One of the hottest new bands around just finished up their second tour of
the West Coast (which included a guest appearance by Trent Reznor). They
are from Toronto, but are currently in a studio in Vancouver working with
the producer of Skinny Puppy on their second Sire records release. The last
time they were in town, I talked to Steve and Lucy about life in general and
- RAD WITH ALL THIS TOURING WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE TIME FOR WORKING ON A
NEW ALBUM? DO YOU HAVE SO MUCH STUFF ALREADY?
- Steve No. We have a little bit of left-over material, but we're basically
writing on the road right now. We're storing our ideas and when we're
finished touring we're going to take two months off and write and pick
producers and we're going to go in and we're going to go in and do a
record. When we're doing sound check and somebody comes up with a riff,
we'll go "save that" and it's that person's responsibility to save it or
we lose it. That's basically how we write right now.
- RAD SO BASICALLY IT'S TEAMWORK...NOT ONE WRITER.
- Steve No, no, no. Well, on the first record it was kind of Lucy and myself and
then the guys, but it's getting more towards a band effort.
- RAD SO, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOU MUSIC? IS IT KIND OF INDUSTRIAL?
- Steve We've all got different influences, so it's kind of weird. We're all
different styles. It's a cross between grunge, industrial, punk and
techno. It's all brought in. And it sounds something different. It's
wild, like Tony from Curve likes our record and Trent Reznor likes our
- RAD THAT'S AN EXTREME.
- Steve Yeah, it is. That's the idea exactly. Those are two different styles and
they like it. It's really wild that successful musicians like our music.
Because we got fan mail121112111211 once from Philadelphia a guy said that we were
gonna be the new thing and we did the same thing as Seattle. In seattle
people are calling us the new sound because grunge is dead and there's
this new band that's heavy, but we're doing something totally different.
- RAD HOW LONG HAS THE BAND BEEN TOGETHER?
- Steve Two years.
- RAD HOW LONG BEFORE THAT DID SOME OF YOU GET TOGETHER?
- Steve Lucy and I have actually been together right at four years. And we
waited until we had the right chemistry and people, but we really didn't
have a band. We just kinda did movie soundtracks. We did Highway 61,
the movie. I played the dead guy in that one. Sort of like an
underground cult movie, like a black comedy. You know the movie?
- RAD YES.
- Steve Well, got a song Mr. Skin that was from that movie. It's on an
independent label under Capitol. The song Mr. Skin is on that
soundtrack. We used the movie to create a buzz in Toronto in Canada and
some parts of the U.S. And then when the movie came out, we did another
movie called "Talk 16" which was a documentary like in all the film
festivals and that sort of thing. And we were just doing any soundtracks
to occupy our time until we got a band. And then the band suddenly just
started forming. Like we got people to write with and it started
clicking and we had no idea of how we wanted to sound, what we wanted to
sound like. We knew what WE liked as far as our influences were, but we
wanted other people to bring in their influences. So we got a DJ
keyboard player who is really into Sonic Youth and we got another
keyboard player who is in to industrial and we got a drummer who's into
Peter Gabriel, so just a total mismatch. So we just started writing and
started creating this new sound and we liked it and we started playing
the clubs and touring and we got a beach buzz on college radio in Canada
and parts of the states. And we went down to the New Music Seminar in
New York about two years ago and we got on the "Day in Rock" and they
were looking for bands to get signed and they picked us and they filmed
our show. And when we had record companies come in to see us and we had
three steady-cameras there and they're all going "what's going on,"
"who's this band," and "why is MTV filming them?" So it's actually
because of MTV that helped us in the initial stages. "The Day in Rock"
and a guy named Ivano actually discovered us in New York and he put us
on TV and we did a little interview and he filmed part of our show and we
were talking about how we wanted to be signed and why and that sort of
thing. Somebody at Sire saw this because it was on MTV for a week. At
the same time we talked to Semour Stien at "Seminar" and gave him a tape
with no bio, no bull-shit, we just gave him the tape and he called us up
four days later and said "I love this, I want to come up and see the
band, and I want to sign it." We also had other labels interested,
which I can't mention, and Semour flew up with his lawyer and saw a show
at the Beverly in Toronto, no big deal. And he liked it and we started
talking to him and it turns out his label is the coolest and he's the
coolest so we went with him.
- RAD HOW DO YOU FIND SIRE? IS IT TOO BIG?
- Steve Nope, it's the perfect size. It's like a small label on a major label.
I find Warner Brothers too big. Warner Brothers is very hard to lobby
because they don't even know who we are.
- RAD THEY DON'T CARE IF THEY DON'T KNOW YOU.
S; Yeah, exactly. Unless we have a hit. Which is just kind of bull shit.
Because why do you bother to spend all this money on a band if you're not
going to promote it properly. We have to go out and find our own
promotion and go up to people and say "Hi, we're Acid Test." We score
our own tours, we score our own interviews, we did our own album, which
is fine the way we're doing now. Sire is perfect. They work us, but
they're limited to what they can do because Warner Brothers owns them.
Sire is the perfect sized label, and they're very excited about us.
We're one of the priorities at Sire, as far as new bands go. They have
a policy that every band is important to them, although we all know
can't always be the truth, but they really do try with new bands, so
they're cool. They give us a lot of artistic freedom.
- RAD THAT'S IMPORTANT.
- Steve Yeah, definitely. That's the thing. We did our time without a label,
but there's only so long you can eat craft dinner. We wanted to reach
more people and the only way to do that is to get on a proper label.
Even if we're not like this huge huge band, at least I can go into a
record store in Utah, or in L.A., or somewhere in Canada, and I can find
our record in the store. And that makes me feel good, because if
somebody wants to check out a new band and they happened to see us at a
show, they can go to that record store and find a copy of Acid Test
Drop. That's something that you need--you need a label to at least do
that. And the fact of the matter is that if we play our cards right we
could have a proper courtship, which is what we're trying to lobby right
now. We're basically a very hard-working band. We like to tour. We're
touring all over the States and Canada in a small brown van and a U-haul.
- RAD SO YOU'RE NOT IN THE BIG GREEN BUS?
- Steve No, we have five band members and three crew members in a van and we tour
like hell. We score tours and we rip apart people when we play live and
we're very aggressive and we really want this to happen. So far bands
like Nine Inch Nails and Curve and stuff are kinda helping us out--being
our "big brothers" and "big sisters"--sending us little notes telling us
to "hang in there" and stuff like that. We're getting some respect out
of the more respectable musicians, which means everything to us.
- RAD HAVE YOU BEEN TO SALT LAKE [CITY] BEFORE?
- Steve Nope, first time. Actually, we drove through Utah on the way out to Los
Angeles. It's an interesting story. We were touring Canada, working our
way out west because we were going to play a few shows like in Seattle
and stuff, and then we were going to play our way down through the mid-
west to hook up with the CMJ in New York. So to do that we decide to
through Canada from Vancouver back to Thunder Bay. Thunder Bay is like
the same distance as Minnesota. We get to Thunder Bay, we play, and
then we get a call saying that you have to drive back to Los Angeles.
You have three days to get here and you'll be going to hook up with The
Ocean Blue. So we say, "OK" and we drive from Thunder Bay, through
Minnesota, on Highway 61 of all coincidences, to Los Angeles.
- RAD ANYTHING STRANGE HAPPEN TO YOU? YOU MEET UP WITH SATAN?
- Steve No, but we saw a lot of road kill on the highway. We did it in 44 hours
and hooked up with the tour. We found out Thursday, we left Friday, and
we got there late Sunday night/Monday morning in Los Angeles. We
started The Ocean Blue tour November 1st--Monday. That Thursday we found
out and we left Friday and drove there in the van.
- RAD ARE ALL OF THE BAND MEMBERS CANADIAN?
- Steve Yeah, except for our singer. Lucy is a Canadian citizen, but she's from
Australia, but she's been living in Toronto a long time. She considers
herself a Canadian citizen.
- RAD WHAT'S YOUR VIEWS ON CENSORSHIP?
- Steve We're against censorship completely. I can't think of one musician that
truly isn't against censorship. Censorship doesn't really exist in
Canada, in Europe. It certainly doesn't exist in Japan.
- RAD IN ANY FORM?
- Steve No. I mean, you can't buy guns at a grocery store in Canada, but at the
same time at least your music won't be edit either, and there won't be a
warning sticker. It seems like only in America that they get all these
people running for office and Senates and stuff like that, and they have
all these bored house-wives of senators who have nothing better to do
that to pick on rock musicians.
- RAD UNLIKE OUR OWN VICE PRESIDENT'S WIFE.
- Steve Yeah, exactly. It's just another example of the government having
nothing better to do than censorize music. But what they don't realize
is that when the censorize music, it just makes the music that much
cooler. Record companies use it as an opportunity to market music with
a warning sticker, that makes the music more unapproachable and
dangerous for the kids to get, supposedly, because it's got a sticker.
"Mom and dad told me I can't have it." It makes hard rock and roll
dangerous, and what it does is it creates sales. If anything, all
they're doing is making the music that much more exciting again and it
really hasn't had that much of an effect. The only thing I've seen is
that it's made MTV kinda lame, but when was MTV ever cool?
- RAD THIRTEEN YEARS AGO.
- Steve Exactly. Much Music, on the other hand, up in Canada is totally cool.
It's all unrehearsed. They just show the VJs winging it. It's like an
MTV, but they play a lot more than eight videos. They have their own
shows for each different type of music, and they let everything combine.
Then they have shows where everything runs together. But that's my views
- RAD WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ALSO ON RACISM AND DRUGS?
- Steve I think racism stinks. Yet, at the same time, with all due respect, I've
never seen so much racism in one country than in the United States, and
it's disgusting. Last night, for example, to show you what I
experienced. I walk into a truck stop when we were taking a smoke break
and a gas fuel-up, there's a line-up of three or four of us. There's a
black lady trying to get a pack of cigarettes, with two other people in
front of her. They get served and I'm behind her, and the person at the
desk pretended to be busy--she waited for at least five or ten minutes.
[The black woman] said, "excuse me, I'd like to buy a packet of
cigarettes." Then the lady [behind the desk] said to me, "can I help
you?" I said, "no, this lady was first." [The woman in line] turned
around and said, "thank you," so finally she felt embarrassed and she
served her. "Oh, yes. I'm sorry. Blah blah blah." She said, "you're
not from here." And I said, "no, I'm not. I'm from Canada." She said,
"I figured you're not from here." In young people today it doesn't
really exist as much I don't think. It's mostly influent in the older
people. If you want to stop racism here, it's going to start with young
people being educated enough to say they are not going to be influenced
by older people's view, and go in there with an open mind and experience
other forms music, avoid classification of music, and avoid
classification of culture. Just go out there and experience.
As far as the drug thing goes, I'm not for it. I'm not against it. If
you want to experiment, do it educated and in a safe way. Don't do it
in a stupid way. Do it with somebody you can trust.
- Lucy And don't do it because of peer pressure or because it's part of the in
- RAD OR BECAUSE THIS COOL BAND HAS THIS NAME...
- Steve Our name, for example, isn't even a drug name.
- Lucy I guess it does symbolize acid. It comes from a Tom Wolf novel. It's
more symbolic of try out the music, let that be the drug and take a trip
from the music.
- Steve It comes from the book "electric fluid--acid test" by Tom Wolf.
- RAD ARE YOU (LUCY) HAPPY WITH WHAT THE BAND HAS DONE? ALL THE TOURING AND
WRITING ON THE ROAD?
- Lucy I personally do like more of a confined atmosphere for writing, because
writing for me is introspective and it comes out when I bring it into the
band. Then we collaborate. For me it is initiated in a more
introspective way. That's just my way on it. But I realize that this is
what we have to be doing. We just did our time of creation with the
album, and now it's time to show everyone that this is who we are. We're
very good live. We've gotten good response live. And I think that it's
going to fuel checking out the album.
- Steve One of the things we're trying to experiment with on the next record is
we're trying to use the intensive touring to try to influence the
record. Because we're getting so tight as a band by playing together
every night that we want to capture that energy on tape for the next
- Lucy It's definitely going to influence our writing on the next album, for
sure. I think it's great. I'd like to tour as long as we can--as long
as there is a want for us.
- RAD AND PLAY WHAT COMES UP AS LIFE GIVES IT TO YOU.
- Lucy We're a pretty positive band, too. We're into being self-motivated, and
trying to do something positive with your life and not sitting around
strung out and complaining and bitching about the world. Go out there
and make it happen for yourself. Basically read the news and read
between the lines in the news, and don't watch too much television.
Think--use the brain. Have a good time and make things happen for
yourself. Don't sit there and bitch about your shitty neighborhood and
how this race or that race treated you bad, and how you're strung out
and it's this government's fault. Do it yourself. Get up on your own
feet and make it happen for yourself.
We're against censorship of the arts. Particularly music and lyrics,
because of the fact that it's just whoever--the government--putting a
hold on people what to think. They don't want people to get spawned by
these ideas and start thinking that, "yeah, maybe there is a different
way out there". The government just wants to put a hold on that.