It took more than a decade into their existence, but FIDLAR (Fuck It Dawg, Life's a Risk) is finally bringing its proudly immature brand of garage rock to Florida.
"It's been a running thing that people say we only play California. We'll go up to San Francisco and come back down to Los Angeles, playing every small town. We should do that with Florida," drummer Max Kuehn tells New Times early morning from the West Coast via Zoom. "It's always been hard financially to come down to Miami. This time, we're going to do the whole state."
The band is embarking on its Floriduh Tour, consisting of six dates across the Sunshine State that wrap up at Gramps on Wednesday, September 27. To hype themselves for breaking new ground, the trio released a couple of covers this summer featuring Florida-bred bands, including a surprisingly faithful rendition of Limp Bizkit's "Nookie," followed by a thunderous version of Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'." The artwork from each single cover features the trio clad in appropriate hats. For "Free Fallin'," they're wearing Petty's signature top hat, and for "Nookie," it's Fred Durst's trademark backward red baseball cap.
"We did 'Free Fallin'' a while ago. What could we do that's another Florida-centric band? [Vocalist and guitarist] Zac Carper was listening to 'Nookie.' He was like, 'This is a really weird song.' The musicality was all crazy, so we spent a lot of time trying to figure out what was going on."
For a band that seems to thrive on simplicity, Kuehn says he and the rest of his bandmates have spent a lot of time on their craft.
"I got my first drum set at 2. My dad was a musician. He was a piano player, so I surpassed him on drums pretty quickly." Kuehn was brought into the FIDLAR fold by his brother, guitarist Elvis Kuehn, who left the band last year. "Elvis met Zac at a recording studio they were working at and jammed. They hit me up and Brandon Schwartzel. We jammed and soon had six or seven songs. We started playing skate parks, house parties, where ever they'd let us play in LA." They bonded over the Southern California garage rock scene, naming Ty Segall, the Osees, and Black Lips as major influences.
In 2011, FIDLAR signed to Mom + Pop, and Swedish rock band the Hives tapped the then-quartet as openers for a national tour. At the time, Kuehn wasn't even old enough to legally drink.
"It was weird to grow up in the context of touring. Your whole life is being in rooms with free alcohol and people wanting to party," he adds. One of the band's wildest shows in its earliest days was performing in Paris for the first time. "We were playing in the hottest room. There were 100 people there. The ceiling was sweating and falling apart. It was complete craziness," Kuehn remembers. "By the end of the show, I was stripped down to my underwear. It was so hot I thought I'd end up with heatstroke."
While the band has mellowed as far as partying over the years, Kuehn says they still leave every ounce of energy out on the stage. "We're very loud and energetic. Fun, but not scary. Lots of shoving and pushing, but not in that agro-bro way. Good vibe but high energy," he says. "We play five songs from the first record, four from the second, and a bunch of new songs."
Today, the band has released a new song, "Nudge," which took inspiration from the time Carper heard about a friend's run-in with the law. "This guy we knew got a DUI and told us he got a nudge from the judge," Kuehn says of the track's inspiration. "Zac had the majority of the song figured out, then we jammed it to figure out the structure, and Zac fine-tuned the lyrics. It's a song about having people in your life tell you your decision-making isn't so great. That maybe you should chill out."
And while the band loves tinkering around with sounds in the studio, "Nudge" fits into their current recording ethos. "We try to capture what it sounds like seeing us live," Kuehn explains.
Though FIDLAR still performs under a name that represents the wild spontaneity of youth, every night, Kuehn has to remind himself that time stops for no band.
"I'm 32 now; I can't just go on stage anymore," he says. "If I don't spend 20 minutes warming up, my hands will cramp up in the first three or four songs."
FIDLAR. With Bed Bug Guru. 8 p.m. Wednesday, September 27, at Gramps, 176 NW 24th St., Miami; gramps.com. Tickets cost $27.50 to $32.50 via eventbrite.com.