It’s staggering how many crimes FIDLAR commit on their self-titled debut album. You don’t even need to go past the opening track, the succinctly titled “Cheap Beer.” In a breathless 15-second clip, lead singer Zac Carper rattles off like six felonies: “Me and my friends in a $100 Volvo/ Bustin’ down the street while cruising Alvarado/ Gettin’ fucked up on the 101/ Shootin’ our guns and having fun/ 40 beers later and a line of speed/ 8 ball of blow and a half a pound of weed/ Heading down the tracks to Mexico/ Fucked on beer and stayin’ gold.”
“People do come to our shows expecting us to be all fucked up and shit, but honestly, we don’t really care.”
Backed by a pummeling, amphetamine-fueled psychobilly guitar riff, Carper’s delivery is the manancial yawp of an almost scream. If “Cheap Beer” is the de-facto statement-of-purpose from the L.A.-based quartet the chorus is the band’s thesis boiled down to its bare essentials: “I drink/ Cheap beer/ So what?/ Fuck you.” But even with these relatively vivid lyrics depicting countless nights fueled by beer, drugs, and firearms, FIDLAR don’t play up the criminal behavior depicted in their music for mere shock value.
“People do come to our shows expecting us to be all fucked up and shit, but honestly, we don’t really care,” said Carper from the group’s tour van as they embark on a small set of dates in California. “I mean, if you listen to the lyrics, they are mostly about partying, but they are [also] just stories that are actually pretty depressing. And it’s not so much that we are trying to glorify drugs, we’re just trying to tell stories.”
That artistic separation keeps FIDLAR (an acronym for “Fuck it Dog, Life’s a Risk”) from being strung-out messes themselves. Regardless, if a romantic notion of L.A. punk still exists, the 14 songs FIDLAR put together for their first full-length is the closest anyone’s come to personifying that idea in this decade, even if their music doesn’t always profile like a straight homage to the hardcore icons of the late ’70s and early ’80s. Tracks like the nihilistic rockers “No Waves,” “Gimme Something,” and “Cocaine” contain more nods to Creedence Clearwater Revival than Black Flag, while the catchy punk-pop slices of life in “9 to 5” and “Wake, Bake, Skate” play like grunged-up lo-fi versions of the Descendants and Blink-182. For the group, however, songwriting isn’t exactly an academic endeavor. “I don’t think we ever [think about our songwriting process] like “Oh we should incorporate this style into our music,” or “We should do a Creedence song here,”” said bassist Brandon Schwartzel. “We just listen to a lot of different music, and are influenced by a lot of different stuff, and it just comes out that way.”
With the release of their debut album (out now on Mom + Pop) the guys of FIDLAR could become L.A.’s latest poster boys for rough and tumble punk rock. For their second headlining European tour, the group wants to build on their growing overseas fanbase.
“Everyone told us that the crowds in Europe will just stand there with their arms crossed, not getting into it,” said Carper. “They ended up being the rowdiest crowds we’ve ever seen … a security guard ended up crowd surfing at the London show.” Turns out, the FIDLAR sound translates loud and clear across the Atlantic: wherever the band goes, misdemeanors follow.
Watch the band’s new video for “Max Can’t Surf II,” below. FIDLAR plays Bottom of the Hill with Wavves in San Francisco tonight. Check out their full lost of tour dates at Songkick.