This past weekend I took a solo vacation to one of my favorite spots in the North Carolina mountains, Little Switzerland. Getting to Little Switzerland requires driving up a road that's not for the faint of heart, and once you get there, the primary activity is relaxing and enjoying the spectacular view. I put on "Mind Control," the deliciously evil new release from Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, as I began my slog up the mountain, and spent the misty Sunday sitting by a roaring fire in an empty lodge and writing a review of it for About.com Heavy Metal. I'll let you wait to read what I had to say about the release (hint, I liked it a lot). In the meantime, I am very pleased to present the results of an email interview with Uncle Acid himself. Thanks to Freeman Promotions for facilitation, and Uncle Acid for the time and insight.
Who is answering these questions?
You can call me K.R. Starrs.
How was Roadburn? From the videos I’ve seen, it looks like you had great crowd response and put on a killer show. I admit I was a little surprised that you came out basically wearing street clothes. Since I didn’t know what to expect, I really thought you’d have a bit more of a glam aspect to the show.
Roadburn was great. It was a huge honor to be able to play there and especially with electric wizard and the pretty things on the bill. To be honest it wasn't our best performance, but we really enjoyed it. I think some people expect us to come on in masks or have some stupid gimmick. From day one it's always been about letting the music do the talking. That's one of the reasons for the anonymity. There's no band image. Pink Floyd had a similar idea. If we were to come out in costumes or some 'glam' shit, all of a sudden the musicians become the center of attention rather than the music.
Editor's note -- Several videos of the band's Roadburn appearance are available online. Here's video of Valley of the Dolls, my personal favorite song on "Mind Control."
How carefully cultivated is your anonymity? With more attention, and with some clear promo photos now being distributed, you’re going to start being recognized more, and names are going to be put to your faces. Is this something you’re ready for?
I don't like my picture taken because to me, has nothing to do with the music we're making. It's like going to watch a film and having the director put a picture of himself up at the end of the film! "Oh look at me!! I did this!". Fuck off, no one cares. Now obviously its different because we're signed and certain things are expected. If someone is good to you, its only right that you're good to them back. Thats how it works. The balance of the universe. So, when Rise Above supports us in letting us do whatever we want musically, then its only right that I help them promote our music and sell copies by getting a few pictures taken.
I understand “Mind Control” is, like “Blood Lust,” also a concept album. But whereas “Blood Lust” had a real campy, grindhouse quality to it, “Mind Control” is much darker, with overt allusions to the Manson Family. Can you tell us about the concept? What is it about this early occult imagery and sound that you find so compelling?
Its about a man who thinks he is God, starting a death cult out in the desert. He manipulates his followers and feeds them with drugs and hate before sending them off to kill. A lot of it is to do with, obviously mind control, but also the idea of Abraxas; light and darkness or good and evil in the same act.
Where is Mt. Abraxas, and what does it take to reach the summit?
It's in your mind. Only fools are easily lead to its summit.
From the pictures we’ve seen of you, you look pretty young. Can you tell me how old you are, and give me some perspective on how your musical influences have evolved? I assume you haven’t always been obsessed with Black Sabbath and the early ‘70s.
I have all kinds of influences from Simon And Garfunkel to Electric Wizard! I've been obsessed with Sabbath since I was about 16 and have always enjoyed 70s rock music. It was the decade when rock music was done correctly. It's a classic sound, like a Fender valve amp from the 50's. There's no need to improve upon it's design. They tried adding synths to rock music in the 80s and rap elements in the 90's. Fuck knows what people are adding to it today to try and 'improve' and modernize it. It doesn't need it. We're just carrying on the classic sound.
How solid is the band lineup now?
Very solid. This is the most solid it's ever been actually.
The band is from Cambridge, which was of course home to Syd Barrett. What influence did he have on your music? Did you ever see him around town?
We love Pink Floyd. I love all eras of their music and obviously Syd is a big influence. I was always on the lookout for him. I knew where he lived and what he looked like but I would never intrude or go actively searching. I finally saw him ride past me on his bike one day and that was it.
If you could interview anyone, who would it be, and what would you ask them?
Charles Manson. I'd ask him for his thoughts on Neil Young's Revolution Blues.
Any words on the death of Slayer’s Jeff Hanneman?
Obviously very sad. Slayer were a band I loved when I was growing up. To me Reign In Blood is still the greatest thrash album of all time. Hanneman wrote some great, dark lyrics and music.
It looks like you have a few festival shows lined up, but no tours. When can we expect to see Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats in the US?
Who knows. Certainly not this year. We'll see how it goes. We're just easing into playing live again with these festival dates, but maybe next year we'll venture further afield.
Finally, a friend of mine wants to know what you thought of the ‘70s remake of “King Kong.”
I've never seen it! It's probably better than that CGI garbage they did a few years ago!
Mind Control will be released in the U.S. May 14 on Metal Blade Records.
Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats on Facebook.