Illustration by PAUL GRANESE
BY DYLAN LONG Ever since the skate-punk legions began massing on the West Coast in the early 1980s, the members of FIDLAR have had themselves a wonderful blend of punk rock and skateboarding culture to blast as they spent their days pounding brews and landing wild tricks. Having shared the stage with bands like The Black Lips and The Hives already, FIDLAR has been on the rise for quite some time, welding all different realms of punk rock together to form a crushing, I-don’t-give-a-fuck powerhouse of low-production melodies. In advance of their show at Union Transfer with Dune Rats on Thursday, wherein they will be going toe-to-toe with the Pope in a contest to see who can cause more mayhem and headaches in the City Of Brotherly Love, we called up FIDLAR’s lead guitarist Elvis Kuehn to discuss skating, touring, cheap beer, smoking skills, fast drugs, rehab and just what the hell FIDLAR even means.
PHAWKER: Yo Elvis, how’s it goin’ man?
ELVIS KUEHN: Hey, what’s happenin’.
PHAWKER: So I’ve got some questions here for you and I’m just gonna start railin’ ‘em off. First one up is, what is the origin of FIDLAR? We’ve heard both “Fuck It Dog, Life’s A Risk” and “Forget It Dad, Life’s Alright.”
ELVIS KUEHN: It was “Fuck It Dog, Life’s A Risk,” and it was like a skateboarding term that was made up by a group of skateboarders in LA that I was living with, and skating with, and you’d use that expression before doing a crazy trick. Like you know, bombing a hill, flips, etc.
PHAWKER: We’ve actually heard some call FIDLAR the “proto-YOLO.”
PHAWKER: Right on man. So your dad was the keyboard player in T.S.O.L., what kind of advice did he give you when you told him you wanted to start a band and follow in his footsteps?
ELVIS KUEHN: The big thing was me and my brother started a band when we were 12 or something, and so he was always really supportive of it; he helped us out in the beginning with recording and getting gigs and stuff. It’s a lot of hard work and you’ve gotta be dedicated to it, and he helped us get it started.
PHAWKER: So essentially he was there for moral support in the beginning?
ELVIS KUEHN: Yeah yeah, because he’s a musician and does music for a living, he’s pretty supportive of that sort of lifestyle.
PHAWKER: I bet he’s glad you followed in his footsteps. So, you guys have a pretty party hard reputation, but Zach did struggle with addiction and went through rehab, how did it work out putting those two things together, did they clash at all?
ELVIS KUEHN: No, not really, basically he had to go through rehab and get sober and we were all supportive of that, but no it’s really not that much different. And there’s definitely a reputation out there but it’s more of a myth than the truth, like we really don’t party that intensely, but it’s basically ‘Now he’s on tour and he doesn’t drink anymore.’ It took him a good minute to adjust after the first time going out sober, but he just kinda figured it out and now it’s totally fine and doesn’t really affect anything.
PHAWKER: Right on, and he’s still clean?
ELVIS KUEHN: Yep!
PHAWKER: Glad to hear that man. Speaking of touring, you guys must have some pretty crazy touring stories; what would you say was the most horrible thing that happened on tour that you can look back on and laugh at now, but at the time wasn’t so funny?
ELVIS KUEHN: Actually, the last tour that we went on was with Metz in the U.S. and it was pretty gnarly. We were driving in Birmingham, Alabama, and we were heading to Nashville, and we were driving on the freeway in Birmingham and we realized that the van wouldn’t go past a certain speed. We couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it, but we realized it might have something to do with the transmission. So we take it to a place and they’re telling us our transmission’s fucked and it’s gonna take a few days to get it fixed. Now we’re scrambling trying to figure out what to do, and you know it’s 110 degrees out it’s super hot, and we end up just jumping into Metz’s van and go with them, we even borrowed their gear for the show in Nashville. One of the guys with us had to stay in Birmingham and wait it out until the van got done, and then we had to rent a van in Nashville. We still had to cancel our next show, like we played the show in Nashville but we had to cancel the next one, so it was just pretty much a big old clusterfuck. So it was pretty bad when it happened but now everything’s fixed.
ELVIS KUEHN: Yeah man, well luckily Metz had already gotten to Nashville so they kinda saved our asses.
PHAWKER: You guys stopped in Philly earlier this year at the Union Transfer and you’re playing there again on Thursday, do you have any crazy or funny moments from the last time you were in Philly?
ELVIS KUEHN: Uhhh, nothing too wild, I remember we played a lot of dice in the backstage area, like dice betting games. I also remember getting a really good hot dog outside of the hot dog truck outside.
PHAWKER: That hot dog definitely counts as memorable.
ELVIS KUEHN: Yeah definitely man, and yeah, nothing too wild but that was a really great show.
PHAWKER: We have one last hypothetical question for you: You wake up in the middle of the night and your house is on fire and there’s only time to save one album. Which album do you save and why?
ELVIS KUEHN: That’s a tough question. As far as records go, I’d save The Gun Club’s Fire Of Love. It’s one of my favorite albums ever and I have my Dad’s old copy of it from the ’80s. And the artwork on it is amazing too, killer album. That’s definitely the one I would grab.