This year’s Vans Warped Tour will feature a band that caters to audiences with an ACIDIC taste in music.
ACIDIC, one of the new acts performing at this year’s Tour, has been building a reputation as the hardest working rock band from southern California, according to the band’s website.
The band consists of Michael Gossard on lead vocals and guitar, new bassist Max Myrick, Matt Whitaker on drums and Josh Bennett on lead guitar.
Gossard, Whitaker, and tour manager Zane Taylor spoke last Wednesday about the journey of a rising rock band.
DL: What was it like working with producer John Ryan for a second time?
Gossard: “It’s always a pleasure to work with him. He’s got a great vision, and sometimes it’s the type of vision you only see when it’s through, but it’s amazing.”
Whitaker: “Working with John Ryan is pretty awesome. He saw us at one of our shows … He liked us at first, but you know he wasn’t really sure about us. Then we had a year or so of touring and got some experience, got tighter, got better. Then he saw us again and it was a month turnaround from where he wanted to work with us to when we made an album.”
DL: We did some research, and found that the name of your first band was Walking to Purgatory. How did you come to ACIDIC? Why the name change?
Gossard: “No, that was not at all the name of the … That was a TV show that I was a guest star in an episode. Oh no, Walking to Purgatory … Wow, you went deep, where did you find this stuff? Yeah, Walking to Purgatory was the name we had before ACIDIC and none of us liked it so we changed the name.”
DL: What was it like getting the rock ‘n’ roll nod from Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx?
Gossard: “It was really cool. I mean, we all looked up to him since we were kids, so when he Tweeted us, he said “This is Nikki Sixx, I am going to pick you as my Sixx pick of the week.” We were actually a Sixx pick of the week twice! He picked two of our songs: “Copper Man” and “Drive Thru.” There is nothing quite like being acknowledged by someone you look up to.”
Whitaker: “Oh man that day was crazy. We were in San Antonio, and we got this Tweet from Nikki Sixx saying that he is going to play our song. We didn’t think it was the real Nikki Sixx at first. After looking at the number 10,000 as followers on his account, we were like, ‘Yeah that’s the real guy.’ Then everyone went crazy, and we were like screaming … running around for joy. It was pretty awesome.”
DL: How do you like the reputation of being southern California’s hardest working band?
Gossard: “I like that. I’m not going to lie. I am very glad that that’s our reputation, but at the same time that’s something every day that we have to live up to.”
Whitaker: “It doesn’t stop us from working hard when we hear that, that’s for sure. It’s kind of a flattering thing to be called that, but we try not to let it go to our heads too much.”
Taylor: “When (Myrick) joined ACIDIC he said he was most impressed by the fact that everyone takes this seriously. This isn’t just something we’re doing for fun. This is our livelihood, these are our jobs, and if we want to be successful at this we have to put anything and everything into this venture that we can.”
DL: I was listening to “Copper Man” and I was surprised by how melodic the last part of the album was. Are you pushing for a harder side on the album and a more melodic side on the other?
Gossard: “I am not a one-sound kind of guy and neither are any of the other guys. We are all about what sounds good to us right now, is this working for us right now. If we really want to write a hard, hard rock song, then we’ll write a hard, hard rock song, and the opposite is true for a melodic song.”
DL: Whose idea was the video for “Copper Man”?
Whitaker: “That was Michael and our old tour manager. They both went in to talk with the director and he wanted to do something that’s kind of been done, but not familiar at the same time. So we were like, “let’s parody some infomercials.” We even put a shout-out to Billy Mays. The whole video was not meant to be serious at all, it was meant to be a 100-percent complete and utter joke.”
DL: Is this ACIDIC’s first Warped Tour?
Taylor: “Yes, this is our first Warped Tour and we are beyond excited. We’ve been trying to get on Warped Tour for about four years now and finally we broke through. Now we’re getting a chance to show our stripes and hopefully get asked back again next year.”
DL: What can fans of the Warped Tour here in New Mexico expect to see from ACIDIC?
Whitaker: “We will put on a very kickass show, and if you come you will not be disappointed. One of our favorite things to do is to meet people.”
DL: What is one of the most awkward moments that you’ve had on stage?
Whitaker: “We were playing Bethlehem Event Center with Hinder, and I messed up on the drums. Instead of hitting on the two and four I came in on the one with my snare drum. You could just tell the feel went off and everything went off about it. My whole band turns around to me for like a second just to look at me, like to say, ‘Did you mess up?’”
DL: What was it like to appear on Glee?
Gossard: “You know, ‘appear’ is a very subjective word because I was in the background playing one of the musicians that was playing a song while the cast was doing their thing, but I must say it was an interesting experience. The cast was very nice and I would do it again.”
DL: What type of guitar do you prefer to use?
Gossard: “Either a Gibson SG, or a Gibson Les Paul on stage, there’s just something about the tone on those two. Those guitars really rock; the two humbucking pickups have that deep, fat tone that is great for rock ‘n’ roll. I think in rock it’s necessary to have the deeper tone.”
DL: Matt, I know you were diagnosed with leukemia when you were seven. When exactly did you go into remission from your cancer? Was this part of your drive in the band?
Whitaker: “I went into remission in October of 1997. Part of the drive I have was from me having cancer, but I’ve kind of always thought that the 9-to-5 desk job never really fancied me. I never saw myself doing that and I thought, ‘I survived cancer for a reason and maybe it was to play drums.’”
DL: Give me an example of how hard the road can be.
Taylor: “We were going to a show in Virginia at the Virginia Chili Cook-Off after being on the road for two months. Sure enough, we show up to the fair grounds and it’s been raining all day and there’s mud everywhere. We were told that we were going to get free chili and free beer all day, so we were all excited. We get to the fairgrounds and start walking around through the mud and I go and find the production manager. He looks at me and says. ‘Well, I got some bad news: I lost my liquor license so there’s no beer, and at the last minute the caterer backed out, so there’s no chili.’ So there’s no chili, no beer and just a bunch of pissed off people at these fair grounds.”
See ACIDIC play during the Vans Warped Tour at Isleta Amphitheater Tuesday. Doors open at 11 a.m.
Stephen Montoya is culture editor of the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @StephenMontoya.