"Our entire career, nobody ever took us seriously," starts Zac Carper with a grin. "And rightfully so. I mean we do have songs called ‘Cheap Beer' and ‘Cocaine' so I understand. Half of it is our fault, but nobody's taken us seriously. Nobody thought we'd be on the radio or play shows, so it goes to prove that nobody fucking really knows. Nobody knows anything."
FIDLAR's self-titled debut dances with drugs, parties hard and tries to numb the pain. It's a torn page in staying young forever while ‘Too' is an intense, emotional album that sees the gang embrace mistakes and sober up.
Third album, ‘Almost Free' is the next step but it doesn't see them growing up or settling down, so fear not. Instead, the record clings on for dear life as the band are tossed this way and that. That is the story of our generation after all.
"Getting older is just wild," laughs Zac. "And nobody talks to you about it. Supposedly it gets easier, but I'm not sure."
Life post-‘Too' has been "pretty up and down" for FIDLAR. Touring saw them pogo between Europe and America countless times, keeping them busy and keeping them confined, so when they finally did get home, "it's hard to be creative," Zac says.
"Your brain space is all crazy. We have this thing called P.T.B.D. (Post Tour Band Disorder). After tour, you can't deal with life, and it's such a weird thing."
Unfortunately, there was a whole lot of life to deal with.
"I was going through a crazy break up, and some of our friends were kind of going crazy." The things they used to do to cope, like taking drugs all night, are exhausting when you're older. "It takes me like two days to recover from the hangover now. It just ends up hurting! I don't know man; it's fucking wild."
That ride was poured into ‘Almost Free'. Instead of cranking it out in one month, the band took twelve. A few weeks here, a few weeks there, it allowed FIDLAR to really play.
"That's what's different about it. We collaborated in a way that we've never collaborated before. There's not a pointed direction to this album, ‘cos we all listen to everything. I've been super inspired by new hip-hop, and new R&B coming out and it's just like, how do you fit that in a punk band? You've got to take that rock'n'roll limit out and just be like; we're just musicians making music."
No rules because life's a risk.
"Every record we do has been different. There's nothing wrong with bands who follow their own formula, but I'd get bored. We're fucking millennials dude; we get bored quick."
‘Almost Free' moves quickly. There's the Gorillaz-meets-Cypress Hill opening rally against gentrification ‘Get Off My Rock', sparked when Zac returned home to Hawaii and was shocked at how fast things had changed, disgusted that Mark Zuckerberg had bought a bunch of property on the island and then tried to force the Hawaiian people out using legal loopholes.
"It's not just happening in Hawaii or LA; it's happening everywhere in the world. You can't keep pushing people out, like where are we gonna go?"
‘Can't You See' has a freewheeling runaway groove that couldn't care what you think while ‘Alcohol' tumbles with a hyperactive, Dennis the Menace wallop.
"That song was written when I was sober, and I was in an AA meeting, and everybody was talking about drinking alcohol, and I was like, fuck I really want some alcohol now."
The title track goes all in with a brass breakdown, ‘Called you Twice' is tender and loving before ‘Nuke' tears the place wide open while the closing ‘Good Times Are Over' promises that "misery could use a little company" after the band saw Bring Me The Horizon play Reading Festival.
"They make this heavy and sad music which is such a good combination of writing. If these guys are as big as they are, it just goes to show that misery likes company, you know?"
Through it all though, FIDLAR find reason to smile. They're done standing by.
"We've been all over the world the past couple of years, and we've seen everything happening. We've been in Europe every time there's been a terrorist attack in France. America's been going crazy with gun violence, cops killing kids, our president and the whole system there. It's so crazy, and we've seen it from all over. All around the world, everywhere we tour, we can see it.
"The past couple of years, technology has changed, and it's made people either connect more or disconnect more. It's a weird catch-22. Maybe we just change so much faster nowadays. Our opinions are always evolving, and they're evolving way quicker, because of the information that we're getting on a daily basis."
Older generations never had to handle change at this rate, because they lived in isolated bubbles. There wasn't really a world beyond what they could actually see.
"You can't change an old dude's mind. Fuck, it's impossible." Our generation can see everything. "Our generation definitely does have more empathy towards other people and situations that don't directly affect us.
"This record is more about the environment around us. I remember writing a song before this record, and I just got sick of complaining. Rock'n'roll is just a bunch of fucking people complaining. I was fucking sick of it."
FIDLAR have always mixed feel-good escapism with a touch of systematic rebellion but with ‘Too Real', the band have gone full political snarl. Things must be bad.
"That song's just a reflection of what's going on in the world. There's a saying that I picked up in Australia while working with Dune Rats, that's ‘thought mouth'. You think of something, and then you just say it. There's so much shit going on, and nobody's saying it. That's what's kind of annoying about the world and the music industry and in general, how come nobody's calling out this shit? Isn't that what we're supposed to be doing?"
‘Almost Free' knows that not everyone is in this together. It's not that naïve. But it does offer a soundtrack for like-minded people. If you're feeling angry, hurt, lost, confused, you're not alone. Even if you feel like you are. There's reason to grin through the alienation and fear.
"Maybe it's the whole social media aspect of everybody talking. If everyone's talking at the same time, how can you hear anything? I do feel more alienated now than I ever have, but I do feel like I cannot be the only one feeling this way. There's absolutely no way. I can't be the only one feeling like this."
So FIDLAR are kicking open the doors and throwing a party. You're all welcome.
"You have to learn how to adapt to change, and you have to do what's in your power to do. You have to fight for whatever is in your power to fight for. This is gonna sound stupid," warns Zac. "But the lyrics 'I drink cheap beer, so what, fuck you' are political. That to me is our class system.
"Yeah, the hip-hop cliché is rappers talking about how much money they got, how much bling they got and how they're the shit. We do the same kind of thing but we represent the dirtbag kids, and we're gonna have a good time, no matter what. We don't have the money or the bling or emotional stability because we're all emotionally crippled, but this is who we are, and we're proud of that.
"Growing up, it's interesting to see that evolve. Deep down, we're still those people. Sure, we can afford our rent now, but that's about it."
"I hope people see we're not just slacker punk stoner idiots," with ‘Almost Free'. "I just feel like we're just constantly trying to dig ourselves out of that hole, even though there's some truth to it. It is our fault; I'm not blaming anybody here."
FIDLAR just can't ever take themselves seriously enough. Thought-mouth means they say it all, the silly and the serious. It's called ‘Almost Free' because it's their third album and three is almost free.
"I wish there were a deeper meaning to it but there just really isn't."
There's talk of calling their fourth album ‘Free' as a natural followup while album five "will be called 'Wives' because that's probably when we'll all get married. Maybe it'll be a record about us complaining about our wives because that's something punk rock needs more of," he adds with a roll of his eyes.
Elsewhere there's talk of "actually doing a Fidlar on The Roof album. It's going to be a rendition of Fiddler On The Roof, but it's gonna be based on modern times. We've been joking about it for a while, but now we're like... dude, why don't we do this? This is gonna be fun to do. It doesn't need to be the biggest thing in the world or anything like that, let's just do it and have fun with it."
There are also whispers of going a Beastie Boys-inspired hip-hop album after Zac and Brandon discovered that like FIDLAR, Beastie is an acronym (Boys Entering Altered States To Induce Ecstasy).
"We have taken this joke called FIDLAR farther than it has ever gone and we have to keep taking it further. It's actually challenging. It's getting hard now. You know the great thing about the whole FIDLAR thing is that the bar is set so low for us that anything we do is basically above the bar, because everyone does think that we're a bunch of idiots so it's like, alright, cool, we're just gonna play off that then. Thinking about it, it actually works in our favour."
Taken from the February issue of Upset. FIDLAR's album 'Almost Free' is out now.
Featuring Fever 333, FIDLAR, Employed To Serve, Bring Me The Horizon, Taking Back Sunday, Puppy and more.