Interview with Uncle Acid from Uncle Acid and the DeadBeats
Playing out like a soundtrack to a grindhouse-era cult film, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats invoke images of risqué adult entertainment, occult rituals, all types of mind altering substances, psychedelic orgys, etc…, if it’s over the top, forbidden, mysterious, and ready to scramble the brain, that’s what this band is all about – they exemplified the term” find what you love and let it kill you” (best said by Bukowski). But importantly, the music of this band takes off where the highly experimental level of psychedelic rock left off and heavy metal began as the former had faded in the post-Altamont era (replaced by the latter); yet Mind Control is what you could have come up with if the heaviness, sheer loudness, experimentation and free form vibe continued to coexist.
For their latest record Mind Control (Rise Above/Metal Blade Records), we are taken on a trip (the chemical kind , of course) through ‘freak outs’ to mellow THC laden ‘chills,’ as Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats reflect a whole new generation of stoner/groove bands that bring back the sound and essence of hard rock – these guys aren’t afraid to have an identity of their own, going beyond simplistic droning riffs, as no musical ideology is denied. Prevailing with a weird ominous vibe that casts a shadow over the album, pushing the needle to the red, bleeding with sheer loudness and thunder, capturing all the taboo excesses in just fifty two minutes while exposing the forbidden, it’s clear that they aren’t out to charm people. Yet as tried and true as the band grips the dark, enigmatic themes, you hear musically that this is a band working organically, with no need for having a ‘laptop’ for a safety net, where the live overtones come forth. Uncle Acid himself, AKA Kevin, gives us some details unto what has beholden this band that is shrouded in mystery.
Tommy Hash: One of the differences I notice between Blood Lust and Mind Control is that Mind Control tends to be more free flowing as opposed to Blood Lust being really straightforward and upbeat.
Kevin: It flows in a strange way, which I think adds to the chaos of the story.
TH: What did you guys set out to do on this record as opposed to the last one?
Kevin: I knew I wanted to do something with a different feel, but that was about it. Blood Lust was set in 17th Century East Anglia and this one is set in 1969 Death Valley. A lot of people wanted us to do another album about candles and witchcraft, but we’ve done that already. It’s important to move on and take a few risks.
TH: The production quality is ‘in the red,’ really loud, not necessarily in the whole ‘loudness war’ vein’ but more like albums such as ‘White Light White Heat’ & ‘Raw Power,’ tell me a little about how you guys approach the record sonically.
Kevin: That’s the way I think great rock music should sound, rough and raw! We didn’t want any fancy production techniques. Everything is fuzzy and it all blends into one giant noise. It also ties nicely into the concept. When you’re part of a cult, sometimes the messages you receive are not always clear. If you were to hear everything clearly and understand everything then it wouldn’t work. On the album, sometimes the vocals are so far back in the mix you can’t even hear what is being said to you.
TH: You guys talk about how you once played on old Pawn Shop instruments & recorded on an 8-track tape machine that barely worked, that something hold sacred to really be a raw tool of expression as opposed to a collection of expensive gear and a pro-tools rig.
Kevin: Those things were only used because we couldn’t afford anything better. When it comes down to it, it doesn’t really matter what you record on as long as the songs are good.
TH: And the new album has been recorded at Chapel Studios, how was that experience, and what is some of the newer gear that you used?
Kevin: It was great but extremely tiring. We were working non stop and I was pretty drained by the end of it. I think for the next one we’ll probably record in smaller blocks rather than all in the one go. In terms of equipment, it was a mix of old and new. They have a great collection of vintage mics that we used but also some new ribbon mics that sounded good on guitars.
TH: And tell me about choosing to record during the Autumnal Full Moon.
Kevin: It seemed like a good time to do it. Out in the countryside, surrounded by trees and fields and the full ‘Blood Moon’ glaring over us. The omens were good.
TH: What are some specific bands or things that you draw your influences from?
Kevin: Everything from Sabbath, The Alice Cooper Band and Electric Wizard to The Ronettes, CSNY and Fleetwood Mac. If its got cool riffs or vocal harmonies, I’m all over it.
TH: As your fan base grew, what were some of the pivotal moments when you guys realized that this band was going to be taken to the next level?
Kevin: When one or two people who supported us in the beginning started saying how much they hated us, that’s when I knew we were stepping up a league. It’s great! Everyone loves you when they think they’re the only ones. The minute they find out that a lot of other people love the music too, all of a sudden you become ‘over hyped’ and all these other meaningless phrases. There’s a big difference between ‘hype’ and simply being ‘popular’. These ‘kvlt’ morons can’t be seen to be liking anything that’s remotely popular, unless it’s an established, classic band. God forbid any new talent comes through and has a small bit of success for themselves!
TH: What is it that you guys want to bring to the live stage when you go out on the road?
Kevin: Just our music. We’ve got no image and no gimmick to fall back on. We walk on, turn everything up and just go for it.
TH: What else holds the future for you guys at the moments?
Kevin: Who knows…we’ll see what presents itself. It’s better not to plan these things…