Saturday 26 April 2014

Face-to-Face Interview with Uncle Acid &The Deadbeats

Uncle Acid &The Deadbeats released one of the best Doom/Hard Rock/Occult Rock albums in 2013 with Mind Control. It's an album that has been acclaimed by fans and critics alike.

They recently supported Black Sabbath on their recent tour and it has seen Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats do an extensive European Tour of their own which ended with 4 UK Dates which I went along to in Glasgow on 23rd April 2014.

I was given the chance to speak face-to-face with the man behind Uncle Acid &The Deadbeats – Kevin Starrs – songwriter, guitarist and lead vocalist behind these highly acclaimed doomsters.

So let's see what Uncle Acid himself has to say to us here at Sludgelord HQ...

SL – Thanks for doing this. How is the tour going so far.

Very good actually. A lot of sold-out shows including tonight's gig. Kind of exceeded our expectations really.

SL – You have done a lot of shows with the most minimal of publicity. Bigger bands you would see tons of flyers and posted. But for yourselves not that much.

Yeah. It relies all on word of mouth as that's the way to do it.

SL – You recently did the tour with Black Sabbath. How did that go.

It was amazing. Great publicity for us as we made lots of new fans from that tour.

SL – How did you cope going from small scale gigs to massive venues.

It took a couple of gigs to settle in. We did an Arena show on the first night and a Football Stadium on the second night. We we're thinking – OH MY GOD.

Once you kind of get used to it and it's not that different from being in a club as you have the same objective and doing the same thing. But yeah it went really well.

SL – Are you more comfortable doing the small stages or the bigger stages.

Either really as they both have their pluses and negatives and things like that. We will play anywhere.

SL – It seems with the new album you are touring more regular compared to the other albums. Was there pressure to get on the road.

It's something we always wanted to do and now that we have a proper band in place to play live, it seemed like the right thing to do and to go out and play live.

SL – Mind Control has been out for a year now. Did the response from people surprised you.

Yeah, a little bit. As it's kind of different to Blood Lust. And that was the idea to give people something different and maybe something they didn't want. It was to show we weren't this Occult Rock Band which people are trying to pigeon hole us in. It's a bit more diverse.

SL – I love the story and concept of Mind Control. As it's a lot more sinister. Do you like being called an Occult Rock band and do you buy into that term.

I don't really like any kind of term but I think everybody is like that. Yeah. It's some of the bands we get put in with. It's probably not quite appropriate really.

SL – Are you fans of the Occult Rock Scene. Any bands that stand out from that scene.

I really like Blood Ceremony. They are probably the best band of that scene. Fantastic band.

SL – Did you know you had something special with Mind Control before it was released.

Not really. It's weird as you get so involved and it takes a while to step back and see what you have.

SL – What influenced you when you were making the album especially with the Cult Leader idea.

Yeah – Charles Manson and that whole scene and whole story. Watching a lot of films from that era. Biker films. It's just something about that time – late 60's/early 70's and the hippie era dying. This darkness came up.

SL – Which bands are your favourite from that era.

Black Sabbath, Neil Young. I like the West Coast American sound such as The Byrds, Captain Beefheart, The Stooges and the Detroit Rock scene and MC5.

SL – The overall design of Mind Control is very crazy. What influenced you when making that whole album cover.

I don't know as I didn't want it to be obvious like Blood and Upside Crosses.. I went with something a bit more abstract to get people thinking.

SL – Obviously where you started with your demo. 30 copies originally. Has it surprised you the journey that the band is currently on.

Yeah, am very surprised. It seemed to take a very long time but on the outside it seemed to go very quickly. It seemed we weren't going anywhere for so many years and no one was buying into it. And then it all took off.

SL – You got signed to Rise Above Records. How did that come about.

That was a massive help. They released the album on vinyl and that helped a great deal. Lee emailed me and said he heard our stuff. He said “if you want to release any stuff on vinyl then let us know.”

And that is what we wanted.

SL – Did you have any input into the design of the vinyls.

No. That is all Rise Above. People complain that there is too many different colours. But there is obviously a market for it. You can't really blame the label for providing a product that there is a market for.

SL – You write all the music and lyrics yourself. Would you eve collaborate with anybody else.

I think I would like to. It's quite difficult for me for some reason. The idea of compromising on things is a hard one but am learning to do that.

SL – What are your plans for the next 12 months or so. Take a break or write a new record.

Yeah. We need to get on writing the new record. Though we have a few summer festival dates an maybe a US Tour toward Sept/Oct time. But we need to find some time to write and record. So hopefully a new album next year.

SL – What has the fan reaction been like when playing live overseas. Good or better.

It varies from country to country. Some of them are just nuts and crazy. Some of them are a lot more reserved but for the most part it's crazy and a good reaction everywhere.

SL – What do you do to relax away from the band.

At the minute am constantly writing stuff. I have other important stuff to do as we don't have a manager as I do everything such as the administrative stuff.

SL – Out of all the songs you have written so far, which one is your favourite.

Maybe – Death's Door. I really love to play that. It always goes down well with the audience when we play it live.

SL – You brought your label mates The Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell on this tour and Black Moth. Was it an easy choice to take them along.

Yeah. Both great bands. We originally had The Oath another Rise Above band but they couldn't do it unfortunately. Admiral stepped in for the UK Dates and Black Moth have done the UK and all of Europe dates.

SL – Before you got signed to Rise Above, did you have any other label interest.

Not really. There were a couple of small Italian labels but they couldn't really offer anything different to ourselves. So when Rise Above came in with the Vinyl thing we decided we really needed to do this.

SL – Are you a Vinyl fan yourself.

Yeah. I have got so much music as I started on Cassettes and then moved onto CD's. I have Vinyl but I tend to buy just Jazz Records on Vinyl and things that I can only listen to on Vinyl. As Jazz sounds terrible on CD. So I buy Jazz on Vinyl and classic albums and artists on vinyl such as Neil Young.

SL – I have to ask where did you get the band name. What influenced you.

The first time I saw it was when a band called Cactus from the 70s and their lead singer left. He was going to form a band called Uncle Acid And The Permanent Damage Band. But it never happened. I remember reading this on a Cactus CD or whatever.

I was thinking this is a pretty weird name and I decided to use it and change it round a bit. I'm still not sure if it works or if it's a good name.

(Both of us laughing)

SL – OK, If you could change your name what would it be.

I always think that. But I don't know what else I would use.

SL – Do you have any more musical projects or are you just focusing on Uncle Acid.

At the moment just Uncle Acid but I would love to focus on other stuff as well. It's just a matter of time.

SL – When you first started Uncle Acid did you ever expect it to turn out the way it has.

No Way. To me it started off as a studio project and recorded the songs that I had wrote. We then decided to see if we could play any gigs around Cambridge and stuff.

That didn't really go down to well and we said – FUCK IT!!!

It wasn't until Blood Lust took off and we then decided to do a bit more with this. Expand the band. Get a proper line-up together and go out to play live.

SL – It took a while for people to warm up to Mind Control compared to Blood Lust. Did you notice that yourselves.

It has taken a lot of people time to get used to it and fully listen to the album to truly understand it.

SL – There is a friend of mine – Lucas, who runs another blog called Paranoid Hitsophrenic. He did this thing called The Doom Charts where Mind Control was extremely popular

Of Course Yeah. I did see that which is pretty cool as it was there every week.

SL – Are fans and critics reviews important to you.

Fans. Yeah it is important in a way as you don't want to completely turn your audience away. But in some cases it's good to annoy them and challenge them. Not to give them everything they want all the time.

Critics. It doesn't really matter. They can say anything that they want. If they love us then they love us. If they hate us then they hate us.

I want to thank Aaron Pickford, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats crew, Rise Above Records for arranging this interview and Kevin Starrs for taking the time out to talk to me.

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Written by Steve Howe