FIDLAR is due to hit our shores again in a week and KAREN LOWE spoke to lead singer Zac Carper about living life, new album Almost Free, strange experiences on tour and the definition of punk rock. If you haven’t seen FIDLAR live, buy yourself a ticket and get down to Metropolis Fremantle next Friday, July 12 because after all, FIDLAR means Fuck It Dog – Life’s A Risk.
You guys will be in Australia next month. What are some of your favourite memories of Australia? And where are you looking forward to playing the most?
We’re looking forward to playing Splendour to be honest. We are super psyched to be playing it. I think the first time we went to Australia was to play Splendour. Last time we were in Australia is really such a blur. I think we did Laneway and that was super fun. We got to meet Violent Soho – those guys are legends. Love that band.
You guys released your third album at the beginning of this year, Almost Free. With this album, it feels like you have really started to develop your style and sound whilst still remaining true to yourselves. How have the songs been received by fans so far? And what songs do you guys love playing the most?
My favourite song on the record to play live is Can’t You See. It’s a song where me and Elvis (Kuehn, guitarist) sing. It’s the first time we actually did that. When we were in the studio making it, the producer was like “why don’t you both sing?” We both looked at each other like “whoa!” We just never thought of that! It’s pretty wild when someone suggests something so obvious. We were like “why have we never done that before?” The response has been good. I mean, it’s a new record – put it out.
Do you find it easier writing songs these days?
It used to be that I would lock myself in a room and make a song from start to finish but with everything moving so fast, what we’ve been doing is starting a song and putting time limits on it because honestly, you have to live life. When you get off the road, you want to live life, hang out with friends or hang out with your girl. Living life is so important TO write songs. The way that writer’s block happens is when you are not inspired so doing anything other than music sometimes helps. It’s just constantly trying to find that source of inspiration – the very key. The way that I usually work with trying to get past the writer’s block is that I work with all different kinds of music and different kinds of people.
Too many people these days seem to prefer to watch a gig through their mobile phones. What are your thoughts about phones at gigs?
I don’t want to sound like the old guy yelling at the clouds but I’m gonna sound like the old guy yelling at the clouds. It’s a shame. We have this joke that once you’re able to go to a show in your living room, that’s when our jobs are totally obsolete and that’s not too far away. It’s a shame that that’s what it’s become. That’s the cool thing about FIDLAR shows. You physically aren’t able to have your phone up because kids will just fucking crowd surf over you or like knock it out. It kinda forces you to be in the moment. We are all addicted to it. It’s just the way it is. It’s evolution.
How do you go with touring and do you have any strategies to keep your spirits up?
It’s pretty tough as it’s really physically taxing on you. We’ve been doing this for so long and so much that we’ve figured out our routines. A lot of it is not taking it too overboard. This is the only job in the world that the person hiring you (the promoter or whatever) gives you a bunch of alcohol and says “alright, go and do your job now.” There’s no other job like that. It’s fucking mental. We’ve learned how to say, “ok let’s not get fucking super-hammered” at the shows anymore so learning how to say no and honestly, talking to each other. Talking to each other and giving each other space. That’s a big one.
You guys would have seen so much while being on tour. What are some of the stranger things that you have seen? And have there been any special moments that stand out in your mind?
Well, ok this is pretty fucked up. We were on tour. It was a show that we played in LA in this trailer park and then while we were playing, there were a bunch of kids moshing and we were playing in front of a trailer. I guess behind us, I didn’t see it, but some girl took off her pants and took a shit off the trailer.
Everyone screamed and we were like “what’s going on?” and they told us and I was like “Goddamn it! That’s fucking crazy! What’s wrong with you?” You can’t top that one. I mean, so many crazy things happen to us on the road but that one always sticks out in my mind. You just really can’t top that one.
FIDLAR stands for Fuck It Dog Life’s A Risk. What risks have you taken that you look back at now and think – what the hell was I thinking?
(laughs) We’re still doing that. It’s just that life is like that I guess? We’re constantly learning from our mistakes but it is harder to FIDLAR when you get older. It was a risk to make the record that we made for this third record because we knew it would piss off a lot of our fanbase because it’s ‘not a punk record’. It was almost like, fuck the punk cops. We’re gonna do what we wanna do because that’s what it is. That’s who we are. We’re FIDLAR and it’s all about taking a risk.
It’s been quite a funny experience with all the punk cops coming after us and saying “you guys aren’t punk rock any more blah blah blah!” Honestly, we’re not fucking 20 years old. We’re not 18 and just outta high school. We were different people then. For us to make that record over again in our 30s? That’s just sad.
Isn’t that what punk rock’s about anyway? Doing shit that’s outside the box – not conforming?
Exactly! I had this conversation with a friend of mine – we were talking about autotune and I was like “autotune is the most punk rock thing ever”. Think about it. A bar chord is an the easier way to play guitar; autotune – you don’t really need to sing and that’s just punk rock.