Growing up in Hawaii, FIDLAR frontman Zac Carper was surrounded by plentiful supplies of surfers, and brightly coloured shirts. A constant stream of live shows and mind-blowing bands within easy reach, on the other hand? Not so much.
Years on from those early days of nabbing records, Zac Carper moved to Los Angeles, forming FIDLAR. The band released their second album ‘Too’ in September last year. Shortly before that came out, they casually played on Reading and Leeds’ gigantic main stage. No biggy or anything.
Falling for Nirvana records, growing to love Hawaii’s uniquely un-clichey music scene, and snapping a few very expensive guitars along the way, Zac Carper tells us about his earliest musical obsessions; from a fateful first outing to see his future guitar teacher play a show in a school, to a couple of slipped discs.
What was the first gig you ever went to?
I think the very first gig I ever went to was a punk band from Hawaii called Buckshot Shorty. Hawaii had a very eclectic music scene. All of it was completely DIY because there was a shortage of venues to play at. I believe I saw them in a school cafeteria. The singer of that band went on to give me my first guitar pedal, and taught me how to play guitar.
Were there a good supply of venues to go to in your hometown?
There were very few. Actually, none. It was all at youth centers and schools. What was cool about it was there was no specific scene. It was purely about music. You would have a punk band playing with a reggae band. It was a very amazing place to grow up because they didn’t have the ‘cool kids’ or any of that bullshit.
Can you remember the first song you ever developed an obsession over?
I would have to say ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. I remember hearing that song on the radio when I was like 8 and completely lost my shit. It had so much energy, and the explosion in the chorus was just right up my alley. I remember making this Australian dude that was living with us teach me how to play it on guitar, and I just practiced it over and over again. I loved the simplicity and i loved the screaming. As I got older, I started to pay more attention to the lyrics. But initially I fell in love with the melody.
What’s the story behind you getting your first instrument?
The first guitar I ever got was a guitar I bought from my sister. I painted all over it, and took it on our first FIDLAR tours. One show, I broke it in half and I took it in, to get it fixed. The guy that fixed it told me to come into his shop. I went and he showed me something hand written hidden on the back of the guitar. It ended up being a 1957 Stratocaster. And I’d broken it in half. Whoops.
Any memorable gig injuries?
After playing Massey Hall with the Pixies, we went to play this DIY venue called Soybomb in Toronto. We set up on a half pipe and afterwards we continued to get wasted and skate the ramp. It was pretty impossible to skate because it was soaked in beer, but alas, that didn’t stop us. I was skating when I fell on my ass, but something felt wrong. My lower back started hurting really bad, and the next day i had some weird pain going down my left leg. I didn’t think much of it but it gradually got worse and worse. I didn’t think much of, it but it gradually got worse and worse. I ended up having two herniated [slipped] discs in my spine, and the pain lasted for about 1 1/2 years.
What was the first song you purchased with your own money, and why did you choose it at the time?
I don’t remember the first song I purchased, but I do remember the first record i stole. A lot of my friends were talking about Pink Floyd and I wanted to check them out. So, for some stupid reason, I stole ‘Ummagumma’ from Borders Books and Music. I went home and got stoned, and put it in my shitty boombox and listened. It actually gave me a fucking panic attack! Its a very intense album. Then add in being a child, stoned out of his mind.
What kind of inspirations outside of music have an impact on your songwriting?
Experiences. Whether it’s experiencing a new relationship with a person, or experiencing a new environment, it’s all about experiences for me. I’m the kind of person that writes what I know. Whether it’s drugs or surfing or culture… it always starts from an experience I encountered.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given as a band?
“You guys should practice more…”
If you could be in any band ever, who would you pick?
Hands down without a doubt, Beastie Boys.
What’s been the highlight of FIDLAR’s 2015?
This last UK tour has definitely been the craziest experience. The amount of people at the shows have tripled and, the shows were absolutely mental. At Manchester, I thought the foundation was gonna break. I felt the whole place moving. The UK has always been our craziest crowds.
How was it playing the Reading and Leeds main stage this year? Any mad festival moments?
It was pretty unreal. It’s kind of crazy playing to that many people. Not many mad festival moments, but it was kind of weird seeing Babymetal play. i thought I was in some weird twilight zone.
‘Too’ has been out for a few months now - how’s the reaction been?
I think its been good? I’m not sure really. The shows are a lot bigger so that’s a good sign, right? Every time we play a show, I always notice that everyone is smiling and having a great time. I love that our show is a place where kids can go have fun.
What are FIDLAR’S plans looking forward to this year
Hopefully writing the new record. Festivals, tour, and then more touring. Maybe some collabs, too. I’m really into the collab thing right now.
If you could pick one band that deserve to be totally MASSIVE this time next year, who would you pick?
I’d probably pick Bully, because they are working their ass off.