Acrid was a sludgy/doomy/grindy-metalcore band from Mississauga that was initiated by Neil Rodman on vocals, Jeff Almond on guitar and Dave Buschemeyer on drums. This was in November of 1995, right after Jeff Almond had quit Ignorance Never Settles (he was still playing bass in Montgomery 21). They didn’t have a bassist and Ryan Hunter (still in Ignorance Never Settles) was brought in. Dave was also from the same scene, having played in the pre-INS band Unheard and playing guitar in New Day Rising at the time. Neil Rodman was a friend of New Day Rising who rehearsed with them and would later sing backup vocals at some of their live shows. Dave had always wanted to start a band with Neil, and so they did. The name “Acrid” was chosen because it meant exactly what they were representing with their sound, although they always considered themselves “Emo kids who played Grindcore”. Early influences came from Black Sabbath, Downcast, Groundwork, Rorschach and Struggle.
Acrid played their first show on January 13th 1996 at “The Church” (Erin Mills United Church) with Blake, Shoulder, New Day Rising, Shotmaker and Colossus of the Fall. All The Church shows were put up by Neil and Dave with occasional help from Mike Charette (of Ignorance Never Settles). More shows soon followed in Oakville, one at the YMCA and one at Legions. Then, at another Church show where Racer and Grade were playing, Kyle Bishop (who was signing in Grade) walked in and was blown away by Acrid’s music and asked Jeff if he could join as their second guitarist, announcing he had never heard anyone like them before. Kyle had only been playing guitar for less than two years but he seemed dedicated and Jeff wanted to give him a try. After the first practice with Kyle that April, Ryan left to dedicate himself solely to Ignorance Never Settles and school and Dave, who never felt comfortable playing drums (he was a self-proclaimed “genius guitarist”), quit because he could not stand Kyle. Gates of Dawn bassist Alexandra Lamoureux joined them, having been friends with Neil and Kyle for some time (Kyle had also played in Jonathan Thomas with her brother Eric Lamoureux). For one rehearsal Acrid jammed with Joel Fisher, who was at the time playing in Skew-G, on drums, but that didn’t work out so Alex quickly brought in fellow Gates of Dawn member Mike Maxymuik as a permanent drummer. The first show with this new line-up was at the Oakville YMCA on May 17th 1996 with Church of the Bombs, Bree and Chauvez. The influences then shifted to reflect solely on Black Sabbath, Cannibal Corpse and Rorschach. Though the band was mostly straight-edge from the start, it was with this line-up that they began expressing it and promoting it.
By June they were ready to record their first demo. They went directly to the best studio in the local hardcore scene, Signal 2 Noise and recorded eight songs with legendary producer Rob Sanzo on June 22nd and 23rd of 1996. Four of these songs (“97.3%”, “Draize”, “Joan Cleaver” and “Ben Dover”) were dubbed on tapes and packaged in empty cigarette boxes covered with Acrid stickers. The idea came from Neil, not only to save money on buying the cases but because it was something no one had done before. While they were at a friend’s house, they noticed that his parents never threw out their cigarette packages. The band started using those to make the first copies but soon were forced to hit the bingo parlors to find supplies in order to meet the demand for the demo. The insert listed Singled Out Records, an imprint that Kyle had created to release Acrid’s material. In July 1996, Acrid went on their first tour. With the help of No Idea Records, which Kyle had met on the 1995 Grade tour, they booked a month’s worth of shows. They toured all the east coast all the way down to Florida, where they played a mini-tour. The Florida tour was joined by Assück who became great friends with the band. It was on this tour that they were also approached by Ferret Records (after playing with Endeavor in South Carolina) as well as Bloodlink Records, but the band had only their demo and by the time more material was recorded, they had offers from other labels.
Acrid Summer 1996 Tour (incomplete, work in progress)
5 Wilkes-Barre Mini-Fest
13 ? (Assück, Burn It Down, Rouge, Khmer)
? South Carolina (Endeavor)
Cheer’s (Miami, Florida)
In the late winter of 1996, Acrid went back to Signal 2 Noise to record the four newest songs they had written. The songs were recorded on December 13th 1996 and the band quickly got ready for their second mini tour for Christmas. They played a one week Ontario tour with Jesuit and quickly became great friend. They even pre-planned to do a tour together the following summer. In February 1997 the four songs were finally mixed at S2N as Acrid had finally landed a record deal with No Idea Records, through their summer 1996 tour connection. Kyle was also good friends with Steve Heritage of Assück when they met on the 1995 Grade tour, so when his side-project, Bombs of Death, came about, the two bands decided this would be a proper first release for each of them. The release was delayed until June 1997 because No Idea Records always pressed multiple releases at the same time to save on cost. But to make a bigger boom for the band, it ended up coming out at the same time as their split with Left For Dead and their album “86’ed”
Meanwhile, the rest of the unreleased songs from the June 1996 session were being released. The song “Panic” was sent to Fans of Bad Productions Records for their massive Canadian Hardcore compilation “GO!” (Grade also had a song on there), while “55 Seconds” was sent to Disillusion Records for “The 49th Parallel“, a compilation featuring bands on each side of the US/Canada border. Finally, Dave Buschemeyer was putting together “The Benefit for the Buffalo Animal Defense League Compilation” and used “Ocular Lesions”. The “GO!” 12″ vinyl came out in 1997 while the CD version was delayed until 1998, after Acrid had broken up. “The 49th Parallel” came out in 1997 and was repressed by various label in 1998, while the Animal Defense League compilation never came out.
In the spring of 1997, Acrid had over a dozen new songs written and ready to be recorded. They were trying to get studio time at Signal 2 Noise but Voïvod had booked up almost everything to record their album “Phobos”. The session was split in two. All the music was recorded in May 1997, with the vocals put off until April 12th and 13th 1997, as Neil had come down with pneumonia. Everything got mixed on June 13th and 14th and four of the songs were released later that month for the Left for Dead split, “Hacked to Pieces”.
- First pressing July 1997- 1100 on grey vinyl
- Second pressing November 1997- 1266 on pink vinyl
- Third pressing March 1998- 104 on blue, 104 on yellow, 102 on gray, 104 dark blue, 104 on red, 103 on white, 104 on orange, 100 on pink, 108 clear yellow and 195 on green (total of 1,128)
- Fourth pressing August 1998- 1024 on grey vinyl
- Fifth pressing June 2000- 314 on black and 322 on purple
Acrid and Left for Dead were tight bands, occasionally playing shows together (Mike Maxymuik would later join them after Acrid broke up). No Idea Records had gotten hold of the Left for Dead demo and wanted to give it a proper release. It was proposed as a second split for Acrid, who eagerly agreed. In fact No Idea’s interest in the band went back to their summer 1996 tour, when they were hanging out with Var, who showed them a picture catalog of picture vinyls. Neil was immediately struck by the buzzsaw shaped record and when No Idea offered them a deal for this, it was agreed upon on the condition that the buzzsaw could be made.
The other nine songs were released as the “Eighty-Sixed” album. The title “Eighty-Sixed” is an old term referring to cancel or remove from something, or as Jeff puts it “86’ed is navy jargon for all out and total destruction. An idea that we thought complemented our sound”. The album also has another interesting fact; a guest appearance by Malhavoc frontman James Cavalluzzo (known artistically as Jimi LaMort). James and Rob Sanzo shared a jam space and hung out at Signal 2 Noise together. James was doing various noise and electronics for the Voïvod album and when Acrid came in to record, and as he had worked with them before, he ended up recording various noise and electronics for the new Acrid songs and a special bonus remix, “Booty Patrol”.
On June 6th 1997, Stephen Perry was putting up a show in Toronto at a short lived venue, “The Laundry Mat” and booked Acrid to play with Armed and Hammered, Mexican Power Authority and Holocron. After the show Stephen Perry (who had previously run Ragamuffin Records) showed interest in working with the band to release the then unattached album. Steph formed a partnership with Ted Wong to start up a new label. The name Dirty Kidz Records was invented by Kyle and Matt Jones while they were working on the artwork alongside Neil. As this was coming out on CD, Acrid decided to add the full June 1996 recording session as bonus songs, as only half of them had been released on the demo and the others had flown to various compilations or left unreleased. The writing of “Eighty-Sixed” had greatly evolved and now featured clean doom metal parts that really brought forth a metal atmosphere, moving away from hardcore, an influence the band points directly to Black Sabbath.
Acrid Summer 1997 Tour (if you have info to add, please leave a comment)
11-13 More Than Music Fest, Columbus, Ohio
14 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Jesuit)
15 Wilkes Barrie, Pennsylvania (Jesuit)
16 The Shop – Sunbury, Pennsylvania (You and I, Jesuit)
17 Syracuse, New York (Jesuit)
18 Buffalo, New York (Jesuit)
19 Burlington, Vermont (Jesuit)
20 Worcester, Massachusetts (Jesuit)
21 Connecticut (Jesuit)
22 New Hampshire (Jesuit)
23 Boston, Massachusetts (Jesuit)
24-25 Staten Island, New York (Jesuit)
26 Group Motion, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Jesuit, Manual Seven, Kill the Man Who Questions, Broooke, Roby Newton, Machine that Flashes)
27 New Brunswick, New Jersey (Jesuit)
28 Richmond, Virginia (Jesuit)
29 Dayton, Ohio
30 Indianapolis, Indiana (Assück)
31 Madison, Wisconsin (Assück)
1 Fireside Bowl, Chicago, Illinois (Assück, Charles Bronson, MK Ultra)
2 Kalamazoo, Michigan (Assück)
3 Detroit, Michigan (Assück)
4 Cleveland, Ohio (Assück)
5 London, Ontario (Assück)
6 Toronto – a.m. / Club Shanghai Mississauga – p.m., Ontario (Assück, Hacksaw, Dismantle)
7 Montreal, Quebec (Assück)
8 Sherbrooke, Quebec (Assück)
By this time, the band was no longer a straight-edge band. Neil and Jeff, the founding members, were enjoying life, Alex was neutral, while Kyle and Mike preached the straight-edge sermon. Prior to going on their summer 1997 one month tour, Kyle contemplated leaving Acrid but it wasn’t until halfway through the tour that he finally got the courage to tell the rest of the band. However the tour was complete with great success and continued to impress many new fans. The band started the tour with the 3 day “More Than Music” Festival in mid-July, then met up with Jesuit and toured the entire east coast (again) with them for two weeks, until Jesuit reached their hometown in Virginia. Two days later Acrid met up with Assück for another two weeks back through the midwest and up through Ontario to finish up in Quebec. Upon arriving home after their last show in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Kyle was out of the band, and it was up to Jeff and Neil to decide the faith of Acrid. The tour had been incredibly fulfilling, with three releases generating a decent profit at the same time, but both of them had new things in their lives and decided to move on, leaving the band with the memories it had created during the previous year and a half.
Almost immediately after Acrid broke up, Kyle Bishop started playing in the The Swarm aka Knee Deep in the Dead, which also got signed to No Idea Records. After the Swarm broke up, Kyle kept in touch with Var Thelin and got him sold on the idea to re-release “Eighty-Sixed” on vinyl (so that No Idea would have released the entire Acrid discography in a form or other). The recordings were split back into sessions, one vinyl for the self-titled demo session (now retitled “Sea of Shit”) and one vinyl for “Eighty Sixed”. 1516 vinyls were pressed of “Eighty-Sixed” (1011 on clear and 505 on black/clear split) in January 2000. 2100 vinyls were pressed of “Sea of Shit” (1550 on red, 300 on white/red split and 250 black/red split) in March 2000. However it was later discovered that the b-side of the “Eighty-Sixed” vinyl actually contained the songs from the b-side of “Sea of Shit”, due to a pressing plant error. It isn’t clear if all copies are misspressed but a few hundred ended up back at the pressing plant. Both of these vinyl reissues almost forced a straight-edge image on the band, with the whole “Poison Free XXX Power Violence” statement; something that was never overwhelming during Acrid’s existence. Kyle Bishop and Matt Jones were responsible for the artwork.