I confess while thinking myself a bit of an expert on 90’s music, I hadn’t heard of Acid Test before being assigned to write about them for The PORTAAL – and that is too bad as I am now a true fan. Man, think of all the years I missed cranking up their tunes.
But it is okay because I got to experience the band at what I think both old and new fans alike will agree is the pinnacle of their musical offerings to date!
For those of you that are old enough to remember, the band was really working hard to take over the world back in the 90’s by relentlessly touring Canada, the US and the UK, and shared the stage with such artists as Nine Inch Nails, Grace Jones, and The Sugarcubes. Their single “Mr. Skin”, which was featured in the culturally ground-breaking Bruce McDonald film Highway 61, was the second most requested song of 1992 on Toronto’s CFNY.
That first album, Drop, was on a major label imprint of Warner Brothers, Sire Records, which arguably had the best alt rock bands on the planet back in the day and was a true force for contemporary music much like Geffen Records and Sub Pop.
Now, 25 years after the release of their major label debut, ACID TEST is back with a brand-new EP called Jus’ Rite, being released April 2018 and I can confirm it has been worth the wait!
The story of the band is remarkable and makes the music even more compelling when you understand what they have gone through to get back to the point of making music together again. However, if you just can’t wait anymore, here is a link to the new video and single “Slippin’ Away” —and it is awesome!!! Think Duran Duran Meets Led Zeppelin with female vocals!
It is quite evident that the band has talent both as performers and songwriters. The wonderful cast of creators comprising Acid Test, yeah, yeah, the name was borrowed from the book by Tom Wolfe, features:
Lucy Di Santo bass and lead vocals
Steve Fall Guitar
Atom Percy Keys
Tim Ban De Ven Drums
So, what was the impetus for the band to get back to making music after a long hiatus? According to Percy, “we always felt like there was unfinished business with the band and in many ways the new record picks up where Drop left off.” The band in its first incarnation also had a DJ as part of the line up. The DJ Mike AKA Jus’ Rite (the current album is titled in homage to him) passed away in 2012. This hit the remaing bands members hard and they realized it was time to get back together to make the record they always wanted to record and to dedicate it to their friend Mike, who had always been the loudest voice in wanting to get the group back together before his passing!
While the members of Acid Test had remained close friends during their time apart, all of them in various musical projects, it took the passing of 25 years and of their friend Mike to see the band unite once more and as music fans we should be grateful because the record still has the power and appeal of the earlier years but with a sheen of refinement and polish that comes from being older and wiser. The “Jus’ Rite” album also has plenty of ear candy to keep it fresh listen after listen and believe me you are going to be playing this record for years to come!
One of the blessings of modern life, and perhaps a curse as well, is that with technology we are truly never cut off from communication with those we think of as our tribe. I mean your mom, girl/boy friend and that crazy dude at work that always needs your help when his computer shows him the blue screen of death can reach you anywhere, any time. This is how the band has written songs and refined their master piece that is the “Jus’ Rite” EP despite all living in various parts of Canada. “We just recorded our rough ideas in to our cell phones and then I took those ideas and did a rough mock up in my studio” says Percy. And let me assure fans that just because this new record is out and the band is understandably focusing on promoting and performing in support of “Jus’ Rite” they are already working on new songs for the next project, so there is lots more Acid Test on the way!
Being the music industry nerd I am, I had to ask about the business side of things – was there a label? A tour? The answer is the same one you will get from most veteran bands now-a-days. And that is that the band is currently independent and while not actively looking for a label, they’re open to once again being signed. However, in the 21st century, being an independent band makes a lot of sense. With labels wanting 360 deals where they get a cut of every thing you earn and with the means of directly reaching your audience now easier than ever with powerful analytic tools that can tell you everything about where your fans live, how old they are, how much money they earn and so on, you can be more strategic in planning your tour and distribution so that you are where your fans are, the old pray and spray method of hitting the road and hoping for the best is long gone and good riddance! We want bands like Acid Test to be able to work smarter not harder, so they can give the fans what they want and for a price that is fair for the band and fans alike.
As for me, well I want the band to perform in Georgia, so I can come out to the show and I also want an autographed vinyl copy of the “Jus’ Rite” EP. Percy promised me one and I’ll let you know if he doesn’t deliver?
And now, before you rush off to place your own order for the EP in vinyl, digital download or CD format, I do have a wonderful surprise for fans of the band’s Drop album. Remember that hit song “Mr. Skin”? Well, Atom Percy let me in on a little secret! The song “Thick as Thieves” which is featured on the Just’ Rite release, is a sequel to “Mr. Skin”, so listen to that track first if you want to dive back in to the story line we last heard circa 1993.
And now you know and as GI-Joe says “Knowing is half the battle”. So stop reading and go buy Jus’ Rite. I promise you’ll love it!