FIDLAR: Pretty soon we're going to have fully nude shows
Courtesy of the Artist
Emerging in 2009 like a bat out of hell, L.A.'s bratty skate punks in FIDLAR have quickly become the beloved class clowns of the late-aughts Gold Coast surf-rock revival scene. Pairing Memphis-style garage with balls-to-the-wall hardcore torn from the 1980s SST playbook, the boys revel in the grimy, gutter-level excess of cheap drugs and stick-and-poke tattoos. Despite the hype from their internet-savvy videos and subject material, FIDLAR have earned their dedicated following the old-fashioned way, touring at a breakneck pace and chewing the hell out of any stage in their path.
Gimmie Noise got bassist Brandon Schwartzel on the phone in Pittsburgh to discuss naked stage divers, flying foxes, and how even guys who live by the creed "Fuck It Dog, Life's A Risk" need a break sometimes.
Gimmie Noise: So, our Minneapolis show is gonna be the last one on a 27 date tour for y'all. That's a lot of shows for a band that rocks as hard as you do. Think you'll have anything left in the tank?
Brandon Schwartzel: Oh yeah, yeah. We always tend to have enough energy when we play a show. We have a lot of help from... different substances and things like that [laughs]. But yeah, we'll be good.
You guys have a reputation for live shows with crazy pits and tons of crowdsurfing. Any good pit stories from the road so far? Anybody end up in the hospital?
Our audience tends to be more of like a... friendly mosh-pit. We're not much of an aggro band, so there's not too many injuries. But you know, people always post pictures of all of their bruises and stuff. Actually, on this tour, for the first time, at two separate shows, we had people get completely naked and stage dive. Like, got onstage, took all of their clothes off and jumped into the audience. [Laughs] I dunno, I guess that's just the direction it's going in. Pretty soon we're going to have fully nude shows.
Just out of curiosity, what town was that in?
Actually, it happened three times! The first time was in Fort Wirth, Texas. They get the props for kicking off the FIDLAR naked stage-diving. And then it happened in Montreal, and again in New York. It's becoming somewhat of a trend on this tour. All dudes, so far, but maybe Minneapolis will have the naked couple that holds hands and stage dives at the same time.
And before this tour you guys were out in Europe and Australia, how was the reception down under? Do you guys play bigger crowds there or at home?
We did one festival in Australia, Splendor in the Grass, which apparently is a pretty good one down there. So that was our first show, that went well, and the rest were just club shows. Yeah, the response was insane. Apparently, Australia is just like, a whole continent full of stoner party people so it worked out pretty good. It's like California on an entire continent with like, the most dangerous shit in the world. They have the most deadly, biggest, craziest animals. Like flying bats, HUGE fucking bats! It freaked me out the first time, I guess they call them "flying foxes" but they're massive, their wingspan is like four feet across! It came right at the front of our van while we were driving. Our tour manager was like "Oh yeah, it's just a bat, they're everywhere." And I was like "Those things are fucking everywhere? That's not cool!"
Australian Cheap Beer vs. American Cheap Beer: Who wins?
[Sighs] I don't know... I mean, I'm obviously more biased towards the American cheap beer, but that's the thing about cheap beer is that it kinda tastes the same. Cheap beer is kind of cheap beer universally. Yeah, it tastes like beer. It's kinda the same across the board. When you're in that level of beer, you know, it's just like... I dunno. They call it "piss beer" though, which I thought was kinda funny.
At this point people sometimes know your band's reputation for partying better than your music. Is it ever tough to live up to?
We don't really care about that part of it, that's kind of second to our band. We like partying, and it kind of goes hand-in-hand with being like a rock band or a punk band or whatever. And just being young, we don't party more than anyone else that's in their 20s in a band. I guess we just talk about it more in our music and so people kind of expect that.
Sometimes it gets frustrating because, on a tour like we're on now, we're out for six weeks playing nearly every night. Some nights you just physically cannot go as hard as you could other nights. Some people, when you pull into a town, they're like "C'MON MAN! We got this and that, we're gonna be up all night!" Dude, I need to fucking go to sleep right now. I've been doin' this five nights in a row, I'm sorry! If I had the next two days off I'd be there.
Everyone needs a break here and there. I think we do pretty good though. We can hold our own I think. Our pace might be a little faster than most people's, but we have to pace ourselves. Eventually we gotta slow down a little bit.
Where was your worst hangover on this tour so far?
Ughh...probably after New York. New York is where our label is based and we have tons of friends there. I mean, that city's just kind of insane, it's a really late city. There's tons of things to do so it's always a big night when we're there.
Do you guys get to skate much on the road?
Yeah, I mean, we try not to skate too much but we always have a couple boards in the van. But it's more like if we're on a long drive and we need to stop and get gas, we'll fuck around in the parking lot somewhere. You get to that point when you're playing so much where you can't afford to skate and get hurt and be out for a show, so we kinda try to take it easy. When we're back in L.A. and we have a day off sometimes we'll try to find a park or just skate around a little bit.
I dig the new split you guys are doing with your tourmates the Orwells. How'd your bands link up?
We've just kind of crossed paths over the past year and a half. When they would come to LA and do a show we would all come out, and when we were in Chicago they would come out to our show. Once we got this tour together and they were available to do it, we were stoked to have 'em. Then we were like "hey, we should do a split together." It's a tour-only 7-inch, we're not really selling it anywhere else. I kinda like my band to do that, a tour-exclusive kind of thing. We've always wanted to do a split, too.
The newer songs like "Awkward" are sounding like you guys are maybe losing just a bit of the grime and getting a little catchier. Conscious thing or just the way you've been writing?
I think that song just kind of came out that way. That was the first song that we actually recorded at a studio that wasn't ours, cuz we did our whole full length ourselves at our house. For that version that's on the 7-inch we went into Rob Schnapf's studio and recorded on his gear, he mixed most of our full length and has been a friend for a really long time. I think it just came out better because he has really good gear and we don't [laughs].
You guys are returning to the Entry to headline after opening for WAVVES there last time. It's kind of a local landmark for us, did you guys like playing there?
Oh yeah, that was one that stuck out on the WAVVES tour. I like how small that places is, and really tight. You just pack it in and it gets a little wild, that's kind of our element. We like playing the small club places like the 7th Street Entries of the country. It's not like a house party where you can't even play because all your shit gets knocked over, there's like a little bit of a stage and a separation but you're also right up against the crowd and get that interaction, which is vital to our show I think.
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