PABandPic

In the 80’s metal ruled.  It topped the charts, monopolized the airwaves and minted money like the U.S. Treasury.  For a while it seemed like the good times would never end for a genre that had begun in the late 60’s and early 70’s with bands like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath and had morphed into a variety of sub-genres by the late 80’s.  Then grunge came along and within a few years metal relinquished it’s hold on the music business and returned to being a genre followed by a devoted almost cult-like following.  To many it was the end of metal, but to those devoted to the sound it was just what the genre needed.  No more bloated spandex clad bands churning out pop music with a metal sheen, no this was the real thing – underground, scruffy and above all, loud.  It was a turning point not an end.

So now it’s 2009 and metal is anything but dead.  In fact, in many ways it’s back at the top and stronger than ever.  It no longer lingers in the shadows of other genres, but instead coexists right alongside indie, alternative and pop music.  It’s a player and it deserves to be.  Better yet, it’s continued to grow and mutate, creating new sub-genres and more challenging sounds.  Whether it’s doom, power or symphonic, metal is growing musically, monetarily and in influence around the world.  In fact, there’s probably no better time to be in a metal band.  No more growing pains.  No more excess.  No more disrespect.  Metal is here to stay.

For a band like Phallic Acid this is the perfect storm.  Their brand of symphonic metal is truly symphonic with violin, piano and cello sharing the stage with brutal guitar riffs and rumbling bass.  Not content to simply mine the past, and completely at odds with a lot of the music being made today, Phallic Acid is a band that in many ways is the gifted spawn of it’s metal predecessors, and a band for which the future seems extremely bright.  From their striking physical appearance to their orchestral brand of metal the band is poised to take metal to new heights, so we thought it would be interesting to sit down with them and see what it’s like to be riding a comet to the top.

Figment News:  Phallic Acid has a very distinct look.  After all, Alexyz wears 2 gas masks, Guido your bass player wears camouflage, Dan has his face tattooed to look like a skull and you Mister V have a tattoo of Ch’Thulu on your face.  Are you trying to stand out from other bands or were these just personal style choices that were made independently?

Mister V: You know, we were always kind of odd this way. Alexyz, you know. She’s all about the apocalypse – all of them, in fact, and she hastens to prep for them all. We like that about her. Dan’s just kinda himself, and nobody really questions him. He’s a big dude. Six-foot-taller-than-a-tree, built like a brick house. Same with Guido too, really. As for me, well, I pray to the Great Old One, yes. [laughs] But we’re all pretty radically different people, and that’s probably why we all get along as well as we do. It’s not trying to stand out against anyone, it’s more just admitting who and what we are. I mean sure, a lot of people see it as “Oh, they’re defying the mainstream.” Of course we are. We never WERE mainstream, so this is just a natural part of what we are. So it’s the latter. Completely independent, although admittedly helped along by more than a few fifths of various hard liquors.

FN:  How did you guys form?

MV: That actually got released in an article not too long ago, wound up sending a thing to the fans about it. Dan and Guido met in Amsterdam or Stockholm or something, I always forget which.  [Mr. V rubs his forehead for a moment in thought.]  Either way, they clicked, and it took off from there. I met them in a bar in Amsterdam after having a wonderful time with a very, very expensive woman of the night. Turns out she was a big Zalgo follower, who knew? Anyways, I got up on stage and sang with them, ‘cuz yanno, I’m a damn good singer. So we start jammin’ basically, and wind up on tour State-side with local bands. We didn’t really have a band name then, we just kinda went by “Mister V and the Duo of Destruction”, which was kinda awesome, but we lacked a drummer. So, thanks to a bar fight and a drunk Guido later, we wound up finding Alexyz smashing some guy’s head into a payphone and it was true love from that moment forward… or something like that.

FN:  And the band’s name, you say it’s meant to “suggest that the seed of life only perpetuates a species designed to kill itself, and thus carries on a vicious cycle of death: this makes it more of an acid, burning away at our civilization.”  What exactly do you mean by that?

MV: Well, yanno, that’s one of those things we never get a chance to explain terribly well, so that’s a fun story. See, Guido and Dan and I, we’re all at this buffalo wings place, chillin’ and trying to come up with band names. Alexyz had just been signed on, but was out smashing up some previous band’s practice space in order to get her drum kit back from some dick who’d taken it. And we’re doing everything we can to come up with these horrifyingly cheesy ’80’s styled names, the lack of creativity rather jarring. He’s playing this damn trivia game when he just looks up and freakin’ exclaims, like he’s seen God or something, “Phallic Acid! That’s it!” And mind you, Guido and I both thought he was nuts. It was metal as hell, but it was nuts. And then we thought about it. Humanity is the most violent species on our planet. We have very base natural reactions to things, most if which is violence. We are bred for it, we know it from birth. The lot of us see the world getting closer to its end with each generation. So we figure, any old band can make songs about random bloodshed – Hell, there’s some amazing music out there right now, but there’s also a lot of metal that sounds like nothing but Drowning Pool for god’s sake —so we set our sights a little higher.  You have some songs about uh, beating up your old man and you might get be a one-hit wonder. You make your message about the degrading condition of humanity as a whole, and hell, I could be getting high off modeling glue while I write the lyrics, but it’d still open a few peoples’ minds. That’s why there’s so much of it in our lyrics, why it’s so present in our musicianship, why it’s so crucial to our songwriting. Phallic Acid is exactly what it sounds like – the vile, self-corroding nature of our gene pool.  Thank Dan for that one, it was mostly his idea.

FN:  Speaking of Dan…no pun intended…I understand he doesn’t speak to anyone. So how does he communicate with you?  Or does he only talk to members of the band and no one else?

MV: Yeah, man, about him. Weird guy, Dan. He does talk. I mean if he didn’t, how could we communicate with him yanno? But he’s always just been this amazingly quiet guy in public places. It’s just a shock, because he’s as loud and abrasive as they get in the studio, which is the only reason why we even tolerate that unnerving silence half the time. He’s a great guy. He communicates really eloquently sometimes, and is as coarse as a sailor other times. But I mean, he talks to our manager, [Sara] Fisk, and to our producer Bekki [Black], and holy hell did he do a lot of yelling at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra while we were recording “Phallic Acid.”

[At this point, the bassist Guido enters, and leans up against a nearby wall.]

G: Dan’s always been a quiet guy. When I first met him in Stockholm in the shop of Johannes Lilja, he hardly even spoke a word then. Of course, he hardly spoke Swedish, so I didn’t blame him. But even though we both spoke English, he was still a man of strikingly few words at first. He opens up after a while, but trust me – it takes time. Nobody but him knows why he’s so quiet though.

PASeaOfBlood

FN:  Your debut album “Sea of Blood” is a smash success.  A concept album about “The Hunter” and his first sea hunt, it seems to cover similar ground to Mastodon’s “Leviathan” album.  Was that a conscious decision or just a coincidence?

MV: Mastodon is one of those bands we love. Their band name is exactly what you need to be aware of: this slow, chugging metal that’s got the beefiness of the very animal they uh… [Mister V snaps his fingers] The very animal that they choose to represent. It’s very fitting for their style of playing. In some ways, sure, “Sea of Blood” is a throwback to “Leviathan”, but it’s so much more. In a lot of ways, it’s as much a throwback to Ayreon’s many albums as it is anything else, weaving this amazing and intricate story within the music. And we love us some Ayreon.

G: That’s pretty much exactly it. Mastodon is one of those bands – as is Ayreon and Dream Theater – that just isn’t afraid to go against what’s normal, and do what they want to do. The albums are epic on degrees that even Homer would appreciate, so what’s not to like? While we do draw influence from them, we make it a point to state that we don’t just rip off of them. We are very deep-thinking people, just not always in the right ways, and we get crazy ideas. You’ll see that with the next album.

MV: Yeah I don’t throw the word “homage” around too much, but “Sea of Blood” is designed to say, “Here’s some unique music, we hope it reminds you of the greats.”

FN:  What’s it been like having such a hit on your hands right out of the gate?

MV: That’s not something you can ever prepare for. We had a feeling that the first album would drop and nobody would even know it existed, and then just out of nowhere, we got this huge support from so many great fans and even some of the heavyweights. It’s funny though, because Guido kept saying all along this was going to happen, but nobody believed him. Sometimes we don’t think even he believed it, but that’s far from the point. The point is that we have this huge hit – even the EP for the album soon to debut is doing exceptionally well, which is always a good sign – and we don’t plan on stopping. We’ve got that second album on the way, Dan’s been busy as hell in the recording studio doing I don’t even want to know what, the third album’s already in the works, and we just don’t wanna stop. That’s not who or what we are.

G: What’s really crazy, to us as people, is the reception the album got. V’s right on the nose, I was the only one with any faith in the album, but the point wasn’t about having faith in the album. It’s that we had faith in our fanbase to make the album a success, and we weren’t so sure that the strength was there yet. But we got proven so wrong. Our fans immediately went out and made sure our name was topping the charts, and we’ve been there for a long while as far as a record goes. We’re very impressed with our fans.

PAEP

FN:  You are currently working on your sophomore release, but initially there was a lot of disappointment among your fans over your decision to release “Sea of Blood” first versus the eponymous album that will contain a lot of songs your long time fans have heard you play in concert.  What was behind that decision?  Did you release your self-titled Special Edition EP in response to that reaction?

MV: That was a decision we’d come to as a band. We played a few shows under the ‘Phallic Acid’ moniker, and we knew things were gonna go well with the reaction we got. We’d written some songs, and while they were good, they were loosely fitted together and honestly we didn’t like them nearly as much as the fans did.

G: And between us, we’re all perfectionists and horribly OCD about one particular thing. Pardon my French, but we refuse to release shit. It’s plain and simple. Now, a lot of our long-time fans are not going to hear any of those original songs again. Honestly, we did a lot of fantasy-metal covers of songs, and played only three or four originals. And that’s not really a band, not to us, so we had to move forward. “Sea of Blood” got shot in the foot by NOT being “Phallic Acid” [the album], so yeah.

MV: In a way, the EP was to sort of stem the tide of rebellion from our fans. But it was also us asking them to have faith in us: give us time, and we will provide you with some great music. Had we released “Phallic Acid” earlier instead of as planned, there would’ve never been the stuff that’s on it.

PAFullAlbum

FN:  What can we expect on your next album?

MV: “Phallic Acid” is going to blow you away, really it is. Take the time to read the liner notes, and you’ll really get a good feel for how intricately this band works. Dan’s a think-tank, and he and I bounce ideas off of one another like we’re playing a fast-paced game of ping-pong. He and I really hash out the stories to the albums, and then I take these fantastical weaves of imagination and intrigue and craft our lyrics from them. I do admit that some lyrics have come from bouts of binge-drinking in back-alleys of seedy cities. But c’mon. Those are some of our best lines. [laughs] We enlisted the help of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for the album, to really ensure quality when it came to orchestrations.

G: One of the big bands that influenced Dan, Bang Camaro, once said that sampling simply wasn’t rock ‘n’ roll – so they had a choir of 15 men to sing their songs. In that way, we decided that a synthesizer couldn’t do our album justice, so we got the help of one of the most respected symphonic orchestras in the world. I mean, that’s not at all over-the-top, is it?

MV: Also, the album art for the EP is vaguely similar to what it’ll be on the actual album. Credit good ol’ Fiskette [band manager Sara Fisk] for that design. Hella awesome, and really brought about some good ideas.

FN:  Rumors are rampant that you’ve brought in another guitar player to play on the album with Dan.  Can you give us any idea who that mystery player is?

MV: I think… I think someone said something about that in a press release or maybe it was an email update? [Guido laughs] It’s this close to release, so I don’t care. It’s Raien Swiftwood, of A Severe Fatality. Kid’s an amazing guitarist. He and Dan know each other pretty well, so things happened pretty smoothly and quickly. We must have recorded 20 or 30 hours of just dueling solos between them.

G: It’s like listening to two people having seizures while playing guitars… in an amazing way.

FN:  You are currently slated to play the Merchants of Metal Festival II – Devil’s Night in New Orleans on Halloween.  What do you think that experience will be like?

MV: If it’s ANYTHING like the last time I got wasted in the Big Easy, this is going to be amazing. The trick is to stay sober until after the show, which is not always easy in New Orleans. As a band, we love our manager. Fiskette, she keeps us out of the bottom of the bottle, otherwise all four of us would be there in a heartbeat, and probably perpetually. Not to say we’re problem drinkers, we just enjoy it a little too much. But, I digress, Merchants of Metal II. We’re extremely excited for it, we really are.

G: Alexyz made it pretty clear when she said it over dinner one night, and kinda spoke for everyone last week – it doesn’t matter when we play on the lineup, people will be there to see us play. It doesn’t matter how much or how little time we’re given, we’ll blow their brains out with whatever we’re allowed to give. And it doesn’t matter how much or how little reaction we get from the people at the festival, there’s nothing like playing with the guys that are on that bill. The Dark Immortal, Amish Militia, Symphonic Suicide? You really can’t get more hyped.

FN:  Any other bands on the bill you are looking forward to checking out?  Any plans to collaborate on stage w/ any of them?

G: You know, it’s funny you bring that up. As far as the MOM2 goes, we’re really just there for the fun and the experience. The bands, however? All due respect, but we’re kind of our own thing. Not that we’re superior or elitist, far from it, but we’re a different kind of people, a different kind of mentality. Dan actually JUST announced from an email while he was in Minneapolis-St. Paul [Minnesota] that he was collaborating with Zandgergriff Miggs for the new Manifold Spaceport album. He never told us WHY he went to the Twin Cities until that email went out, and we realized then why he never said anything, which was maybe for the better.

MV: That’s going to be awesome collaboration, that. Dan’s actually already collaborated on an album, the first A Severe Fatality album. “Death of a Loved One”, I think it’s called. Heart-wrenching stuff, damn good. I know he’s really looking to kind of get his finger in every pie he can, but he’s doing it to bring more attention to us, so we’re kind of rolling with it and really approving. Anything to help us out, yanno? But we love to play shows with bands, and honestly? We wouldn’t turn down anyone if they asked us to play with them. Which is why I’d really love to see us open up for Manifold Spaceport, that’d be a crazy [freaking] show.

FN:  What’s it like being on the Phallic Acid tour bus?

MV: [laughs for a moment] Yeah, that’s insane. We have a lot of booze on that tour bus. Guido loves his martinis, he’s our gin and vodka guy. Dan, complete opposite, drinks almost entirely rum with the rare exception of irish cream in his coffee. We’re usually pretty stocked on beer – Rolling Rock is a personal favorite – and usually, we’re all playing video games or on the internet and completely plastered. It’s like a giant party when you first turn 18, and your friends get you drunk. But it’s so much more fun. [Mr. V pauses for a moment, and looks to Guido, whose face is not so happy.]

G: But it’s not always fun and games. We’re very serious when we get down to it. If we play a shitty show, there’s no drinking. We’ll get up in each other’s grills if stuff doesn’t go right, and I can’t tell you how funny it is seeing Alexyz go off on Dan when his fingers aren’t as good as they’re supposed to be. Especially since her height doesn’t quite equal his at all. Another thing is that we do not bring fans or groupies onto the bus. We’re very strict about personnel only: if anything on that bus got stolen, we’d be heartbroken, and wouldn’t be right for days. You can’t have that. We’re very serious about what we do.

FN:  Your albums have all been self-released, any plans to sign with a label?

MV: That’s not something we’ve really debated or thought about. If the right label comes along, we’ll consider signing. And with all due respect to Long Bong Records, who so graciously is having us on the Merchants of Metal Festival 2? That’s not really our type of label. Then again, nobody in the band is exactly sure what is, but we might just make our own. We love our current producer, Bekki Black. She does a lot of stuff for us beyond produce, she gets us damn good deals on CD printing and packaging and all that stuff. She really takes care of us, and we’d hate to leave that behind for a label. Doubtful that we’ll start our own, we’ll probably continue to release things on our own though.

FN:  What’s in the grand plan for Phallic Acid?

G: That’s an answer I’m not sure any of us have right now. We all have grand ideas, and we all talk about it over the communal dinner, which is one of our group-think activities that we like to partake in. But… well, V?

MV: [Mr. V sits quietly for a moment, staring at nothing before seeming to come back to reality.] Every band has the same grand plan. Everyone wants to be huge, get famous, make money, get the women, and live life in sweet retirement once they’re done. But we’re not about that. This isn’t about a job, or a career, this is our life. Phallic Acid’s life is music, our whole entire beings are devoted to what we do. To give you a grand plan in that regard is almost… almost… narrow minded and wholly devoid of what we truly are. Phallic Acid is not your normal band, we are not your normal people. We listen to music today, and with some very rare exceptions, we dislike a lot of what we hear. It’s like our name suggests, but twisted and spun. We are here to re-educate the world on the true spirit of music, to ignite fires in the souls of people that have long since been settling to listen to garbage that only cools the coals within them. We have come here to stoke the flames of rebellion in people’s hearts, to crush that acidic music that has ruined people’s ability to listen with their hearts. We are here to revive MUSIC, to crush the current spirit of the radio and replace it with something with soul, from the heart, and entirely meaningful without this fluff. That’s the most important facet of our band name, and why we adopted it and love it so thoroughly: because it’s something so vitally important to our lives, that without it? We’re as good as dead.

Leave a Reply