Truth be told, we were absolutely wrong about Acid Baby Jesus. When first introduced to the band via their impossible-not-to love self-titled album, we imagined a band of garage-and-surf obsessed nutbars diving headlong into the deep end of the pool of fearless, free and fun catchy rock numbers that have kept our toes tapping and our brain melting since Davie Allen first freaked the fuzz out.
Maybe we were half-right at best. What we were clearly wrong about was our failure to connect the band’s music – youthful, chaotic, mesmerizing – to its land and culture of origin. This failure largely stemmed from the sad fact that our knowledge of modern Greece is largely defined by the great local deli where we sometimes buy a Gyro. It hasn’t taken much effort to learn a bit more than we knew before.
And when we see members of the band wearing t-shirts referencing the same mysteries we wondered about in our own long-passed youth, we know that Acid Baby Jesus may be Greek in origin, but truly universal in appeal. It was right in front of our ears the whole time:
“I’ve got to pay the rent.
My money’s always spent
And I am deep in debt.”
- Acid Baby Jesus, “Tooth to Toe”
If you can’t relate to that, we’d like to welcome the grandchildren of Aristotle Onassis to our humble little website. For the rest, let’s enjoy the following interview with Acid Baby Jesus singer Noda, in advance of the band’s appearance at Austin Psych Fest 2012. Enjoy.
The music of Acid Baby Jesus appeals greatly to us for a number reasons, not least of which because of the band’s use of some themes and sounds commonly associated with “surf” rock – an always under-appreciated art. What is it about surf music that appeals to Acid Baby Jesus? What was your first introduction to this sound? What do you think Jimi Hendrix meant when he said, “… And you will never hear surf music again” in the song “Third Stone from the Sun”?
We get that a lot, but to be honest, I’m not too familiar with the surf rock genre. I have noticed that surf rock has a lot of common scales as old Greek and Eastern music that we really like, I think that’s where we are coming from. Take Dick Dale’s “Misirlou,” for example – it’s based on the old Greek Rebetiko song. I guess if you translate that with a guitar and a Fender Twin amp you will get that result. Recently I heard some black metal being turned into surf music – I think a band called The Burzums! I guess you can turn any genre into surf music. Also, our guitar player Otto is a surfer so I guess he puts the “surf” in our music. I think Jimi meant, “You can’t surf in space.”
How do you think your upbringing in Greece impacted your interest in music in general? What are the first musical memories you have that you still reflect on today?
I guess growing up in Greece subconsciously influenced our interest in music, even though my first musical memory is me watching MTV on my parent’s bed … that, or my father playing a Rolling Stones record.
Once upon a time, many years ago, in a galaxy far, far away, we used to be in contact with quite a lot of bands from Greece that also referred to Jesus in either their name, music or image – bands like Rotting Christ, Varathon, and Necromantia, among others. What is it about Greece that inspires such a history of extreme, sometimes unpleasant music? Or are we simply mostly ignorant of the music scene in Greece?
I don’t think that references to religious icons and extreme music are Greek exclusives, but Greek history has lots of ups and downs and centuries of oppression, so I guess this translates in the music. In traditional Greek music, like Rebetiko, the lyrics are usually very dark, even more so than metal bands like the ones you mention. Or maybe Greeks drink too much … who knows?
Noting that we once used the postal system to contact these ancient bands from Greece, it might be fair to describe us as an “old fart” – which coincidentally is the name of a song on your self-titled album. What can you tell us about the origin of this song? Is it actually about me, or some other old fart?
No, it’s not about you. It was some old guy on the bus to work. He was filled with hate and that made me sad. We have nothing against the elderly – just the mean and miserable ones.
What is the most extreme reaction to the name Acid Baby Jesus that you have experienced? Have you ever had any difficulty booking shows because of the name? What does the name represent to you?
Haven’t had any really extreme reactions … actually, a taxi driver told me I’m very smart to have named my band like that because that way I can have both Christian rockers and hippies liking us. He didn’t mention babies. I think a lot of Christians hate our name. I always have difficulty explaining it to members of my family even though they are not really religious anyway.
What is your favorite type of show to play with Acid Baby Jesus? What components do you feel are necessary for a really memorable live performance? What are some of the best shows that you’ve ever experienced at home? What are some of the best shows you’ve had the opportunity to see in the U.S.?
Favorite type of show to play is when the crowd is up for having a good time. The more they are into it, the more we are into it, too. I also have to say I really don’t enjoy shows with only five people in the audience because more people create more energy. I like the shows that you get sucked in and you can’t remember exactly what happened except a general feeling.
I loved seeing Hell Shovel perform every night … never got even remotely bored of them.
What music have you been listening to lately? If you had to choose, what is your favorite album by The Cramps?
Have been listening to a lot of Velvet Underground, Angus Maclise, Waylon Jennings, Neil Young and Bruce Haack.
I would have to choose: “Songs the Lord Taught Us.”
How did you first hear about Austin Psych Fest? Are there any bands in particular that you are hoping to be able to see while there?
I had seen some clips of bands playing the festival on YouTube and then we got asked to play and I learned more about it … looks like a lot of fun. I’m really excited to see most of the bands. The line-up is pretty amazing – we’re glad to join.
Robert Anton Wilson is quoted as having said the following:
“Imagine gigabytes of information entering your brain not in two years, but in two nanoseconds, and radiating not just from this page but from the fruit on the table, the wall paint, the pencil, the cars passing in the street and the furthest stars. That’s why LSD has altered the world for so many of us in the last 60 years.”
As we live in concrete cities, we have to find ways to re-connect with our ancient selves and nature as humans. LSD could be a way of doing that, but too much psycho-psychology combined with a lot of LSD can definitely lead to ego destruction. We have done our fair share but we are not advocates of the drug as our name could imply.
Robert Anton Wilson has also said that yoga causes brain damage.
What’s next for Acid Baby Jesus?
We’re going for three shows to Israel and visiting Palestine, then recording our new album and in April touring in North America and Puerto Rico!