Originally published online at BLUNT Magazine.
After releasing a killer debut album and taking it around the world, it was time for LA punks FIDLAR to get back in the studio. We caught up with frontman Zac Carper to discuss his band’s new record, Too, and what it means to fly the ‘90s pop-punk flag in 2015.
Since 2013, the FIDLAR hype-train has been barrelling full steam ahead. After a worldwide tour that saw the punk mob playing Reading Festival in the UK and opening for bands like The Hives and Pixies, it was time to get back in the studio and work on their sophomore release. Through good timing and a helping hand from Cage The Elephant’s Brad Shultz, they teamed up with producer Jay Joyce – a first for the band as they’d only ever self-produced. It’s this much more polished sound that goes hand-in-hand with the maturity found within their new album, Too. Their debut LP was very much a party record, whose main themes cycled between how good it is to get wasted, and how good it feels to be wasted. For album number two – the aptly titled Too, tongues planted firmly in cheeks – it looks like the Los Angeles outfit are growing up. If FIDLAR was all about the party, Too is dealing with the comedown the morning after.
“On the first record we sang a lot about drugs and drinking because we were doing a lot of drugs and drinking,” says frontman Zac Carper. “On this one I didn’t drink or do any drugs, so I was writing songs about how to deal with life without those selfish things.”
FIDLAR aren’t exactly the most subtle band in the world. Just look at the second single from their first album, “Cheap Beer”, which features the boisterous chorus, “I DRINK CHEAP BEER! SO WHAT? FUCK YOU!” So when you see a song titled “Overdose”, you kind of know what you’re in for.
“[That] came from when I overdosed three times in one month,” Carper candidly tells us. “I got really back into heroin and meth, and it was just a really dark path. This record is the dark side of what happens when you don’t take care of your shit. For the past couple of years I’ve self-medicated myself, so when you take the medicine away you’re left with a whole bunch of problems. The only way I knew how to deal with those problems was by writing songs.”
On the surface, the slow, melancholic “Overdose” might seem out of place but when you look closely, it’s anything but. Carper is a big fan of writing what he calls the “happy-sad song” – just listen to album opener “40 Oz. On Repeat” with its introverted lyrics about how much loneliness sucks set against a wall of energetic punk rock. It’s an aesthetic that Carper attributes to growing up on a steady diet of ‘90s pop-punk.
“That’s our classic rock, you know what I mean? My parents grew up with Zeppelin and The Grateful Dead, but I grew up on Green Day, Blink-182 and Sublime. That time, that era, those were the bands and the rock stars you wanted to become.”
It’s comments like that that are bound to make a few punk rock purists roll their eyes, but Carper stands by it.
“There’s some weird hipster-indie culture that just talks shit on all those bands, but fuck you, those bands are rad. It’s fucking amazing music, and I’m not going to discriminate against it because something’s ‘not cool’ or because it’s popular.”
FIDLAR aren’t here to change the world, and that’s fine. Even with their downer lyrics they still know how to have a good time. They’re four mates who got together and decided to kick out some killer skate punk jams. FIDLAR helped them get their foot in the door, and Too is proof they’re not about to call it a night anytime soon.