FIDLAR’s songs are all about the fecklessness of youth – cutting school and staying home, drinking cheap beer, snorting up whatever substances are available, and just hanging out.
The four Los Angeles youngsters find their subject matter pretty close to home, so their success has been something of a shock to the system. Over the past year, FIDLAR have become a band in demand, and all the touring has uprooted them somewhat from their laid-back LA lifestyle. “It’s a big change of lifestyle, definitely,” singer Elvis Kuehn tells me. “When you’re going on the road for a whole month, you just want to relax on your day off, you don’t want to write. LA’s a great place, so when it’s your home, it’s hard to be away. We like it more every time we come back. It’s definitely hard.”
FIDLAR’s drummer, Max Kuehn, is also Elvis’s younger brother. He has quite a devoted internet following, and is something of a ginger sex symbol. I ask Elvis if his brother’s raw redhead sex appeal drives a wedge between him and the rest of the band, but he assures me they’ve all learned to live with it. “I’ve been playing music with Max since we were 12 and 13,” he says. “We’d sometimes get in crazy screaming arguments, and we still fight, because we’re brothers, but there’s more respect now, it’s more professional.” Over the years, the two have learned to give each other space. “If he fucks something up in the show,” Elvis laughs, “I’m not going to give him shit now, whereas I would when we were younger.”
Elvis met the rest of the band when he was interning at Kingsize Soundlabs, the Silver Lake recording studio that has hosted such bands as The Jesus And Mary Chain and Rilo Kiley. “Zac was interning there at the same time,” he says, “and we got to talking about music. He played me some of the songs he was working on, and we would jam in one of the studios when there wasn’t a session going on.” The two hit it off, and decided that the time was right to start a band. “We started recording demos on nights when there wasn’t anything happening in the studios. We’d get drunk and jam. Zac’s roommate Brandon would come in to play bass with us, and he ended up in the band too. I’ve always played with Max, so he was a pretty obvious option for drums…”
The video for FIDLAR’s song ‘Max Can’t Surf’ features Max playing all of the other band members, and thrashing away at their various instruments. In one scene, the name FIDLAR is clearly visible, tattooed above both his knees. Having your band’s name inked on your body is pretty serious business…however, Elvis tells me that the video isn’t all it appears. “Those tattoos aren’t actually real,” he says. “Zac has the band’s name tattooed on him, and because Max was playing him in the video, we figured we had to draw the same tattoos on Max for the sake of accuracy.” Since the video, though, Brandon and Max have both gotten FIDLAR tattoos – Elvis remains the one hold-out. I ask if there’s a lot of pressure for him to get one, and he laughs. “No, there’s not really,” he says. “A lot of people ask about it, but it doesn’t bother me. I mean, first of all, I wouldn’t get a band tattoo…it’s lame when people get their favourite bands’ names tattooed on them, so I wouldn’t want to do it with my own band!”
BY ALASDAIR DUNCAN
FIDLAR play Splendour in the Grass on Sunday July 28, before a July 31 sideshow at Oxford Art Factory.