Rage and FrustrationHeavy Metal Reviews and Interviews
Chachi On Acid Review and Interview
Band – Chachi On Acid
Country of Origin – Canada
Genre – Punk
Author – Hayduke X
Way back over spring break, I interviewed Nib Arcola, a long time friend and the vocalist and only consistent member of the punk band Chachi on Acid. Though they are not a big name in the music world, this one was special to me. I’ve been into heavy music most of my life. Prior to two years of high school in Listowel, Ontario, Canada, I was limited to mainly what was popular at the time and occasionally something more underground if it was passed along by a friend. While in Listowel, I met and became friends with various members of Chachi. One former member stood up with me at my wedding. Chachi is quite literally the band that introduced me to the underground and the DIY ethic as more than just an acronym. It is that ethic that years later drove me to start writing about music and the underground music scene has become a home and family for me in many places that I’ve lived. Prior to the interview, Nib sent over three releases for me to review. I’ll provide some thoughts on all three below followed by the transcript of our interview.
Jumbo’s Hemp Mustard Nib
This brief album, consisting of five songs and a run-time of about seven and a half minutes, was released in October of 2015. The songs are brief and snotty with a bit of a pop punk vibe poking through. There is some tongue in cheek humor as Nib waxes poetic on tracks like Everyone’s a Urinal and Almost Straightedge. Prior to receiving this one, I hadn’t heard any of the tracks and found myself enjoying them all. Mustard Nib is a fun romp through the wasteland of a dark worldview. Rating: 4/5
Well I Guess That’s Why I’ve Always Got The Blues
Fast punk riffs and more aggression are found on this album, which weighs in with thirteen songs over twenty-ish raging minutes. The album came out in April 2015. The poppy leanings of Mustard Nib are nowhere to be found here. Instead, I hear a little more of a Sex Pistols vibe. It’s a little harder for me to hear the humor on this release. Instead it feels a little raw. The album is less fun, but more mature. The final song enters the realm of folk punk as they give us five plus minutes about heroin use. The album also features several guest vocalists sharing duties with Nib throughout. There is some really good stuff here, but overall, I prefer the comedy of Mustard Nib. Rating: 3.5/5
You Communicate a Sense of Harmony To Others
Going even further back, this album was released in March of 2012 and features several songs which have been favorites of mine. Sixteen tracks in twenty minutes featuring such gems as I Hope MaximumRocknRoll Approves of Us Dude!, Everybody I Know Is An Asshole, I Wanna Be An Alcoholic, and the eight-second Richie Jerked Himself combine to show off Chachi’s influences throughout hardcore punk, pop punk, traditional punk, and more. The dark humor abounds throughout. Riffs are simple and fast. The snottiness is in full effect. I heartily approve of this effort. Rating: 4/5
Hayduke X: I’m here [on the phone] with Nib Arcola, vocalist for the punk band Chachi on Acid from the town of Listowel, in Canada. How are you doing today?
Nib Arcola: I’m doing very good today.
HX: So, my readers won’t know this, but I’ve known you for a long time. I’ve been a fan of the band for a long time. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard how the band started. Can you take me back to that?
NA: The band started – now your listeners won’t know him, but do you remember Aaron Casey from Listowel?
NA: Aaron and I were hanging out in his apartment above the bowling alley in Listowel, that’s no longer there, and we… He’d have a guitar that he could barely play and I can still barely sing. We just started attempting to write songs. I had been intent on starting a band for years. It kind of came together there. There was no real drummer. There was no bass player. It was just me and him, and we’d play shows out his window into the alley between the bowling alley and the Salvation Army church beside it. Teenagers used to start collecting in there. Not many, but three…four…, and they’d be yelling up to us and we’d be playing down to them. That’s where it all started.
HX: Right on. So at some point, I guess, you added a bassist and drummer.
NA: Yeah. We started taking it a little bit more seriously – not much more seriously. We’d play in my parents basement. But it wasn’t so serious that we’d actually practice before we record a demo. We’d write the songs above the bowling alley and then get a bass player and a drummer record a demo that day. So it still wasn’t too serious then. This was 1992-93.
HX: That’s a long time ago. I think it was ’91 that I moved to Listowel, but I really wasn’t aware of Chachi until…
NA: ’95 or so?
HX: Yeah, somewhere in there. I was off in college by then.
NA: When we had… We had an actual band at that point. With Jeff Sproul. I think he was in then.
NA: Yeah, so, we had a band by ’95 and we were getting kicked out of the park. I remember you there.
HX: Yeah. I remember that.
NA: Making headlines.
HX: Yeah. I remember a show down in London one time too, with Ross Daily and I don’t remember who else.
NA: Ok. Yeah. I can’t even remember now. I mean, 1995 was 22 years ago.
HX: Yeah, it is.
NA: Ok, so that’s the route. There’s also a lot of tapes out there with terrible songs on them. Far worse than those terrible songs we’re providing listeners with now.
HX: Sure. Where does the name come from, Chachi on Acid?
NA: That came from too little sleep. We were up at four in the morning still. We were teenagers and we were just buggering around with names. There was an English band called Thatcher on Acid. We were mixing that with pop culture references and somehow we came up with Chachi from Happy Days and put him on acid.
HX: And the now iconic Chachi on Acid combination?
HX: So, at this point, 26 years after it all started, something like that, it’s probably fair to say that Chachi is you and a revolving cast of musicians. Do you have any idea how many different people have played in Chachi?
NA: I was counting the other day and I stopped at 31 and I know there is probably 5 or 10 more. Maybe more than that, but at least 5 or 10 more than 31. Maybe around 40?
HX: So a lot of people have had a taste of being a part of the legend.
NA: Yes. Some of those people maybe just filled on for one show, but others are up to like 16 years doing it.
HX: Do you feel all the line-up changes has affected what you can do with the project?
NA: Actually, kind of the opposite. It’s not a hindrance. I’ve got to work with a lot of talented people. Many bands have the four members who stick it out through the whole thing. That’s good, but I’m not super talented when it comes to songwriting myself, so I get to bounce ideas off of more talented people. I’ve had a wide variety too over the years, so I think it’s been a really good thing to work with so many.
HX: Speaking of songwriting, how does that work for the band? Do you kind of write everything to start and then, like you said, bounce it off the people who are in the band at that point?
NA: Usually I have most of the lyrics written and I work with whoever is the guitarist at that time. We bounce ideas back and forth, because they’re more talented with the music. We get a rough idea of what the song is going to sound like and we bring that to the rhythm section. From there it’s all just piled together. So, it usually starts with me and one other person. Sometimes songs come from other people.
HX: Back to lineups for a second. Is there one that you consider canon? Like, if the band was to break up for a decade and then come back for a reunion tour, who would you see in the band?
NA: There’s been several lineups like that. I’m really happy with the one that’s doing it now. But…around 1998, we recorded what became, many years later – because first it was released in pieces, like one side of a record – but there was a recording we did in 1998 that was me, Nipples Arcola (Rob Sproul), Clutch Arcola (Rob Tanner), and Harry Arcola (Shaun Henderson). That lineup and that recording has been called by some standards, legendary. That lineup, for a lot of people, would probably be a pinnacle. And then, a lineup I had a couple of years ago, is, for me…it was when we started becoming more musical. We got this really talented guitarist named Dan Price. He got involved, and I think he really upped our game on songwriting. He’s just one of those people who can just pick up an instrument and just do it, do anything. He was happy to be playing the simple Chachi songs too. He mixed it up really well. He likes playing speed metal and that sort of stuff to. He can do that just as well as he can do our stuff. One of those three lineups. Unfortunately our original guitarist, who really helped, Aaron Casey probably wouldn’t make it into that, even though some people say I should go right back to the start, if I was going to do that.
HX: How about inspirations, either musical or otherwise, for what you write?
NA: Do you mean what sort of stuff do I write about or bands that influenced us?
NA: Both? Ok. Well, quite a few of our songs have been inspired by lousy jobs that I’ve ended up in. We have many themes that work around that. That’s a big inspiration. Wow, inspiration. I haven’t thought about what’s been inspiring me for awhile, because I’ve moved from those lousy jobs and I’m going back to school right now. I haven’t been thinking about those for a year and a half. Things like that, you know, a lot of bands would say, ‘We’re inspired by life and the things that we do.’ I like to view it with a sense of humor too. I try my best to. Sometimes people miss that, because the songs sound really angry, but usually they’re based around viewing things with a sense of humor.
HX: I feel like I’ve always caught that as a fan. It seems like you guys are laughing at everything.
NA: Yeah. I think it’s pretty obvious, but it’s amazing how often someone misses that and thinks we’re just really angry people. I’m like, ‘Didn’t you hear that other song besides that one? You could not take that seriously.’
Bands that inspired us? For me, it’s things like The Ramones, Screeching Weasel, and I like stuff from the 80’s like The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Smiths. I like to think we’re also inspired by old delta blues and old jazz. A lot of people might miss that. Then there’s bands like…Do you know bands like Sockeye, bands from the Midwest. We’re inspired by them, and people connect us. We’re kind of from the same scene, I guess. We kind of ended up in with bands like Sockeye. We do find them very inspiring.
HX: Even more specifically, a song of yours that’s been a favorite of mine for a long time is called ‘Everybody I Know is an Asshole.’ Was there something specific that spurred that one?
NA: That is a great example of how closely related we are to Sockeye. That was actually on their first demo. It’s mostly written by them. It was this half-written song on their – I don’t know if they consider it a demo or if they just consider it their first album. Their drummer was using a coffee table and, so…the seed of the song was there from them on this cassette tape from like 1987. Then, I was visiting them in Kent, Ohio in 1995 and I was telling them, ‘I really love that song. I think we could really polish it off and it would be great almost pop song.’ So they said, ‘Ok, This song is yours. You can have it and finish off whatever way you want.’ So we did. We took what they had started and polished it up and added a verse or two. The inspiration was mostly theirs, but it’s a universal theme. We all do crappy things at times. We’ve all got some asshole in us. That’s what I like to think is the idea behind that song. It’s kind of a silly song to me, but it’s got a grain of truth in it.
HX: That’s really cool. Do you have any idea how many release of whatever type you have out? I know it’s got to be more than what’s available on your Bandcamp. In know in my own collection, I’ve got a couple of splits, one with Screeching Foster and one with Joltergeist that I don’t think are up there.
NA: Ok, yeah, those wouldn’t be up there. Songs from the Screeching Foster split are up there on a different 7″ because they were re-released later on. On vinyl, we’ve been on 7 or 8 things. On CD, about…with compilations included, I’d say we’re upwards of 25 releases now, maybe 30.
HX: That’s pretty prolific!
NA: I like to think so.
HX: Is there any release you’re particularly proud of?
NA: I like ‘You Communicate a Sense of Harmony to Others.’ That was the recording with Shaun Henderson and Rob Tanner and Rob Sproul in 1998. I’m also pretty proud of ‘Jumbo’s Hemp Mustard Nib.’
HX: Isn’t there a special edition of that one up on the Bandcamp too?
NA: Yes there is. We were in Michigan and played a house that’s also a studio and someone caught both sets and got it all recorded for us. We were able to take songs from that we never actually got into the studio with and add them to it. So, it’s got bonus tracks.
HX: In Port Huron – I’m just looking at the Bandcamp page. Cool! Tell me about upcoming tour plans. I know you’re busy with school at the moment, but you also have a few things coming, don’t you?
NA: We do. We want to get back to the US. We were hoping to go pretty much coast to coast. It was going to start around Philadelphia or maybe New York, which would have made it coast to coast, to just down south of Los Angeles, Orange County or whatever that is. We’ve had to put it off. That’s not happening right now. Right now, we’ve got a few weekend tours in Canada. Then we’re hoping to do one off or weekend tours into the States, where we kind of just do a hit and run. Just go across the border, do Cleveland and Grand Rapids, or do Philadelphia and New York, or something. Just whatever we can get to within driving distance. Just not right now, but when we get some free time. Also our drummer right now also manages a band from around here called Panty Christ. So, they take up some of his time too. I don’t know how available he’ll be for touring.
HX: That’s understandable. It seems like lots of musicians are in multiple bands these days.
NA: Yeah, there’s only a limited pool of talent and the bands outnumber the pool of talent.
HX: What’s a Chachi live show like these days? Any saran wrap involved?
NA: No. We don’t have to resort to that sort of thing anymore, because we’ve got our banter down. We’ve got stage presence. I always hear that we’ve got stage presence like no other band. I’m always out running around. Sometimes I’ll try to jump on a table and maybe cut my wrist open and have to get 28 stitches.
NA: Yeah, there’s one album, a group of fans will follow your philosophy. It’s got the picture from that night on the cover. Some people can’t look at that album cover. Our shows are more…I don’t know. We’ve got it down. We’re a good vibe band now, most people say. Unless, you know…actually, we haven’t had an off night in quite awhile. Maybe on tour last year. It was the Monday night in Chicago and we were kind of not up to par. Even when we have someone in the band who is maybe not so good on their instrument, I can usually keep people focused on me up front and draw their attention away from that.
HX: Cool. I can’t wait to see you guys live again sometime. We need to make that Grand Rapids show happen.
NA: I think it’s going to be a lot different than the last time you saw us.
HX: Well, I think the last time I saw you guys was probably that London show. It’s been 20 years.
NA: We’re nothing like that. Back then, we were kind of just standing there, nervous. We’re not nervous when we take the stage anymore. Or at least, you can’t see that we’re nervous anymore.
HX: Are you guys working on new music right now?
NA: I hope so. We came up with an album title at our last gig, so now I’m feeling like, ‘Jeez, we’ve got an album title. We need an album’s worth of music.’ We kind of go that one backwards. We just…I can’t even remember what it was. I said something when we were talking about another band and it was like, ‘Wow. That applies to us and its a great album title.’
HX: Final question here. What else should my readers know about Chachi on Acid?
NA: Other than the fact that we are the most fabulous band that has ever come out of Canada – well, next to that other band and I never mention their name… They should know that they can go give us lots of money, even if they don’t like us, they can still download the song that they find least repellent, and give us whatever amount of money they want to give us through our Bandcamp. I think that Paypal and Bandcamp will allow them to give us something like $10,000 at a time, and if they want to do that, we’ve got no problem with it.
HX: Sounds like a great idea.
NA: Other than giving us lots of money and that we’re really great, I don’t know what else they really need to know.
HX: Well, I think that about sums it up. Thank you very much for your time.
NA: No problem. It’s been fun.