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Uncle Acid Ripples Through “Shockwave City”

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The next saga in the mystical world of England’s Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats retains their allegiance to vintage riff velocity while gazing into futuristic dire straits. Peaking into a bit of the future ourselves, “Shockwave City” is one of eight spooky zingers from the upcoming Wasteland. After polishing up the classics last year with Vol. 1, the dark days of 2018 have inspired a slap of reality poised with guitar work so top tier that it’s sprinkled with a little magic from the celestial heavens. Providing a good deal of Uncle Acid’s psychedelic atmosphere without necessarily being atmospheric, the track is an adventurous come-up-for-air for metal fans too consumed by the bookends of ambience or extremity. To lead us further down the journey into the wasteland, we spoke to frontman and founder Kevin Starrs about orchestrating harmony in disarray.

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Uncle Acid has become known for its amazing come-up story. That being said, do you ever experience any nostalgia for the Myspace days?

Not really. It served its purpose at the time and got replaced by other platforms. We used it solely to get our music out there but I’m sure there are better options going on now that upcoming bands use. I tend to avoid the social part of ‘social networking’ so it all passes me by, whatever it is.

In past interviews you’ve said that when writing — lyrics, especially — you often start with a larger abstraction and fill in the pieces as you go. How did the process of writing Wasteland keep up with or diverge from this concept-based tradition?

I had a very rough concept to start with, but it shifted the more I wrote. I think once I got into the idea of using voice samples and cheap sound effects it started to come together in a different way. I started seeing it as being more of a mental wasteland than anything else, so I tried to make it as immersive as I could for the listener, to really disorientate them in order to bring them into the chaos of the Wasteland.

Your observation about metal in 2018 opting for extremity over melody is pretty damn wise. I think one of the many reasons why Uncle A holds wide appeal is because you guys offer something different. Nevertheless, as someone who’s clearly studied many eras of music, why do you think this heavy soundwall trend persists in the current decade?

I suppose it’s just a matter of taste and what your approach is. I grew up with classic metal that had great melodies and that’s what appealed to me, as well as music from other genres of course. I like the contrast of mixing light and dark whereas some bands just want to push the heaviness, which is fine too. There’s room for both approaches but I thought it was about time somebody kidnap melody and really bring it down to our level for a while. There’s no use for it in the soulless computer music of today.

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What inspired the “ghoulish surrealism” of dystopian Wasteland? I am especially curious to hear your take as someone who’s a bit removed from American politics (well, as removed as anyone in the world can be from an imperialist juggernaut).

I think it’s easy to imagine how things could take a turn for the worst at any time. You just have to go outside and watch people enslaved by their screens. It’s all madness, but if you combine that with other horrors and classic propaganda you can see how easy it is to build it up into a more extreme scenario. Once you have a general setting in your head it becomes pretty easy to fill in the blanks.

You described “program discs” as tools citizens of the dystopia use to think freely and escape decay. Do you have any more abstract program discs that you use in your life? I suppose music is the obvious answer, but is there a particular facet of music, or even something else entirely that provides this kind of escapism?

I think harmony can do that. Sometimes when you hear a vocal harmony that’s so good, especially in a live setting, it can take you away to another place. Great guitar playing can do that for me too but not many people can get to that level. Neil Young always gets there at least once every time I’ve seen him. He’ll be at such a high level and then just when you think it has peaked, he’ll take it up a final notch so that your mind explodes. For a split second, you’re floating away somewhere else. I imagine it would have been like that watching Hendrix perform.

Wasteland drops October 12 on Rise Above Records. Follow the band on Facebook.

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