Interview with The Acid – it’s all coming together

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The Acid are Ry Cuming, Steve Nalepa, and Adam Freeland, each of whom have notable music careers outside of this circle, but when they come together, the experience is unlike any other. In light of the band’s brief tour, we caught up with Steve Nalepa for a chat.

Kateryna Topol: The Acid came together as a band quite organically it seems, but how/when did you first meet?

Steve Nalepa: Ry and Adam met some five years previous, a mutual friend in Australia introduced them. They didn’t see each other again until they reconnected at a friend’s in L.A., the day before Adam and I were due to get into the studio together. Adam and I had been friends for years, he rings me up saying, “I know we had plans, but I want to bring over someone I think you’ll vibe with. Let’s see what happens.” I literally met Ry the first day in the studio, when we all wrote “Animal” together. After that first session, we cleared our schedules and wrote our first EP, honouring the inspiration.

KT: Is it challenging to find time to work together and tour while living the already established, separate careers? 

SN: It definitely takes some coordinating to make it all work, as we all have multiple projects, plus family and other commitments. Fortunately, we have a great team who help us organize our schedules. We’re fans of each other’s projects, so it is easy to support one another, which all feeds back on itself nicely. In terms of days off, finding the right balance is definitely important. I truly love the work that I do and would do it every day, but sometimes taking a break and getting out in nature or going to the movies is the move. It is all about finding the right balance.

KT:  The Acid began as an anonymous project, why anonymous and why did you decide to “come out”, so to say? 

SN:  When we created that very first body of work, we knew it was special and we wanted it to have a life of its own. We didn’t want people to view it through the lens of our previous individual output, so we made a pact to not tell anyone we made it. We wanted to let people discover it solely on the music’s own merit. We put the EP up on SoundCloud and had some fun being anonymous, changing the location of where we’re from every few days, bouncing around the globe. The anonymous thing wasn’t intended to last forever, just long enough for the music to be properly received. Once people started to figure it out, we revealed. We always planned to be up front about it.

KT: The Liminal Live show seems like an amazing experience, where did the idea come from?  

SN: From the very beginning, the three of us bonded on visual art, setting a proper intention to make this project first and foremost about creating high quality art. Before our first rehearsals began, we made the decision to play these songs completely live, not just playing back stems and layering additional elements over them. We also wanted the visuals intimately tied in with the sounds. Our visual show was born out of a collaboration between us, Ultima Productions, and Chroma, under the creative direction of artist and consciousness researcher, Kate Genevieve, and show designer and creative technologist, Giani Fabricio. The show is designed as an interactive audio visual art installation inspired by alchemical processes and nature’s transformations. It uses pioneering image-making techniques with audio reactive and motion tracking projection systems, which allow the installation to react in real time to the band’s musical performance as one unified living system.

Kate and Giani worked closely with a team of visual artists and scientists, experimenting with image-making techniques to explore living processes and create footage that showed the mystery of life emerging in multifarious forms. It took a few months for it all to come together, and then we toured it all around Europe last year.

KT: Will the fall shows in Canada and the U.S. be Liminal Live shows as well?

SN: We’ve yet to perform the fully reactive show in the U.S. We perform a variation of the show that is powerful, just not quite as grand. We’re looking forward to bringing the full version to the U.S. soon, though not on this run just yet.

KT: I know you’ve played a show in a chapel, is that the oddest venue you played or are there other odd locations? 

SN: As The Acid, one of the more unique venues we’ve played so far was A38 in Budapest, literally inside a ship on the river. Our first show in L.A. was at The Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, which definitely had a vibe to it. We definitely make an effort to look for unique and unusual locations to play, sometimes it isn’t possible logistically, but the intention is there.

KT: How is it touring together, have you learned a lot of new things about each other? Can you please name a few? 

SN: Touring generally involves putting a group of people together every day for a stint of time, often driving around. The rush of playing the shows, meeting new people and seeing beautiful places is juxtaposed with the act of actually getting there. We’ve learned a lot about each other, as well as food options at rest stops around Europe. One big thing is that at anytime we can stay somewhere just a little bit different, it always ends up being more satisfying. We’ve stayed in giant teepees outside of Frankfurt, in cabins on a lake in Switzerland, in a lodge overlooking the mountains in a small, historic village in France. Those little touches drastically improve the tour experience, vibe is so important.

KT: Any interesting stories from the shows so far? 

SN: One of my favorite shows so far was Splendour in the Grass, down in Byron Bay, Australia. We were on early the first afternoon of the festival, in the middle of the day, the vibe was so great. I wasn’t expecting such a large crowd to show up, to have all those people in this massive tent singing along to our songs, it was quite a rush. Big thanks to Triple j for all of their support down under. Our first show in L.A., at Hollywood Forever, was also very special. We had been touring for most of the year and it was the last show of the year, finally playing in our home town, and the place was packed with mostly family and friends.

KT: Have you already started thinking on the new album, what’s next for The Acid?

SN: Yes, we’ve got ideas going for the next album already, once everyone gets back from touring and we can all get together again in the same place, we will be able to focus them in and develop it properly. There’s some other exciting things in the works as well, looking forward to sharing when we can.