Union Transfer




Huth & McGuinness

Fri, May 29, 2015

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

Union Transfer

Philadelphia, PA


This event is all ages

There was a time, in recent history, when you needed to have at least twelve members to even be considered a band in Canada. It was nearly impossible to tour if you didn't have access to some kind of personnel carrier, and making a record involved several years of tambourine overdubs. You know there were kids out there who just wanted to get in a van and play loud as hell through an Ampeg stack or a four-piece drum kit, but how could you call it a band if you didn't even know a French horn player? By 2008, band membership had reached a critical mass. You'd go to a show and you might be the only person in the room who wasn't playing an instrument. Hard times.

Thankfully, there are always a few naturally resourceful people who refuse to be intimidated or excluded from making their own wild racket in public. Alex Edkins, Hayden Menzies and Chris Slorach have been around long enough to know that if you can't fit it in the van, it's not worth bringing. METZ play like one brutally heavy instrument with three heads, slashing heavy-gauge strings, bending guitar and bass necks in weird unison, along with what is probably the loudest drumming you've ever heard. It's a return to everything that's good about loud, ecstatic live music; a frantic nod to Nation of Ulysses, Shellac, The Pixies, The Jesus Lizard, and Public Image Ltd. at their most vicious, while still carving out some heavy new business. They play the instruments, the amps, and the room.

Over the last three-and-a-half years, METZ have slayed in basements, skate shops, clubs, and festivals, sharing stages with Mission of Burma, Death from Above 1979, Archers of Loaf, Mudhoney, Oneida, Constantines, and NoMeansNo. I've seen a hundred jaws drop within the first four measures of their set. I once saw Alexander Hacke from Einstuerzende Neubauten approach Chris and rave about his bass tone.

It's a formidable task to try and capture such a powerful live band on record. Luckily, Graham Walsh (Holy Fuck) and Alexandre Bonenfant were more than up for it. Isolating the band in an old barn for a week with a portable recording rig, Walsh and Bonenfant were not only successful in documenting the unrelenting live force of the band, but they also managed to add some new and staggering sonic textures to the recording. Waves of organic feedback and fuzzed-out drones build the classic tension that eventually drops into each track's relentless, dissonant pulse. And somehow, the raddest thing about it all is the songwriting. It's not just riffs. It's something that some heavy bands don't get, but METZ do really well—and they do it collectively. It's a hell of an experience, listening to this thing.

With this, their debut album, METZ articulate with deafening clarity, what we've all known for some time: The world of good music needs a new power trio, and this is it.
Change is scary to a kid. For most young people, the subject of growth is just an opportunity for a bad dick joke, and lessons in evolution are protested not only by the religious right but also by an entire generation of eye-rolling, bulletproof adolescents.

But as we all find out eventually, nothing stays the same—not even in punk rock. The music has moved from the garage to glam to the gutter and back, across Generations Blank and X and 182 and beyond. A record enters the world having captured a moment in time, three lightning chords in a bottle, and then a band worth its salt soldiers on, ready for the next step. Some try to cling to a moment forever, but the true artists move forward, keeping close their heart and signature soul while expanding everything around them with a head full of steam. Often, the wastoid wakes up and the slacker un-shirks as the Roman numeral I gives way to II—or, as is the case with FIDLAR, to the almighty Too.

“The second record is always the fucking scary record, I don’t care what band you’re in,” says singer/guitarist Zac Carper. “We kind of pigeonholed ourselves in one style for a while, this ‘garage punk.’ Everyone says, ‘Don’t sell out, don’t make a slick record,’ but to me, selling out would be making the same first record and just cashing in on that scene. I want to expand and get better at writing more interesting songs, and change, you know? I didn’t want us to be labeled a ‘punk rock group.’”

“As a band all you can really hope for is that you just keep progressing and moving forward,” says guitarist/singer Elvis Kuehn. “We didn’t have any specific goal with this record other than to just keep progressing as a band, getting better and exposing the music to as many people as we can.”

Carper, Elvis Kuehn, Brandon Schwartzel (bass), and Max Kuehn (drums) ripped modern punk rock a new one on their 2013 self-titled debut. They paired life-risking antics and attitudes with their full-shred anthems about skating, partying, and honest l-i-v-i-n to put their sound on the map, and world tours with Pixies, The Hives, Black Lips, Wavves, and more opened the gates even wider.

On the second time around FIDLAR are pushing their world forward. The band’s sophomore album reveals them embracing other sides of their brains and exploring additional musical avenues. But while Too finds FIDLAR diving deeper into their bag of tricks—working for the first time with a producer and outside of LA, incorporating some bona fide studio polish— it’s not like they’ve changed the meaning of the “F” in their name to “fiddlesticks.” The “fuck it” ethos still looms large; they’ve just added more ammo to the arsenal and fuel to the tireless fire.

“It’s weird when we get labeled these skater-partier-slacker punk kids,” says Carper. “We skated, we partied a lot, but we also worked our asses off. A lot of kids don’t realize we don’t just get drunk and hit record; it’s me locking myself inside my room or studio for six months and writing and recording and not having much of a life other than that. It’s my therapy a little bit.”

Following the success of the debut record, and amidst five years straight of life on the road (which, for a band like FIDLAR, is a little more toll-taking than for most) since forming in 2009, they decided to pause for a bit in order to iron out some kinks and get their heads clear. They came back after a spell to a friend’s studio with nearly 40 Carper-penned songs, set to once again record it all themselves, but hit a wall. “About 30 songs in, it wasn’t really sounding right, it was too stock,” says Carper. “I realized I needed to write songs and not think about FIDLAR. I was writing for the band but that’s not how the band started—it started with songs that I wrote and we just put them together. So I thought I needed to get out of town for awhile and write.”

Carper tossed a surfboard and single mattress into the back of his Volvo and drove up the California coast, writing songs on an acoustic guitar while revisiting the music he first loved as a kid: Green Day, Sublime, Elliott Smith, Blink. His fresh perspective did the trick, and in the summer of 2014 the band took the resulting songs from those sessions to record with the producer Jay Joyce in his Nashville studio.

Building largely on the vocal melodies and lyrics from Carper’s road-trip acoustic demos and scratch tracks, as well as songs written by Elvis Kuehn and Schwartzel, they completed the entire album in two weeks, recording a song each day and mostly using live takes. Like on their debut, the band perfected and recorded their own parts with direction from Carper, but unlike before, Carper—an experienced engineer in his own right—was able himself to lean on the wisdom of an outside production guru.

“I told Jay from the get-go to do his thing,” says Carper. “You have to admit that you don’t know everything to learn how to do something, and let people teach you and observe. You have to let somebody drive. He would ask about what music I was into, and got all this weird editing and electronic-y elements out of it, which I loved. It made the songs sound as chaotic as they did in my head.”

Meanwhile, the honesty and self-analysis in the lyrics and storytelling on Too show an introspective personal depth that has evolved right long with the music. Songs like “Sober,” “Overdose,” “Drone,” and “Stupid Decisions” show a deeper side to FIDLAR, who, as Carper says, made this album wholly for themselves.

“Anything I do, any song I’m writing, it’s for me, 100 percent, it’s a way I cope with life. On the first record, even on this record, it’s all true stories. That’s how I write, on actual experiences. Recording vocals on this record was a fucking emotional roller coaster. Our music’s not complicated; it’s three chords, four chords, max. I want people to hear my lyrics and understand them, not to have to decipher. I’m not trying to win a fucking poet contest. I like straightforward music, lyrically at least. I’m a sucker for hooks.”

The finished product is a complete package, another unique moment from a unique group— three chords of lightning in a bottle; four chords, max. (In fact, that pretty much sums up the FIDLAR boys: “Three chords; Max.”) The twelve songs here take those ingredients we’ve come to love and add just the right mix of something extra, touching on elements of pop, rock, scuzz, punk, synth, and more. “40 oz. On Repeat” kicks off with power chords and kick- stomp drums, a triumphant confidence to the pace where before was the frenetic thrash of joyful naivete?. “West Coast” has all the sunshine of an AM radio single delivered through Carper’s darkly charming lyrics: “Woke up, you caught me with a smile/passed out on your bathroom tile.” And Elvis Kuehn’s “Why Generation” is a ready-made anthem, replete with a hook-laden sing-along chorus. There’s something for everyone here, but it all sounds
distinctly FIDLAR. (“You can take influence, but it should always sound like FIDLAR,” says Elvis.)

“The new record sounds pretty chaotic, especially with the production value,” says Carper. “To me, it’s a very weird sounding record, a very unique sound. The producer dragged that out of us. We’re ecstatic about it. It’s everything we wanted it to be and more. I was so scared about making another stock, garage rock record. We needed it to be different.”

Change, as we know, can be scary. But as the four members of FIDLAR are proving, it’s essential to our growth: as rock and roll musicians, as friends, as brothers, as human beings. The kids will come around.

“It’s true what they say about chemistry in a band,” says Carper. “You get four people together who can write music or play a show, and when it clicks, it clicks—and we click. The performance is getting a lot more professional. Instead of all of us getting blacked out drunk onstage, we’re actually learning to perform. We can still take the piss out of everybody, though. It’s kind of like sticking your tongue out and saying, ‘Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah.’ That actually explains us to a T, ‘Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah.’ But we have a lot more focus now. That point comes for every band. Even 15-year-olds grow up.”
Huth & McGuinness
Huth & McGuinness
Randy Huth & Sean McGuinness (both members of Pissed Jeans)
Venue Information:
Union Transfer
1026 Spring Garden St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19123