Noise Rock and Experimental Rock. For years, it seemed like an errand’s fool to start a band in these genres. At least in the Mexico City scene, both seemed like the refuge of freaks and gear geeks, with many a band’s future lost inside dank garages and isolated practice rooms.
But the passage of time not only brings wrinkles and a few interesting scars. It also brought another explosion of technology, which opened the floodgates (and a few hard-to-crack minds). Now the noise genre in Mexico is getting quite a few acts swirling around like a rabid spinning top.
And one of those psychedelic spinning tops is the mindtrip known as Acidandali. A trio from Mexico City, Polly (Vocals, Guitar), Cristóbal (Drums) and Yiruim (Vocals, Bass, Guitar) improvise a lot. Sure, they give each other a few heads up before their live sets, but the majority of their music is based out of improvisations that then get ironed out eventually. Like a fine piece of Yew wood, slowly worked, smoothed and formed into a mighty weapon.
I met them in an old apartment building near Mexico City‘s centre. It’s sunny outside, Molinette Cinema are rehearsing in the room besides us and questions about their new EP, Acidolandia, need to find an answer.
So, tell us the story behind the new EP.
Yiruim: Our new album is called Acidolandia and the name stems from this little tiff with a blog. This blog was mocking bands from Mexico city and they referred to us as “acidolandia or something like that”. We wanted to release right away, about 3 months or so, but we had other projects so left it lingering. Then it took its own personality and we preferred working on that instead of continuing a beef.
Cristóbal: It’s from a criticism from Mexico Indie. We thought it was funny. Acidolandia was a joke towards the absurdity of that criticism and hostility that was directed to us and other bands. No other argument.
How much do you change from your primordial scandal into an organised noisy racket?
Polly: All our previous albums and demos are jams! Our live songs, those are structured. Then we break those structures again when recording. I think we will refine the best parts and construct something new, having small interludes to segue from song to song, as if they were mutating.
Y: Like Cristóbal said, it was no longer about dissing and taking the piss. Acidolandia turned into something new. We arrived to our rehearsal space, did our mic and instrument set up and we experimented. We ended up with a 30 minute piece. We decided to split it into five chapters. Then we decided to write a story about it, so there’s narration between tracks. And we also made a zine for it. It became something more interesting than simply releasing an album to shut someone up!
C: It captures the nature of Acidandali. We like improvisation and change something we already did to keep it moving, keep it alive. It’s an enriching experience. When we play live, we have some ideas and it mutates into something else. Polly chimes in, Yiruim adds his ideas and I bring my own.
You did arrive a little after the Acidandali party started, right?
C: Yes, but not too late!
Y: He was waiting for the party to pick up!
Cristóbal, we once talked on Twitter about Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich. How much of this jazz influence do you bring to Acidandali?
C: I really appreciate that both Polly and Yiruim said that this band was all about improvisation. Sometimes they’ll go and say “here’s a phrase” and we start a jazzy dialogue. Nobody goes for a solo and I enjoy that. It’s a picturesque affair. As if we are holding hands, using all colours available, doing thin and thick brush strokes. That’s where the graphic part comes in. Jamming with them is very enjoyable.
So there’s a little synesthesia going in, cool. I remember Movements to fight sympathy was the first Acidandali album I heard and it felt like a painting by Turner.
Y: That one is a live jam at El Imperial. I was playing drums that time. We invited Pepe from Vyctoria so he could do guitars with Polly. Two guitars, drums and sequences. It has been our most experimental piece, there are no structures. I’m not really a drummer… and it was that clear watermark between our previous drummer, Alex, leaving and Cristóbal arriving. I was in drums and thought “why is it sounding so bad?”
C: It’s like that moment of divorce…and out comes an affair from whence a chimera springs. It was a good shag.
C: That day at Imperial, it was a Tuesday, I think. Yiruim got in touch and I couldn’t make it, but we met at the IMAs, an awards ceremony for independent musicians. Acidandali won an award for “Experimental Band” and I think the prize fell on the stairs at Yiruim’s department. It’s now a little splintered, a little experimental, like us. We are a chain of accidents!
Yes, I think you are a mutated and acoplated DNA. So, 2012, you start with your jams which you delivered regularly like Watchtower and it was while I was living outside of Mexico. What I enjoy the most is that before I left Mexico, I would say “this won’t be a hit” but now I see things have changed. What do you think changed in Mexico for a project like yours to have a measure of success?
Y: It’s easier to get in touch with people who shared your tastes. Comes hand in hand with the opening of venues and social networks. We are part of a generation where you don’t need to be a musician to create, you only need to have the will to create and work towards it. It’s not as closed as it used to be. Before, you played because of something you heard on the radio, so we had this deluge of bands that sounded like Pearl Jam or Radiohead. Now that is no longer true as you can listen as many bands as you want, from everywhere in the world. There’s so much variety and sources, you can pretty much listen to anything. And if you feel the call, do it. I’ve never taken a music lesson in my life. Polly sometimes asks me “what key are you on?” and I don’t know if the answer is a sustained A or whatever. People are quite open for new stuff.
Yes, it’s a great time for music here in Mexico City.
Y: And I saw great bands starting to make it big, but then some weird bug bit them and they started to talk shit about other bands doing the same genre. Bands are a little more united nowadays. We are very chummy with Vyctoria and we share ideas of what we want to achieve. It helps to have empathy and openness with other bands.
P: Growing up with all this technology, the boom of Internet, helped. You recommend music, someone else recommends something, you meet new people and everyone’s tastes diversify. Maybe you’ll run into a band from Japan, you’ll like it and take a few ideas. Now we can be influenced from anywhere in the world. Alternative venues have opened and they bring cult bands from both Mexico and outside to perform. This enriches our musical culture.
C: Yes, it’s a generational thing. We have everything at our disposal. Before, you had to be in the right place and know the right people to hear what was new and what could potentially be a hit on radio. You had to buy magazines, stick to MTV and follow what editors would impose. Now you are your own editor, with your own playlists and curated mixes. You don’t need to be invited by Raúl Velasco to get some exposure.
C: And with technology becoming cheaper, you might know people do audiovisuals who could invite you for an acoustic session, maybe a couple of videos. Or you can buy your own camera, teach yourself how to edit with a Youtube tutorial. We have the tools to do anything. This generation, we can do anything but not everything is being done right by this generation. The excuse of “we can’t do anything” is no longer valid. There is an oversupply of bands but demand will change depending on what you offer. We might not be offering something unique, but it’s real and sincere.
Let’s talk about your other projects. Polly, what’s going on with Terr Monsta?
P: We started about a year ago. Itzel, the singer, already had the project mapped out but had no musicians for the live shows. She originally wanted a band of girls and got in touch. She’s from San Luis, came from other bands and asked me about other musicians. I recommended Macarena from Escombro, a punk outfit. We all come from different genres: trip hop, noise, punk, so we worked the project into something we all could chime in. We started performing last August. I think after rehearsing for a year and then playing live, your outlook changes. We’ve had a good time so far and people are very receptive. It’s dark but sensual. Sensual terrorock!
C: I play with Belafonte Sensacional, which is a project by Israel Ramírez. It’s a folk project, influenced by classical rock, Mexican music and Urban Rock. The most important part it’s the lyrics. It’s a very endemic sound for this city due to Israel’s knowledge of the city’s lingo. It’s a challenge because I come from experimental bands and in Belafonte, I’m a rhythmic base. With Cristo y el Mal, I do sound art. It’s a project with Julio Cárdenas, who plays guitar in Belafonte Sensacional. It’s more of a performance thing and we deliver a piece every month. We would love to connect it to other art disciplines.
C: Juan Escutia is more of a personal project. That one is with Pablo Mendía of Minor Shadows, Tavo Franco from Era Vulgar and Joaquín from Molinette Cinema. The project is about looking at Mexico’s history with a sarcastic set of eyes. It’s my fascination with the PRI and history! I sometimes do work as a session musician with other projects too.
Y: I work with 66.6% Another consequence of a series of accidents! The people from Futurología invited us as Acidandali for their album launch, but our previous drummer couldn’t make it because of a trip. We invited Gibrana and Pepe from Vyctoria to play with us. We planned who played what and the style of sound we wanted to develop. We have ironed out a few wrinkles but haven’t performed live that much. We have an organic connection, almost cosmic, perhaps! It’s a dark sound and we pretty much play the same instruments we play in our bands. Gibrana does violins, Pepe plays guitar, Polly plays guitar and sequences and I add a tom and rider to my usual. We see 66.6% as a black and white film, something to do with decadence and the post war years. Well, that’s my mental image! Nothing to do with Satanism and its ilk! It’s those numbers because we were two thirds of Acidandali. 6.666666 infinite. We are not chanting to bring the dark lord! We are not invoking Father Maciel! It’s only 4 people exploring new soundscapes.
So, Acidandali is the normal son, 66.6% is the one living in the basement eating buckets of fish heads?
Y: Same with Vyctoria!
Do you see side projects as a way to vent some pressure? How do you balance each other?
Y: It’s complicated. Each of us has their own projects and ideas. We try to organise each other but sometimes things get in the way. The projects don’t block each other, though, that’s for sure. Polly and me come from the world of publicity and ads, so we are in a Working Stiff Mode (aka Godínez Mood) sometimes, and we learn how to balance work and music. Our projects are fulfilling, that’s for sure. If they weren’t, we’d quit.
P: Never do something you don’t like. If it came to leave something, I’d quit my job. We have an equilibrium between each other to be in harmony. You do need to be organised because we are doing different music in each project, so we need to plan rehearsals and composition. It helps you with your work ethic, your performance technique and how you develop as a person.
C: I enjoy every project I am with and I plan ahead, even if sometimes I get overlaps. It happened twice with Acidandali and Belafonte, where I had to play twice the same day. I balance everything out with teaching drums. It can get complicated but I enjoy this. Rehearsing, creating then jamming, it’s very fulfilling for me.
So, last part, any plans for the rest of 2016?
Y: We’ll stop with the live shows for a while and rehearse a lot. We have some ideas we want to sharpen for the next album.
P: We want more music and merchandise. Something collectible, like the Acidandali zine. Mugs, stickers, keychains, little pots, everything Acidandali! Even pumpkin seeds wrapped in Acidandali branded paper!
C: We want to change sex! No, actually we want to go to New York with Vyctoria, a little tour. We’ve got a few dates in New York, Canadá and maybe San Francisco. We’ve got a session in Canada and that will benefit both Vyctoria and us. We have bonded quite well! Merch will help us fund the trip, make it sustainable. A band is like a child, you need to keep buying nappies and new clothes…
Or a new Snoopy!
C: Yeah! We do love what we do. This might not be our year but we’ll do just fine. We changed so much in 2015, so it was mostly rehearsing and playing live a lot. Acidolandia put us in the recording studio and we understood each other. Now we want something structured. We are happy sharing this evolution with our audience.
Thanks to everyone at Acidandali for the interview.
Words & Photos: Sam J. Valdés López