Photo by David Black
It's hard not to be sucked in by the chandelier-swinging, high-octane party-punk of L.A. buzz-band FIDLAR. Everything about them screams awesome, from their name-an acronym for "Fuck It Dog, Life's A Risk"-to the rallying cry on their song "Cheap Beer": "I. Drink. Cheap. Beer. So. What. Fuck. You!"-to the fact that their wild shows regularly attract police. Ahead of their show next week with punk veterans OFF! at the Ché Café, we spoke on the phone with frontman Zac Carper and lead guitarist Elvis Kuehn about their taste for rowdyism, their love for DIY venues and a new album they're working on.
CityBeat: So, how has it been playing shows with OFF! recently?
Zac Carper: It's been good. They're just sweethearts. They're definitely old-school dudes; they've been around it, they know what it's like. They're doing it for the music, ya know? They're just playing rock and roll and good punk-rock. It's cool, though. [Drummer] Max and Elvis [Kuehn, who are brothers] grew up in that whole L.A. punk scene. They know Keith [Morris, OFF!'s singer] really well and I've worked with Steven [McDonald, bass] at the studio before, and yeah, they're just rad dudes.
Things get pretty rowdy with your live shows, yeah?
ZC: We always have that kind of problem. Actually, we don't even really consider it a problem. We enjoy it.
Elvis Kuehn: You [Zac] got tackled that one time. That was New Years Eve, wasn't it? Yeah, Zac got knocked over. We were playing on the floor and there were a bunch of drunk kids and there's this picture of this guy who's on top of Zac and looks like he's humping him [laughs].
ZC: Yeah, it gets pretty crazy. I remember the last time we played in San Francisco, we played at the Depot and we couldn't even play the set, really, but it was still fun. I remember the sound guy saying, "Everyone get off the stage, the band needs to play," but then Elvis was like, "Nah, fuck that, everyone get on the stage." We really like that shit, ya know? As long as kids are having a good time and having fun, it's good.
You guys have been blowing up recently in the L.A. scene. Can you peg a reason for your success? Do you think you're doing something different than the other bands around?
ZC: Our first handful of shows, we made it more of a party than a show. We would throw house parties and play either at a house or any DIY place that we find. I remember the first couple shows that we threw, we would make a bunch of booze for kids. Well, not kids, but we'd just have a bunch of booze and beer for people. We just had a party vibe instead of a show kind of thing.
EK: Plus, all of our friends were really supportive and came to every show. I mean, even if no one came to see us, we'd still have a small crowd because we had a good group of friends that support the band. We'd be nowhere without them.
ZC: Yeah, we would play these shows for our close friends, we'd play in the Pep Boys parking lot, and then a bunch of house parties. We kind of stayed away from venues for a while because nobody knew who we were so we just played house parties. It was kind of a different way of doing it, but it worked for us.
You guys signed with Mom + Pop and are putting out an album in June. Can you talk a little bit about the new record?
ZC: We recorded it all ourselves at our house in Los Angeles and we mixed it all ourselves, too. It's pretty raw. It's going to be a raw record and we made it a point with the label to make sure that was the case.
EK: It's definitely a mixture of all the different sounds that we have. It has that pop element mixed with a heavy element. It has a lot of different stuff on there.
ZC: Yeah, the songs are kinda all over the place. There are some that are, like, super heavy guitar and some are straight punk. We really tried to capture all the elements that we have when we play live; we definitely wanted to keep that energy in the recordings. But we still use the studio as an instrument also. So, we create a bunch of different sounds and play with the arrangement. Everything that we can't pull off live, we weren't afraid to do that in the studio.
Have you guys played San Diego before, have you played at the Ché?
ZC: We've played the Che before twice, once with Japanther and once with No Age, and those were great shows. Ché Café is one of our favorite venues; the kids really go off. We're really looking forward to playing there again.
FIDLAR plays with OFF! and Spider Fever at the Ché Café on Tuesday, May 15.