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Acid Reign's Howard Smith: "Yeah, we have had the “UK Anthrax” tag for a very long time. I never really saw it, seems like if you have a sense of humor, it means your band is like Anthrax"

Interview with Howard Smith from Acid Reign
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 11 September 2019, 10:18 PM

They have been there for a while, yet folks barely noticed their presence. They released two tracks since their revamp, four years ago, yet Metalheads still didn't get the memo. Yes, people, the British Thrash Metal phenomenon of the late 80s, early 90s, Acid Reign, is back, and thanks to their new album, “The Age of Entitlement”, via their new label, Dissonance Productions, it would be possible to re-experience the craze behind them. Steinmetal talked to the chief Howard Smith, also a comedian, about the new album, coming back, new signing and more…

Greetings Howard, it is good to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine. What have you been up to lately sir?

Hi good to be here. All sorts as usual, playing comedy shows, doing tons of interviews for the album release, spoken word shows it all keeps me busy.

It has been more than two decades, but the time came and here we are enjoying it. Acid Reign is back from the ashes, to continue to something that I believe started well and ended abruptly. Do you think that it ended in flash? What really happened before the Marquee show back in 1991 that ended it all? A good reminder for the readers would be awesome

Well thrash may be in a healthy state now but back in 1991 thrash went stale and all but vanished. We spilt up, the week after us Sabbat and a week after that Onslaught called it a day. When you are part of a scene and that scene starts to sink you go down with the ship it is that simple. The UK scene was not strong enough to sustain any of us.

After you came back, and I saw the posters for booked shows and festivals, I expected an album out maybe a year or two afterwards, yet only now it happened. What led you to decide to put aside studio recording? Would you say that being a live Metal act solely was a better option for you guys?

It takes time. Firstly, we had to come back and play all the old stuff and announce that we were back with a new line up. We released two new singles to ease people into what the new line up sounds like and then eventually put an album out. It takes about two years from start to finish and we’ve only been back four years so it’s all happened on a pretty sensible timeline. No point in coming back with a new album, people wanted to hear all the old stuff they hadn’t heard for years first.

Eventually, with the signing in Dissonance Productions, a new record was already a fact, and it came through the front door in the image of “The Age of Entitlement”. Before dwelling into the album, what finally led you to head back into the studio and record?

It was time. There is no future in the past and we can only rearrange the old songs in setlist order for so long. Now we bring everyone the new Acid Reign.

The artwork of the album had me thinking of the Purge movies, have you ever watched one of those? There is even an ongoing TV series, based on the movies. The artwork sparks of an alternative, or possible, reality where anarchy reigns. What is your viewpoint on the final design? What does it represent to you?

It has nothing to do with movies, TV or alternate realities. It is Ego The Clown trapped in his “ego chambers”, which refers to a lyric in the song #NewAgeNarcissist

How did you envision “The Age of Entitlement”? What burned through your mind while writing the material for the album?

The title refers to one song on the album that being as mentioned #NewAgeNarcissist, however the rest of the songs have nothing to do with the title. There are many topics covered on the album, I won’t disclose what those are as it is up to each individual to decide what the lyrics mean to them.

Every time I listen to Acid Reign, it hits me sometimes of how you guys sound rather similar to Anthrax’s late 80s period, as if you have been the British version to the American giants. However, at least on “The Age of Entitlement”, there is a lot more variation of direction and approaches of your material, tough crossings between Thrash Metal, Hardcore and Punk, creating an interesting overall piece. With that said, what do you think of the new record in terms of musical development?

Yeah, we have had the “UK Anthrax” tag for a very long time. I never really saw it, seems like if you have a sense of humor, it means your band is like Anthrax. It’s a totally different line up and 29 years later so there was always going to be a development. It is who we are now, where we are now.

Do you believe that this record marks a step forward for Acid Reign?

Very much so, we are very proud of what we have done and hopefully everyone else will think that! Ha ha!

 “Hardship” and “Within The Woods”, at least for me, are a different kind of Acid Reign, certainly the album’s great works if you would ask me. What is your opinion about these songs? Do you find any of them as a musical standout? Any chance to shed some light of their lyrical concept?

Well I love those songs but I love them all! I have to be honest and say that the lyrics to those two songs are pretty simple, one is a breakdown in friendship and one is about the Evil Dead movie. I’m sure fans of the film will realize that and there are some clues in there if you don’t know the movie.

 How would you describe the songwriting on the new album? Especially since you only started working with the new band members, which is most of the current lineup instead of yourself. Do you consider the writing process being a team work or mainly a person or two provide the ideas and from there on a few rehearsals and that’s it?

I have been writing with Paul for five years. We wrote our first single "Plan Of The Damned" at his place in 2014 so it is not a new feeling really. We work on songs as a group and stress test them and pull them about and everyone has their input.

 Earlier you had two singles, prior to the album, “The Man Who Became Himself” and “Plan Of The Damned”, both excellent tracks. Why weren't those included in the new album? Didn't you guys think these two gems deserve a rightful treatment inside an official release?

Thank you glad to hear you like those songs. You kind of answered the question yourself, It’s a new album so we didn’t put four year old and two year old songs on it. They will be coming out on a CD boxset along with all our back catalogue.

I know you had a really few shows in 2019, however, have you played some of the new album’s songs as part of your set? If so, how were the reactions to the record?

No we haven’t, and won’t play any new stuff until the album is out. We will play "The New Low" as it is out but no unreleased songs. I think it is a bit self-indulgent playing new stuff that no one has heard, everyone just stands there not knowing what to do as they don’t know the song!

This year marks three decades since your debut “The Fear”. Will there be special shows for the celebration of the debut’s release alongside the support shows for the new album?

No, there won’t be any kind of celebration. We are looking forwards not backwards and we have a NEW album to support not a 30-year-old one. It just doesn’t make sense and we don’t want any focus to be taken away from the new album.

With the official return of Acid Reign to releasing albums, you have probably noticed that ever since the technological advancement in the music business, flows after flows of albums have been out there in the market. What is your viewpoint on that? Is that good or bad for the industry that so many artists, some just for kicks, are releasing material out?

It is what it is, there has never been so much music available and it has never been easier to release music so that has to be a positive right? I honestly don’t know! Ha ha

The last time you released an album was back in 1990, promotion nowadays changed a lot, whether for veteran or newcomer bands. Being signed to a new label after so many years, you probably looked around a bit of how bands are promoted, what do you think of the process? Does it work and back in the old days it was simpler and better?

It has changed beyond all recognition. For me there was never any intension to self-release the album as I don’t want to run a record label which is effectively what you end up doing if your self-release. Promotion is the key you are right about that and it has NEVER been harder to get your message out as there is so much information out there. We have some people finding out that we are back because we have an album coming out despite the fact we have been back since 2015! The internet is a never ending source of information on bands which it makes it all the more difficult to get heard.

What are your plans for the rest of the year in terms of supporting the new album? Anything for 2020?

Live dates towards the end of the year and more to come next year and hopefully some festival dates too. We want to play everywhere we can.

Howard, thanks for your time, I am glad that you could share your thoughts and insights regarding your return and new album. I wish you guys all the best with the album and keep up thrashing all around

My pleasure, thanks you so much for your support and that applies to anyone reading this, thanks and I hope to see you all down the front.



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