Upstate With Acid Dad


The first time I officially met the boys of Acid Dad was at KGB on E 4th last April, their regular hangout at the time. Within the first ten minutes in the Soviet themed bar, a round of drinks was downed, Kevin and Danny shared a peck on the lips, everyone was trying to convince me that Vaughn was from Australia (spoiler: he’s from Tennessee), and next thing I knew I was offered an invitation upstate to the barn where they record.

Now, I’m sure they don’t remember this invitation for more reasons than one, but nine months later I find myself sitting on their recording room couch upstate, at Guitar Center Danbury as they like to call it, reading out loud to Vaughn and Sean, Noisey’s article on shitty interview questions you should never ask bands. “What does your band name mean? The answer you deserve: ‘Fuck you.’ ”

Since first impressions at KGB, Acid Dad has gone through three bassists, finally staying with Sean, signed with an agent, booked a US/Canada Tour as well as a European one, and was named one of “NYC’s Hardest Working Bands of 2015” by Oh My Rockness. You can say a lot has changed. But it’s probably because you’ve only seen their effortless charm and head banging on stage from afar. The rewards haven’t come without weeks of all nighters with Danny heading into the city for work every morning, Vaughn never leaving the mixing table with his bed of a mattress to its side, Kevin networking with anyone who is anyone in the industry, and Sean methodically thinking of the slightest tweak to a song to give it that extra kick.

I came up at 1PM and now it's 1AM and the boys are all listening, with headphones plugged in, to Danny singing into the mic. Kevin beckons over to me and hands me his headphones. I carefully place them over my head and I instantly hear how everything comes together for them. It's the hours of practicing the same riff, the countless cigarette butts, the black and gold samurai sword hanging above the entrance, the leopard felt bean bags, the barren hill outside the back double doors - it’s all of the little intricacies of the space and all of each other’s ticks and tendencies that they know so well, that make it not a means of trying, but a way of being:


Acid Dad's barn is located in upstate New York, right along the Connecticut border. The property belongs to Kevin's grandfather Larry, but he allows the boys to take over the barn and wreak havoc so as long as they clean up. The space is filled with a mishmosh of things from sound equipment, to art that Larry's wife sells, to fabric samples that belong to one of their daughters, to a foosball table.


Since Danny is in the city for the day working, the remaining three wait till his return in the evening to finish up their new EP. In the meantime they practice their set for their show tomorrow night in Brooklyn at Baby's All Right. But after working til 5AM for the past week, they break out a few Stellas and show me around.



There's a pile of years gone by at the bottom of Kevin's grandfather's property. From old ovens, to golf clubs, to overturned tables, the boys can find just about anything to smash.


With some time still to kill before Danny comes back, the boys decide to spice things up and nix their usual bowling for some good ol' go-karting instead. We drive 15 minutes to an industrial park and enter to find a tenth birthday party taking place. A dozen pre-pubescent boys run around like mad with black fabric caps on circa King Arthur's knights. We sign our lives away on a waiver and wait for our race to be called in anticipation (at least for me). I mean if ten year old boys can do it, I can too...?


After dinner at a restaurant with a hippo on the wall, we head back to the barn where Sean and Vaughn take some power naps and Kevin reads Lolita while waiting to pick Danny up. Danny's train gets in later than expected; someone parked their car on the tracks in Chappaqua. 


Acid Dad comes alive at night, and it's not just because the group is complete again. The bumper sticker fridge is replenished with beer and the band is ready to finish off the EP strong. Sensitivity isn't a characteristic found up here: "Don't be a dick, play like you mean it".  


With multiple breaks for cigarettes and drinks, traditional practice goes out the window. Switching up instruments, Vaughn hops on the drums, practicing with Danny to get that guitar riff perfected. Kevin comes back in and hops on Vaughn's guitar. "One note higher! Slower! Slower!" Vaughn yells, teaching. Excitedly, he starts dancing around the room with a cowbell, clanking to the beat, channeling his inner Mr. Shneebly


Kevin and his "master list." 


The morning after.

The boys have to head back to the city to play their first show in a month and of the new year. One last run through and clean up.


Danny wanted one for the family photo album.



Kevin, Danny, and I head back to Brooklyn, while Vaughn and Sean stay up at the barn until the show later that night. We start off listening to the NPR "Sounds and Opinions" segment on Lemmy and Motörhead and then let Danny serenade us with his playlist of rock knowledge. He puts on "Cocksucker Blues" by the Rolling Stones and grins, telling the story of one of the biggest "fuck you's" to a record company.  


After taking a power nap for myself, I make my way over to Baby's All Right, as if I haven't already spent enough time with these guys this weekend. In the past 24 hours that I've been with Acid Dad, more than half of the time was spent listening to them play what seemed like the same chords and riffs over, and over, and over again. But they weren't the same, and now listening to them play at Baby's, a venue I've seen them play a thousand times before, I understand that their effortlessness will never truly be effortless, but with a name like Acid Dad why would you want to be.


Acid Dad's EP Release Show is Friday, January 22nd at Baby's All Right. See 'em while they're still here.