Fidlar "No Waves"

Tuneage // Cristina Black // 05/25/12
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We shot this story at Purgatory Pizza in Downtown LA—the restaurant makes it a point to give local band members day jobs that accommodate last minute shows!
We shot this story at Purgatory Pizza in Downtown LA—the restaurant makes it a point to give local band members day jobs that accommodate last minute shows!

First thing Zac Carper tells me is that he's really, really hungover. He's on the phone from his L.A. apartment, resting up from the night before, when his band, FIDLAR, played their first headlining show at local club the Echo. "It was really f*cking fun and we partied until really late," he says. When drummer Max Kuehn jumps on the call (three-way!) he confirms Carper's assessment of the previous evening. "It was even crazier than we imagined it would be," he says, surprised a real-venue show wasn't exactly tame.

See, FIDLAR built its fan base playing super-loud surf-and-skate pop-punk at house parties around Socal. At first, they held these ragers at their own place. But things got out of control quickly. “The last couple were insane,”says Kuehn.“There were a ridiculous amount of people, like, stealing laptops, tagging the walls. It was not cool.” Soon, they learned to let other people host, and, on occasion, deal with the cops. The two of them actually met at—you guessed it—a party in Echo Park. “Even before we started jamming together,” Kuehn recalls, “I knew Zac as ‘the FIDLAR dude.’” The band’s name comes from a saying and common tag in the skate community, an acronym for “F*ck it dog, life’s a risk.” Along with Max’s brother Elvis Kuehn and bassist Brandon Schwartzel, they solidified around a canon of short, insanely infectious songs with titles like “Wake Bake Skate,” and “Max Can’t Surf,” almost all of which put forth their interest in two things: board sports and partying.

Ironically, Carper tells me, FIDLAR’s latest single, “No Waves,” is inspired by what happens when you try not to party, á la Amy Winehouse. “I was talking to my friend about rehab,” he recalls. “They always ask you how you feel.” Set to a scorching pace, the song puts forth a litany of emotions such a question might yield. The music is so upbeat and danceable, you don’t notice right away how wistful the lyrics are unless you listen hard to the chorus: “I feel like shooting up / I feel like giving up on my skateboard and my five-foot board / I want a perfect life and a sunset shore.”

Carper mentions drinking no less than five times during our conversation. It brings to mind the headline on a recent LA Weekly story about the band’s rise in popularity: “FIDLAR are Drunk, Reckless and Proud of It.” I wonder if it’s true, and if they are okay with being identified as rash wastoids. “It’s not like we’re trying to convey this image,” says Kuehn. “That’s just what we write about. We hang out and drink beer and smoke weed. That’s our day-to-day life.” Carper adds that sometimes fans are disappointed that he and his band mates have a serious work ethic and lives outside of beer. “We’re like this so-called slacker punk thing,” he says, “but we’re actually really busy. We record everything ourselves, we make our own t-shirts and stickers. It’s a lot of f*cking work.”

And it’s starting to pay off. The band has recently signed with the revered indie label Mom + Pop. From now on, they’ll be playing “real” shows, touring around the country and doing press and all of the other things a band has to do if they hope to make a career out of a series of eff-it-all parties. They admit they’re nervous about the transition, but one thing’s for sure: they’re not going to morph into a corporate rock band any time soon. “Lyrically,” says Carper, “I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

The "No Waves/No Ass" 7" is out now on Mom + Pop.

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Originally published in June/July 2012

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