Chuck Schuldiner Project

Friday, August 28, 2015

Interview with Kevin Starrs of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats

 Rejoice, fellow fans and readers! 2 years after the release of the bands’ mindcrushing Mind Control, Uncle Acid will be marking their return with their highly anticipated follow-up titled The Night Creeper, thus marking their 4th full-length album release. This upcoming album scheduled for a September release deals with crime, murder and mystery and will be sure to please any music fan with a thirst for old-school rock music with a vintage aesthetic. To prepare for the albums’ release, I was fortunate enough to catch up with none other than frontman Kevin Starrs to shed some light on this mysterious album.
- So this coming september will mark the release of your fourth full-length album "The Night Creeper". What can fans expect from this album?
Expect the unexpected (laughs)? To me it's a natural progression from what we've done so far, it's the next step. It sounds like Uncle Acid but at the same time it's different. There're different influences and different sounds, a different approach to it I think. It's darker, with maybe a slightly heavier feel to it. I think people will really like it.
- Could you tell us a bit about the lyrical themes that you touch upon with this album?
The album tells story from start to finish. I guess you could say it's a concept album, but it always sounds ridiculous when you say "I've made a concept album" (smile). To me it's just the easy way of writing lyrics. It's basically about a serial killer thats' on the loose in the city. It could happen in any city; London, New York, Paris... It's basically up to the listener to try and figure out who the serial killer is, but it's not who you'd expect. You're going to have to read in between the lines and discover it for yourself. Above the story it's kind of a look on the establishment and corruption between the police and the media and how they protect one another when things go wrong. So there's a story but there's also a meaning behind it all.

- So the lyrics basically takes the form of a mystery story
Yeah exactly, like the old pulp stories from the 40s' and 50s' that were made into Film Noir films like The Maltese Falcon. The idea was that it would’ve been a short story that would’ve developed into Film Noir.

- The album cover reminds me of the film poster for “Dawn of the Dead” with the title font, the colors and the art style. Was that an intentional reference?
Yeah I guess it does! I know what you mean. The guy that did it is a guy called Jay Shaw. He does poster work for films and he did the cover art for the last John Carpenter album. He’s a really good artist. I just gave him the story of the album and told him I wanted something really minimalist inspired by Polish film posters from the 60s’ so he came up with this, which is perfect.

Your music is known for its’ old-school approach to rock and heavy metal music. Could you explain what first drew you towards writing in this style?I think it’s’ just the music that grew up on really. I was really into Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest… all of those classic metal bands. Then on the other side I was also into lighter stuff like Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin … That’s all it is really, my influences coming out.- Some of these bands seem to carry a more “recent” sound than that of Uncle Acid though.
Yeah that is true. There’s also some 60s’ bands that I’m into as well, but it’s mainly the 70s’ stuff that really got me. I guess it’s just the combination of so many different things that makes it sound a certain way.

- What is your take on the more recent evolutions and subgenres in rock and metal music?
Well there’s’ some good bands; I really like Blood Ceremony for example. Then there’s’ a lot of other stuff that just, to me, is trying too hard to sound like something, you know? Certain bands get popular and so the other bands try to jump on the bandwagon to try and copy that. I think there’s’ a lot of that going on at the moment.
Regarding the sound production on your albums, was the old school approach something you chose as a rejection of modern productions or could there ever be an Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats album recorded digitally?
(Laugh). I mean to me it just doesn’t sound good. Modern production is not pleasing to me. We do use digital recording as well, it’s a mix and it’s mostly analog but there are digital parts to it. I think it’s more about the philosophy of the production that’s different. We just do very little production; we just put a mic in front of an amp, record it, maybe do a bit of EQ but that’s it, there’s’ no gloss applied to it. There’ no fancy ProTools shifting or whatever, it’s just a raw live band. That’s the day they used to do it in the 60s’ and 70s’ and that’s the way it should be done I think.
Some musicians tend to use these modern tools as crutches to compensate their performances also.
That’s true, yeah. People that can’t sing or whatever try to correct it on Protools. I can’t sing that well but it doesn’t matter. If you fuck up who cares, you know? As long as it feels good.

- So your band is from Cambridge, which is also home to Trinity College where …
(Kevin starts Laughing) Has this something to do with Pink Floyd?

- I was actually referring to the cities’ history with the occult, since Trinity College is where Aleister Crowley studied for a few years and some of your lyrics deal with this subject. Do you have any weird stories or encounters that happened in your town?

Not really actually, but the best thing that ever happened to me in Cambridge was that I saw Syd Barrett once, since he had obviously retired there. I spent years and years looking for him, asking “Where is he? How come I haven’t seen him?”. Then one day I saw Syd Barrett on his bike and I was like “Yeah! I finally saw him!”, but then he died about 6 month later.

Sid Barrett on his bike
Other than that, nothing really. Cambridge is a really strange place, it’s very academic but I guess a lot of it hasn’t really changed since Aleister Crowley would’ve been there; the buildings are still the same, they’ve still got the same traditions, the same uniforms. I guess it’s interesting in some ways. It looks cool when it’s dark and it’s just old street lamps. It looks pretty sinister sometimes.

- Have you ever been approached by any shady, occult organizations in your hometown or on tour? No weird handshakes?

Actually no. That sort of thing would happen in Glasgow more than anywhere else really. The weird masonic handshakes… yeah that does happen sometimes (laughs).

The Warriors (1979, by Walter Hill)
- If you could rearrange or reinterpret the soundtrack to a specific movie, which one would it be?
That’s’ a good question… I’d be tempted to say
The Warriors. It’s got a really good soundtrack but I think I’d make it more Synth-heavy and darker. I love those John Carpenter soundtracks, him and Alan Howarth, who worked together. I really like 70s’ and 80s’ synth music.
- Theres’ actually a great RetroWave scene in Paris that makes John Carpenter-inspired music.

Yeah! Theres’ was this one guy, Kavinsky.

Yeah he was featured on the soundtrack for the movie Drive.
Yeah, that’s right. A lot of that sounds really good to me! I really like that sort of thing.

- If you like that sort of thing there’s’ also a guy who goes by the name of Perturbator, another one called Carpenter Brut you might wanna check out. They’re heavily inspired by 80s’ synth soundtracks like John Carpenters’
Escape from New York.
Oh really? I love all of that stuff! I’m going to have to make a note of that. Perturbator… (Looking it up on his phone). This looks good! I’m going to have to look into that. I didn’t even know that !- Interestingly enough, a few of the guys and a fair deal of their audience consists of metal fans. A lot of fans show up with black metal shirts, when I saw Perturbator he was sporting a Black metal shirt and a Mr.Bungle cap.
Wow, that’s interesting. That’ really cool, I didn’t know about that. It’s funny that a lot of metalheads appreciate that sort of music as well.
- What if you were to rearrange or reinterpret the soundtrack in the style of Uncle Acid?

I’d probably say Witchfinder General (1968, by Michael Reeves), where Vincent Price plays the witchfinder. That was actually what kind of inspired Blood Lust partly, that kind of character. The Witchfinder general was an actual person back in the 1600s’ who would torture women because he’d claim they were witches. He made a living out of doing that. He would travel from city to city, accusing women of witchcraft, torturing them, get money for it. It’s crazy to think that it actually happened. Crazy times (laughs).

- To finish things off, could you name one of your favorite albums, movies and books? Maybe also recommend a few to our readers to prepare for the albums’ release?
My favorite album would probably be
On the Beach by Neil Young.
My favorite film would be
The Warriors (1979, by Walter Hill), that’s my all-time favorite film.
My favorite book would probably be The Maltese Falcon (1930 detective novel by Dashiell Hammett), which kind of ties in with the album as well, it’s very similar. It’s this sort of Film noir crime fiction.

Inteview by Robin ONO
PS: Special Thanks to Kevin and HIM Media for making this review possible!
Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats
Official website
Official facebook

The Night Creeper, scheduled for release on Rise Above Records, Friday September 4th!


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