Published Sep 09, 2015FIDLAR's self-titled debut positioned the Los Angeles crew as a bunch of wastoid slackers. And while that rep helped propel them to the forefront of the current swell of garage-punk bands, it's not totally the truth.
"I think it was just the content of the lyrics and the energy of the songs," singer-guitarist Zac Carper tells Exclaim! The media, he says, very quickly pigeonholed the band, but the slacker tag doesn't match their output. "The reality was that we were on tour for three straight years, pretty much. It was a lot of work."
Still, Carper freely admits that he certainly has lived that lifestyle — he says he spent about five years partying and "doing a lot of drugs" — and on the band's follow-up, the newly released Too, out now on Dine Alone, he grapples with the implications of the lifestyle he sold so well on songs like "Cheap Beer" and "Wake Bake Skate."
"Anything I can get addicted to, I get addicted to," he says.
By the middle of the tour cycle for their debut, Carper was hooked on heroin and was smoking meth every day. He's still dealing with a spinal problem that resulted from his addiction. "It's not exactly what I planned on doing with my life." After overdosing twice in a month, he decided he needed "to figure this shit out."
"My life was just constantly coming back home to L.A., doing a bunch of heroin, going out on the road. Trying to cop dope, and when I can't cop dope, I'm kicking in the van. Or the hotel room. It was a constant battle."
That battle became the context for Too. Rather than write more songs about getting fucked up, Carper wanted to reflect on his new sobriety. So while sonically, songs like "40oz on Repeat" (the title is a reference to Sublime's 40oz to Freedom, not a bottle of malt liquor) and "Sober" continue in the same screeching vein as previous work, thematically they couldn't be further apart.
Carper is always writing songs, and when time came to begin work on a follow-up to their debut, FIDLAR recorded a bunch of demos that didn't live up to expectations. "All these songs sound like FIDLAR songs," he says, "but bad. I put a limit on what FIDLAR can do. We have to be a garage rock'n'roll band. It has to be fast, it has to be loud, and every song has to have a solo — all the classic punk formulas. But it wasn't working so I took a break."
He drove up the California coast with nothing but a mattress, guitar and surf board. Sleeping in his car he wrote a bunch of melodies and lyrics. "It was scary. Instead of singing about getting fucked up, I was singing about shit I was going through." Returning to Los Angeles, within two weeks he had most of the material that appears on Too.
Clean and sober, Carper says he still thinks about getting drunk or stoned on a daily basis. But "every day that that happens, I think about it less. I'm learning more how to cope with life. It got really bad… but compared to who I was, it's a fucking miracle that I'm alive."
FIDLAR have a long string of upcoming North American tour dates coming up, and you can see all those here.