We Are The Night IX: Acid Row
Our series, “We are the night” presents artists, promoters, production managers, label owners and others who are bringing the music world of the Czech Republic forward, from the past to the present and the present to the future. This week we present an interview with psychedelic stoner rock band Acid Row. Photo credit: Marek Reinoha
Music and musicians often engage in one certain debate: What is a good band? A band with great production, spirit and musical identity, or a band with great live performance? I guess the answer is somewhere in between those two possible definitions.
When I saw Acid Row in concert for the first time, I was absorbed by an explosive energy, a great instrumental execution and a special kind of communication with the audience. As the audience responded, I realised that this band has gained a reputation for live shows and I wanted to know more about their path, their way of creation, and the work in preparation, so I spoke to the members of the band to find out more: guitarist Dominik, drummer Radek, and Alex, the bassist/baritone player, singer and manager of the band.
Why Acid Row?
Dominik: We decided that we wanted to join that club of stoner/doom bands with “stoner” or “acid” in their names.
Alex: For me, I actually realized a bit later that there are so many “acid” bands. I kind of liked how the name “Skid Row” sounded, so I was thinking of what would happen if you just replaced one word. After some time we also found out that there’s actually a book with the same name and one dead British band, no longer active for years though. Anyway, I really have to read that book one day, haha!
How did you all meet?
Dominik: Me and Alex both come from a small town on the west side of the Czech Republic. We started this passion for music together from there. But before that we actually met in the skate park, where we were riding BMXs.
Radek: I met the guys when my previous band Trahir played a show with Acid Row a couple of years ago. Then we met again at the last Stone Smoker festival, where they asked me to join them.
When did you start playing music together?
Alex: Well… Me and Dominik. We met earlier in the skate park, as he answered before. It was about 2007, I think. Around 2009 we established our first grunge band called Project’76. The beginnings were pretty funny, because we didn’t know how to play instruments properly, we didn’t have any gear or any songs and we had like one month to get it all, because we already had a gig booked in a shithole pub, haha. Around 2011-12 this project transformed into Acid Row, which was evolving a lot during that time into how you know them today. The latest change was that in 2021 Radek joined the band.
Did some of you have previous music experience?
Dominik: Haha yes, I was going to flute class for like two years maybe when I was kid. Don’t remember shit from there.
Alex: Only what I described in the previous answer.
How would you label the music you play?
Alex: Stoner Doom Heavy Psych Punk. Maybe something like that, haha.
What have you released until now?
Dominik: Our First EP named “Bad Delivery”, from 2016. Then there was one album, “Spikes” (2018), one single “Cut It Out”, and now the hot new album “Afterglow” that we released just this year.
What about lyrics? What are the main topics you cover?
Alex: The lyrics are always somehow introspective, but also satirical. They are about humankind and the human mind in postmodern society, and they try to explore what impact this society has on an individual. That includes of course themes of doom, inner feelings of frustration or pain, altered states of mind, examination of patterns of power in society etc. They are almost always not positive, because they’re supposed to work as a cleansing medium that has this possibility to purify either the provider or the receiver of the music from traumas and anxiety by creating them, recalling them during the act of creation, and live performance, and after that getting rid of the negative emotions for a while. And that’s how it repeats every time.
What are your band’s main influences? In music, but also in any other art forms?
Dominik: In music I believe that all of us are into this type of music that is somehow related to Black Sabbath. Same in movies for me, I love horrors.
Alex: In music Black Sabbath is a thing for us all of course, but there’s also one other big influence and that’s Melvins. We just love their attitude to songwriting and their quirky humor. I think there’s a lot of them in us haha. From movies, obviously movies from Carl T. Dreyer, as we used footage from one of his movies in No Church on Sunday. But there might also be some personifications included, usually typical for Ingmar Bergman movies. Besides that, I would also include movies from the silent era from German Expressionism or French Impressionism. From literature, I remember that some old songs were inspired for example by Charles Baudelaire or Milan Kundera.
How do you build your songs? Could you describe the process in steps?
Alex: Uff. It’s always a bit different actually. Mostly we built them around a guitar riff. But sometimes we also try to start the creative process with the drums, or basically from the lyrics, or bassline. We don’t really have any pattern in how we write songs. Sometimes we just jam them out!
When you play live, I noticed a real dynamism and a strong reaction from your audience. When did you perform your first gigs?
Dominik: For me and Alex, our first show was with our previous band Project’76. It was 6 June 2009 and we had exactly two rehearsals before it.
Alex: Haha. Cool that Dominik actually knows the exact date, because I don’t. So it looks like we’re gonna have our 13th anniversary of playing together in bands soon.
What do you prefer, outside festivals or more cozy specialized audiences?
Dominik: I love it when I see a crazy pit in front of the stage, although it is quite difficult for this type of music to move with your whole body. On the other hand, it is not so difficult, but still super magical, to move other people’s heads with this type of music.
Alex: I think I am more into clubs in general. Of course, festivals have their own magic too, but in a club you have just closer contact with the audience and that is so powerful! I have just returned from the Desertfest in Berlin. There were like 3,000 of people I guess, and you could really feel the difference between being right in front of the bands from being in the back.
Radek: I didn’t get to play any large festivals yet, but club shows have this really intimate feeling, especially when the audience gets crazy. I guess festivals have a somewhat more epic feeling. I don’t know, I just love playing shows in general.
What has been your best concert in Prague?
Radek: The Afterglow release party in Kasárna Karlín, an insane party and afterparty haha.
Alex: Cut It Out release party and Afterglow release party I guess.
How about in the rest of the Czech Republic?
Dominik: I can’t pick just one, haha, Dresden and Brno were amazing this year. From festivals probably StoneSmoker and Pod Tvrzí.
Alex: Yeah I kind of feel the same…
Radek: Brno was greaaat. Playing in Pilsen is also nice because we have a lot of friends there and they are crazy as hell.
Where have you played abroad? Did you notice a difference in the audience response?
Dominik: Mostly it was Germany that was very supportive in the underground alternative music scene. Then some other countries near Czech. It is sad, but for us it was usually the same. The more to the west you are, the more supportive the audience.
Alex: I wouldn’t say that. I think there are great places everywhere. It really depends on the exact place. The thing is… We didn’t have that many opportunities on the other side yet and those we had weren’t that good. So let’s see in the future!
Have you played in Brno, and if so when and where and how was it?
Radek: Last time it was at Kabinet Múz, that was awesome. Some time ago we had a show at Bajkazyl with our friends Bambulkyně Dobrodružstvá and that was really shitty <3
What are the next steps for the band?
Radek: We’re gonna have a busy summer, shitload of shows, it’s gonna be insane.
How do you see the music scene in the Czech Republic today?
Alex: I don’t know much about the mainstream. But the underground scene is pretty amazing. There are lots of talented bands from the stoner rock/psych scene!
Could you name three songs you are currently listening to and want to share with our readers?
You can find Acid Row on Bandcamp.