Wake. Bake. Skate.
Thirty-three years ago, Ian McKaye wrote ‘Straight Edge’, Minor Threat’s denouncement of drink and drugs that turned him into an unwilling punk rock messiah. The point he was making was that punk, first and foremost, is about doing what you want, not what’s expected of you, so legions of fans, oblivious to the irony, did as they were told and kicked everything. With the rise of emo, the uniform individuality of straight edge has been picked up by kids listening to Paramore and My Chemical Romance, but not by kids like FIDLAR, who want to drink cheap beer, “smoke weed until I die”, “get head in a broken car”, drop shitty pills and cheap cocaine, and, time permitting, skate. Other than that, they look and sound ripe for McKaye’s Dischord label circa 1982. “I’ve got better things to do/Than sit around and fuck my head,” said Minor Threat. “I drink cheap beer/So what? Fuck you!,” bark FIDLAR.
The band’s eponymous debut album starts thus, aping Black Flag with a dumbass group chant – a ‘Six Pack’ for a new generation. ‘Cheap Beer’’s verses yabber manically, with cock-an-ear hardcore vocals that brattishly bitch, “Forty beers later and a line of speed / A pound of blow and half a pound of weed / Heading down the tracks to Mexico / Fucked on beer and hysterical”. Whether you are now or ever have been young, it’s hard to not be instantly thrilled by it.
Unlike Black Flag, FIDLAR are neither hardcore purists, nor a band that wishes to attract such a crowd. For every ‘Cheap Beer’ and ‘Cocaine’ (which borrows as much from Beastie Boys’ ‘Sabotage’ and ‘Fight For Your Right’ as it does any punk band), they have a retrograde garage number (‘Stoked And Broke’), something for fans of Wavves (‘No Waves’) and a brazen, lip-curling love letter to The Ramones (‘LDA’). They file it all not under punk or lo-fi or surf or garage, but simply “rock’n’roll” – a much neglected term in their hometown of Los Angeles, where Compton rap, dissonant noise pop and indie still rule, or did until very recently.
The night before we meet, FIDLAR played their biggest London show to date, where I saw just how ferociously their fans have taken to the band’s acronym, Fuck It Dog, Life’s A Risk – skate culture’s own eloquently louche carpe diem. Kids took to the air and security guards swatted them down, like King Kong versus the bi-planes.