T.S.O.L.'s Greg Kuehn Talks About His Punk Rock Progeny FIDLAR: "I took Max Downtown to get a fake ID because I get it, he's an adult, he should be able to hang out at a show at least"

keuhn family.jpg
Greg Kuehn
Greg Kuehn and his sons from FIDLAR, Elvis and Max

So Fidlar (acronym for Fuck It, Dog, Life's A Risk)  have been dubbed LA's next big thing, and their scuzzy punk-surf-garage sound have been inciting near riots in many hipster enclaves. And when we find out that guitarist-songwriter Elvis Kuehn and his brother Max are the progeny of Greg Kuehn, keyboardist of the legendary punks T.S.O.L., it all makes sense. Loud music, punk rock, crazy nights--it's in their DNA.
And yes, you could also make the case that Fidlar's success was meant to be. Even before the Kuehns hit puberty, Elvis, 21 and Max, 20, had already played with punk legends like the Adolescents, the Adicts and the Germs. Now that they've signed a record deal with Mom & Pop, and are hitting Santa Ana for the Burger Records show at the Observatory on Saturday, their dad Greg talks about just how proud he is of his children.

OC Weekly: Here's an easy one to start. Do you like Fidlar's music?

Greg Kuehn: I love it, they're my favorite band in the whole world.

Were you surprised that your kids went into music and are now getting a lot of attention?

I wasn't surprised...it seemed like a natural thing for them to do. They loved music from an early age--they've been doing it a long time already! And I always thought they'd have some success at it because of the Diffs, their earlier band. They're both really talented musicians, so it's great that they're doing what they want to do. It's what we all hope for, you know?

Back in the day T.S.O.L. had a reputation for tearing things up, and now Fidlar's doing the same thing. What do you think of that?
Here's the thing. When I started out in T.S.O.L., I was their age. So it's age-appropriate stuff. We (T.S.O.L.) still play but I do music for TV and movies mostly, and I have other bands. And now, T.S.O.L. is such a little slice of what I've done--and I still love it, I still do it, but I would say that what Fidlar doing is what you should be doing at that age. And my kids have been doing this since they were 11--they toured with the Adicts, opened for the Germs, Adolescents and Agent Orange. They were the hidden secret of punk rock. They were influenced by West Coast punk rock, from 1978 to 1981. They loved that music. And those were the guys that, when I was 19, I was playing in bands with! So Fidlar is the perfect place for them to be. They're having fun, writing great songs, and playing great shows. It's honest youth music.

Do you think T.S.O.L. and Fidlar are very similar?

Fidlar can set up at a party with one plug and play a great show. They don't care, they don't need a big production. And there's a DIY aesthetic that carries throught for both bands. Like, fuck it, we'll release our own records. We'll book our own shows. We'll play a house. We don't need a booker, promoter. We don't need anybody, we can do it ourselves. That's what punk rock originally was, how it was for us in T.S.O.L. That's DIY. We don't need your whole industry, your whole system.
And it's interesting with the change in the record business, they don't even care about all that. They're like, whatever, we'll put out out a 7-inch. We don't care if the industry is crashing, we'll do what we do and figure out a way to make it work. And ironically, they have a record deal! (Laughs.) It's like when you don't care and do it from the heart, cause it matters to you, then things start to happen. They're not calculated, they don't care about making it. I'm really proud of them for that.

What do your friends and contemporaries think of Fidlar?

All my friends love Fidlar. They're universally loved because they're really genuine. And they're a kick-ass punk garage surf band. I love all the boys in the band; they've all been coming to our house even before they were a whole band.

And besides, [with my kids]--we have the same DNA. If they write a song I'm going to like it. That's just the way it is. I'm locked in. When I hear a Fidlar song, I know where they're going with it. It's automatic. But everybody seems to love them. I can't say anything bad about them. They're great! They're my favorite band! I love their songs, I love to see them play, I love what they do. Obviously I'm biased but I can't think of a band I like better--especially not a new band--but I'd rather see Fidlar than anybody.


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2 comments
Tom P
Tom P

I saw them at SWSX openning for Pennywise and Jimmy Cliff, I am in my 40's now, but used to go to alot of OC punks show, they really take me back to a great time. Also they are very musical, they rock

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