When you go to a show nearly every single night, it truly takes something special to get you overly excited. Well, I’m overly excited that Fidlar is coming back to Minneapolis and is playing The Fine Line Music Cafe on Friday, February 15th. This is seriously a band that is worth any ticket price. Their live show is electric to say the least and will definitely leave you wanting more.
Following the success of the debut record, and amidst five years straight of life on the road (which, for a band like FIDLAR, is a little more toll-taking than for most) since forming in 2009, they decided to pause for a bit in order to iron out some kinks and get their heads clear. They came back after a spell to a friend’s studio with nearly 40 Carper-penned songs, set to once again record it all themselves, but hit a wall. “About 30 songs in, it wasn’t really sounding right, it was too stock,” says Carper. “I realized I needed to write songs and not think about FIDLAR. I was writing for the band but that’s not how the band started — it started with songs that I wrote and we just put them together. So I thought I needed to get out of town for awhile and write.”
Carper tossed a surfboard and single mattress into the back of his Volvo and drove up the California coast, writing songs on an acoustic guitar while revisiting the music he first loved as a kid: Green Day, Sublime, Elliott Smith, Blink. His fresh perspective did the trick, and in the summer of 2014 the band took the resulting songs from those sessions to record with the producer Jay Joyce in his Nashville studio.
Building largely on the vocal melodies and lyrics from Carper’s road-trip acoustic demos and scratch tracks, as well as songs written by Elvis Kuehn and Schwartzel, they completed the entire album in two weeks, recording a song each day and mostly using live takes. Like on their debut, the band perfected and recorded their own parts with direction from Carper, but unlike before, Carper — an experienced engineer in his own right — was able himself to lean on the wisdom of an outside production guru. “I told Jay from the get-go to do his thing,” says Carper. “You have to admit that you don’t know everything to learn how to do something, and let people teach you and observe. You have to let somebody drive. He would ask about what music I was into, and got all this weird editing and electronic-y elements out of it, which I loved. It made the songs sound as chaotic as they did in my head.”
Meanwhile, the honesty and self-analysis in the lyrics and storytelling on Too show an introspective personal depth that has evolved right long with the music. Songs like “Sober,” “Overdose,” “Drone,” and “Stupid Decisions” show a deeper side to FIDLAR, who, as Carper says, made this album wholly for themselves. “Anything I do, any song I’m writing, it’s for me, 100 percent, it’s a way I cope with life. On the first record, even on this record, it’s all true stories. That’s how I write, on actual experiences. Recording vocals on this record was a fucking emotional roller coaster. Our music’s not complicated; it’s three chords, four chords, max. I want people to hear my lyrics and understand them, not to have to decipher. I’m not trying to win a fucking poet contest. I like straightforward music, lyrically at least. I’m a sucker for hooks.”
The finished product is a complete package, another unique moment from a unique group — three chords of lightning in a bottle; four chords, max. (In fact, that pretty much sums up the FIDLAR boys: “Three chords; Max.”) The twelve songs here take those ingredients we’ve come to love and add just the right mix of something extra, touching on elements of pop, rock, scuzz, punk, synth, and more. “40 oz. On Repeat” kicks off with power chords and kick- stomp drums, a triumphant confidence to the pace where before was the frenetic thrash of joyful naivete?. “West Coast” has all the sunshine of an AM radio single delivered through Carper’s darkly charming lyrics: “Woke up, you caught me with a smile/passed out on your bathroom tile.” And Elvis Kuehn’s “Why Generation” is a ready-made anthem, replete with a hook-laden sing-along chorus. There’s something for everyone here, but it all sounds distinctly FIDLAR. (“You can take influence, but it should always sound like FIDLAR,” says Elvis.)
Local band France Camp will kick the night off. When the beloved Minneapolis band Nice Purse tragically ceased to be, a smoking hole was left where the bombastic group once stood tall. Fortunately for the humans of the universe, lead man France Camp decided to continue writing and releasing his own brand of surf punk under his assumed name – along with James Wolfeatens, Dylan Rose and Kyle Kimm – to equally awesome returns.
Throughout their blistering eight track debut album, France Camp play smash-n-grab to their rock n roll forefathers, blending and stitching sounds ranging from blues to surf to country twang to brazen punk. Recorded dutifully by Ali Jaafar at Ecstattic Studios in Minneapolis, the band was able to capture the torching, ramshackle energy promised from their often chaotic live performances. With our eighth release, on All Hollow’s Eve, Forged Artifacts is excited to bestow unto thee France Camp’s eponymous debut album digitally and on chrome cassette tape.
Tickets are still available here.