Is FIDLAR the Friendliest Punk Band in L.A.?

Dads, teens, and punk newbs are all welcome at the skate band’s notoriously <em>Fight Club</em>-esque shows
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To attend a FIDLAR show is to witness raw, bloody teenage aggression crowded into a heaving heap in front of a stage. But according to the young men occupying that stage, that shouldn’t dissuade older fans, mellower fans, or, indeed, any fans at all.

“We want everyone to like our music,” says bassist Brandon Schwartzel. “You see bands that are so in a certain scene that if someone isn’t part of it, they get protective and elitist. That is not us. That is not FIDLAR.”

Born of the late 2000’s, FIDLAR consists of Schwartzel, lead singer Zac Carper, guitarist Elvis Kuehn and drummer Max Kuehn. The skate/punk band cohered at a time in which most musicians in Los Angeles—particularly in the notoriously hipster Los Feliz/Silver Lake/Echo Park area—were ironically deadpanning their way through concerts.

“I used to go to shows at The Echo,” says Schwartzel, “and everyone would just stand there looking as cool as they can, with their arms at their sides, watching a band that’s looking as cool as they can, playing the coolest music they can…and then everyone just leaves.”

Schwartzel et al responded by writing hard, fast punk songs about getting fucked up on the 101, blowing lines down Alvarado, and making a “perfect left down a sunset shore.” They put on the kinds of shows that they would want to attend, raging in much the same way 1990’s ska bands raged: With huge passion, a relatively light heart, and full speed ahead.

The band gained steam fast, tapping a fanbase desperate to feel their music instead of just contemplate it. FIDLAR became notorious for shows that would leave audience members sweaty, bloodied and ecstatic, like a musical version of Fight Club—which was exactly what they wanted. “We’ll see things on Twitter that are like, ‘I got a black eye, my wallet got stolen, someone hit me in the tooth—best night of my life!!'” says Schwartzel.

During their rapid ascent, though, things behind the scenes weren’t such smooth sailing. While the other three members of the band seemed to have control over their drinking and drug use, Carper was falling apart. In 2013, his girlfriend died of a heroin overdose while pregnant with his child. He then overdosed three times, finally checking into rehab and getting sober.

For a brief moment, it looked to outsiders as though the band might not make it. But instead, what ensued was nothing short of profound, contemplative emotional growth, the kind one would not necessarily associate with a band whose signature lyrics are “I drink cheap beer so what fuck you.”

“We just needed some time to individually chill out and collect ourselves, and start talking about what happened,” says Schwartzel. “When we were writing the second record and taking a break, we realized, we’ve gotta talk about this more. We didn’t talk about this enough. Time to try to get better at communicating…now we know how to deal with each other. It’s just growing. It’s like growing in every relationship.”

During that time, Carper penned much of the band’s second album, Too, which the band is now on tour to support. They’ll wrap up their North American tour at the Regent Theater tonight and tomorrow, then get ready to start touring Europe in November. Meanwhile, says Schwartzel, their audiences are only growing—and just as he’d hoped, they include all kinds of people.

“We’re talking about the stress of what we’re going through in our lyrics,” he says, “and it could be applied to whatever. You’re young and your mad at your parents, or you’re older and you’re bummed cause you got fired, or like, dads and stuff are like, ‘Man, I love you guys, cause sometimes I want to forget about my job and my responsibilities.'”

FIDLAR fans, he adds, know no gender barriers, either. “You’ll see a bunch of dudes running around the mosh pit, and one 14-year-old girl that’s just, like, going apeshit, hitting 22-year-olds dudes in the face,” he says. “I don’t know if I’m getting older or something, but I’m like, ‘Everyone be careful out there! Someone give her a glass of water, let her catch her breath for a second!’ She just, like, doesn’t give a fuck.”

FIDLAR is playing the Regent Theater on October 30 and 31. 

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