FIDLAR: Honest, Clean, Original
If you have listened to FIDLAR’s albums, Fidlar and Too, you see what they represent: at first you’re in the heat of the party, burning in the prime of your youth. But then, before you know it, you’re nursing your hangover in rehab. For their frontman, Zac Carper, these two albums have been exactly that. Around the time of the first album’s release, Carper had been smoking crack with kids at shows and injecting heroin. Now, Carper is a year and a half sober. He’s stopped going to the after-parties, and he doesn’t even smoke weed anymore. It’s interesting to hear about his habits and how he has made such a polar shift. But what is really interesting is his honesty. Apart from the conversation he had with SLUG, Carper has opened up to blogs from Vice to Stereogum about past life and drug habits. My biggest question was, why is he so honest with the media?
“Because nobody else is doing it,” he says. Carper tells me he feels like there was often too big of a gap between what artists put in their songs and what they’re willing to be honest about. “I don’t have anything to be ashamed of,” he says. “There’s a lot of people that have gone through the same shit that I have gone through and I think hiding it is what kind of fucks people up a little bit, you know what I mean?” Between interviews and therapy he has a lot of time to be honest with himself. He’s learned that hiding isn’t going to solve his problems and the best thing he can do is to get it all out. “It’s just kind of like coming clean you know and just being like, ‘Yeah, I did a lot of drugs.’”
I ask him about how it all affects the band and about the struggles they face, but most importantly, how they have kept together. “Aside from differences aside, you put all that bullshit aside,” he says. “I believe that we’re all capable and the four of us together … it’s undeniable once we get onstage. It’s like a crazy chemistry, you know?” Most of it he attributes to being on the road and just getting away from everyday life. On tours, the band doesn’t let little problems get in the way because they all can focus on the excitement they’re creating. It’s only when the tour ends when things get a little tense. “I think when we get home, we start tripping on stuff and our brains start going at 100 miles an hour.”
But the band’s latest effort, Too, is more than enough proof of their capability to work together. Its production has a finer trim than their punchy, lo-fi debut, while still leaving a similar bite mark. But what made the production particularly different was having a producer on the album. Having made the last record in his bedroom, Carper says it’s nice have someone else adjusting the mixing board. “It was actually really nice to just focus on the songs to be honest. I was able to kind of take a step back and let somebody else steer with the ship.” However, Carper does still get his hands dirty in the production room.
He spends a lot of his time on the road messing around with Pro Tools and programs like Logic learning how to be a better producer. From the beginning of FIDLAR, he has been concerned with how the band is going to sound. They came out of a late 2000 Los Angeles that had been oversaturated with an indie scene that was too complicated and too into itself. “It was all like indie smindie,” he says. “Like, two girls with a glockenspiel up onstage.” He wanted to create something original that didn’t take itself too seriously and didn’t focus on a single genre. Now we have FIDLAR.
Outside of FIDLAR, Carper produces other bands’ records. His biggest encouragement: aim for originality. He hates bands that immediately pigeonhole themselves by aiming at a genre. And especially now, FIDLAR being in some ways the epitome of modern punk, he feels frustrated with bands trying to sound like them. “There’s always a band that wants me to record them and I always ask them, ‘What do you guys wanna sound like? What is your guys’ vision?’ And it’s like ‘Oh we wanna sound like FIDLAR or whatever.’ And instantly I’m like, ‘Uh, we can’t work together.’ Because you have to figure out what you want yourself.” A lot of the problem he sees is with the word “punk.” He sees a lot of bands trying too hard to be a “punk band” and they miss out on what he thinks punk is really about; “attitude.” “It’s just doing whatever you wanna do. Not a trend,” he says. “Fuck, man—if quitting your band and becoming a lawyer is what you wanna do, that’s fucking punk to me. It’s just being able to do whatever the fuck you wanna do.”
What Carper wants to do is carry on. His band just released their second album and he’s a year and a half sober. He’ll continue learning about production, trying to stay clean and hopefully he’ll keep being honest with us. You can see Carper and FIDLAR here in Salt Lake City Oct. 19 at The Complex.