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All illustrations by KWYJIBO. Banner photography Sierra Wagner, above photograph by Sevlynn Photography
Just ahead of Acid Tongue‘s October full-length release Babies, the highly entertaining musical duo of Guy Keltner and Ian Cunningham – who are often joined by “friends” and operate out of New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle – has been busy, busy, busy. First premiering their track “If I Really Loved Her” via All Things Go, which boasted that “the band demonstrate both instrumental prowess and respect for their musical heritage as the sons of psychedelic forebears,” and they’re not wrong. These guys have got a handle on crooning, beautiful, psych sounds that could really drive the way you see your autumn if you choose to partake in some listening pleasure.
But we don’t just have the inside scoop on the album release. (Friday October 13th, mark your calendars.) We also have a little more insight on some of the tracks, their feelings on the music industry, and snacks in this quick (and fun) interview with Guy Keltner that happened in honor of their upcoming album release. Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-check it out!
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What is the first song or album you ever remember hearing, and who introduced it to you?
Probably my mom playing Bob Marley or the Cranberries to us as kids. We had one of those old Technics sound systems with the tall boxy speaker cabinets. I’m sure we danced like goofy little kids to that stuff.
Was there a moment that it struck you and you realized you were going to pursue music, or did it kind of slowly evolve?
I used to think I was going to be an astronaut. I started playing piano at five, but I wasn’t exactly keen on scheduled lessons and the homework that came with it. I finally got a guitar when I was 11 and I think that’s when everything clicked. I mostly just banged on it for the first year or so, but my parents set me up with this great teacher, an old session musician from Seattle named Al Kaatz. He’s really into soul, classic R&B and reggae, and helped shape my taste and how I approach music to date.
And did you choose the “post-menopausal” life, or did it choose you? (Referencing their “genre” categorization on Facebook.)
Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a awhile, you could miss it.
“If I Really Loved Her” has such a beautiful sentiment behind it. Can we expect more of the same emotion behind the rest of Babies?
The entire album is full of little easter eggs, relatable songs about daily life, but with a much deeper meaning to them. I’m not always just signing about the good stuff, either. There’s a lot of odes to life’s minutiae, thoughts on how mundane things can get. I don’t think people always want to hear about breakups and star-crossed lovers. There’s something beautiful about eating top ramen and being broke with your friends, talking about nothing and killing time.
“Talking In Your Sleep” struck our fancy with its title, and it’s one of our favorites off the release. Is this a love letter to a certain someone, or does it pull from many places?
This song is about charisma. The type of people who spin webs and can turn a boring story into something compelling. We all have friends or co-workers or family that do this.
“Accidental Drug Use” threw us for a loop, one of those “well, that escalated quickly” songs when it comes to lyrics. It’s amazing. How was this one to work on in studio?
That song was actually written the night Bowie died. I don’t usually get upset when one of these aging rockers passes away. They’ve lived epic lives, and lot of that generation is pretty old and has seen their best days already. Bowie’s new record was surprisingly great, though, and I felt this new excitement for his music after that. KEXP in Seattle did a Bowie day, a tribute to his tunes, right after that record dropped. A few days later, I’m hearing Bowie all day again and wondering “what the hell?”. When I heard he had passed, I was absolutely crushed and this song just spilled out.
Did you choose Friday the 13th as release date for any particular reason?
Sometimes things just work out that way.
Do either of you have a favorite song off of Babies, or is that feeling applied to the entire work, since it’s your first release?
I’m torn between “Humpty Dumpty” and “If I Really Loved Her”. Both of those fell into place so perfectly during the sessions, and they are such strange tunes in general. Ian is partial to “Accidental Drug Use” though. I really dig the way his drums turned out.
What has been your favorite memory together as a band so far?
We did a short run in the Northwest recently, opening for De La Soul, playing Upstream Festival in Seattle, and generally having a blast with our friends when we were home visiting. Our bassist, Alessio, is from Italy and lives in Paris now. It was his first time in that part of the country and it’s such a different vibe than the rest of the US. We started laying down the tracks for our next LP, the follow-up to Babies. Just a really perfect trip.
How do you imagine people listening to this album?
Everywhere. It’d be so cool to just have this be one of those LPs that synonymous with rock & roll during our era. One of those things you hear at dive bars, coffee shops, taxi cabs, wherever.
Guilty pleasure snack. Go!
What is your opinion of the modern music industry?
It’s amazing that I have access to literally everything I could want to listen to in the palm of my hand. I’m a huge fan of Spotify and I think this is a cool era, we just have to slug it out and be persistent to make any money from our art.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Go out and buy/steal/stream Babies as soon as you can. The vinyl looks really cool, too.
Babies is out October 13th. Keep up with Acid Tongue here.