Acid Dad | Interview | New Album, ‘Take It From The Dead’
Acid Dad are a psychedelic rock band hailing from the New York City area and consisting of members Vaughn Hunt, Sean Fahey, and Trevor Mustoe.
The band has recently been on the road promoting their latest release, ‘Take It From The Dead’, with their energetic performance and mind melting visual display. I caught up with them for a quick interview just before their final show of the tour – Halloween Night at the closing of Levitation Festival in Austin, Texas.
To start off, tell me who you are and what you play in the band.
Sean Fahey: I’m Sean. I play guitar and sing sometimes.
Vaughn Hunt: I’m Vaughn. I play guitar and also sing sometimes.
Trevor Mustoe: I’m Trevor. I play drums and I don’t usually sing.
Vaughn Hunt: Next year though…
How did this band get started and come together?
Vaughn Hunt: I started it when I was like 15 or something. I called up Sean and asked if he wanted to play bass. So, Sean played bass for a long time in the band and then we had like a lot of member changeovers over the years and then Sean started playing guitar and that’s kind of the lineup for the past few years and that’s how it kind of got started.
Were you guys in any previous bands prior to Acid Dad?
Sean Fahey: I was in this Brooklyn band called Larry & the Babes. It was like this rock opera music. Trevor was in Plastic Pinks.
Trevor Mustoe: I was in Florida then, and I toured with them for two or three years, something like that. Did a bunch of runs of the United States and met these guys through Devon, who works with Levitation and I met them at South-by-Southwest and we hung out and stuff and I more or less moved up to New York and joined the band.
Are you other guys all from New York originally or just kind of migrated there over time?
Vaughn Hunt: We are from all over.
Sean Fahey: I’m from Minneapolis.
Vaughn Hunt: I’m from Nashville.
Trevor Mustoe: I’m from St. Pete, Florida.
Sean Fahey: Our bass player is from Houston.
Vaughn Hunt: I’ve lived in New York for 10 years next summer.
I saw that you guys had just finished setting up an awesome studio space in New York and then it got totally flooded during that recent hurricane. Really recently… Wasn’t that just last month or so?
Trevor Mustoe: Yeah, September 1st. I guess it was exactly one month before we were leaving for tour.
Vaughn Hunt: Yeah, that was terrible timing. I had just bought all this equipment for this new tour and we were prepping for like six months. I scrambled to get new stuff for this, but we got it. It’s cool. We didn’t get to rehearse much the month before but, luckily, we were prepped beforehand, so we just did it. We’re out here doing it. You know? This is our last show of this tour. Almost 30 shows.
Trevor Mustoe: I mean, the only way to do it is just like pull through and go for it basically.
So, I’m sure there’s still a lot more to deal with in the studio when you guys get back?
Sean Fahey: Yeah, all the guitar pedals and stuff are probably salvageable and Vaughn works on guitars so he was able to get his prepped. I bought a new guitar the day we left for Portland just fucking chaotic like I don’t know… I still feel it but, more or less, everything’s gonna be okay.
That’s awful. Sorry to hear it, guys. I saw there is a go-fund-me page up if anybody wants to help out.
Vaughn Hunt: Yeah. So, it’s cool. I mean, the money is gonna help us rebuild and pay for a lot of repairs.
Sean Fahey: I did not expect that many people to contribute.
Trevor Mustoe: Even just old friends and stuff reaching out that you haven’t talked to in years or something. I don’t know. You never really expect that many people to help out. We are really thankful. And not even just people donating and you know, people calling up and saying “let me help you find a spot” or like, you know, “you can use my amp” or whatever. A lot of people have called just to checkup and everybody did what they could basically.
That’s great. Yeah, I’d first heard about it through the Reverberation Appreciation Society posting about it on Instagram or something.
Trevor Mustoe: Yeah, and they’re operating out of that office as well. We are sharing a space with Greenway Records and then Harry Portnof, who runs Greenway, also runs the Reverb Appreciation Society so they basically had an office in our studio as well. They definitely had a bunch of loss with records and, you know, posters, and art and endless paper goods. So, he got hit hard as well.
[Enter Webb Hunt – the matching juggalo to Vaughn’s costume]
And, Vaughn, this your brother that just joined us, right? We were talking outside, but tell me your name again.
Webb Hunt: Webb.
And you do the visuals and album artwork?
Webb Hunt: Yeah. I do all of their visual work and music videos, live performance stuff. I do like a lot of 3-D animation and procedurally generated video work. And yeah…
Alright, awesome. I missed you guys performing last night so I’m looking forward to seeing and hearing everything tonight!
Vaughn Hunt: We will do a little different set tonight.
Are you guys doing covers tonight for Halloween?
Vaughn Hunt: A couple. Maybe four Jesus and Mary Chain songs. We still need to make a set list. We’ll do that after this.
Speaking of the visuals and stuff, I was watching your Levitation Session video online earlier today. When and where did you guys record all that? Was that in your studio?
Vaughn Hunt: Yeah, that was in the studio. That was 2020 in September.
Webb Hunt: Yeah, we filmed it, actually, earlier than that. We filmed it in July. We used a 40-foot blue screen that we made and wrapped our whole studio around 360. We filmed it in July and then we edited it over November. We didn’t release it until 2021.
Sean Fahey: That was a great project. It was cool, you know. We got to do different versions of some older songs and yeah, turned out really well.
Trevor Mustoe: I think some of that actually helped shoot some of the music video stuff too. And yeah, it kind of became this cohesive thing a little more.
Vaughn Hunt: We were kind of doing it all at the same time. So, we were prepping for our album release as well while working on this project. The album had been finished for a long time, but we were still making videos and so we were kind of doing all the videos at once.
Vaughn Hunt: It actually worked out with the whole pandemic while we were working on music videos. So, aside from Levitation, I think we released three music videos and this was all kind of being worked on from April 2020 up to the release of the Levitation Session.
Did they put that session out on vinyl? As part of that series?
Vaughn Hunt: Yeah.
It was cool that with the pandemic in full force, they started doing those ‘live’ releases and some other labels also doing similar stuff such as the Giant Rock Record’s ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ series with Earthless, Nebula, and some others bands.
Trevor Mustoe: Yeah, almost like ‘Live at Pompeii’ by Pink Floyd. It’s been a really cool thing to see and it’s cool that they’re trying to pick different scenes and each band has a really cool thing behind them like Dead Meadow in front of those huge rocks – the Pillars of God outside of San Bernardino. They’re very specific about making sure it’s a good spot and it’s an experience like a true film.
Yeah, absolutely. The Dead Meadow one was great. So, the latest album, ‘Take It From The Dead’ sounds a bit more spaced out and more relaxed than some of the older stuff I’d listened to. What led to that change for you guys?
Vaughn Hunt: We smoke a lot of weed now. Yeah, the weed went up.
Sean Fahey: And the other shit went down.
Vaughn Hunt: Drinking less, smoking more.
Trevor Mustoe: I think, you know, some lineup changes and things like that really happened and there was a good amount of time between the first record to the second record and, you know, just listening to different things from writing that first record I guess.
Vaughn Hunt: I don’t know. It might get crazy again. I don’t know. Also, like Pandemic Energy. Pandemic Energy is sitting in your house and not going out. Now going out and touring again, I’m like, “oh, yeah, I gotta bring the heat back a little bit!” You know, so when you aren’t surrounded by that shit as much you kind of forget and kind of mellow out a little bit. So, it’s kind of this chapter. We’ll see where it goes.
As a band that smokes a lot, is it difficult being on tour having to go through states like Texas, for instance, where it’s still very, very illegal?
Trevor Mustoe: It’s like you’re at a venue with other musicians and there’s a 90% chance, even if you’re not looking for it, there’s always someone who’s gonna offer to smoke or something. We’re lucky that you go through the west coast and it’s super chill, and then you just know you’re going through Texas soon and be like, “alright, cool. Well, I’ll find it if I find it, if not, whatever.” Or you’re in Portland and buy too much and we’re flying home in three days!
Yup. Gotta smoke it or give it away.
Trevor Mustoe: Yeah, pretty much. If we’re wasting an ounce, it’s cool. It’s definitely more important to us to be careful and not get fucked up on tour or get arrested or some shit. We gotta play these shows.
Yeah, you’re still out doing a job.
Trevor Mustoe: I mean, it’s not worth it to get into some shit because you had like a half a roach or something stupid, you know?
Sean Fahey: Well, if you’re moving with it, you gotta be ready to eat it.
Vaughn Hunt: Yeah, only bring as much as you can eat in two seconds.
That’s good advice. So, how has this been going touring with Frankie and the Witch Fingers?
Trevor Mustoe: It’s been really awesome. Yeah, I mean, all the shows have been packed and the energy has been way up. You know, it’s like, I think us together has been really cool and who knows if it’ll happen again in these kinds of settings or things like that?
Vaughn Hunt: It probably won’t happen. Just like the nature of how we crossed paths or more like scheduling-wise. It’d be really hard to arrange again. Definitely glad we did it. They’re a great partner band and they really shred.
Sean Fahey: It’s always more fun and usually better when you’re on the road with another band rather than rolling into a city and like, I mean, it’s just nice to know that you got each other’s back, you know? And more hands on the load in and load out.
Trevor Mustoe: Yeah, totally.
Did you know them prior to this tour?
Vaughn Hunt: Yeah, for sure. We’ve played with them a couple times in the past couple years.
Sean Fahey: We played another Halloween show with them.
Vaughn Hunt: Yeah, that was also a jumble. I feel like I didn’t live the Halloween experience that show because I was work-grinding so hard so it was like 30 minutes. So, it was like, this isn’t good enough. I gotta get at least like six hours.
Any notable shows or events or just fun shit on this tour with the Witch Fingers?
Trevor Mustoe: A lot of putt-putt golf.
Sean Fahey: Not gonna say who won but yeah, it was really fun.
Vaughn Hunt: It was actually really close.
Sean Fahey: Yeah, it was like two points or something. We had coach Webb on our team also.
Webb Hunt: At the end of the day, the work ethic came through.
Sean Fahey: Trevor, you were kind of the underdog.
Trevor Mustoe: I did well the first night. I schooled the first night.
Oh, this was a multiple night type of tournament!
Sean Fahey: You won in Daytona Beach.
Webb Hunt: Unless there are more questions about the video, I’m gonna go. I gotta set up one more thing before we go on.
I wish I had a question about video! What’s a good question I should ask about video?
Sean Fahey: Ask him how much rendering he does.
Webb Hunt: That’s a great question! I do a lot of rendering every day. Actually, interestingly, over the past month while we’ve been touring, I’ve been working in the car every day and every set that we’ve done has been a different visual set. I have pre-designed and pre-made animations that I made, but I’m constantly improving and redesigning and rendering new stuff for the shows.
Trevor Mustoe: He’s always working on something. He’s been doing stuff like mapping projections on a disco ball and then on the kick drum so it looks like we have a custom kick drum, but it’s just syncing up the kick drum to the actual visuals so when I hit the kick it explodes or whatever.
Webb Hunt: I’ve affected the idea of installation art on this tour and like beyond the stage to fully encompass the room and the crowd and whether it’s using multiple projectors or something and getting the perspective of the room to kind of further enhance that.
Sean Fahey: We can’t see any of that.
Trevor Mustoe: Sometimes, I honestly forget maybe and I see someone watching it and I’m like, “what are they looking at?” Then I’m like, “Hell yeah. This is sick.”
All right, cool. Well, um, let’s see… moving on from there. I really just wanted to ask you guys about future plans. Is this the last date of the tour?
Vaughn Hunt: It is, yeah.
“We all do everything ourselves”
From here, you guys go East and Frankie goes West? It looks like they have a couple more shows on the way back home.
Trevor Mustoe: I think we are… What’s our next show? We’re playing New York at the Sultan Room on Friday, December 17th and then we got some plans I don’t think we can really announce or talk about yet but we’re gonna do probably some touring later next year. Probably go home and just write a bunch of music, you know? And record a new album.
Vaughn Hunt: We record all our own shit. So, that’s something to know. We do it all. We don’t outsource anything. We all do everything ourselves. Anyone can really do it themselves if you just think about it.
Good! Well, that’s really all I had for you guys… Usually, we just end these with any final words from you guys for readers of It’s Psychedelic Baby! Magazine.
Vaughn Hunt: Everyone learns how to make your own monitors. It’s totally worth it. You can do it.
Sean Fahey: Check out Yem 97.
Vaughn Hunt: Don’t let the sound guy boss you around. You’re the one in charge. You’re playing music, you’re in charge!
Excellent! Thanks a lot for meeting up with me. I’ll be around for the show. Good luck on your drive back home!
Written and Illustrated by
Headline photo: Daniel Cavazos
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