Brandon Schwartzel of LA skate-punk band FIDLAR talks to The Eagle’s Tam Sackman about touring, Nick Offerman and naked stagedivers.
Eagle: Your music has been described as having a distinctly LA sound. What do you think that means?
Brandon Schwartzel: That’s a good one. There are a lot of west coast punk bands that are from LA that we kind of are influenced by like The Germs or Black Flag, so that sound kind of comes through. There’s also a lot of newer, kind of garage-y type bands that are coming out of southern California and we’ve played a lot of shows with those bands. And we’re from LA so I guess our sound is LA just because that’s where we’re from.
E: You just wrapped up your tour with The Orwells. Can you tell me about the tour? Any favorite stops or stories?
BS: We had one new thing that started happening on the tour and that was having naked stagedivers. I don’t know how that happened but on three separate occasions people would get completely naked or jump on stage and take off all of their clothes and jump into the crowd. That was definitely a highlight or a new thing that we haven’t had happen before. The whole tour was really great. It was our first headlining tour and we were kind of nervous going into it because we weren’t sure if we were capable of a headlining tour. All of the shows were really well-attended. Yeah, it was f***ing fun. The Orwells were great. They were awesome during the tour. We had been wanting to play shows with them for a while.
E: Can you tell our readers what FIDLAR means as a name and where it came from?
BS: Yeah it stands for “F*** It Dog, Life’s A Risk” and it came from a skateboarding term. Kind of in regards to doing a trick, or if you weren’t sure about jumping over stairs or something, someone would be like ‘FIDLAR, dude! Just do it!’ Kind of go big or go home. Then we kind of adopted it to how we approach our music and our band: we just kind of do whatever we want and try to have fun with it.
E: It’s been almost exactly a year since you released your self-titled album. How do you feel about the album looking back a year later?
BS: It’s awesome. It’s crazy that that was only a year ago. It feels like it was so long ago just because we’re the band and we’ve been playing these songs for a long time. It’s out around the world and we’ve gotten to go on tour all over the world and people are into it. We never thought we were even gonna make an album! When we started there was no plan, we were just together and playing. It’s awesome. We’re kind of wrapping up our touring with that album and we’re going to start working on the second one. I think we’re all pretty excited to get back to recording.
E: This summer you released a music video for the song “Cocaine” where Nick Offerman gets drunk and pees on everything. What was the inspiration behind this video?
BS: It was actually all Nick’s idea. He’s like a family friend of Max and Elvis. Their dad plays music and he’s played with Nick’s wife for a long time. So they always knew each other growing up before he was on Parks and Rec and a big actor and all that. So we’ve always hinted at him, ‘You know, if you ever want to be in a video…’. And then he heard that song and really liked it and just came up with the whole idea. He emailed Elvis and we were like, ‘Uh yes absolutely!’ and shot it in one day in Zac and I’s neighborhood and it turned out really cool.
E: Going back to your tour last year, can you tell me about your relationship with The Orwells?
BS: We kind of knew them before just from mutual friends, mutual bands we had played with. We never played together but all played with the same bands. They would be in LA for a show when we were there or we’d go out to their show. And then when we were in Chicago we’d go see their shows or they’d come out to our shows. We would always see each other and be like, ‘We should do some shows together!’ It ended up that they were available and wanting to do it and we were excited that they were available. It was really fun. They’re really young. They just graduated high school. So they definitely had a lot of questions for us and we would sneak them some drinks. They were awesome. Not to mention a really good band, too.
E: You’re going to be joining The Pixies for a good portion of their tour. What’s it like to be performing with such a legendary band? Were you fans before you knew you’d be opening for them?
BS: We’re all giant Pixies fans. It’s funny, they’re actually the band that when we first started working with our booking agent and manager they were like, ‘What are your dreams? What are your goals as a band? What are your dream tours?’ We kind of jokingly would be like, ‘Yeah why don’t you guys get us a tour with The Pixies? That would be cool.’ And we thought that would never happen. And then it happened.
Once we got the call about it when we were on tour with The Orwells, we were all freaking out and hugging each other. It was like we just won the lottery or something. It’s been really cool. We’ve had two shows with them and it’s just kind of surreal. It hasn’t quite set in. It’s a little bit weird because we’ve been coming off of a headlining tour where we’ve had really crazy FIDLAR crowds. It’s always pretty wild at our shows and then we go to these huge, awesome theaters with the older Pixies crowd and we try to win them over. We can’t necessarily jump off into the crowd or have naked stagediving. We have to figure out more ways to win them over, which I kind of like. I like the challenge.
E: Your show at the Music Center at Strathmore is going to be a sit-down show. How are you going to manage to keep the energy up while people are sitting down?
BS: As a band, we always kind of play the same, regardless of the venue. We always play with as much energy as we can. It seems to translate whether its a big theater and people are sitting down or at a house party where everyone’s wasted and going crazy. So we keep the energy up ourselves and hope that it reciprocates in the audience.
E: What’s 2014 looking like for FIDLAR?
BS: We’re finishing up this tour and then going back home to work on rebuilding our recording studio. Getting gear together to start writing and recording and getting the record done. I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but we usually work pretty quick once we get in that mode. And then once we finish that we get to do it all over again.
Brandon and the rest of FIDLAR will open for The Pixies at the Music Center at Strathmore on Jan. 26. The show is sold out.
The interview has been edited for content and clarity.