Janky Smooth

An Interview with Zac Carper from FIDLAR

It’s a rare thing that NEW music can make you feel nostalgic; That an album that you’ve had for a couple years can take you back in time to when you were a kid. It can only be described as authenticity. That’s the best way to describe the band FIDLAR; Authentic. I’m not filthy, on drugs, hopeless or confused anymore. I’m nowhere near as angry as I used to be but listening to FIDLAR takes me to that place where I don’t give a fuck, again.

I wanted to talk to Zac Carper to see if the son of a world class surfboard shaper and brothers who’s dad was part of a Southern California Punk Rock Pantheon actually walked the walk. After this conversation, I need no further convincing.

This interview was conducted on October 21st 2013

Danny:             Zac what’s  going on bud?

Zac:            What’s up my dude?

Danny:        How are you?

Zac:            Good how is California right now?

Danny:             Pretty steady as usual, gorgeous day except now that the kids are back in school the beaches aren’t crowded so that is always nice.

Zac:            Stoked.

Danny:             That’s right how is the tour going?

Zac:            Good man we played Columbia, I’m actually in Columbia right now, we played here before but the bar tender just got us really drunk, it was a good show.

Danny:             Do you think the sloppiness builds the punk rock image?

Zac:            I don’t know about that but it was just fun playing drunk.

Danny:             Right it is a lot looser right?

Zac:            Yes, it is fun.

Danny:             So, what do you say to people who say punk is dead?

Zac:            [Laughs] what do I say to people who say punk is dead?

Danny:             Yeah.

Zac:            It was never fucking alive man; this shit was buried down deep that is what I like about it.

Danny:             Right, so it is kind of like the blues then you have to be in it?

Zac:            Yeah, it is exactly like that actually, our generation, as kids growing up in the 90s and the early 2000s it is like, you find fucking punk cassettes instead of blues tapes, revival you know what I mean. I remember just cassettes and punk bands would always make cassettes and that was our shit, I liked it.

Danny:             Has anyone ever said that to you?

Zac:            Actually you are the first person.

Danny:             [Laughs] well that is good, well people were telling me that punk was dead, it went out in the 80s, so I think it was a bunch of haters probably?

Zac:            It is just fucking music man! It is just like fucking music man I donít understand why people label that shit!

Danny:             Right, cool man; so what’s it like to be the buzz right now?

Zac:            The buzz?

Danny:             Yeah.

Zac:            I didn’t even know we were the buzz.

Danny:             Always the last to know huh?

Zac:            Yeah, this isn’t happening frequently people have been asking how’s it being a hype band like being the band right now? I didn’t even fucking know that, the shows have been getting bigger but I just never thought about it like that.

Danny:             Well the more the people that ask you the more that you are going to have to think about the answer to that?

Zac:            Yeah, I guess so. It feels good man!

Danny:             So what are you guys going to write about now that you aren’t exactly completely broke anymore?

Zac:            We’re still pretty broke, the thing about this band is we just put everything back into the band so it is just kind of a cycle, it costs money to tour and it costs money to do this stuff. And we just get better gear, we get better recording equipment to record our own shit and it just goes back into it, we still live in the back of that shitty warehouse.

Danny:             Right [Laughs] it is nice to hear a punk band that actually is like punk rock that actually gives a shit about guitar tones, you know what I mean?

Zac:            Yeah we are all pretty nerdy with our tone, we are all music heads, like musicians and recording, we record a lot and we are really into recording you know?

Danny:             Right, so there are a lot of recording, how many recordings are there that people haven’t heard that the public hasnít heard?

Zac:            Most of that shit is on YouTube, if you look on our YouTube page, we have like 60 songs on there because of the way that we thought of it was like putting it out like it is like a hard-drive that never goes away.

Danny:             Right.

Zac:            You will always find our shit on YouTube no matter where you are but there is about 60 songs on there, there is a bunch on our computer too there is a shit-tone actually.

Danny:             Nice, cool so let me the story of how you guys started playing together?

Zac:            Well I was working at a recording studio I was the engineer for a producer and Elvis was an intern, he started interning at the studio. And me and him just got I remember we got really hangover, and I was like dude lets just get Sparks and jam. We just drank Sparks and jammed for 3 hours straight and then we started recording songs when the studio was empty and we posted them online and then people started liking it.

It was more of a studio thing to tell you the truth; we were just like fucking around in the recording studio and then we got a show and we were like fuck we need a band. My roommate (Brandon) was a bass player in another band and Max and Elvis are brothers and he plays drums so it just kind of works out.

Danny:             Nice so it was just natural progression?

Zac:            Yeah, we just started.  We were living in LA there was a lot of indie-shmindy going on and I mean, you couldn’t find a good, even rock and roll show you know? So it was kind of like, I remember thinking that and it was kind of a little bit of a protest to that, just sick of it; sick of indie-shmindy man! If I see a glockenspiel on stage I will freak the fuck out.

Danny:             That’s good shit man, nice and so you and Elvis write the songs together basically and do you guys, when you are performing, do you guys perform your own songs, do you guys ever sing his songs or vice versa?

Zac:            Wait what was that, what was the last thing you said?

Danny:             Like do you ever sing songs that he wrote or vice versa?

Zac:            No it is nothing like that the Beatles kind of thing, Max will come up with some lyrics and Brandon will, it is all our songs we split everything four ways, the publishing or anything like that, this is a band you know?

Danny:             Right.

Zac:            It is four dudes, definitely some songs, he sings that are his songs and sometime I sing some that are my songs, it is all open still; we sometimes play sets where we switch vocals.

Danny:             When you play live you switch it out?

Zac:            Yeah, he will sing my songs and I will sing his songs.

Danny:             Cool, so you guys don’t have those typical issues that some bands might have when they have been together too long and they start fighting or whatever you guys don’t get into that kind of stuff?

Zac:            Not yet [Laughs].

Danny:             [Laughs].

Zac:            Not now, we haven’t been a band that long so, I’m sure that as you get older that shit happens that just really care right now. I’m just having a good time.

Danny:             It is only when the illegitimate children start coming then that will happen right?

Zac:            Exactly, it is weird that, I don’t want to live in a shitty warehouse anymore but as times gone on, we have been on tour for a year and a half and so I’m kind of in that mode.

Danny:             Where is the wharehouse?

Zac:            Highland Park California Los Angeles.

Danny:             Where are all you guys from?

Zac:            Max and Elvis are from West-LA, I’m from Hawaii and Brandon is from San Diego.

Danny:             Who do you think the first band member to go to rehab will be?

Zac:            Oh definitely me, [Laughs]

Zac:            I have bad addiction issues man, I have bad addiction issues, I have been to rehab like 4 times already.
And I told myself I would never fucking going back, and I always talk shit on AA you know not out loud, at shows and stuff like that. This morning I woke up and I was like fuck that I should go back to AA [Laughs]

Danny:             Oh it’s been a rough night huh?

Zac:            Yeah, but that is almost every night getting wasted but when I’m back at home I kind of clean my shit up and whatever.

Danny:             Right thanks for your candidness there I appreciate that.

Zac:            I’m an open book; all you have got to do is read.

Danny:             Right, so would you say that the, because I was always wondering when I was listening to your songs and listening to your music, you hear almost ,the punk rock equivalent of gangster rap where it is like studio gangsters where I was thinking to myself is it like just the punk rock outfit or are these guys the real deal?   Songs like ‘no waves’.  I was always interested to find out how real that was?

Zac:            Oh they are real, a lot of us go into shows and we are like we came to party, it going to be a party, those fucking lyrics are dark dude some of them are pretty fucking dark. I’m like people are like you dudes just do drugs and stuff like that and I’m like no that shit fucks your life up man! It is weird.

Danny:             I guess that has been the kind of punk rock glamorization of that lifestyle.  Even though it is not it is really pouring your soul out in terms of the pain that you are going through. Even though other people take it as hey, this is a party and I want to model myself after this has always been the kind of argument with conservatives and art you know?

Zac:            Exactly man! It is like, I don’t know it just makes sense to sing about that kind of stuff, it just comes out you know and it is all true stories and it is shitty. But I guess somebody once told me, I think my dad one time told me your lyrics will, it will outlast your fans. These kids will grow up and figure out their shit  and I will write these songs and they would be really sad songs and I would make them into pop-punky kind of stuff. And it would make me feel better instead of writing a depressing dark song. It made me feel better to play it loud and fast and fun you know?

Danny:             Right, therapeutic for sure, what is the best piece of advice that you have ever gotten from someone and from whom?

Zac:            It’s cool to pee your pants; Peter Madison.

Danny:             [Laughs] I will quote you on that one.

Zac:            Or we are not happy until you’re a happy, that is a good one.

Danny:             [Laughs] I like it, who were your influences as a musician?

Zac:            Other musicians or just in general?

Danny:             Take it for what it is worth, answer it the way it inspires you.

Zac:            Have you listened to Sex Pistols lately?   It is incredible it is great fucking songs good lyrics; man the lyrics are amazing, that and skating a lot of skating that is how we all found bands, skate videos/411 skate videos. I remember getting to my house the shit was awesome, surf videos, Momentum I remember Momentum.  They had the best songs on Momentum just use to watch that over and over again,

Danny:             That was actually my second part of the same question who are your influences as a surfer and skater.

Zac:            Oh okay this is fun, definitely John Cardiel all the fucking way. Shane Dorian man.  He’s An old school surfer, he rides for my dad so he is like an uncle to me.

Danny:             Right so you grew up sort of to emulate that?

Zac:            Yeah he fucking goes for it, I just grew up in that surf world so it’s,  he is just so good I like him a lot.

Danny:             Right, we are almost done; I have got a couple more for you; what is your favorite skate spot in California or elsewhere?

Zac:            California, my favorite is, my total favorite is waking up early, bong it and going to this Pasadena skate park, they just have this mini ramp I just love mini ramps.

Danny:             That is your thing nice.

Zac:            Mini ramps just I want one so bad

Danny:             Is there room in the warehouse to build one?

Zac:            No there isnít, we have too many people living in there.

Danny:             [Laughs] too many [00:20:19]

Zac:            Yeah but mini ramps in Pasadena is not like Washington and Fair Oaks or something, they just have this awesome big wide mini ramp and there is no coping. A crack head underneath the thing and that is it.

Danny:             [Laughs] nice, when you get back off tour you will have to come down to Venice maybe we can take some pictures and have a skate.

Zac:            Yeah I like that.

At this point, Zac’s phone drops the call but I get a call back a few minutes later.

Zac:            Hey what’s up buddy, so sorry about that I never had an iPhone before and that is a very weird little thing.

Danny:             Oh man iPhone, you sell out.

Zac:            I know man! Itís sort of sold out now I got iPhone fucking sucks I hate this thing man.

Danny:             [Laughs] you will love it eventually and eventually you will pray to the Apple god’s every day.

Zac:            I don’t know man, I don’t like it.  Get me a pre-paid burner phone.

Danny:             Right it is definitely a lot less NSA spying?

Zac:            Yeah, text messages, why the fuck text messages, hold up?

Danny:             Oh man I’m such a crack head on text messages so I can’t really speak to that. So just a couple more questions and then we are done man, so what has been the most humbling experience of the ride you and FIDLAR are currently on in terms of getting together, people enjoying it and actually liking it and people showing up to shows to now being your first headlining tour, what has been the most humbling experience?

Zac:            Australia for sure.

Danny:             How so?

Zac:            That was insane, it was just like, we are that far away from everything and every show was sold out and we were in a huge festival with a lot of people and it was just like what the fuck! We just never thought that we would reach to Australia you know? But yeah it is crazy and I think that Australians are just, they are kind of like us and we grew up in beach towns and they are just exactly like who we are and it was insane. And Reading and Leeds man, reading, I tried going to Belle Vista it was fucking, I didnít realize that it gets cold in Australia? It was fucking freezing, I brought my normal shit like a pair or pants or a pair or shorts and a t-shirt and I get there and it is fucking freezing.

Danny:             That was a surprise I’m sure?

Zac:            Yeah it sucked, but it way cool I got to see some kangaroos but Reading and Leeds it was like that biggest festival we ever played. We played it last year and we played it at 11 or noon or something there was still kids there and stuff but then this shit we played it at like 4 pm and there was so many fucking people man! Europe, they do their festivals right never seen anything like that I fucking freaked out at how many people were there.

Danny:             And do people know the music?

Zac:            Yeah that was crazy, everyone was just fucking going off it was crazy.

Danny:             Yeah that sounds pretty humbling for sure.

Zac:            Yeah that definitely that makes me feel a little bit better about my shadiness you know?

Danny:             [Laughs] right esteem-able for sure. What is the best thing about touring and what is the worst thing about touring?

Zac:            I don’t know, I used to hate touring but now kind of recently I just kind of addicted to it, I fucking love it.  I have a hard time being in one place, I have a hard time being at home in LA. I get more fucked up at home recently than I do on tour now just because me and Brandon will wake up and like meet in the living room, drink a pot of coffee and just go like what the fuck do we do now?

Danny:             Right.

Zac:            So it is definitely like, first it was like home was awesome because we get to record and do a bunch of shit you know? Like make t-shirts and do our own art and now it is tough being at home.

Danny:             Right, you’ve gotten into the groove and before it was like you didn’t like to be away from the comfort zone and now it is the comfort zone?

Zac:            Yeah I feel like, our whole record they are just songs about LA you know because that is where we were. I’m really curious to see, I have been writing a lot of new material lately but I’m really curious to see the next album, what that album is going to be about, it is probably going to be about touring.

Danny:             Right, makes sense so I’m really curious to see too, when do you think that that will come out?

Zac:            I don’t know hopefully by March next year I’m guessing. After this tour we are going to take a couple of months off and I’m going to go travel a little bit in Europe.

Danny:             You guys seemed to be having fun.

Zac:        Yeah those kids are stupid funny man, they are so young dude they are 18.

Danny:             I fucking love that man because it is good to see young kids picking up the instruments still with all the electronic music that is going on, superstars and DJs .

Zac:            I was like in the fucking restaurant or something and I heard Dump Step on the radio or something or whatever and I thought the speakers were blown. I was like whoa what is this man? And it is such a bummer how we are now the generation of electronic music, you can’t get away from that. I’m guessing it was like in the 80s when that shit came out this is our fucking punk version of that shit you know, it’s our rebellion against electronic music.

Danny:             Right well you guys are definitely the poster children for that kid who inspired that kind of thing and that kind of music that you enjoy, punk, rock and roll, they are watching you guys and are emulating you guys; how does that feel?

Zac:            That is fucking rad man! Somebody just texted me from Hawaii and was like this dude band is covering your song right now.

Danny:             which song?

Zac:            Cheap beer.

Danny:             Nice

Zac:            I’m just like dude that is tight but yeah, I think that a lot of the times with punk music and rock and roll and stuff like that, garage rock and stuff like that people don’t think that they need to work for it, you know? It is fucking hard being a band it takes a lot of work and you have got to give it 100% or else it is not going to go anywhere. I wish kids would a lot of them do start bands and punk bands and stuff like that but I wish they would take it more seriously. Which that sounds fucking crazy, you should take your punk now more seriously [Laughs].

Danny:             Right [Laughs] I hear you man, listen Zac I appreciate the interview man.  There is some really good shit here.  Let’s go skate sometime.

Zac:            Yeah, yeah that sounds fun man.

Danny:             Cool, I would love that, have a good rest of your tour

Zac:            Awesome man thanks man!

Danny:             Cool my pleasure



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