We chat to the skate-punks before they're imminent venture Down Under.
Despite some major tragedies and triumphs Zac Carper, frontman of LA-based four-piece FIDLAR, is still remarkably down to earth and can’t wait to return to the country that, he says, first made them feel like they deserved their success.
“Coming back to Australia is like living the dream. Our first time in Australia was for Splendour in the Grass 2013,” Carper recalls. “It was probably one of the craziest experiences we’ve had because we didn’t know what to expect.
“I remember we went to the hotel and they were like, ‘Alright, see you guys in the morning and we all went into our rooms, and the hotel bathroom was bigger than our place together back in LA,” he laughs. “We were like this is fucking crazy. That was the first time we felt like rock stars, you know what I mean?”
FIDLAR’s origins date back to 2009 when then studio engineer Carper took the new intern, now guitarist, Elvis Kuehn out to lunch at Little Caesars for a slice. Carper says they bonded over a shared love for Queens of the Stone Age, and the rest is history.
“It’s pretty funny that people still refer to us as a punk band, because I didn’t really listen to punk growing up,” says Carper, who is the son of legendary surfboard designer John Carper. “I grew up in Hawaii. But when I met Elvis and [his brother/FIDLAR drummer] Max they showed me all these bands like the Drones, Black Flag and T.S.O.L.
“So when we started we were heavily influenced by punk music, but three albums in, our sound is quite eclectic.”
Almost Free was released in January this year and is a stellar example of a band that refuse to be pigeon-holed. “Growth and change is the essence of who we are as FIDLAR. Everything we make is going to be different than the next thing because we are always constantly getting inspired by the world around us.”
Produced by the incomparable Ricky Reed, Almost Free is a defining album for the laid-back Carper. “We haven’t had a lot of time to sit down and appreciate it, we’ve been touring non-stop. Having Ricky as the producer was a blessing. He’s like a pseudo fifth member of the band – it’s wild,” he laughs. “And working with Kristine Flaherty [aka K.Flay] on ‘Called You Twice’ was awesome – she’s been a friend of mine for a while so it was cool having her on the record. We worked with a lot of friends, and having them in the studio everyday, it was great.
Carper, who is proud to say he’s been sober since 2014 following the untimely death of his girlfriend who was pregnant at the time, is excited by the band’s musical evolution and is not above making fun of FIDLAR’s former reputation as a stoner-party band. “Most of the time these days I find myself writing songs on airplanes while on tour. I feel myself getting high from the altitude – feeling high, while riding high, you know?”
FIDLAR will be in the sky this month as they touch Down Under for a number of significant dates, including two in Melbourne before returning to arguably their favourite festival, Splendour in the Grass. “I remember the first time we played Splendour in the Grass I jumped into the audience and crowd surfed, and some kid tried to steal my shoes,” Carper laughs. “So I grabbed this kid and punched him in the nose and yelled at him, saying ‘Give me my fucking shoes ass hole.’ You can’t steal my shoes, like c’mon. Fucking kids man. You Australian fans are fucking nuts bro.”
FIDLAR play The Espy on Tuesday July 16 and The Croxton on Wednesday July 17 (sold out). Grab your ticks via Secret Sounds. They’ll also be playing Splendour in the Grass which goes down from Friday July 19 to Sunday July 21.