FIDLAR lead singer talks cheap beer, Nick Offerman

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By John Lavanga / A&E Editor

Los Angeles’ upstart rock outfit FIDLAR (which is an acronym for F*ck it dog, life’s a risk) toes the line between toe-tapping, poppy surfer rock and relentlessly antagonistic punk with shocking ease. The band, which released its debut, self-titled album to widespread acclaim last year, has made many a fan with addictively catchy tracks such as “No Waves” and its harsh anthems for broke, Miller-High-Life-swigging 20-somethings. On Saturday, the band will open for indie rock legend the Pixies at the Carnegie Music Hall of Oakland. Along the way, FIDLAR guitarist and lead singer Zac Carper took the time to speak with The Pitt News about the band’s various influences and how its members got Nick Offerman to appear in one of their music videos.

The Pitt News: Last time you guys came through Pittsburgh you were touring with The Orwells, who are an extremely young band. Now you’re on tour with the Pixies, an older, more established group. How’s that been different?

Zac Carper: It’s crazy. I mean, it’s the Pixies. That was one of my favorite bands growing up.

It’s very different. When you start out as a band, you like to party a lot, and you like to wreck sh*t. They just get up and they play their songs. And they’re really professional. That’s different, you know? We’re not getting trashed every day.

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TPN: One of the things about your opening track, “Cheap Beer,” is that the lyrics in the verse are absolutely insane. Is that exaggeration, or is there a real story behind it?

ZC: That was our first song we ever recorded and ever wrote. It was actually based on a true story. I was hanging out with this really weird group of people who were really sketchy. They did a lot of drugs.

I was running drugs for this guy. He would just get in my passenger side and be like, “Hey can you give me a ride here, and can you give me a ride here, and can you give me a ride here?” And I just kind of realized that I was just this drug dealer’s driver after doing it. That kind of sketched me out a little bit, like, “Okay, that happened. Put that on my f*cking list.”

But we don’t do that now, you know? We don’t do that on tour.

TPN: Your album has a lot of really harsh, driving tracks, such as “Cheap Beer” and “Cocaine,” but there’s also some really poppy tracks like “No Waves.” Were they written at different times?

ZC: I grew up listening to punk and rock ‘n’ roll, but I also love hip-hop and folk music and pop music. The one thing we wanted to do with the record was show contrast — make a record like a mixed-CD, with different vibes.

You don’t always feel like drinking cheap beer, you know? Sometimes you feel like making out. [laughs]

With this record, usually the songs I was writing were really sad. Like, the song “No Waves” was really sad, and I put it all in a minor key, and it really bummed me out. So I would speed it up and make it into a pop song to make me feel better.

TPN: Who are your favorite rappers right now?

ZC: I’ve actually been going backward and have been listening to a lot of Tupac lately. I saw an interview that he did when he was in jail and it just blew my mind. The past three months has been nothing but Tupac.

TPN: Going forward, do you think you’ll be mixing in more elements when you write more music?

ZC: Definitely. The cool thing about FIDLAR is that we can do whatever we want. There’s absolutely no rules with us. I wouldn’t be surprised if we have a f*cking hip-hop song on the next record, or I don’t know, a synth song.

I mean there’s just no rules, you know? The Beastie Boys was a punk band to begin with, then they turned into The Beastie Boys. Mastodon did a record with Feist. That’s crazy!

TPN: Whose idea was it to get Nick Offerman to urinate all over things in your video for the song “Cocaine?”

ZC: That was his idea.

TPN: What?

ZC: That was all his idea, man.

[Guitarist] Elvis [Kuehn] and [drummer] Max [Kuehn]’s dad plays for Nick Offerman’s wife’s band. So Nick and Elvis have been family friends for a long time. So Elvis e-mailed Nick and was like, “Hey if you ever want to be in a music video, let us know.” And Nick e-mailed us back and was like, “Yeah dude, I have this idea.” And so he laid down this idea.

It was super improv-ed. He just came over. We spent our whole music video budget on a fake penis and we were just like, “I don’t know, piss on that. Piss on that. Piss on that.”

It was awesome.