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INTERVIEW: Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats Invade America, Subterranean Tuesday

By Casey Moffitt in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 29, 2014 7:00PM

photo credit Ester Segarra

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats will be bringing their heavy, psychedelic riffs from Cambridge, U.K. to Subterranean Tuesday night as the band makes its inaugural North American tour. We caught up with Uncle Acid himself, a.k.a. Kevin Starrs, a few days before he and his band mates headed Stateside.

"Oh, it's going to be crazy. We're really looking forward to it," Starrs said about his anticipation of the tour. "Chicago is the first venue where we sold out the show, so we're really looking forward to getting there. Of course we're looking forward to going to New York, Los Angeles, and we've never been to Canada before, so that should be fun."

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats performed at Maryland Deathfest in May, so they have a little bit of an idea as to what to expect from American audiences.

"That went surprising well," Starrs said of the festival performance. "We were probably the lightest band on the festival bill. We were almost like a pop band compared to everybody else there, but we got a good reception."

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats can deliver some heavy, bluesy riffs on their own, however they play at a more hypnotic pace than the faster metal bands that dominated Maryland Deathfest. But they have an uncanny ability to create a certain mood on their records, both through the way they construct their riffs and the tones they chase. It's that ability which separates them from a lot of other heavy bands.

"I kind of like my albums to have certain themes to them," Starrs explained. "The ideas, well, they're quite dark and I try to get the music to fit into them."

The band was not able to bring the amplifiers they typically use to America, and Starrs said he is a little concerned the band may not be able to achieve the exact tones they would like. But it's still going to be O.K., he assured.

"There will have to be a bit of compromise," he said. "We'll bring our own guitars and all of our fuzz pedals, but we'll use different amps. Sometimes you get lucky with amps. Sometimes you don't. It's just the luck of the draw."

"A lot of our sound comes from the fuzz pedals we use, though," he continued. "Once you get the pedals, you're basically 90 percent there."

The sound Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats has achieved certainly struck a nerve with fans. It was just a few years ago the band was pressing CD-R copies of it's release Blood Lust, before the album was picked up by Rise Against Records. Since then the band has travelled across Europe, toured with Black Sabbath as a supporting act and are now making their way to America. As they were about to embark on the latest tour, Starrs described the band's rise as "surreal."

"This really just started as a sort of DIY studio project," he said. "I didn't think we'd play any gigs outside of Cambridge. But it built up and it built up."

"It's been a weird kind of hype in that it's come from the fans instead of the press," Starrs continued. "We've been basically ignored by the press. No U.S. magazine has written anything about us. The hype is from people speaking to each other through the Internet and such."

As a result, Starrs said he's got a pretty good handle on the direction of where the band is heading and what it can become.

"We've got a label that's really patient with us," he said. "They never tell us we have to do this or we have to do that."

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats released their latest single, "Runaway Girls," last month. It doesn't stray too far from the Uncle Acid formula, but it really swings and is in a 3/4 meter which adds to that hypnotic affect of the fuzzy guitars and heavy riffs. An accompanying video was released with the tune, which exemplified Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats at their most extreme. It's aggressively creepy, wildly disorienting and violently sexy.

"That song was supposed to be on Mind Control (the latest LP), but we just couldn't get it right," Starrs said of the latest single. "It was always annoying to me that we couldn't get right. So after the new year we had a chance to go into the studio and it came out great. It's kind of the closing chapter on Mind Control, because it really should have been on that album."

"We were having problems with our old drummer on that one," he said of the initial attempt to commit the song to tape. "He just couldn't get it right. We haven't really worked in (3/4 time), so maybe he had issues with it."

Speaking of Mind Control, Starrs said he is really excited to perform material from the album on this tour, since he believes the album hasn't been received well in the States.

"It's just a sort of vibe I get. I could be totally wrong, but I think they've just haven't given it much of a chance in the U.S.," he said. "I think it's been overlooked compared to Blood Lust. I think that album is more highly regarded in the U.S., so it will be good to perform the Mind Control stuff for them. I think they're really going to get into that album once they hear the songs live."

Starrs said those going to the show can still expect plenty of material from Blood Lust to be performed, as well as songs from Vol. I, which never had a label release but has circulated online.

Once the tour wraps up, Starrs said Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats have plans to go back into the studio to record a new album.

"I've quite a few new songs written already," Starrs said. "I like to take a lot of time to think and work on the songs before going into the studio. I don't think I'd respond well if I didn't have everything written before we went into the studio. I just don't think I'd handle the pressure of creating on the spot very well."

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats perform a SOLD OUT show at 9 p.m. on Tuesday Sept. 30 at Subterranean, 2011 W. North Ave., with Davana.