Scratch Acid

Last updated
Scratch Acid
Origin Austin, Texas, United States
Genres Post-hardcore, noise rock, post punk
Years active1982–1987, 2006, 2011
LabelsRabid Cat
Touch and Go
Associated acts
Past members

Scratch Acid was an Austin, Texas noise rock group formed in 1982. One of the pioneers of noise rock in the 1980s, the band is best remembered as a stepping stone for its front man David Yow, and bass player David Wm. Sims, both later of The Jesus Lizard.

Austin, Texas Capital of Texas

Austin is the capital of the U.S. state of Texas and the seat of Travis County, with portions extending into Hays and Williamson counties. It is the 11th-most populous city in the United States and the 4th-most populous city in Texas. It is also the fastest growing large city in the United States, the second most populous state capital after Phoenix, Arizona, and the southernmost state capital in the contiguous United States. As of the U.S. Census Bureau's July 1, 2017 estimate, Austin had a population of 950,715 up from 790,491 at the 2010 census. The city is the cultural and economic center of the Austin–Round Rock metropolitan statistical area, which had an estimated population of 2,115,827 as of July 1, 2017. Located in Central Texas within the greater Texas Hill Country, it is home to numerous lakes, rivers, and waterways, including Lady Bird Lake and Lake Travis on the Colorado River, Barton Springs, McKinney Falls, and Lake Walter E. Long.

Noise rock is a noise-oriented style of experimental rock that spun off from punk rock in the 1980s. Drawing on movements such as minimalism, industrial music, and New York hardcore, artists indulge in extreme levels of distortion through the use of electric guitars and, less frequently, electronic instrumentation, either to provide percussive sounds or to contribute to the overall arrangement.

David Yow American singer

David Yow is an American musician and actor born in Las Vegas, Nevada and best known as the vocalist for the noise rock bands Scratch Acid and The Jesus Lizard. Yow's debut solo album, Tonight You Look Like a Spider, was released in June 2013 on Joyful Noise Records.



Scratch Acid was launched in Austin, Texas in 1982. When they first began, their lineup was Steve Anderson (vocals), David Wm. Sims (guitar), Brett Bradford (guitar), David Yow (bass), and Rey Washam (drums). Anderson was kicked out of the band before they ever recorded an album, prompting Yow to move to vocals and Sims to move to bass.

David Wm. Sims American musician

David William Sims is an American musician, best known as the bass guitarist of the bands Scratch Acid, Rapeman, and The Jesus Lizard. In addition, he has recorded or performed with Sparklehorse, Rhys Chatham, Shivaree, Pigface, Flour, and others. Sims currently performs experimental solo electric bass as Unfact.

Rey Washam is a drummer who has been performing for more than 35 years. He has collaborated with many bands, the most notable of which include: Scratch Acid, Rapeman, Ministry, the Big Boys, Helios Creed, the Didjits, Lard, and Tad and Butthole Surfers offshoot Daddy Longhead. When Jason Schwartzman of Phantom Planet left that band, Washam was hired to fill in on drums for a tour which never materialized. Washam also played jazz with a band, Euripides Pants, that recorded an unreleased album.

Scratch Acid's first EP was released in 1984 by Texas indie record label Rabid Cat and featured the song "Lay Screaming", a track which vocalist David Yow indicated was "inspired by Marquis de Sade, reading his shit." [1]

Extended play musical recording longer than a single, but shorter than a full album

An extended play record, often referred to as an EP, is a musical recording that contains more tracks than a single, but is usually unqualified as an album or LP. Contemporary EPs generally contain a minimum of three tracks and maximum of six tracks, and are considered "less expensive and time-consuming" for an artist to produce than an album. An EP originally referred to specific types of vinyl records other than 78 rpm standard play (SP) and LP, but it is now applied to mid-length CDs and downloads as well.

Marquis de Sade French novelist and philosopher

Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade, was a French nobleman, revolutionary politician, philosopher and writer, famous for his libertine sexuality. His works include novels, short stories, plays, dialogues, and political tracts. In his lifetime some of these were published under his own name while others, which Sade denied having written, appeared anonymously. Sade is best known for his erotic works, which combined philosophical discourse with pornography, depicting sexual fantasies with an emphasis on violence, suffering, criminality, and blasphemy against Christianity. He gained notoriety for putting these fantasies into practice. He claimed to be a proponent of absolute freedom, unrestrained by morality, religion, or law. The words sadism and sadist are derived from his name.

The band returned to Rabid Cat for their debut album, Just Keep Eating, released in 1986. When queried about the significance of the title in a February 1987 interview, the band called the title "kinda silly" and "an inside joke", related to the fact that they all had lived together and done well to just keep surviving. [1] Eschewing pop sensibilities but instead pushing boundaries with noise, the band listed Sonic Youth, Big Black, and Butthole Surfers as their stylistic peers. [1]

Sonic Youth alternative rock band formed in New York, New York, United States

Sonic Youth was an American rock band based in New York City, formed in 1981. Founding members Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon and Lee Ranaldo remained together for the entire history of the band, while Steve Shelley (drums) followed a series of short-term drummers in 1985, and rounded out the core line-up.

Big Black band

Big Black was an American punk rock band from Evanston, Illinois, active from 1981 to 1987. Founded by singer and guitarist Steve Albini, the band's initial lineup also included guitarist Santiago Durango and bassist Jeff Pezzati, both of Naked Raygun. In 1985, Pezzati was replaced by Dave Riley, who played on Big Black's two full-length studio albums, Atomizer (1986) and Songs About Fucking (1987).

Butthole Surfers American band

Butthole Surfers are an American rock band formed by singer Gibby Haynes and guitarist Paul Leary in San Antonio, Texas, in 1981. The band has had numerous personnel changes, but its core lineup of Haynes, Leary, and drummer King Coffey has been consistent since 1983. Teresa Nervosa served as second drummer from 1983 to 1985, 1986 to 1989, and 2009. The band has also employed a variety of bass players, most notably Jeff Pinkus.

The band's third and final release, an EP entitled Berserker, was released by Touch and Go Records. A posthumous compilation CD entitled The Greatest Gift was released by Touch and Go Records in 1991.

Touch and Go Records is an American independent record label based in Chicago, Illinois. After its genesis as a handmade fanzine in 1979, it grew into one of the key record labels in the American 1980s underground and alternative rock scenes. Touch & Go carved out a reputation for releasing adventurous noise rock by the likes of the Butthole Surfers, Big Black, and The Jesus Lizard. Along with other independent American labels such as Twin/Tone, SST Records, and Dischord, Touch & Go helped to spearhead the nationwide network of underground bands that formed the pre-Nirvana indie rock scene. These labels presided over the shift from the hardcore punk that then dominated the American underground scene to the more diverse styles of alternative rock that were emerging.

<i>The Greatest Gift</i> (Scratch Acid album) 1991 compilation album by Scratch Acid

The Greatest Gift is a posthumously-released compilation album by Scratch Acid, containing everything they had recorded.

Critical response

The band was named by music journalist Will Lerner as "the American equivalent of the Birthday Party." [2] After developing a reputation as a crazy, noisy punk band, Scratch Acid disbanded in 1987. According to the liner notes of The Greatest Gift, the band members never received compensation from either Rabid Cat or Fundamental Records (who distributed their releases in Europe).

The Birthday Party (band) Australian band

The Birthday Party were an Australian post-punk band, active from 1978 to 1983. Despite limited commercial success, The Birthday Party's influence has been far-reaching, and they have been called "one of the darkest and most challenging post-punk groups to emerge in the early '80s." The group's "bleak and noisy soundscapes," which drew irreverently on blues, free jazz, and rockabilly, provided the setting for vocalist Nick Cave's disturbing tales of violence and perversion. Their music has been described by critic Simon Reynolds as gothic, and their single "Release the Bats" was particularly influential on the emerging gothic scene.

Writing in Flipside magazine, Gary Davis emphasized the band's rawness, energy, and earnestness in a live setting:

"...The band is unpretentious, fast, and forceful. They present no gimmicks, glamor, or elaborate stage show. After all, that's already been done so many times before. Scratch Acid simply walk on stage in their street clothes and begin to play. The quality of their music stands on its own." [1]

Later projects and reunions

Brett Bradford went on to form Colorado punk band Great Caesar's Ghost, who disbanded in 1993. He also formed Sangre De Toro and played with Areola 51. Washam went on to perform with many other bands, including the Big Boys, Ministry, Helios Creed, the Didjits, Lard, and Tad. In 1987, Sims and Washam joined Steve Albini in the band Rapeman, which disbanded just before Sims reunited with Yow in 1989 to form the Jesus Lizard.

All of the original members of the band appeared at Emo's nightclub in Austin on September 2, 2006, [3] and at the Touch and Go 25th anniversary celebration in Chicago, Illinois on September 9, 2006. [4] They played their third and final show of the brief reunion at Seattle's Showbox Theater on Saturday, September 16, playing 20 songs from their 28-song (recorded) oeuvre before leaving the stage.

The band reunited for their first UK show since 1987 for at the second British All Tomorrow's Parties music festival March 9 through 11, 2012, curated by Neutral Milk Hotel's Jeff Mangum. [5] David Wm. Sims also announced in his blog that the band will play some dates in November and December in the US "and possibly in Europe". [6] On August 31, David Yow released the complete list of tour dates on his Facebook page. [7]



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  1. 1 2 3 4 Gary Davis, "Scratch Acid," Flipside, whole no. 52 (Spring 1987), pp. 14-15.
  2. Lerner, Will. "The Greatest Gift - Scratch Acid - Review". Allmusic . Retrieved March 19, 2011.
  3. "Scratch Acid - Emo's Outside - Sept 2006". 2007-08-15. Retrieved 2011-10-30.
  4. "Touch and Go 25th". Retrieved 2011-10-30.
  5. "Fleet Foxes, Yann Tiersen, Gary Numan, Scratch Acid, Holy F**k + more for December ATP festivals!". . March 31, 2001. Retrieved 11 April 2011.
  6. Sims, David Wm. (April 30, 2011). "Scratch Acid to Play at ATP in December". Retrieved May 15, 2011.
  7. Bill (2011-08-31). "Scratch Acid schedule first USA show". Riot Fest. Archived from the original on 2011-09-23. Retrieved 2011-10-30.
  8. 1 2 Lazell, Barry (1997) Indie Hits 1980–1989, Cherry Red Books, ISBN   0-9517206-9-4, p. 197