Just who, exactly, are The Acid? MEG CRAWFORD investigates.
Until recently, The Acid were an enigma. No one knew who they were, or where they were from.
Initially, calls for information were met with radio silence, adding to the shroud of mystery. All that was known was The Acid were behind some achingly beautiful, even groundbreaking songs.
Their eponymously-titled EP, The Acid, released in April this year, is a lush, luxuriant, ambient, celestial-sounding collection of electronic and guitar-laden beauties that bathes one’s ears in warmth. It’s an experience outside the ordinary listen – much like The Acid’s debut album, Liminal, which followed in May.
Now we know the identities behind the band: California’s Steve Nalepa, England’s Adam Freeland and Australian expat, Ry X.
Nalepa talks about the evolution of the group.
“Initially, when Adam, Ry and I got together in the studio, we had no plans,” he says. “However, on the very first day we wrote Animal and we were all like, ‘Wow, that is awesome, we better clear our diaries’, and over the next 10 days we recorded the EP. That first song, Animal, was so magical. We always had that to go back to.
“I was on tour with the (Parklife) Weekenders straight after that. Everyone had to split for other projects. In the meantime, Adam had one of his friends run the tracks through a tape machine to warm things up a bit. Around that time, we made a conscious decision not to tell anyone about it. We all have our own established careers and various things are associated with each of us. We didn’t want the EP to be judged as someone’s ‘new thing’ or side project. We just wanted the music to be first and foremost.”
The mystique couldn’t last forever, though. The EP was so well received that it provoked an almost frenzied response. “I wasn’t expecting it,” Nalepa says. “Suddenly we were getting hit up with messages all the time asking about us. People were saying, ‘We are taking bets on who you are’. It was really catching on and we played up to that a bit. We started saying we were from Santiago, Chile, Berlin, Sydney – all of these exotic locations – and we changed it every couple of days. It was playful.”
Despite having no plans when they set out to record, The Acid were guided by principles of minimalism and simplicity. “‘Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler’. Adam told us that on one of the first days of recording – it’s an Einstein quote. We kept coming back to that. So we stripped everything back as much as we could, without losing anything. Besides, Ry is such an incredible singer. We don’t need much more.”
The aura of mystery around the band was compounded by other factors, including the name. “As far as we were aware, The Acid hadn’t been used yet. It was kind of a bold move, really. It’s a really strong name. Before we identified ourselves as being a band, we connected musically and quickly built a body of work. At some stage after that, Adam was at a friend’s house and he thought he read ‘The Acid’ on something, although, he actually didn’t. We were concerned about the name to a degree, because it has certain connotations. Because of that, we made an effort not to use traditional psychedelic colours and fractals.
“There is a bit of mystery around it, too. It can be interpreted in different ways. Another way to look at it is that acid can dissolve things and create something abstract. That’s us – we’ve dissolved into each other and created something else. We’re really proud of what we’ve made and we want people to interpret it as they will.”