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Interviews with musicians don’t have to be lengthy and boring—they can be short and exciting and riddled with questions about cocaine. They can be boozed up and drug-addled and straight to the point, and they don’t have to be tawdry, lame or necessarily coherent. In an age when music journalism is constantly cyberfied and length-appropriate for web-addicted readers, I’m thrilled that my interview—conducted online, of course—with lead singer Zac Carper of Southern California punk band, FIDLAR [an acronym for Fuck It, Dog, Life’s A Risk], came out as short and as humorous as it did.
Since the release of FIDLAR’s self-titled debut LP in January from Mom + Pop Music (featuring anthemic gems such as Wake Bake Skate and Cheap Beer), high praise from venerable rock critics at Rolling Stone and Time magazine, and extensive tours with The Hives, Delta Spirit, and Jeff the Brotherhood have proven that respect for punk is equally as important as getting drunk and not giving a fuck about whatever. But considering that two of FIDLAR’s bandmates [guitarist Elvis Kuehn, and drummer Max] share the same genes as T.S.O.L. keyboardist Greg Kuehn, this decidedly punk rock mentality makes sense.
And with the modern state of punk rock constantly on the fringe (as per the usual), FIDLAR’s blend of ’80s nostalgia with the slackadaisical feel of contemporary Hardcore creates a perfect middle for old timey listeners and those born after 1992, and watching clips of Henry Rollins in West Coast from FIDLAR’s 2012 EP, “Shit We Recorded in Our Bedroom,” is a perfect example of this. So go watch it now and geek out like I did. Because music geekery is awesome, just like the interview below.
The Big Takeover: First off, I want to ask you an important question: Do you think cocaine is an acceptable breakfast food?
Zac Carper: Duh. With a couple silver bullets. [He means Coors. Yuck].
Tell The Big Takeover audience how the band went from Fuck the Clock [FIDLAR’s first band] to FIDLAR.
Me and Elvis met in a recording studio I was squatting at. I was working as an engineer and secretly living in the control room and he was interning there. So after the sessions would be done, I would go into the studio, get fucked up, than record. That was mainly [during the] Fuck The Clock era. Me and Elvis started talking and we realized we liked the same bands. So we got wasted and jammed for something like three hours. I remember being super stoked on what we were jamming. We then went to Little Caesars pizza and split a $5 large pizza.
We needed a drummer so we recruited Elvis’s red headed ginger drummer. Then we needed a bass player so we recruited Brandon Schwartzel,who would sometimes live with me in the studio or in his car. Me and Brandon would park around Silver Lake [a neighborhood east of Los Angeles] and sleep in our cars there.
If you were a teen in the early 80’s, would you attend a Germs, Circle Jerks or X concert? If you say all three, which one would excite you the most? And why?
All three for sure. I think I’d be the most stoked on Circle Jerks because I am a huge Keith Morris fan. We got to play a couple shows with OFF! and he was super awesome. Super nice dude. I really like his style of singing and I fuckin’ love his lyrics. He’s a scrawny weird dude. I can relate to that.
How has punk rock made your life better? How has it made it worse?
It’s made me more confident in whatever I decide to do. I got picked on in high school constantly for having tight jeans and cut-offs and shit. All these huge Samoan dudes would say, “nice pants mahu,” which means homosexual. But being a part of punk made me not give a fuck what they [high school bullies] thought, and I just did my own thing.
Worse? Well, I was a total squatter crust kid for a while and was strung out on dope. I would never take that time back but I wish I could remember one damn thing during then. Heroin is like a time machine man, but it only skips ahead to the future.
How did punk inspire your latest LP?
We didn’t try to sound like anyone else. We didn’t listen to another record and be like, “I want that drum sound” or “I want to sound like that singer”. We did this shit ourselves. We wrote whatever we wanted. We sing about whatever we want. We recorded this record ourselves. We built the studio that we recorded it in ourselves. We drank a shit ton of beer.
You’ve stated that you love to record. What is it about the recording process that’s so exciting? Are there places you’d like to record (like in a dumpster) that you haven’t yet? If so, where would they be?
I love being in the studio. To me that’s where I thrive. I’m such a nerd when it comes to gear too. I always try to capture a feeling when I record. A recorded song lives forever man. You can play a show every day for the rest of your life and it is always gonna be a little different, but a recorded song is forever. Trip on that. I love recording in weird places. I think I would like to record in my old high school… Only if I can spray paint the walls and fuck the place up. High school sucked.
Which drug is the best drug to help with writing? Or do you prefer drinking and writing?
A combination of weed, beer and cigs always fuckin works. It works better when it’s your roommates booze too. Something about sneaking your roommates booze inspires me.
What is it about being fucked up that makes writing music and lyrics so much better? Do you prefer this method over being sober?
I’m not sure if I agree with that. A lot of great song writers are actually sober and they get away with it. I’ve written a lot of songs sober that I was stoked on. But right now, I like my method and it works for me. I enjoy getting wasted. Who doesn’t. And I love writing. But the music always comes first before the wasted. Life man…
Which alcoholic beverages do you prefer: Nattie Ice [Natural Ice], PBR, Private Stock, King Cobra, 211 Steel Reserve, Colt 45, Old English, Milwaukee’s Best, or Joose. Why?
King Cobra for sure. Cuz it’s $2 to feel like a million bucks.
When writing songs, where does your inspiration come from?
All the songs I have written have been from personal experience. Some people do it differently but I like to do it my way. I think it’s more personal and has more effect on myself if it comes from me. Writing is my therapy.
Has the attention that the bands’ received made you uncomfortable? If not, – or if so – why?
Yeah. It’s pretty insane that people like us. I didn’t see that one coming. But to tell you the truth, it doesn’t really bother me because I don’t realize it is happening until someone tells me it’s happening. Then when I hear it, I don’t believe it. Weird.
But the fact that you’re on the road instead of having to punch (NOT LITERALLY!) a time clock is the dream of officer workers everywhere. Can you envision yourself working a 9-5 office job?
If you weren’t in a band, what do you think you’d be doing? Perhaps surfing or skating to make money?
I’d probably be recording bands. I love to surf but never would I make it my source of income. I love to skate, too, but music has always been my thing—the recording side or the playing side. Doesn’t matter.
A friend of mine used to own a skate park and was actually sponsored by Spitfire for a while (at least that’s what he told me, but he was probably lying) and he ended up losing the park because he drank beer and ran it into the ground – now he’s a fat Republican who doesn’t skate. If I ever see him again, should I smack him with something sharp?
Nah. Just make him watch Misled Youth [a 1999 skating video from skating company, Zero Skateboards] and drink a six pack with him. He’ll come around.
Keith Morris versus Henry Rollins? Who was a better Black Flag frontman and why?
For me, Keith Morris, cuz Henry Rollins reminds me of my dad.
I have a Black Flag tattoo (alright, I have two Black Flag tattoos). Should I consider having them removed?
You should just get a FIDLAR tattoo. But it should be a stick n poke.
What’s your idea of the perfect life? Do you feel like you’re living it right now
My idea of the perfect life is where nobody OD’s, beer is free, nobody has to pay rent, it’s always sunny and nice everywhere in the world there is always surf [for surfing], Chris Brown is dead, Nicholas Cage is my hype man, and Trey Parker and Matt Stone [the creators of South Park] are presidentsBOOM!!!!.
If people 30 years from now could remember anything about FIDLAR’s music, what would you want that to be?
“That those dudes had fun.”
I think I’ll remember this well. Also, I’ll admit that my questions were somewhat silly and therefore believe that a round two discussion (so I can ask even goofier questions) is in order. So make sure to check back soon for the second installment of my conversation with FIDLAR.
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