Despite splitting up nearly two decades ago, British Thrashers Acid Reign remain a much remembered and loved band. On August 4th, they release a CD box set called 'The Apple Core Archives', and rumours abound of a reform.
I caught up with former vocalist H (who also is the man behind their very active Facebook page and Twitter feed, the Talking Bollocks Podcast and the Comedian behind 'Keith Platt - professional Yorkshireman') to have a natter about these and much more.
"Hello there Andy..."
"Hello H. Can we talk about the Apple Core Archives, as well as the rumours - the will you won't you be reforming?"
"Well, there have been rumours yes, but I did some sleeve notes in the Apple core Archives, hopefully to stop anyone else asking that question! All I will say is never say never, but don't hold your breath."
"Ok, say no more. So, let's go to the Apple Core Archives. How did it come about, but first; what is it?"
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"It is every single song that Acid Reign ever released, including a few that we didn't! So there is the 'Fear Demos' on there; the 'Moshkinstein Demos' on there having been re-mixed; there is a song with me and Satanika which is a sort of follow-up to 'Motherly Love', called 'A Mother's Love' (which I found out recently having checked through my lyric book was the original title for 'Motherly Love'! - I had completely forgotten, and it was a complete accident that the Satanika song was called what it was!)
"So, yeah, everything is on there, everything - apart from 'Blind Aggression' live from the Kerrang flexi-disc. No one knows what happened to that. But... everything. All the bits from 'The Worst Of' that happened that never got released anywhere, it's the 'Humanoia' Ep, the 'Hanging On The Telephone' EP, 'Moshkinstein', 'Obnoxious', 'The Fear' demos, you know the whole kit and caboodle. So basically £11.99 on Amazon gets you our entire career. I don't think that is a bad investment!"
"So it's available on Amazon. Are record shops going to stock it as well? (We are going back to old fashioned times here!)"
"To the extent that there are any record shops any more! I mean it is out on Candlelight Records - there to be stocked by record shops. I'm in Central London lots so I'm going to be checking out HMV in Oxford Street and seeing if they stock it. And, if they do, I'm going to fucking buy it! My own copy."
"Yeah, definitely - just for the hell of it! I don't think I will ever be doing that again, buying something that I released."
"Yeah, It is a sad state that with the Internet, record shops are dwindling, there are very few independents, and even the big chains are suffering as people are going more on-line."
"Yes, to be honest, I've kind of mourned that particular day. I mean I walk past the big iconic HMV in Oxford Street nearly every day, and I used to dip in there and buy stuff as recently as this time last year, and it's now a Sports Direct! What can you do? I mean, that's progress, and sometimes with progress you lose stuff along the way, and I dunno, that's life unfortunately. It's no good railing against it. The old days are the old days and we just have to move forward you know. We may as well complain about the sun coming up."
"Yes. A lot of stuff these days is digital downloads. Is The Apple Core Archives going to be available that way?"
"Well, no basically. Because the Acid Reign back catalogue; 'Obnoxious', 'The Fear' and 'Moshkinstein' are all available already. They are all available online. It made absolutely no sense to release them all again. And the versions that you download - if you look for 'Moshkinstein', 'The Fear' and 'Obnoxious' online, on I-Tunes, or Amazon - you'll find them in nearly every shop - they are actually the 2011 Bill Metoyer remastered versions and they are all available online. So, the idea behind this was totally old-school, CD's only and that's it because they are available digitally anyway."
"How this all came about was: there was an agent trying to get us to reform, and he mentioned to me that he had a contact at a label that he thought would be interested in doing vinyls of our albums. So I approached them about the vinyls, and they went: 'no, we're not interested, but we would definitely like to do the CD's.' So I thought great, well, let's do that then. Why don't we get everything we have ever done, stick it across three CD's; three albums. They said, 'Yeah, great, all we need is a title now.' So I messaged him back the next day and said how about the Apple Core Archives? And they went: 'yeah, Brilliant.' Job done."
"So, it's released on August 4th yeah?"
"Yeah officially, but it seems to be creeping out all over the place. There are pictures of them appearing everywhere. I haven't got mine yet but I should be taking delivery tomorrow. So yeah, it's coming out on August 4th, A nice little summer surprise for everybody. It was supposed to come out July but got delayed a bit. Some things about the music business never change!"
"Thank you. Do you want to end this here? You have just finished one interview, you must be sick of them tonight!"
No, not at all. The interview I have just done is for the Podcast, me interviewing someone else this time. It was me interviewing Frankie from Channel Zero. Now all I can say is keep an eye out for August's Podcast It is one of the most bizarre interviews you will ever hear, one of the most bizarre I have ever experienced. And I know that sounds like quite a call, but basically...
"Well, back in the day, in about 88 or 89, we played a couple of shows in Belgium, well two shows, one in 89 and one in 90. The first time I was there, I got chatting to a guy called Tony, who was a really nice guy, we got on really well and we stayed in touch, as you did back in the day we actually wrote fucking LETTERS. Then, unfortunately, on the 18th December 1990, I received this letter from him:
"I think this will be the last letter you get from me. At the moment you read this I will be dead. This is no joke, but really unfortunate. I didn't enjoy living any more. Things didn't go my way at all. Things I wanted to happen, didn't happen; things I didn't want to happen were happening all the time. Well, to put it in brief, there was no fun in my life, and I can't live with that.
"I'm writing notes to those I like most, so I thought I'd let you know as well. After all, we've been writing for two years. I wish you and Acid Reign all the best for the future. Did you get the Channel Zero Demo I sent you? I wish you would really contact Frankie one day."
"Well, 26 years after I received that letter out of the blue; I spoke to Frankie from Channel Zero for the first time an hour and a half ago. So yeah, to be honest, I'm in a really weird place at the moment. It had a profound effect on me back in the day, and I have always kept in close, always taken it out and had a little read of it now and again. So to actually sit and talk to Frankie about it - well he didn't know anything about it and he was one of Tony's best mates - well, Frankie and I now have connected over Facebook and all the rest of it and we are going to meet up next time they are over here. So, yeah, that classes as a really, really bizarre interview."
"Yeah, what with that and Graham Parker (Tour manager for Legion and their guitarist's father) dying suddenly it must been a real shock."
Yes, totally. Also, Channel Zero lost their drummer a year ago. He just dropped dead. An artery in his neck, well not exploded but kind of just ripped and he dropped dead, and their second album was mixed by Dimebag! So we just had 45 minutes talking about death!
"And then yeah, of course, poor old Graham. He was a lovely lovely chap, he really was. He was an absolute diamond, such a good laugh, top bloke. He will be sadly missed. I got a message through the Acid Reign page from his son, who was playing in the band back in the day, and he said would I mind doing a shout out. I said not at all, but let's do it properly, get a picture and everything. And when he sent the picture over it really got to me.
"And when I was typing that tribute to him, it was all I could do not to cry over the keyboard. It was really tough. Having lost my own father about seven years ago, I know what he is going through and it's... Well, if you haven't been through it you can't explain it. If you have been through it, you know what it is like and it is comforting to be able to talk to people who have some idea of what it feels like. So yeah, it was cool just to be able to have a chat with him, you know."
"So, going back to the digital age we were talking about earlier. Do you think it is easier now for bands to be noticed now rather than when Acid Reign were starting out?"
"I think it's er, it's kind of both. Because, basically if you're a band, you just record a demo, put it on-line and boom, you're effectively released. So you would think that the answer to your question would be yes. But then, by the same token, if everyone can do that then you are back to square one again. Because, well, if everyone can stick their stuff online, then how do you stand out?
"So, it's just different. I wouldn't say it is easier, that's for sure. Is it harder, truth is I don't know. I'm not in that position. The only thing I can say is, yes, the one thing is; it was very difficult getting a record deal back in the day, but ... well, I say it was difficult, it wasn't really. We put 'Moshkinstein' out, I sent it to all the record labels, and Under One Flag said yes, we'll have some of that!
"But getting a record deal was difficult back in the day, and that was your only way of getting exposure. If a record label signed you up, that was your only way of getting your band started, of starting out. So to that extent, is it easier? Yeah... no. I don't know. It's very different. It's difficult when you compare eras. It's like saying is Bobby Charlton better than Wayne Rooney? Who the fuck knows or cares. It's very difficult to compare eras because everything is different.
"You have got tons of websites out there. Back in the day, UK press would have been Metal Forces, Metal Hammer and Kerrang and... oh, that's it. But just because there is tons of websites and tons of exposure doesn't make it easier because it has just diluted everything. I mean, when you think about it, it was a lot easier to read three magazines than 50 websites that are updated every day. Now, it is an assault on the senses the amount of news that is available, never mind Metal.
"Finding a really good young band is like trying to find a needle in a haystack, you have to sift through so much shit. Whereas before, you just kinda assumed the best stuff was signed. And as a manager, you just had to go out on the road, watch young bands and just see who was good. These days you can hear a band's demo, think it is good and go and see them live and they just can't pull it off live.
"The music business is bizarre now, I don't even recognise it. Hearing reasonable successful bands interviewed now, they say yeah, we were on that tour and we were really lucky because we had a bus. I'm thinking, fucking hell, every tour we ever did we had a bus. So, is that easier? No, it's definitely fucking harder now. Bands are slumming it in vans who back in the day would have had a tour bus!
"And believe you me, the difference between slumming it in a van and a tour bus is night and fucking day. Having done both I can tell you that a tour bus is a godsend. A hotel on wheels, literally. You can just roll into your bunk and wake up in the next city you are playing the next day. That is a massive improvement on getting yourself up out of a B n B at the crack of dawn, crunch yourself into a van and sit there for the next six hours with your nose up against somebody's armpit. That is horrible, and that is what bands have to put up with now."
"Yes. It's all down to money, the amount of money the record companies are prepared to put into the bands I suppose unless you are at the top?"
"To be honest with you, I have a different view on this. People can blame record companies all they like. People can blame record labels for not buying Napster and getting hold of the whole download thing, you can do and say whatever you like. But ultimately, right now, given the way things are at the moment, I lay the blame fairly and squarely at the feet of every single person out there who begrudges paying money for music. Every single fucking one of you.
"As far as I am concerned, if you turn round to a band and you expect to get their music for free, what you are saying to that band is you think their music is worthless. I'm sorry, but that doesn't work on any level for me. If you are not prepared to give an artist money for the music they have created, then you are basically a freeloading twat. It's as simple as that as far as I am concerned."
"I agree with you on that. It is the same with the publishing industry. Author incomes are dropping, and that is as a direct consequence of prices being driven down. It all seems to be a cash commodity, pile it high and sell it cheap."
"Yes, it all seems to be. No-one seems to want to invest in a long-term career any more. July's Podcast is me and Andy Sneap sitting down and having a chat, and we get on to this very same subject. He says that bands aren't put together like little businesses now, to the extent that, well there isn't the money in it anymore. You know that when the bass player from Megadeth (Prior to Dave Elefsson coming back) leaves Megadeth because he can make more money running his graphic art business that there has to be something wrong with the state of music."
"Yeah, and the bands that have done very well over the years, but built up from nothing - I'll take Metallica as the biggest example as they have been criticised heavily, when they went up against the Napster thing, said that this can't happen. Well Lars was, and still is vilified for it; as well as being vilified because they have made a lot of money doing what they do. More and more people are saying: 'oh shit, maybe he was right after all.'"
"Yes. Metallica take a lot of flak; rightly in some cases, wrongly in others. People say they should pack up, they are too old, can't do it. Well, fuck you, it's not YOUR band. And they are embarrassing themselves. Really, embarrassing themselves headlining Glastonbury? Really?"
"Did you see the Glastonbury set? Did that look like they were embarrassing themselves?"
"Well, no. I enjoyed it, but then there are plenty of people who will slag them off just because. I touch on this in July's Podcast, so we are on the same page here mate. What people need to get through their thick fucking skulls is that it is not YOUR band. It really isn't. If James, Lars, Kirk and Rob want to record their next album in a basement in Switzerland with a bunch of Chinese children, thats what they can do and you lot can lump it.
"They can do what they want, it's their band; Like Acid Reign is my band (well mine and a collection of individuals but I've been curating it) If people don't like the fact that the apple core archives aren't on digital, then fuck you. All the albums are already on-line - go get them. It's not available in the States because the re-masters are in the States, it's not going to be available in the States for just that reason.
"It goes back to what we were saying earlier. Everyone has a blog or a website these days, and a voice. Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of intelligent people out there, offering constructive criticism, but that is the minority of what you read on the internet. The rest is people who shouldn't have access to sharp objects, never mind a keyboard.
"You know yourself as a writer, there are things that you read and think how these people are allowed out of school, never mind get on a keyboard and claim they are a writer or a journalist of some sort."
"You are right. I do this outside of my day job for the love of the music, and the bands that I review and interview. But there are people who are just trying to get noticed, without the skills; or even just breadth of knowledge that comes with over twenty years listening to and reading about the genres, and they don't have that objectivity."
"Yes, I get that. But the Internet is the ultimate democracy - everyone has a voice and uses it to shout their opinion loudly. But, having gone off on that rant, I am sure that there are people who listen to Talking Bollocks and think: 'who does he think he is, where does he get his interview technique.' Luckily, the feedback I have had I have avoided haters etc, but I'm sure that as the Podcast gets more popular... well, put it this way, I'll know when it's popular because I'll start getting abuse. People will start tweeting saying: 'You know you're a git.' When that happens, to be honest, I will rejoice because it will mean that we are significant enough to be slated. So yeah, I look forward to the haters hating, it will be a sign of success."
"Well, hopefully that will happen soon. Hahaha"
"Hahahaha. Well, you mentioned vinyl earlier; I will just say that possibly if there is enough interest out there, I might be persuaded to crowd-fund a vinyl release of the archives. But to be honest that is a bigger project than I can manage because I am juggling too many projects as it is, with the Podcasts and the comedy and I run a business as well. So on top of that, crowd-funding vinyl is not top of my list of priorities at the moment."
"Well, you talk about crowd-funding, recently Iraqi ex-pat's Accrausaidia launched a successful crowd-funding camping to record their debut album, that despite touring and gigging across the states successfully, with hearty recommendation from the likes of Metallica. It's crazy"
"Well, the other side of that, with crowd-funding is Punish The Hero's last album. They asked for $100,000 dollars, but they got I think $200,000. They ploughed it back into the band, making videos and it paid for them to go on tour. Ultimately, it's a really really good model. BUT at what point do you say we are going to take this much of the crowd-fund and use it as a salary so we can do what we want; how much do you pay yourself, It's fucking weird, I don't know how you would manage it."
"Yes, and that is not going to pay for the tour-bus and gig promotion as well. For that, you need a little more behind you."
"I know, that would pay for a couple of mopeds and good luck! Well, thank you very much Andy."
"Thank you H, nice talking to you"
Well, The Apple core archives is available from 4th August from Amazon, www.ukemrecords.co.uk and Plastichead.com.
OR go to your local record shop, and buy it from there. If they haven't got it, order it!