The fellows in the LA punk quartet FIDLAR (“Fuck It, Dog, Life’s A Risk”) are no strangers to alcohol. They enjoy consuming it in its many forms, they pen songs about it, (“Cheap Beer”, “Blackout Stout”) and they’re not shy when it comes to talking about it. With that in mind, we carved a path up 6th Street in Austin to meet up with guitarist Zac Carper, bassist Brandon Schwartzel and drummer Max Kuehn, who were ready to hit the Thrasher Death Match at SXSW with Adolescents, Pangea and The Shrine. Over a few pints at the Recess Arcade Bar, we discussed an affinity for beer and how it can be used to write new songs, nurse hangovers and play gigs pretty much anywhere.
Do you need to be drunk or hungover in order to write a song about being drunk or hungover?
MAX KUEHN: You can reflect back on it. You don’t have to be in the moment, I don’t think.
ZAC CARPER: Sometimes it’s in the moment. Sometimes you look back on it. Whenever inspiration comes, it comes. I like to smoke a lot of weed when I record. Writing too – a lot of weed, a lot of beer.
Do your lyrics get written well in advance of recording in the studio or do you try to compile them as fast as you can while you’re recording?
ZAC: We’ve been writing a lot of lyrics on tour lately. We’ll sit in the van and we’ll just come up with shit to say.
BRANDON SCHWARTZEL: Someone will say something and then we’ll use it because it’s a good line. Like, somebody recently said, “Hey, dude, just drink about it”.
ZAC: I thought that was pretty good. I’ve got some other ones on here (pulls out iPhone). Like, here’s one: “You’re a bitch, I’m a dick. Let’s fuck and fight about it”.
You’ve played at South by Southwest for the passed three years, is that right?
MAX: This is the third time we’ve been here as a band, but I think we’ve all come out here five years in a row for other shit. This is the first time being here that I don’t need a fake ID.
Have you progressively been playing more shows at bigger venues?
MAX: Yeah, last year was kind of our crazy South By year, where we played like ten shows and did all the press in the world. This year we’re still playing six shows which is kind of a lot, but we’re not doing quite as much. We tried to give ourselves a little bit of a break.
Well it sounds like you’ve earned a bit of a break. You’re just back from Europe?
MAX: We flew straight here from a month in Europe and then we start a tour right after South By.
BRANDON: We were in Europe last year in the summer and the fall with The Hives but this time it was just us. We did a couple festivals out there too. This next tour after SXSW is with Wavves and it’s going to be a full U.S. tour.
Texas is known for a lot of quality craft beers, would you guys say it’s a deserved reputation?
ZAC: Yeah. Lone Star is a favourite of mine.
MAX: Shiner Bock is good too.
ZAC: You’ve got to switch it up every now and then. You’ve got to take advantage of all the beers out there.
I know at events like these you guys sometimes get hooked up with free beer. If it’s coming to you for free, do you still have a preference of the type of beer you’re given?
BRANDON: Nah, it just depends on whatever’s the closest.
ZAC: I think here we end up drinking a lot of Lone Star.
MAX: Yeah, it’s the Texas staple.
Okay. I’ve got a list of scenarios for you and I want you to tell me: if you were in these scenarios, what kind of beer you would most want to have close at hand. First, how about during a recording session in Zac’s bedroom?
ZAC: Coors Light. Hands down. The Silver Bullet, man. You can drink 12 of them and still play.
What about playing in a punk club in New York City?
BRANDON: Last time we were there I think we drank whiskey.
MAX: I had Yuengling, I think. That’s kind of a cheap beer people drink in Brooklyn.
How about when you were on stage at Reading?
ZAC: It’s funny because on our contract rider it says Budweiser, but in Europe and when we were in Reading, we were one of the only bands walking around with Budweiser. Everybody had nice domestic beers but us.
What about when you were backstage with the Hives?
ZAC: Their beer (laughs). Whatever they’re drinking.
MAX: I think they drank a lot of Sierra Nevada.
ZAC: And vodka. And gin.
MAX: Vigilante – their guitarist who’s the bigger guy with the beard – he always has gin and will just give you a pint glass of it and be like, “DRINK!”. And you can’t not drink it.
BRANDON: Or, if you ask for a shot of it, it’ll be half a pint glass.
How about if you’re romancing a lady?
MAX: Um, whatever is her favourite, I guess.
ZAC: Coors Light.
I’m sensing a theme here. What about when you’re nursing a hangover?
ZAC: Coors Light.
BRANDON: Coors Light.
ZAC: Or vodka soda in the morning, I’ve been doing some of that. That’s actually great.
BRANDON: I like High Life and orange juice, or a Brass Monkey. So Steel Reserve and orange juice.
Yeah, get that vitamin C – very important.
ZAC: Or you could use some André and orange juice and make sort of a cheap mimosa.
How about a cocaine hangover?
ZAC: More cocaine.
MAX: Yeah, just sleep for about four days.
ZAC: A couple Valiums and Vicodins, and some Silver Bullets.
BRANDON: Smoking weed is great too.
Time to get serious. How old were you guys when you first started drinking?
BRANDON: I was pretty late. Maybe 16 or 17.
MAX: Seriously, I think was 15.
ZAC: I don’t know. I was doing drugs before I was drinking, that’s for sure. It was easier to get drugs as a kid than it was to get beer, at least, where I grew up in Hawaii.
What kind of things would you get up to in those early days?
MAX: If you were going to a party you’d get someone’s older brother…
BRANDON: Or get into your friend’s parents’ liquor cabinets. Like, “Hey, what’s Malibu rum?”. You take a swig of it and your first reaction is, “Oh, that’s terrible!”. The first time I got drunk I drank a whole bottle of Malibu rum.
About how many alcoholic beverages do you guys like to have before you go out on stage? Are you fully sober or do you like to get a little buzzed first?
BRANDON: Well, we don’t go on sober.
MAX: I’ll usually drink about four or five beers and then have three on stage. So, by the end of the set I’m usually about eight beers deep.
BRANDON: It’s just as many as you need, I guess. I never really keep track but it depends on how much they give us and how much is within reach.
Zac, you’re half-Japanese and have visited there a lot, right? What’s your favourite Japanese beer?
ZAC: Yeah, I go all the time. I love Asahi; I’ll take it over Sapporo. I really like hot sake too, that’s great.
MAX: What’s that beer with the little owl?
ZAC: Hitachino Nest.
MAX: Yeah, they have all different kinds. They have an IPA that’s fucking insanely good. That’s the best beer I’ve ever had actually.
ZAC: We just played in Tokyo. I got to hang out with my cousin and my auntie came to the show.
Are you guys huge in Japan?
ZAC: No. We wish. We just had our first show there, so we’ll see.
I wore my Bob and Doug McKenzie t-shirt especially for this interview today. In honour of those guys, who were your drinking idols growing up – real or fictional?
BRANDON: Bukowski was definitely one for me as I got a little older.
ZAC: The Dude from The Big Lebowski.
Hunter S. Thompson has always been one of mine.
BRANDON: Yeah definitely. Those dudes from FUBAR too.
Terry and Deaner?
MAX: Yeah. That movie got us into a huge shot-gunning phase.
MAX & BRANDON: We used to shotgun beers all the time.