FIDLAR: Risk-Taking, SoCal Pop-Punks Unleash True Sounds of Liberty

"If you’re drinking at a party and you're like, 'Should I have this 12th beer?' FIDLAR, dude. Just do it."

FIDLAR
FIDLAR
Chris Martins WRITTEN BY
Chris Martins

WHO: Four hard-partying, hook-hawking punk primitivists from Los Angeles whose name is the skate-speak equivalent of "YOLO." FIDLAR stands for "Fuck it, dog, life's a risk"—a handy dare if your bud is feeling squeamish about popping that ollie off the neighbor's roof or, as singer Zac Carper explains, "If you're drinking at a party and you're like, ‘Should I have this 12th beer?' FIDLAR, dude. Just do it." Formed in 2009, the foursome attained local infamy by giving out free songs — like the recent Shit We Recorded in Our Bedroom EP — and promoting house shows online. "The Internet is our version of a zine," says drummer Max Kuehn.

RIDING THE WAVVE: FIDLAR's catchy, but frills-free songs land them between the spiked hardcore of Trash Talk and the fuzzy surf-pop of Wavves. "That's our scene," says guitarist Elvis Kuehn. "There are a lot of rad bands reviving guitar music in L.A." He and his brother Max connect the group to a deeper lineage as well. Their dad is Greg Kuehn, longtime keyboardist for O.G. SoCal punks T.S.O.L. At the age of 13, the boys opened for the Germs and Circle Jerks in a band called the Diffs. Still, they don't get a pass. "My mom just called me out for trying to get weed on Twitter," laments Max.

GIMME 12 STEPS: While FIDLAR's self-titled debut, due out in January via Mom + Pop, is rife with peppy, debauched anthems like "Wake Bake Skate" and "Cheap Beer," it comes with a disclaimer. Carper, who was born on Hawaii's Oahu island, moved to the mainland after committing a drunken hit-and-run at home. He joined Alcoholics Anonymous in L.A., and picked up work at a studio where he also slept. "I was sober for two years when I met these guys," he says. "I was miserable, but then somebody told me, ‘Make sure you party to be stoked.' That was my problem. I was getting fucked up 'cause I was bummed out."

HOME IS WHERE THE PARTY IS: FIDLAR recently wrapped back-to-back tours with the Hives and they've got their own live-work compound in the city — a converted auto dealership that Carper and bassist Brandon Schwartzel call home, and where FIDLAR was recorded amidst a steady stream of parties, shows, and breaks to make "digital graffiti," their bizarre and often hilarious YouTube clips. They've upgraded across the board, but Carper's got another old habit he can't shake. Max explains: "His bed is in the control room."

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