Northern Transmissions caught up with Steve Nalepa from ‘The Acid’. The band is in the midst of a European tour promoting their new album Liminal.
NT: The Acid kind of came together by chance. Can you talk about how the project started?
Steve Nalepa: Adam and Ry reconnected and bonded over Ry’s more recent electronic musical direction. They also bonded over deeper spiritual matters as well. They started playing around with some ideas together, just having fun and exploring the creative process, and those initial sketches became Animal. Adam and I had a studio session planned, he phoned me up and told me about meeting Ry, and I thought we’d all get on well. They showed up at my house and we dove in and had this incredibly smooth flow in the studio together. We wrote Animal on that first day, pretty much as it ended up on the final record.
NT: You banged out your single “Animal” after only a few hours of being in the studio together for the first time. Did the songs keep coming as quickly after that first session?
SN: The EP flowed out of us rather effortlessly, and there was this freedom as we didn’t have any established sound or expectations, we were just having fun creating together. We did a song a day on the first four days, then took another week or so to fully flush them out. We all went off and had a few months worth of busy schedules before reconnecting again to write the rest of the album. We entered the studio for that next round with more of a defined sound that we wanted to honor, yet we also wanted to push things further and not be constricted by it. We made an effort to go deeper, expanding the palette. Similar to the EP writing sessions, we put down five solid song ideas in five days, then spent the next month or two flushing them out more fully, writing a few more. Generally, we find the most inspired stuff flows rather quickly. The songs would start with someone having an idea, laying it down, and from there we’d be off to the races each taking turns adding to it, shaping it, evolving it.
NT: Some of you guys before the album got deeper into art, as well as personal growth. Can you talk about that a bit?
SN: I used to run an art book publishing company called Dilettante Press in the late 90s that I started with some friends. Adam and I originally bonded over some of the artists that I’d published, especially Paul Laffoley. Ry found his work to be quite inspiring, and it truly is magnificent. Paul is this incredibly talented visionary artist who masterfully combines ideas from heavy thinkers into these sort of meta-concepts. Each one goes super deep, combining painting with peel-and-stick press type lettering that he does all by hand, and each one has a homage on the bottom to all the various big thinkers who he was inspired by for that particular piece. We plan on taking a field trip to his studio when we tour the US, and I really need to bring my bandmates over to meet him in person. Adam and Ry initially reconnected over personal growth, and actually, most of my discussions with Adam are about these types of things. He’s someone who likes to ponder the meaning of life, the bigger picture of it all, the metaphysical ideas. Our time spent together is this intersection of three artists with different paths who are all very much committed to growth and learning. We each have an appetite for art that pushes the boundaries, so we are constantly sharing new discoveries with each other. It tends to make our time together rather inspiring.
NT: With all your personal projects, will The Acid be a long term project?
SN: We originally met up and had a lot of fun creating together, striving to go as deep as possible with what we were making. We envisioned some bigger dreams and goals, and we are now in the midst of them actually manifesting. I think that as long as we can remember to stay connected on that level where we’re making art and enjoying the process, honoring it and keeping it pure, I do see us continuing to collaborate. We each have multiple outlets for our creative output, which is actually very healthy. Being in a band together is both a creative adventure and also a business endeavor. There’s a lot to process sometimes, and challenges and pressures do come up. Fortunately, we have a really wonderful team supporting us, and we have healthy communication between us, so it’s just a matter of navigating any tough spaces with grace and remaining open and thankful.
NT: Ry was involved in the video for “Fame” featuring WIFE. What was the inspiration for the clip?
SN: We worked together with WIFE on our first video for “Basic Instinct”. WIFE are the brilliant ladies floating through the air. Ry and our friend Dugan O’Neal co-directed those two videos. Dugan had the birthday party where Adam and Ry reconnected initially. WIFE choreographed the dancing in “Fame”, though they didn’t star in it themselves. The concept had to do with transformation, this idea of entering a ritual or ceremony and doing all the work preparing for that moment when you have the breakthrough. That’s what the album title Liminal is all about, and the video shows the dancers experiencing that process in an expressive way. We’ve been really blessed to work with such talented artists on all of our visual content, and that aspect of the process is very important to us.
NT: Which five albums are inspiring you these days?