It’s been a while since we’ve seen uber-rowdy Los Angeles skate/garage punks FIDLAR in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, the last time being a 2018 headlining stop at Union Transfer, prior to the release of their third LP, Almost Free. However, during a recent phone chat, drummer Max Kuehn — who you may have seen playing drums for our phriends Together Pangea this past August at Underground Arts – tells me that this gap was only partially due to the pandemic: “We had just gone on basically a two-year album cycle, and we were like, ‘We’re gonna take a big break, delete social media, and refresh!’ and then…”
And, although FIDLAR did undergo a lineup change in that time (“Elvis – my brother, who has been in the band from the beginning — didn’t really want to tour anymore.”), 2022 and 2023 saw the release of four self-released EPs: two collections of early recordings (2022’s Don’t Fuck With Vol. 01 and 2023’s Don’t Fuck With Vol. 02), a collection of acoustic reimaginings of fan and band favorites (2023’s unplug), and a collection of brand-new material (2023’s That’s Life). They’ve also released covers of Limp Bizkit’s “Nookie,” Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’,” The Vines’ “Get Free,” and two post-That’s Life singles: “Nudge” and “Move On.”
That’s Life was recorded with Dave Sardy; who’s been in the industry since the ‘80s and become known for his work with Noel Gallagher, LCD Soundsystem, and Spoon; who apparently pulled out all the stops for FIDLAR: “It was awesome. He was like, ‘I called in a favor! Do you wanna go record at Rick Rubin’s studio in Malibu?’ And we recorded all the songs in one day.” Max tells me that both the session and the finished product feels fairly different from Almost Free: “We did it pretty much all live, which you can’t always do because of your circumstances… We wanted to encapsulate the feeling of seeing us live more, because our last record, Almost Free, was more of a studio record.” And he adds that this does likely have something to do with the pandemic: “A lot of that was kind of a reaction to not playing live as much. Prior to that, we were basically touring for about ten years, and we were jonesing for that live experience.”
However, FIDLAR has been on the road since summer of 2022 and, according to Max, these dates have been going even better than expected: “It’s just fun to see people still give a shit!” He goes on to say that he’s exhilarated to see that the band is still attracting new audiences: “There’s a lot of energy at the shows, still… It’s great to see how many still-young kids, 15–18-year-olds, come out.” And, apparently, fans aren’t just coming out for the classics: “It’s pretty crazy every time a new song comes out and then you play live and you see them singing the words, and even calling out for new songs!”
Over the weekend, FIDLAR kicked off a monthlong tour (featuring Together Pangea’s Erik Jimenez), split between headlining shows and dates as direct support for Oliver Tree. One of these support dates will find FIDLAR with Oliver Tree this coming Saturday, January 20th, at The Met… an opera house… a setting that would seem unlikely for a band whose fans have been known for losing their minds, accessories, and even shoes in the band’s almost-legendary mosh pits at places like The Church and Union Transfer (One particularly raucous night in 2015 even earned Union Transfer’s silver medal for the most ambulances to ever show up to a gig… 3.) However, Max tells me that theatres and opera houses aren’t totally new for a band, citing their 2014 tour opening for Pixies, which often had them in venues where they looked liked skater kids crashing their parents’ bourgeois gala. (Their local show was at the far-from bourgeois Electric Factory. “The Electric Factory was like closer to a normal show,” Max admits.)
Regardless of the setting, Max says that FIDLAR’s live show will be unaffected: “We’re gonna do the same set every night.” He also tells me that for their current run (even their abbreviated support sets), they’ll likely be premiering some new music: “We’re definitely playing some new songs. We’re working on some new, new songs, so you might get to hear something brand-new.” And when I ask how the band are hoping to spend 2024, after these dates wrap, he tells me that there’s a lot more touring and new music in the works. But he does say that they’re very anxious to get back to the 215: “I love Philly! Every time FIDLAR played there, they were like some of the best shows in the US.”
*Get your tickets here.