Radar Band Of The Week – No. 126: Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats

Until now, Cambridge’s Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats have been a cult concern, stumbling into the kind of mystique other bands’ PR people would kill for when the first pressing of ‘Blood Lust’, their 2011 debut album, started selling online for upwards of £700.

The question of who exactly is behind this band becomes an increasingly fraught one as Radar waits on a freezing north London corner. We think of their Black Sabbath-inspired, occult-infused songs (sample track name: ‘I’m Here To Kill You’) and hope to God it’s not the emaciated ’70s throwback who’s pin-wheeling his way out of the pub opposite. “Sorry, it’s a bit early for me,” says the younger but equally beardy man to his left. It’s 2pm and KR Starrs, aka Uncle Acid, has come to give us some answers. “People think we’re a side-project,” he says about the rumours surrounding his band. “You heard of My Morning Jacket? Someone said we were the singer from that thing. It’s weird.”

If current single ‘Poison Apple’ is effectively UA&TDB poking their heads above the parapet, then next week’s shows at London’s Garage are altogether more seismic, perhaps even acting as their going-overground moment. Both nights – that’s close to 1,300 people – sold out last March, which isn’t bad going for debut gigs in the capital. Uninitiated fans may want to imagine UA&TDB as Tame Impala’s fucked-up, bat-eating cousins: awesome grooves and garish melodies, but with the Todd Rundgren fluorescence dimmed and the Sabbath dial turned all the way up.

“As soon as I heard Sabbath, that was it – like, I don’t wanna play football any more, I just want to grow my hair, play guitar and smoke weed,” explains KR. “It’s ruined my life in a way. It’s great!”

Forthcoming album ‘Mind Control’ is more accessible than their first, but the lyrics retain the best of its satanic schlock nihilism. Influenced by an intoxicating combo of prolonged unemployment and late-night biker exploitation flicks, it’s a concept album about a depraved cult leader. “I love Charles Manson. He should be let free. Let him become President, see what happens,” KR muses. He’s less enamoured with “guys that are in bands just to be famous”. Unlike the tsunami of tie-dye copycat bands, Uncle Acid have tunes and something to say.

Based: Cambridge
For Fans of: Tame Impala, Electric Wizard
Buy it now: The single ‘Poison Apple’ is out on Monday, and new LP ‘Mind Control’ follows in April. Canny investors may want to snaffle a reissue of ‘Blood Lust’ from Rise Above
On NME.COM: Listen to an exclusive stream of ‘Follow The Leader’
Believe It Or Not: They used to rehearse in a farmer’s barn