July 25, 2013 8:00am PT by Nisha Gopalan
How Punk Band FIDLAR Recruited 'Parks and Rec' Star Nick Offerman for NSFW Video (Q&A)
Until recently, FIDLAR’s biggest following seem to come from the LAPD, which made a habit of shutting down the newbie skate punk’s raucous shows. But last week, their appeal went wide thanks to the cheeky, NSFW video for “Cocaine,” starring Parks & Recreation alpha-male Nick Offerman.
The track, a cover of the traditional song sometimes known as “Cocaine Blues” that’s been reinvented by everyone from Nick Drake to Townes Van Zandt, is technically about a man who murders his wife. FIDLAR’s garage take on the country-folk standard, however, is an adrenaline-fueled anthem that finds a piss-drunk Offerman relieving himself off bridges, at the car wash, on parkgoers -- wherever his goddamn day takes him.
What precipitated this mind-blowing collaboration? The Hollywood Reporter rang up giggly FIDLAR bassist Brandon Schwartzel for details.
The Hollywood Reporter: How did you get Nick Offerman in your video?
Brandon Schwartzel: [Drummer] Max and [guitarist-singer] Elvis Kuehn’s dad used to play in an old punk band called T.S.O.L. He’s played music for a long time with Nick’s wife Megan Mullally -- she does music when she’s not acting. Nick would do these comedy shows every now and then, and play music -- Elvis played with him a few times. Elvis played him some stuff, and we always were hinting, “Oh man, it would be awesome if you did a FIDLAR video.” Finally he said, “Okay, let’s do a video for ‘Cocaine.’” I think that was the song he liked the best.
THR: Who came up with the video concept?
Schwartzel: Nick actually came up with the initial idea -- of him getting drunk and pissing all over Los Angeles.
THR: Tell me about this prosthetic he’s using.
Schwartzel: [Laughing] Actually, that prosthetic was the whole budget! It was, like, two grand or something. We got it made by this prop guy that Nick knew. It looked amaaazing. We were all checking it out, holding it, and everything. It looks pretty real in the video, but if you really look at it…the texture is pretty impressive.
THR: How did it “work”?
Schwartzel: We had to, like, pay a dude we called the Penis Wrangler. He was a penis tech! The prosthetic was hooked up to this pressurized tank. He’d be out of the shot controlling the swell of piss from this scuba-size tank and had to fill it up maybe five or six times.
THR: Did you have a checklist of things for Nick to pee on?
Schwartzel: Well, initially we were going to do L.A. landmarks -- get him to pee on the footprints at the Chinese Theatre and off the cliffs of Malibu. But we pretty much only had the one day to shoot. And it was Memorial Day -- busy everywhere. We didn’t want to be around a bunch of families having picnics at the beach, and here comes Nick Offerman with this huge fake dick, peeing….
THR: Good call! How does one ask folks if they want to get peed on?
Schwartzel: Everyone that got peed on was a friend of ours. We were, like, “Hey, you wanna be in a video?” All the locations -- the parks and the rooftop -- that was all at our house, where me and Zac live in Highland Park [California].
THR: How “Ron Swanson” is Nick in real life?
Schwartzel: Um, he’s not quite as extreme, I guess. But his humor is exactly the same. It’s very dry, very serious, very subtle. He was incredible. He was walking around with this tube hanging out of his jeans, just completely straight-faced. We were all there busting up, laughing. None of us could even handle it. He was just like, “No big deal.”
THR: Who got to keep the prosthetic?
Schwartzel: Well, that’s the thing! We made the video in two days between tours and then took off again. We didn’t have it and were like, “Oh shit, we paid for that!” I think the prop guy kept it? I don’t know if that was part of the deal. I think we should be able to keep it because we could find a lot more uses for it [laughing]. We could use it at shows!
THR: You’ve grown infamous for your live gigs -- and are touring the U.S. again in the fall. What’s been the best show thus far?
Schwartzel: Man, I think our last L.A. show. It was for this thing called Artopia, this art thing that the LA Weekly set up in this cool-looking area of Chinatown. But I don’t they were quite ready for a rowdy punk show. There was, like, no security at all and a ton of kids. I think it was three or five bucks with an open bar. People were climbing up the rafters of the stage. Everyone just rushed the stage. It was wild -- kids were losing their shit. It’s the best feeling ever. But with that one, I almost got a little nervous that we might get overpowered.
THR: So many of your songs, like your first single “Cheap Beer,” are about drinking and drugs -- do you really party that hard?
Schwartzel: Uh, we have our moments. I think a lot of people hear the songs and think we’re 100 percent, all the time, f---ed up. But we’re really not. We party just as much as any young broke kid in a big city.
THR: What do your parents think of this?
Schwartzel: My parents? My parents don’t like it at all. They love me and are supportive of me. But we played San Diego not too long ago, and they came to a show. I was like, “Alright, I’ll put you on the list if you really wanna go.” They left after the first song [laughs]. This is not music for parents, I don’t think.
THR: Wasn’t Zac previously in AA?
Schwartzel: He had a bit of problems when he was a teenager back in Hawaii, where he’s from. And so he went to a few rehabs back then.
THR: But he’s fine now?
Schwartzel: Yeah. He’s not sober but… we don’t do bad drugs, is how we like to say it.
THR: Rob Schnapf (Beck, Elliot Smith) mixed your album. Was it weird adapting his skill set to the kind of music you wanted to make?
Schwartzel: The four of us recorded it and produced ourselves. We tried mixing it, and it ended up not sounding great. Zac used to work for Rob at his studio before FIDLAR started. We actually made some of our first recordings by sneaking into Rob’s studio! It’s true -- he’s not necessarily known for the sound we have. But I think that helped. We’re always as loud and gnarly sounding as possible. He kind of was like, “Maybe not turn everything all the way up?”
THR: So what is your long-term goal, as a band?
Schwartzel: Um… I don’t think we have any. We just do what we want in the moment -- whatever that is.