Why people pass out during The Acid’s live soundtrackBack to
They’ll be visiting Australia in January 2018 to perform their live soundtrack for the bomb, a multimedia installation about the reality of the nuclear threat, bringing together archival footage, animation and thumping music to “deliberately ignite an emotional and visceral understanding” of nuclear war (according to producer Smriti Keshari). With their soundtrack just released, we had a quick chat with The Acid to find out how they scored the film and why it makes people pass out.
You all come from fairly different backgrounds musically, and the story goes that you met at a house party in LA. Is that right? What made you decide to collaborate?
“It’s almost right. Adam and Ry connected at a party. Steve and Adam had been working on a film score together, and Adam brought Ry in just to mess about. We wrote Animal on day one and looked at each other afterwards and decided to clear our schedules. Inspired, we effortlessly knocked out our first EP in a week, doing four songs in four days; the album came soon after that. One of those rare moments in time where everything flowed effortlessly well.”
The Acid’s sound is well suited to soundtracking – it’s cinematic, with gradual builds and influences from all over electronic and rock music; was writing a soundtrack always in the back of your minds? And how did you hook up with the bomb’s producers?
“There is a lot of space in our sound. Smriti (Keshari) had come to some of Adam’s DJ shows and had later fallen in love with The Acid and approached us, initially not knowing they were from the same genesis. She asked if we would read Eric Schlosser’s book, Command and Control, which they were making a film about and were interested in us doing the score for. It’s a horrifying and riveting book and a story which needed to be out there; we were onboard.”
How did you approach writing the soundtrack – was it a case of watching the film linearly and composing for each section, or putting together ideas and then tweaking them to fit the ebbs and flows of the visuals? Or did you work collaboratively with the filmmakers from the beginning?
“It was truly a collaborative effort, developing ideas and passing them back and forth with the filmmakers, building off each other's ideas. Originally we set out to write music to particular scenes, but found it to be a bit limiting.
“We took a step back and decided to just limit ourselves to short bursts of creative output, setting an hour time limit and then writing quickly. This resulted in a bunch of solid new ideas; the directors felt some worked particularly well in certain scenes that we hadn’t necessarily imagined them for, so it was a very collaborative back and forth.”
How do you find the atmosphere, performing a live soundtrack for a film? Does it have the same energy as a live show without film, or is it more introverted?
“Performing the film has been a surprising liberation for us. In the normal mode of things, very, very rarely are an audience so attentive. When watching a band at a conventional music venue or festival, it's normal to talk or go to the bar. At a movie there is a different behavioural etiquette, people are totally quiet and present.
“There’s a section in the film showing the aftermath of Hiroshima. The directors wanted there to be four minutes of almost complete silence; we were nervous about this as we thought people would think the movie was over or would make noise, start looking at their phones, but the directors were right. When we first performed it at Tribeca Film Festival in New York, three people passed out, we heard them hit the floor. It’s a very powerful piece.”
the bomb featuring a live score by The Acid is at Carriageworks on 23 and 24 January – secure your tickets here. The Acid’s soundtrack for the film has just been released. Listen below.
Nick Jarvis is a journalist, copywriter and Publications Editor at Sydney Festival and Sydney Film Festival. He's written for Vice, Time Out, inthemix, Junkee and various other online media and street press over the years.