FIDLAR, the Los Angeles garage-punk band that will open for the Hives in the U.S. this summer, has a reputation for being party animals. Some of it deserved.
Their songs have names like “Wake Bake Skate" and "Black Out Stout." Their first EP is called "DIYDUI," which was recorded at a house shared by bassist Brandon Schwartzel and guitarist-singer Zac Carper. Its walls are covered in newspaper because when Schwartzel and Carper throw parties their friends tend to bring spray paint.
Carper, who is the son of famed surfboard shaper John Carper, calls the house a "weird, old, abandoned car dealership turned into a party house and recording studio.”
Lately, however, FIDLAR has begun to resent the reckless image.
“The 'party all the time' thing that people always talk about is kinda bullshit,” says drummer Max Keuhn. “We're super-busy people. We take this band really seriously and we want to be good. We're not just hanging out and getting fucked up all day."
“It's definitely frustrating,” says Elvis Keuhn, Max's brother and FIDLAR's other guitarist-singer. “Writers have called us things like 'slacker-punks,' but we're not slackers, man. I guess it comes with the territory because we have a few songs about weed.”
“We can't party too hard, because we can't fuck this up,” adds Schwartzel. “None of us have a backup plan.”
The Keuhn brothers grew up in a musical household. Their father is Greg Keuhn, the keyboardist for Long Beach, California, punk legends T.S.O.L. (True Sounds Of Liberty). Before the Keuhns were old enough to drive, they were in a punk band called The Diffs, and had already shared stages with the Adolescents, the Dickies and the Adicts.
FIDLAR was formed in 2009.The name comes from the skater mantra “Fuck it dog, life's a risk," which everyone in the band, except Elvis, has a tattoo of, though none are hardcore skaters. “I prefer to have dreams about skating,” jokes Carper. “Skate dreams are the best 'cause you actually land all the tricks.”
“Writers have called us things like 'slacker-punks,' but we're not slackers, man. I guess it comes with the territory because we have a few songs about weed.” -- Elvis Keuhn
The first FIDLAR show was during a community bike ride through Los Angeles. At stops along the route, several bands played quick 20-minute sets. FIDLAR played at a skatepark. “We found a power outlet next to a jungle gym and just set up all our gear real quick,” recalls Elvis.
Since then, the band has earned a name by playing house parties, D.I.Y. shows, and other non-traditional venues (the parking lot of a Pep Boys). They recorded two EPs and are working on a debut album, due this summer.
Despite the recent success, FIDLAR insists on maintaing an “all for one, one for all” attitude.
“Most bands have a leader, but FIDLAR doesn't,” explains Elvis. “We've all been back-up members in other bands, and we never want to do that again. We're trying to avoid all that.”
“Everything is split four ways, even the songwriting,” says Carper. “There are too many egos otherwise, and we want FIDLAR to stay fun. We're not really down with that other shit. We like fun vibes.”
Elliott Sharp wants you to follow him on Twitter @ElliottSharp.
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