It’s a few hours before Fidlar are due onstage at London’s Heaven – a sold out show which swiftly descends into chaos as scores of selfie-mad fans invade the small stage – and the Californian pop-punk revivalists are sipping pints of an ale called Sherlock Holmes in a pub themed on the snarky detective. “For, like, an English beer, it’s fine,” admits bass player Brandon Schwartzel.
Two and a half years have passed since the four-piece released their self-titled, home recorded, home produced and amphetamine-addled debut. They follow it next month with ‘Too’, recorded last December over two weeks in Nashville. “During the whole process of getting it together it became evident we should get a producer,” explains frontman Zac Carper of the reasoning behind switching up a gear and going pro for album number two.
Settling on Jay Joyce – who has worked with Cage The Elephant as well as first ladies of country Emmylou Harris and Patty Griffin – they trekked from LA to his St Charles Studio in Nashville, which is based in an old converted church. According to Brandon, Jay was something of a “wild card”. Zac grins in agreement. “He’s nuts! He smokes about three packs of cigarettes a day, he was Iggy Pop’s guitar player and he was a full blown heroin addict for, like, years, so he’s just got these crazy fucking stories. The experiences from this guy are just, like, tenfold.”
Guarded by Jay’s two huge great danes – Monroe and Dupree (“they’re massive, and they’re, like, dinosaurs,” says Brandon) – Zac, Brandon and brothers Elvis (guitar) and Max (drums) Kuehn set about making the album in a completely different way to their ramshackle debut. “We didn’t record it ourselves, we went and left our home in LA where we’re all super comfortable and went to Nashville where we’re not all super comfortable and went with a producer we don’t know very well,” explains Brandon. “We didn’t wanna do the same thing twice.”
Away from the distractions of home, they were able to settle into a steady, almost sensible, routine, which saw them making their own packed lunches every day to take to the studio. “It was like going to camp,” says Max excitedly. Brandon excitedly reveals the daily contents of his lunchbox – “I had a quinoa, beet, kale and chicken breast thing going on” – while Zac attempted, and failed, to make borscht by mixing raw beetroots with hot water.
Despite only being in the studio for two weeks, they left with an online Dropbox of 40 songs, which they then had to whittle down to a neat 12. Included in the final cut is the melancholy ‘Overdose’, a song unlike no other Fidlar recording to date. “It’s quiet for 90% of the song,” states Brandon. “The majority of the track is just Zac singing quietly and just playing a very thin guitar.”
It’s certainly not indicative of an album packed full of acoustic slow jams. ‘Too’ is every bit as hectic as ‘Fidlar’, with ‘Punks’ the sound of the band at their rowdy best. It’s a song that’s been knocking about for years but finally coalesced thanks to Jay’s input. “I wanted it to sound like a Black Keys song or a stoner rock song, but then once Jay got his hands on it he turned it into something really special,” says Zac. “I wanted it to sound a certain way but then finally I was like ‘you know what, fuck it, I just gotta let go’.”
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Though lyrically they might still be running through the same messy highs and cheap beer hangovers, Zac’s willingness to be more flexible when it comes to the recording process has had a significant impact on the album, with Jay helping the band quell their incurable need for speed. “We have a tendency to speed things up a lot and he was like, “why don’t you slow it down?” and we were like, “what?!” And then it sounded awesome!” Too right it does.
RELEASE DATE September 4
RECORDED St Charles Studio, Nashville
TRACKLISTING: 40oz, On Repeat, Punks, West Coast, Why Generation, Sober, Leave Me Alone, Drone, Overdose, Hey Johnny, Stupid Decisions, Bad Medicine, Bad Habits