If you had any questions about whether or not the youth of America are spending time creating great music, those answers are about to be answered to the hilt. ACIDIC is an intense group of youth that is rocking the scene with new music and the next generation of rocking intensity. They have a new album out and this interview will feature why you should own it and tell your friends about it.
Thomas: When and why did you start playing together as a group?
Matt: I joined in 2008 with Michael because I’d never been in a band that was in clubs and actually out there playing. I wanted to be in a professional band playing around L.A., and that’s what we started doing. And it just blossomed from there.
Max: I joined in late 2013. Zane Taylor, my longtime friend and our old tour manager at the time, told me that ACIDIC was looking for a bassist. Did I know anybody? I was a guitarist in another band, but I tried out because I thought, hey I’ve got nothing to lose, maybe they’ll like me! And they did! And then I joined. Besides, the sound of touring got me interested. It’s something I’ve wanted all my life and dreamed of doing, but joining this band finally gave me that opportunity.
Mike: I wanted to start playing because I had a passion for music, and had a desire to communicate that to a broader audience. We all coalesced and it has been a great match. I started the project in 2007 and we have been in our current formation since 2014.
Thomas: Why is making music at this time important for society?
Matt: I think music is a way to break from society in a sense. Life is very serious and music is an escape – it lets you get away from all the seriousness for a bit and breathe some fresh air into your mind, and it helps you stay normal.
Max: Music gives a voice to people who normally wouldn’t have the power to be heard. It allows people people to say anything they want with no restrictions. Seems like people respond to music a lot more than just to an article or a book or some such thing. People connect with music on a very deep level, so I think that’s what has the power to change things if someone really wants to change them. The whole medium of art and performance and talent is what people are tapping into and it resonates with people very intimately. It hits the heart.
Mike: With so much uncertainty propagating in America and the broader international community, I believe that music is going to play a fundamental role in expressing the true voice of the majority of people and will become the group conscience of our society. Music is freedom of speech, and freedom of expression. Music is cathartic and therapeutic. Music can give a snapshot of someone’s emotional pitch. Music can influence generations of people to rise up against tyranny. I think true change is going to have it’s genesis in music and art.
Thomas: Before the collection of songs came together (Creatures), what songs did you mostly play together?
Matt: Songs we played before “Creatures”? All the “Copper Man” songs, like the title track, and “Drive Thru,” “Monster,” “Strata Red,” the whole load. I’ve been in the band from the start, so for me it’s all of ’em.
Max: Before “Creatures,” it was “Strata Red,” our version of the Beatles’ “Come Together,” and just jamming. Everything off of the “Copper Man” album, like “Drive Thru,” Monster” especially, and some of the older songs. The one I had to practice the most was “Satellite” from the “Copper Man” album cuts that was the toughest for me to play.
Mike: We mostly played songs off our previous albums with the exception of adding a good cover song in every set.
Thomas: What made you select these songs for the Creatures?
Matt: We took time and wanted to get a different kind of sound than we had before. We were at it working on “Creatures” for about a year. We went for this rocky kind of gritty sound but also put in some effects and things we hadn’t tried before, to add a little flare and deepen it up. We all worked on the songs together and polished them and everyone had a lot of input, and then it all came together for the album.
Max: The songs that were the best, the ones we liked, each of us had a say in what we liked. I cowrote several of the songs with Michael Gossard. But Matt cowrote with us and Josh had a hand in it, too. One way or other, it was all kind of a group effort to think of what would be the best and what would mesh together better, regardless who wrote what or how much of any given song. In the end, it’s the four of us all having input, whether it’s lyrics or especially the different music parts.
Mike: Creatures was challenging album to write. It took about a year of sending ideas back and forth between the artists and the producer to make it write. We also enlisted the help of a good friend of our’s, Rob Bonfiglio, who is a prolific writer in his own right. We selected these songs because they fit together more cohesively than anything else and were the cream of the crop.
Thomas: Describe the most challenging song(s) to play together, and why?
Matt: Right now we have this new punk song that we just wrote, and it’s not only so much of a challenge but it’s also quite different than what we’ve played before. A lot different, and so you have to adjust and work and play it and play it and play it to get the feel of it. But it’s fun to play, too, even though it’s the most challenging so far.
Max: Mike’s new punk rock song that we just wrote that we haven’t named yet because it’s so fast! Brand new! Fast and crazed! There’s a few changes in it that get difficult to blend. The speed of the song makes it tough for everyone to stay in the pocket. But when we do it’s AWESOME!
Mike: Our most challenging song to play is the song “Beautiful.” It has quite a bit of dynamic range, and emotion. It takes artful performance to get just right. There is also a myriad of background vocals and choosing the best ones to replicate live is definitely a process.
Thomas: Who most influenced you as a musician, and as a group?
Matt: For groups, I’d probably say there are some bands we all listen to that have definitely influenced us. Hard to think of them all! But in general, especially in the beginning, Green Day and the Beatles were universal basics. We all have these different influences from bands out there, because we all bring our own individual tastes into the mix. MY greatest influences are many different drummers, but maybe the strongest influence has been a fellow drummer and close friend Jonny Udell of Warner Drive. He really opened me up and taught me different things from all his experience, because he’s a little older and he’s been at it longer. Those little niches you have to know and master, to make it to the next step and help you get better as a musical craftsman. He really helped get me to the next level as a drummer.
Max: Personally, my two biggest influences are probably George Harrison of the Beatles, and Bradley Nowell of Sublime, kind of because George was so deep with the philosophical ideas in his writing, and his ability to make a simple guitar line sound so good, to make it the predominantly theme of the song. Bradley – the cuts of his lyrics and the way he lived his life when he was still around. As a group – we’ve kinda Green Day and Jane’s Addiction among others, but for stage presence, definitely the Red Hot Chili Peppers – with that wild energetic vibe. By now, we’ve certainly got a wild energetic vibe all of our own!
Mike: I was influenced a lot by the band Green Day. I watched their concert DVD “Bullet in a Bible” on repeat as a kid. I was also influenced by bands like the Beatles and the rolling stones. I love to watch a talented musician rocking out in their true element!
Thomas: Do you think artists nowadays have too many influences from other artists due to the internet? Or does it benefit creativity?
Matt: I do think that having the asset of the internet, you do hear all kinds of stuff both good and bad. Because anybody can just put anything out there that they want, for free, so you get exposed to everything! It allows people to see what’s out there and strive to be different than what IS out there. But it’s also easy to start copying what other people are doing and not really use it to explore and develop what you can bring it it, yourself, if you’re not careful. I think it both helps and hurts.
Max: With everything there’s give and take. This is a yes and no. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be influenced by another artist, maybe you make a song that sounds like somebody else’s but you give it a different take. It’s hard to say – but I do think because of the access to the internet, a lot more musical material and everything else – a lot of sub-par stuff is allowed to be put on there. Because of the free access, anybody can put anything up there so some is just outstanding and some other stuff is diluted content. It’s not bad to be influenced, unless you get tempted by something harmful!
Mike: I think increased volume of influences increases creativity and the generative nature of music. Having more choice of what to listen to and watch also creates the effect of diversifying the music artists write so that there is a broader range of artistic expression within music. It is also true, that is something is truly wide ranging and reaches a broad audience, and has the propensity to be immensely well accepted, it will still make a large splash.
Thomas: How did the internet and listening to the vast sea of music influence what you do today?
Matt: Listening to all the music that’s come out and all that, we had to keep up with what’s going on and we have to see what’s happening what’s new in the world. The internet is a great way to find all that out. We’ve been using that as our tool to fine-tune the parts of the band and our music that we want to focus on, because we’re always trying to improve and expand.
Max: Luckily, for me, I’m different because I never got into downloading music unlike most of the people I know. So I was not too into just finding out who the new new people were and grabbing all the music I could. I always listened to CDs. And I still buy CDS. My car only has a CD player, so that’s just how it is. I have my iPhone but I never got too deluged with just tons and tons of music via download. I like a lot of different genres. Different influences from every genre. Internet may not have impacted me as much as other people.
Mike: I have the opportunity to listen to dozens of different artists every day rather than buying a new record or CD every day, week, or month, or having to make a mixtape. It has made me much more accepting of different types of music, and world music. My writing style has also evolved out of the box because of the wide range of influence.
Thomas: Many artists like to teach their music after it’s published. Would you hope other musicians would learn your music?
Matt: Yeah! If someone came to me and showed me they knew how to play “Copper Man,” for example, I’d be really stoked! I would think “Copper Man” is an easy song for just about anybody to learn. And besides, it’s fun! Might be one of the funnest songs we have!
Max: Never really thought of that! I think it’d be cool if somebody came up to me and said “Oh I learned your song,” or “your song helped me get the bass or the guitar better.” I wouldn’t even say that’s one of my goals, haven’t really thought about it. I’d just want someone to listen to my music, period. That’s enough for me.
Mike: I would be honored if people learned the music. I believe that is the ultimate compliment.
Thomas: What do you think makes the group so solid, not just in the studio, but also in performances?
Matt: I would say what probably makes us really solid is our personalities. We’re all easygoing people and nobody’s too high-maintenance or has an ego complex. It’s really easy to get along with all of us. We’re kind of like brothers by now, which is what happens when you all squeeze into something like our little old tour van for a few thousand miles!
Max: Practice! Lotta practice! Gotta keep practicing. That’s the main thing. Don’t ever assume you’re already good enough, always be willing to keep practicing, keep working on it. That, and maintaining a positive attitude. Those two things could get you further than you could ever imagine.
Mike: We practice frequently and try to communicate as honestly as possible. I think that lends a good energy to our general performance. We try to maintain a strong friendship as well as a good working relationship.
Thomas: What do you think is next for the group?
Matt: We’re just making new music and we’re trying to keep it going. It’s a dog-eat-dog business and you’ve just gotta keep going and keep pushing. Right now our music is gonna be what gets us there and we’re just gonna keep doing until something hits for us.
Max: Hopefully overseas tours and another album, and playing as many shows as possible. That’s what I hope and what I foresee. We’re already working on new songs, and they’re better than ever!
Mike: I think we are setting our sights on new material and possible overseas touring.
Thomas: What do you want audiences to get most out of each performance?
Matt: I want people to go away from our shows feeling happy and like they’ve had a good time. Nowadays everyone wants to go out to these dance clubs for a party and stuff. But I like to think WE bring the party back to rock ‘n’ roll! I hope people see us and realize how much you can enjoy rock when you’re at a club ‘n’ stuff, seeing a live show. We always have a good time onstage and we always hope it’s contagious. And it must be, because that’s what we keep hearing from people who’ve been to see us.
Max: Just the point of our show is give the audience a good experience. A good time. I want them to have fun, and see the energy that we bring and enjoy that we’re playing super hard and that they like the music! I hope they just have a blast watching us and get down. I hope it makes them dance because if they’re dancing then you know they’re having a good time.
Mike: I want people to sponge in the high energy we bring and I would like the audience to feel the professional tightness that we work to display.
Thomas: Will you be shooting any new videos? If so, what are some concepts you have?
Matt: Not sure about any new videos on the horizon but I wouldn’t want to give anything away even if I did know! We always try to surprise people and come out with something new and innovative. We don’t want to do more of what we just did.
Max: I hope we do. The next video will be based on whatever song we want to push next, and with the “Creatures” album it’s kinda hard to decide because all the songs are so strong. But we do have footage we could be editing down – a mini tour log that we have the footage for. Hopefully I can get it edited down, and maybe make it into a web series like a tour log.
Mike: We will be shooting new video when we have another single or when we have a new album. Until then we will continue to push our current material.
Thomas: What have you learned most to this point being a musician?
Matt: I learned a lot. At first I wanted to do it because music was fun and a way not to have to do a regular job, and a way for me to get popular and get people to know me because I play music. But you learn as you go on and we’ve toured around the country for 5-6 years so far. I’ve learned that I’m not doing a good job OR doing justice to the music or doing right by the audience unless I care, and that no one is gonna care unless I do! They can tell. They can feel it. They know if your performance is honest and your heart is in it or if you’re just kinda phoning it in. I’m more attuned now than I’ve ever been, sort of like being one with the drums. I find I’m taking a lot more pride in my playing and I enjoy what I play so much. And I’m having fun making music.
Max: What I’ve learned is that, if you want to do something, music or anything really but definitely in music, just go out and try! Do it! Practice. Give up anything you need to give up, to go do it. Because spending the money you need to get out on tour, or being in debt, whatever problems you think you have from it, they’re miniscule. Whatever it takes, go fulfill your dreams. Go do it and fulfill your dreams, as long as it’s not something that hurts people. Material possessions and all that worldly stuff – it doesn’t matter. It’s the doing that counts. Do it. Try it. Risk it. It’s much better than getting old and thinking back and wishing you had when you were young, now that your time is up.
Mike: I have learned that progress is the true nature of this business. I have learned to try to be more humble and I have learned to listen more. This has been an instructive process and a great 8 years and I look forward to the future!