Interview: Kevin Starrs of Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats

It's fascinating (and kind of gratifying) to watch a young, relatively unknown band with a little buzz become a genuine underground phenomenon. Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats have experience the kind of rise in fanbase and critical respect that most bands can only dream of.

But this rise is not due to some sort of cultural fluke. The band takes a classic aesthetic beyond the nostalgia of so many "doom" and "stoner" groups and weaves in great riffs and impressive songwriting skills. They've achieved that seemingly impossible balance between a band that could easily have come out of a 1970 time warp, and also come across as fresh and relevant for 2016.

And for American fans that want to experience this for themselves, you're in luck! The band will be setting out on a US tour with Davana and The Shrine starting next week. I asked Kevin Starrs, the band's lead guitarist and vocalist, about the tour and how far they've come since the 20-copy print of their debut album in 2010 (talk about cvlt!)

Hey Kevin, you guys have a US tour coming up real soon. In your experience, what's different about touring in the US vs. the UK or Europe?

The US is really made for touring. I think generally the US audiences are a bit crazier. They really go for it which is great for the band and results in a better show for everyone. We really feed off the energy of the crowd, and if they're acting like maniacs it makes us go crazier as well! Europeans can go wild, but tend to be a bit more reserved in a lot of places. The US audiences have been really appreciative of bands coming over and playing for them which we're really grateful for.

You guys go for an explicitly retro and old-school aesthetic. What drew you to craft a sound reminiscent of the late 1960s?

The songs are influenced by everything I listen to. There was no plan to sound like anything in particular. I just wrote songs and they came out like this. Same with my singing. We couldn't find a singer, so I just started singing and it sounded weird as fuck so I went with it. I can hear influences from all decades, including an 80s metal influence that no one seems to pick up on, but it's just stuff that I listen to that creeps in. In terms of aesthetic, I've always loved old typography and film posters especially Polish ones. All our album covers are inspired by that style of artwork.

It must have felt like an affirmation when you got to tour with Black Sabbath, to tour with one of your biggest influences. Did you feel pressured or nervous when opening for them?

Not really. Although, when someone like Geezer Butler tells you that he loves your music, that's a pretty big affirmation! We just took it in our stride really. You only get nervous if you're unsure of what you're doing, and I have enough confidence in my own playing and in the abilities of the other guys, so I knew we'd be alright. I think we would be better prepared for something like that now, but we still handled it pretty well considering it was our first tour. We went from clubs to football stadiums in the space of a few months. Not an easy transition for anyone!   

What are some bands you'd really like to tour with at this point? On the other hand, who are some bands you'd like to take out with you in the future?

We always get thrown in with the 'Doom' scene, but I'd love to tour with any of the big classic bands that I loved growing up; Iron Maiden, the Alice Cooper Band, Guns N Roses...I think we would go down well with any of those bands really. I'd tour with W.A.S.P. if it got them into decent sized US venues again! It's sometimes difficult finding support bands because a lot of the bands I like tend not to tour very often. 

Does your latest album, "Night Creeper" have an overarching or unifying theme beyond just the aesthetic? How would you say audiences have reacted to the material so far?

There's a trashy pulp story there if people dig into it and there's also the wider concept of manipulation and control which runs through all our records. People get thrown by the cover as they assume it's something to do with Jack The Ripper which is totally false. The cover is a lie. Black and white, with a red logo on top..it's classic tabloid colors. And like a tabloid, it gives you misinformation. A lot of reviewers fell for it and in turn, misinformed their own readers! "It's a concept record set in London about Jack the Ripper." That's what happens when you take things at face value. It doesn't matter though, the songs are the main focus whether they're set in London or all connected or not, they stand up as good songs. Audiences so far have been really positive. "Waiting For Blood," "Pusher Man" and "Melody Lane" get some of the best reactions every night. 

You guys have achieved a lot in just a few years, what do you see the future holding for you? Do you have any ideas for where your sound could travel?

I'll just keep going with making music that I want to hear. I've got some ideas for the next record, but we'll have to wait and see. Ideas can change at any time...

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