"Covid has kind of brought people back together. It’s put a big reset on the music industry."
Beginning their career as young punks playing house shows, FIDLAR exploded onto Los Angeles’ indie rock scene in the early 2010s with ferocious debut single DIYDUI.
Since then, the band has expanded their presence worldwide, connecting with fans around the globe who resonate with their raucous skate-punk tunes and the band’s mantra of ‘Fuck It Dog, Life’s A Risk”.
The band is currently in Australia, having performed in Sydney on Friday night and Brisbane at Super Fun Day Festival alongside Dune Rats, Ruby Fields, Pale Waves, Beach Bunny, and more; before hitting Canberra tonight, then Melbourne, Adelaide and Fremantle.
To celebrate their Australian tour and their new EP, That’s Life, we caught up with vocalist Zac Carper and discussed the return of live music after Covid-19 shutdowns, why fans still gravitate to punk music, new music, and more.
How are you today, Zac? What have you been up to?
Good! We just got done with rehearsal.
Amazing. How's it going?
I'm usually pretty dead at the end of it, so [laughs].
Is that a sign that it's going well?
I think so. I realised the other day at rehearsal that I'm the only one who doesn't wear earplugs, and maybe I need to just start wearing earplugs.
I would definitely recommend you wear earplugs.
So, you're releasing a new EP this year–What keeps you excited about releasing new music?
Um, I don't know. It's kinda the only thing I know how to do [laughs]. it's like when you write a song, and you're done with it, it feels good to let it out into the world, and then it's done. That's how I feel about it. It’s like little chapters of my life.
Yeah, I mean, I think a lot of people in music can relate to making music being the only thing that you can do and the only thing you’re good at. So you're definitely not alone there.
Yeah, 100%. It's something that I spent a lot of time doing, you know. It's just this weird thing you do [record music], and then you put it out. And then you do it again. And then you put it out and you do it again. And then you play it in front of people; there's that too. It’s wild!
Well, it comes with some pretty great results as well. Especially with some new music that you released last year.
Yeah, thank you.
I really love FSU because it's so heavy. You have some noise rock going on there. What makes you want to fuck shit up?
I don't know. That was written during the pandemic. I just wanted to go party with my friends a lot and we couldn't. What’s so funny about that song is we actually wrote that song on the piano.
Yeah. I went to my piano and I was like, what are the closest notes together? And I just did the top, like one note. And then the next note, I was like, Oh, I bet you could write a whole song with just these two notes. And that's all it is. DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN.
I'd be interested in hearing the piano vision.
Yeah, it’s like a voice memo [laughs].
We are super stoked about the Super Fun Day festival and your headline dates. What are people who have never seen FIDLAR before getting into at those shows?
A lot of moshing and a lot of energy. Everybody's really nice, though. It's like, if somebody falls down, you get picked up. It's not as aggro as a lot of punk bands.
How does it feel going to shows again, and you can play shows again? How important does live music feel to you as a performer and as a lover of music?
Oh, man, it’s everything to us. We write songs to play music live. Like, that was the whole reason why we started a band. It was before Spotify and streaming, so we were still selling CDs at the show and vinyl and stuff like that. And that's the way that you got your music out in front of people: to play shows. It's a big, important thing for our band.
Yeah, and your crowds are so into it.
There’s this song that you guys have played live that I've been enjoying - a website called The Luna Collective called it On Drugs. There's a line in there that says, "I'm not on drugs, but I have drugs on me. I'm taking drugs instead of therapy," which really resonates when it's just so expensive to access therapy.
Yeah. There's more instant gratification with drugs instead of therapy. In therapy, you're like, is this working? I don't know.
Not to mention the couple of weeks where you're building trust with this person before you can open up to them as well.
Yeah, it's really tricky.
Does that song mean something to you personally?
I tried to go to therapy a couple of years ago, during the pandemic. Everyone was talking about micro-dosing and psychedelics and therapy. It's all changed. I tried to like DIY my own fucking psychedelic therapy, and I just realised I was getting high. Wild that it doesn't work like that. Does not work like that.
Not quite what you're after.
Yeah, but the journey was fun. But the end result made me feel a little kooky.
Yeah, it would!
So I also like, especially in FSU, that you brought back the band slogan, fuck off dog, life’s a risk. When did you think of using that mentality in your day-to-day life?
Oh, it was a skate crew. It was about eight of us or something. We all have FIDLAR tattoos; we used to say FIDLAR all the time. And when I started the band, we used to call ourselves 'Fuck The Clock' at first. But I remember I was making a flyer and then I just wrote FIDLAR on it. I was like, Oh, this looks cool on the flyer! You only live once.
What is it about punk rock that remains a genre that bands want to play and fans want to listen to?
I think it's the energy and I think it speaks to a certain kind of person. I've always liked to use humour in our songs. If I'm writing a song, and I'm laughing while I'm writing the song, then I know it's a good idea. But there's also self-deprecating kind of stuff.
But I'm a big fan of writing some sad stuff and then making it sound happy. It's because you try to trick your brain. Basically, just trying to make your brain believe you're happy. But I think it just speaks to just a certain kind of person. And it makes people feel less alone; that's all we're looking for.
Have you always used humour in your songwriting?
Well, I grew up in Hawaii, and we didn't speak English that well, so it's hard to be deep. The language we grew up speaking was this thing called Pigeon.
Pigeon is like slang in a bunch of different languages. It’s a really funny language.
How do you think that your upbringing in Hawaii influenced you later in life?
Oh, I need the sun. I can't live anywhere that doesn't have the sun. I realised that the older I got. I was like, Oh, it might be cool to live in like London and then like, I go to London and I’m like, this fucking sucks!
What have been your highlights of the return of music as we know it?
I mean, it's back, isn't it? I think the highlight has been there's been a lot of reunions for bands, broken up bands that are like, after a pandemic, let's just squash it. Covid has kind of brought people back together. It’s put a big reset on the music industry.
What are the plans for FIDLAR in 2023?
We are doing a couple of shows here and there–I want to make an album this year. I want to put out another EP; I want to put out a lot of music this year and kind of build it back up, you know? Post-pandemic is just like, where do we play? How do we tour anymore?
Touring is really expensive right now. I know there are a lot of articles being written and stuff like that. I heard the argument is, well, you just gotta not use a bus; you got to go back in the van. You’ve got to share hotel rooms again and stuff like that.
Even if you do that stuff, it's still expensive, and it’s wild. We kind of have to relearn how to do it. We were on such a path for the longest time that we were on autopilot. But now, post-pandemic, we’re like, This is different now.
And that's the hard part. Because it would be difficult enough to go back on tour when you're not sure how many people will show because of COVID or if they're still afraid of being in crowds, but then you've got everything going up. Everything is expensive.
The cost of living is too much, like, gas is insane. Hotels are insane. Flights are insane. All of us are in our 30s, and we have girlfriends.
We all have rent and stuff like that in LA, and it's just crazy. It's tough. But I think we have to keep going–we have a hardcore fan base. So I think we will be okay because people will always want to see us play live.
It does feel good to be back after three years of not doing it. It was just like, oh, yeah, I need to do this.
AUSTRALIAN TOUR 2023
Monday 20 March 2023 - The Basement, Canberra
Wednesday 22 March 2023 - Forum, Melbourne
Thursday 23 March 2023 - The Gov, Adelaide
Saturday 25 March 2023 - Metropolis, Fremantle