by Dominic Yamarone
How’s your tour been?
It’s been great! I don’t know how long it’s been, but the turnout’s been great. We have very strong walk-up [sales] I guess. Sometimes we look at the ticket sales and we’re like “Oh no,” if it’s going to be an empty show but then it really fills well because kids don’t want to pay for the fees. I kind of think it’s because nobody has printers anymore.
In the last few years, between your second and third album, what have you guys been working on?
Right now, it’s more like challenging ourselves as musicians rather than anything else; collaborating more. This is the first record where we actually, really collaborated, instead of like “here’s a song” and just play it. We got really into different instruments, and synthesizers and samplers. We have horns on the record and we have a song that has three different key changes and so we kinda just went a little all over the place with it. Instead of trying to like hone in on a theme.
You put out the music video for ‘Are You High?’ which really focuses on your live shows and all the energy behind them. How important is that energy to you guys when you’re performing?
The only way we make money now as a rock band is live shows. There’s no in between for us. Like, it’s either a really bad show or really good show. That’s how we have to look at it. So we try to get like, 110% every night, which is exhausting. But it’s what we signed up for. I remember, our first tour was with the Hives. They told us, “Man, you know, you guys are gonna get our age and you guys are gonna be like, ‘Man it’s really tiring.’”
Well, I know watching the video definitely made me pumped to come to the show and and see you guys perform live.
That’s awesome! It’ll be a fun one.
On your second album, to you had a song called ‘Overdose,’ which was inspired by your own experiences with overdosing. What are your thoughts on the recent overdoses in the media like Mac Miller, Demi Lovato, and even Prince?
It’s really, really, really sad. Especially with musicians and actors. People look up to them to be a voice of something, and I think that can really stress people out. Their escape can be something like drugs. So as you’re hearing about Mac Miller’s [death] it’s just oh so, so shitty. I really like his music too. Music is something we start really young, and then you join a band and it becomes popular, and touring doesn’t really breed good mental health. So it’s just really a shame. It’s a sad thing.
There are good things like MusiCares in America that get people into rehab. But then that means you have to take some time off, and right now, [in the music industry], you just gotta keep going. They don’t let you take time off. That’s what I think about it. It’s just really, really sad. Especially Lil Peep was gnarly. He was just so young.
Having gone through your own recovery process, what do you have to say about mental health awareness and treatment?
I think America has a real low standard for therapy. That’s what I think [the issue] more so is. You know, I’m no longer sober. I don’t shoot snack and I don’t do anything like hard drugs anymore, but I just drink now. And it’s not so black and white. Some people can’t do what I do. Some people, when they get sober, they have to be completely sober. Maybe that’s going to be my path again soon. Maybe I’ll check back into rehab, or who knows. I don’t know, but I do think that America has a lack of understanding with mental health as opposed to other countries. Scandinavia is really ahead of the curve there with the reformation and helping mental health.
On the other side of it, punk music has always been influenced by political messages and the political atmosphere. How has the recent political atmosphere influenced your songwriting?
There’s some political points in it, I guess. What’s been going on in the world has been crazy. I was a teenager when Bush became president, and all of a sudden you had this influx of good music. People are making fun of that now when Trump’s become president; there hasn’t been an influx a good music. But I think there has been [good music], I think there has been more punk things coming out right now than there ever has been. With SoundCloud and hip hop and everything like that.
With our record, we have a couple songs that are kind of more hip-hop based and more beat-based and more DIY. Instead of guitars, amps, and anything [like that]. Sometimes, some of the guitar is just straight into the computer, like just DI-Guitar. Instead of making things sound like the Sex Pistols.
On our new record, there’s some elements of that, and elements of how fucked we are politically.
Another great band to bridge that hip-hop to punk gap was the Beastie Boys. A couple of years ago, you guys put out a cover of ‘Sabotage’ as a tribute to them. How important were the Beastie Boys to you all as a band?
That was the first band that we were all into. I think it was, like, that and Cypress Hill. The first time that me and Elvis [Kehn] met he put on a Queens the Stone Age record and that’s when I was like, “Oh shit!” Because I used to listen to that same record and then we’re both really obsessed with Cypress Hill and the Beastie Boys. Having this kind of relationship or being able to relate to each other on that level. The two sides of it were rock and then [being into] hip-hop was rare itself.
Do you have any advice for the next generation of bands that want to follow in your footsteps?
Do it! Honestly, just do it. It’s amazing what you can do with SoundCloud and with the Internet world now. You can cut out all the middlemen. It’s insane. And that’s basically what the music industry is; just a bunch of middlemen. There’s an article that came out that the music industry in 2017 makes $43 billion, and 12% of it went to the artists. Somebody broke down where all the money goes to. It’s going to all the tech companies, and it’s going into all the record labels. Nowadays with, SoundCloud and Instagram and whatever. You guys could go straight to the artists. That’s complete DIY, real DIY.
Be sure to check out FIDLAR at Paradise Rock Club THIS FRIDAY (9/14).