How Green Day's Billie Joe Helped FIDLAR Singer Kick Heroin, Make New LP

Zac Carper on confronting heroin addiction and writing the great, grueling 'Too'

"I wanted the music to feel like I'm being brought back to life," says Zac Carper of FIDLAR's latest album. Credit: Alice Baxley

The self-titled 2013 debut album by the Los Angeles band FIDLAR was one of the most exciting punk records in recent memory, a raucous set of songs with titles like "Wake Bake Skate," "Cocaine" and "Cheap Beer." But for the band's singer and primary songwriter, Zac Carper, the party had a dark side. "I was slamming dope and shooting speed," he says. "Every time I would come home to L.A., I would tell myself, 'I'm not going to do heroin.' And I always ended up doing it." Then, just as the band was getting ready to go on a major tour, Carper learned that his girlfriend was dead from a drug overdose. "She was my first girlfriend. We needed to get off the drugs," he says. "We'd go a couple of days and just ... it just couldn't happen. We just couldn't do it."

Carper eventually got sober. But it wasn't a trip to rehab that did the trick. It was a call from a fellow punk rocker, Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, a FIDLAR fan and recovered addict. "I had just gotten out of rehab," Carper says. "All my friends were drug addicts, all my friends were alcoholics, and band members weren't talking to each other. [Billie Joe] just told me, 'Dude, fucking don't worry about what people think about you.' That was a turning point. Billie Joe has been through everything. He's re-established what it meant to be punk rock."

Carper channeled his struggles into FIDLAR's excellent second LP, Too, which mixes the wasted-bros ebullience of their debut with grueling personal lyrics. On the torturous "Overdose," Carper strove to mirror a near-death experience he had shooting heroin. "I wanted the music to feel like I'm being, like, brought back to life," he says. Too is unique in that it also offers the band's perspective on Carper's struggles. On "Bad Medicine," bassist Brandon Schwartzel sings, "I'll drown my liver, lie and say I'm sick/While you shake in your room, trying to kick that bad medicine." Says Carper, "At first I was very weirded out by that. But I can see it's an awesome song, now that I have the clarity."