David Hasselhoff on Acid
Interview with bassist Erich Thomas
Contributing Writer – Garret K. Woodward [TheRFW.com/blog/Garret]
Claustrophobic. Menacing. Wandering down the rabbit hole.
That was my initial description of David Hasselhoff on Acid at Wakarusa last year. Playing to an audience who were either half-afraid or half-dumbfounded, the Kansas quartet frightened listeners with their sinister brand of instrumental psychedelic jam-rock. Their barnstorming sound threw a melodic grenade into the overflowing crowd at the Backwoods Stage.
Though only in their infancy, the group induces a dizzying feeling in their live shows. It is a feeling reminiscent to riding a rollercoaster after eating a chilidog and downing a Pabst Blue Ribbon tallboy. Each time flagship song “Gumdrop Princess Warrior” spills out of my speakers, I begin to have flashbacks. All kidding aside, the air around me gets cooler, my body tenses up, and I start questioning every notion, for good or ill, passing through my mind.
Even the band itself feels the dark energy. According to them, the tone is, well, “ok, imagine the soundtrack playing in David Hasselhoff’s head as he is munching his junior bacon cheeseburger off the floor, several hours after eating 17 hits of acid and slamming three quarters of a bottle of Patron, but just before he blows his brains out all over the kitchen wall with his stolen sawed off shotgun, because even he can’t take the overwhelming awe of the reality of existence and the beauty of life on this planet. Sort of sounds like that. Ya dig?”
DOHA has that command, onstage and in recordings. The best we can do is grab onto something nailed to the floor and hang on for mercy while they take us for a ride.
Garret K. Woodward: What is “David Hasselhoff On Acid”? Why the Hoff?
Erich Thomas: [To know what it is,] you have to come see. Why the Hoff? To make a long story short, the guitar player, Phil Wolf and I were in Berlin about three years ago. Lets see, lots of LSD, wandering Berlin, and who do we see? Good ole David Hasselhoff. Well, the rest of the trip was pretty much David Hasselhoff on acid.
GKW: How would you describe the sound? Who are the influences?
ET: We generally describe it as aggressive and experimental, progressive funk? Metal? Jam band? We are instrumental, which we absolutely love. We get compared to several bands mixed together. Tool and Primus gets thrown around a lot, but we don’t sound too much like either one. Between the four of us there are way too many varying influences to even start.
GKW: What does improvisational music mean to you? How does it affect your approach to the band?
ET: That’s definitely how we form songs. At least the beginning of songs. Improvisation means letting go of everything and just letting the music out. Being comfortable, but challenged at the same time. When four weird dudes get together, and all the music they let out sounds so different, but still fits together in this singular abstract groove, then you have something.
GKW: How did you guys come about? When? Where? Why?
ET: Began about three years ago with only three original members. A handful of shows after we added a second guitar player to gain some depth. We really came together because we were all good friends and musicians, and, yes, liked to smoke lots of really good weed. Putting the funk, jazz, and metal all into this instrumental jam band stew unleashed our creativity and spewed forth the spectacle that is David Hasselhoff on Acid. A year and a half after getting the four perfect members, we lost half the band, our drummer and guitar player. Those guys were tough to replace, but we persevered. All the guys that have ever been in the band have been from Kansas City. We are very much a KC band.
GKW: What are you thoughts on the current music industry? How do you want to be different, or contribute to the evolution?
ET: Right now we are just trying to get in front of people and keep playing music. We want people to come to live shows. The way to do that is tour, put on amazing shows, and sell merchandise. Digital and vinyl are where things are going for sure. Lots of free music going around and that’s fine. If you like our band, come see us live, and, if you like us after that, come support us and buy something.
GKW: How receptive have audiences been to your creation onstage?
ET: Very. That’s why we want people to come see us live. We played Wakarusa right after [Les] Claypool last year to the biggest crowd on the Backwoods Stage during the entire three days [of the festival]. Two days later, we played a show with two tech metal bands and a hardcore band. Both crowds ate it up.
GKW: What do you like or dislike about being the road?
ET: The three with no girl friends love the road, and the one with a girlfriend, well, you know.
GKW: What’s your dream venue?
ET: Red Rocks for sure.
GKW: What do you want the listener to ultimately witness or walk away with when they see you perform?
ET: We kind of want to be like the trap door in Being John Malkovich. Put you inside David Hasselhoff’s head as he trips his drunken ass off. You know? I bet there is some crazy shit in that man’s head.
GKW: What’s on the horizon for the band?
ET: We are actually recording a high quality dvd/cd of our live set in two days [Apr. 9, 2010]. We then go into the studio in July, releasing our first record in late fall, early winter. After that we want to concentrate on perfecting some new songs we have in the works for our next album. Tour, tour, tour. We are planning on making our Kansas City shows a fun visual experience as well. We have lasers, live performers, full backdrop video, and other fun things planned for the next year.