. Everyone was doing that! I was kind of taken aback.
Now I’m going to shows and I feel like it’s high school again – there’s like little scenes and cliques and whatever. Fuck this! I didn’t want to be a part of any scene. Writing those songs, I sounded like one of those bands. I couldn’t let that happen – it sounded predictable. It sounded like what people were expecting of us. After I came to that conclusion, I had to write about what I wanted to. I had to just do what was right for me.
Watch: FIDLAR – Drone
MF: That time you spent away on tour was definitely important, though – your reputation has very much been cemented as a must-see live band. Do you recall the 2013 Sydney show, by any chance?
ZC: Bits and pieces, man. Bits and pieces. [laughs]
MF: There was the moment during Wake Bake Skate where you were literally hanging off the top of the lighting rig, kicking out a speaker in the process. Meanwhile, so many people got on stage that Max’s kit fell over…
ZC: Oh, yeah! [laughs] Fuck, that was wild.
MF: The take-away, really, was that FIDLAR has to be experienced live. Do you feel that much is going to be true of these new songs?
ZC: It’s hard to say at this point. We haven’t toured properly yet on the back of these songs. We’ve always made a point of having our live shows be a bit different, though. It was our thing – we wanted to make it separate. We love having energy at our shows. I love seeing kids mosh. Sometimes we’ll make a song, like, 10% faster. It makes it so much more fun for us.
MF: So Too will sound different live, then? There’s a lot more production and layering on a few of these tracks.
ZC: Oh, definitely. If we wanted to make it sound exactly like it does on the record, we would have to have, like, eight people on stage with us.
MF: To be fair, an eight-piece FIDLAR sounds fucking awesome…
ZC: It totally does now that I’m saying it out loud! [laughs]
MF: We were introduced to the album with 40oz. On Repeat, which was backed up with probably the best video you guys have ever done. There’s only one real way to follow up having Nick Offerman pissing on everything, and that was to throw on some garbage bags and pretend to be Missy Elliott…
ZC: Fuck yeah, dude! [laughs] FIDLAR can be a little dark lyrically sometimes, but outside of that the main thing we like to do is crack each other up. Even the most tortured artists like to have fun sometimes. We had a limited amount of money, but we just wanted to show some love to the videos we used to watch.
We’d just make shit – you wouldn’t believe how easy it was to make that Missy Elliott suit, man. [laughs] It was so much fun to do, and we were so stoked with people’s response to it.
MF: The only thing left to ask is when we’ll have you guys back here for some more crazy rock shows?
ZC: As soon as we can! It’s happening, definitely, I just don’t know when. You’ll know when it hits, though, trust me!
FIDLAR’s ‘Too’ is out now – click here.
Watch: FIDLAR – 40oz. On Repeat