[Editor's note: Highland Park four-piece Fidlar made a name for themselves last year for their explosive skate pop-punk. As we wrote in March, they were either on the brink of getting huge or flaming out; looks like it was the former. On the eve of their just-released self-titled debut album — and show at Amoeba tomorrow — we embedded and traveled all over fucking California with them! Here's part one.]
The Catalyst — Santa Cruz
January 19, 2013
It's pre-show in Santa Cruz, just after 8 pm. With various members of the Fidlar posse sitting on a stained carpet in club the Catalyst's green room, bassist Brandon Schwartzel paces, belting out various verses from the Punk Goes Pop catalogue. Before long, the guys are improvising reggae songs about Red Stripe, joking about starting a fake Internet feud with Odd Future, and about hatching web pages called LAbandbeef.com and bandfights.com. It's early in the night.
There is beer, and it is poured out onto the floor in the name of Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. As Schwartzel sees it — Rudolph got got. Either that or the guys would simply like someone to guide their sleigh as they proceed to head out all over the globe, from Santa Cruz, Tokyo, Hamburg, Paris, and Dublin, back to Los Angeles.
Slowly the room starts to fill up with members of the bands who are touring with them, Pangea and Meat Market, and the alcohol consumption ramps up.
Max Kuehn, Fidlar's drummer, sits down and pours himself a hefty glass of Jameson. He notes that you have to “claim your shit” — your booze — or someone else will drink it.
Still, most everyone has managed to do some drinking in the past few evenings, as well as the drug 2C-B. (A member of Pangea provided the psychedelic, and snorting has been the preferred method of consumption. Unfortunately, it stings like a bitch.) Lodging is often not sorted until the last moment, and too often the person driving is drunk.
Sitting in a chair, devouring a slice of pizza, lead singer Zac Carper is asked about how he expects these next few months on tour to pan out. “It's nerve wracking,” he says. “I get nervous a lot.” Caravanning around California with friends and family is one thing, but connecting flights, customs, language barriers, and not having access to good Mexican food is another.
Elvis Kuehn, meanwhile, would like to put a stop to the “slacker punk” moniker that writers have bestowed upon them. “It's frustrating,” he says. After all, it implies that the band doesn't take its music seriously. “We work hard, we play well live…and it's not like we are fucking around,” he says. People are quick to judge their songs solely by their lyrics, without taking note of their oft-inspired melodies and structures.
It's almost showtime, and Carper is looking out at the stage. It's an all-ages performance, and the room is jam packed. Carper is honestly surprised, noting that it's only the second time they've played Santa Cruz.
After a final shot of Jim Beam, Elvis takes the stage. The band tears into “Cheap Beer,” and soon the stage is filled with sweaty teenagers and drunken stage divers. Folks' feet dig into each other and blood is drawn.
Before “No Ass” Carper is asked to clear the stage. He does so half-heartedly, but one song later it's more crowded than before. As the final bars of “Wake, Bake, Skate” ring out it's full out pandemonium. Bodies everywhere.
The Constellation Room — Santa Ana
January 20, 2013
The ride down from Santa Cruz was not kind. The recycled air inside the van insured that once one band member got sick, everyone did. There was some coughing last night, but now it sounds like a chorus. Beers are being traded for hot water and tea.
Seeing as they've got a sold out show at the Constellation Room tonight, a record release show on Tuesday, and the Amoeba in-store on Thursday, now is not the time to be sick.
At least, it turns out, they have two days off before leaving for Tokyo next week. They plan to sleep, do nothing, and, in Schwartzel's case, play Assassin's Creed 3 or NBA2K13, but only if Max signs in.
At the Constellation Room, everyone in the group has their own dressing rooms. Carper has a bottle of Bulleit Bourbon stashed. He's not dead yet.
To liven things up Carper has scribbled Pangea bassist Danny Bengston's number on his amp head in chalk. Bengston has thus begun receiving random texts from kids. Carper apparently does this a lot; he likes to rotate numbers, but Bengston's is a favorite.
Meanwhile, Schwartzel begins reciting, word for word, Bill Pullman's fiery speech from Independence Day. He loves the speech so much that he offered to pay the salutatorian of his high school $200 to say it at graduation.
Two tweens are stoked when Carper gives them a high-five. Fidlar may be a step slower tonight, but they leave it all onstage. Carper finds himself crowdsurfing, once again.
The group has a bright future, and they're no longer about just house parties. They're about to break out all over the world, it seems, spreading the germs (of their art) far and wide.