Dope's Acey Slade
By Jay Oakley
I'm sitting here with Acey Slade from Dope. They're getting ready to play at Fish Head Cantina on the Die Motherfucker Die Reunion Tour. Acey, how's the tour going so far?
It's going very good. Very good.
They put a lot into the promoting of this tour all year. How has the tour been living up to it? The crowds, the venues?
It's been about what we've expected. It's been really good, we're getting along great, the crowds are great. We've been working really hard and we haven't been taking many days off. I think, for me, this is day thirty-two in a row which is a lot but like you mentioned the tour was routed really well, it was booked in advance so everyone's pacing their craziness and their decadence and they're spreading it out across several states as opposed to crashing and burning very quickly. So, it's been going good.
When it came to you guys coming together for the tour and new album, Blood Money: Part 1, how did the events happen? Who made the first phone call, who's idea was it, did a member run into another member at a show?
Well, we're all always on each others radars. Edsel (Dope) refers to Dope as a fraternity which is probably the best word for it. We're all, kind of, brothers. Virus lives not far from me and lived in New York for a while. Racci's (Shay) been my friend for a very long time too so we're always in each others worlds and in each others radars but it really started with the Russia tour last year. This time last year we had a one week tour of Russia, I'd actually never been there so I was excited about it. It went really well and with that going well we asked, "Should we do it again?"
So, you have a very extensive catalog of working with people and you were most recently with Joan Jett. In your time there, you recorded an album, talk about your time with her?
It was amazing. There are so many highlights to it. I feel very honored and privileged to have been in the band at a time when things were taking an upswing. God, between the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame thing and we played the Alternative Press Awards and Slash played with us and Laura Jane Grace played with us. We did dates with Cheap Trick all the time, it was just awesome.
How did the opportunity come about?
Yeah know, it really came out of the blue. I had a band called The Dark Party and I was trying to get my own band off the ground and this was seven years ago and the music business was still trying to figure out what it was going to do. So, it was really a terrible time to put a band together. It was really a bad time to try and figure out, do you do download cards? Do you do vinyl? Don't do downloads do vinyl, don't do vinyl do downloads, like nobody knew what the fuck to do, ya know. So, it was a really tough time and I got done and I went to cosmetology school, I went to school to learn how to do hair. I got done hair school and the day I got done, I gave somebody a haircut and they handed me sixty bucks and they tipped me twenty so I had eighty dollars in my hand in forty minutes and I didn't have to split it five ways, I didn't have to give fifteen percent to a manager, ten percent to an agent and I was like, "Wait! All this money, actually, just belongs to me? That's awesome!" So, I quit music and on my lunch break I checked my phone and it was a friend of mine and she said, "What are you doing?" I said, "Well, doing hair. I'm cutting hair." She said, "Well, tonight go home, learn five Joan Jett songs, your audition is on Wednesday, if you pass it you're leaving for Australia in two weeks." and that was it.
You've got to remember. For me, at that point, I'd been in Dope and we were signed to a major label, we had millions of dollars thrown at us and then we got dropped and then I got into the Murderdolls. That band did really well too but then it withered out because Joey (Jordison) had to go back to Slipknot and then I played in this band Amen, but only as a hired gun and then I tried to get my own band off the ground, twice. With, Trashlight Vision and also with The Dark Party and it just seemed like, I felt like, "Man, I've gotten to do everything I've wanted to do. If this is the end of it and this is my time to hang it up, I can do that and say alright." I did pretty fucking good. I've got a gold and platinum record hanging on my wall, I've been around the world, did all the crazy shit a young man wants to do, so I guess this is it and then Joan came up. [Laughs]
I also wanted to touch on your time with Wednesday 13. You signed a CD for me earlier and I go way back as a fan. You mentioned being in the Muderdolls but you were also in his solo band, talk about working with him and your time with him.
Well, I won't lie, the Murderdolls was the best time of my life. Absolutely, I mean, it was a little bit different with Dope. With Dope, the stakes were very high because we had the big machine behind us. So, we were very aware that the stakes were high, we were very aware of the opportunity that we had in front of us so we took that seriously.
With the Murderdolls, the very first tour that we did, Roadrunner Records said, "We don't believe in this project. We really don't think it's very good and we're not going to support it." And Joey, to his credit, said, "Well, Fuck you! I like this. I think this is good and I'm going to do it." We got very lucky because Roadrunner in the UK and in Japan saw the vision and they were like, "You guys are nuts. This is really, really cool." and our manager at the time, Cory Brennan, he believed in it too. So, it was only supposed to be a short thing, it was like one week in the States, two weeks in Europe, one week in Japan, opening for Guns N' Roses, and that's it. That was all it was supposed to be. Given the style of music it was and the people that were involved we were like, "Fuck it! Lets have fun with this and make it the most it can be." and Joey wanted that too because with Slipknot there was a lot of pressure on that band. He wanted something that was fun. So, we took advantage of it. [Laughs] We took it and ran and the band ended up taking legs. Again, it was a combination of things and the band was not supposed to be successful. This was before Black Veil Brides, this was before a lot of the emo bands that came in, not that we we invented anything but there's a lot of bands that came along after us that I feel we paved the way for in some ways. And, Dope as well. But, we weren't supposed to be successful there's nothing better then the "Fuck You" of being successful, in a band that's not supposed to be successful. Even in the States, the first time we toured, people were leaving halfway through our shows. It was funny because, in Europe, people were like, "This is awesome! It doesn't sound anything like Slipknot." In the States, it was, "This is terrible! It doesn't sound anything like Slipknot."
Were these headlining shows?
Yeah, yeah. The headlining shows were awful. People did not like us. They went, full on, expecting it to sound like Slipknot. It did not, it sounded like The Misfits met Mötley Crüe.
You and I spoke earlier about when you toured with Wednesday 13 for his solo band. I have the poster for the show I saw you at, a little place called Sonar in Baltimore back in '07, your band Trashlight Vision is actually on that poster but you did not play. You're the first and really only person I can ask about it, so why not?
Well, what happened was, Trashlight Vision was totally a DIY (Do It Yourself) band. We totally took the DIY ethic and, again, that was right at the time where the industry was falling apart. One of the ideas that I had had, I used to work in a music marketing firm called Concrete Marketing so I, kind of, had my thumb, a little bit, on the pulse of what was going on with the industry and Edsel's very much a DIY-type of guy too, even thought we were working with major labels. So, one thing that I saw people doing was recording the stuff themselves and then licensing it. So, what I did was I licensed the record. We recorded the record ourselves, we licensed it to one label in the States, one label in Japan, one label in Europe. So, what happened was, we toured really, really hard. We worked our asses off. We lived in a shitty, shitty, shitty van for probably two years and all lived together. Like, we all lived in a house together, we breathed together, we were a real band, ya know. We really embraced that DIY ethic. We screen printed our own t shirts, we did everything ourselves and that's one thing I'm very proud of with that band is that we toured the world without the help of anybody, really, at all. Like, we made it happen. We went to Japan, we went to Europe with such minimal support from anyone outside of the fans and ourselves and I'm very proud of that. But, that's very taxing. It's very hard on a band, it's very hard on people. so, what happened was, we were about to record our second record and our UK label went out of business, our American label had a little bit of a time lag because they were about to put out the first record but we were trying to get our advance for the second record and then in Japan, our label just fell by the wayside. So, basically, all our labels, kind of, one by one, fell apart and the guys all looked at each other and said, "I think it's time to call it a day." That bummed me out. I think that had we done that Wednesday tour, that would have been a great way to do a tour where there would have been some really great crowds, we could have totally capitalized on that and I think it would have been some good opportunities for us but it wasn't meant to be. As a result, when that fell apart, Wednesday asked me to play on that tour.
Was that the only tour you did with him?
I did here and Europe.
With everything you've done, from the early years with Dope to Trashlight Vision, Wednesday 13, Murderdolls, Joan Jett and now The Misfits. How do feel about what music's given you and the opportunities you've had?
What it's given me? That's a really good question. Wow, on one hand, it's given me everything. I guess, one thing that I've learned over time is you have to work your ass off and make every, single sacrifice that you can to "make it" in music. But, at the same time, when it reaches the point where you feel that you've done every, single thing that you can and you look at yourself in the mirror and you're like, "I've worked my hardest." It's not a bad thing to step away and never lose focus on things like your family and personal health and things like that. For myself, I'm sober. I don't drink or do drugs and I feel music's given me a reason to stay sober, if that makes any sense. It sounds like a bit of an oxymoron because I've been in all these bands that party and all that shit and everything and I'm right there and involved in it too, I just don't drink or do drugs. And, to me, I feel as long as I keep doing it, as long as I keep staying sober, all these opportunities keep happening for me. So, music in a way, is responsible for me even being alive. Specifically, punk rock. The worst times of my life, music's always saved me. God, I went through a divorce several years ago and Rancid's Indestructible just meant the world to me. Yeah, it's given me everything.
Absolutely, man. As a fun little closer, is cosmetology now on the back burner and music back in front?
Yeah, it's funny because when kids ask me what advice I would give to anyone who's trying to be a musician I say, "Go to cosmetology school." Because, you go to school for a very short amount of time, as soon as you come out you start making cash so can pay down your student loans and then you can make enough cash to fund your band. You can make enough cash when you work really hard and you can take time off. You can make a lot of money, still be creative, still look crazy, still look wild and you can still take time off. It's ideal, it's completely perfect.
Acey, thank you so much. I appreciate you taking some time to sit and rap with me for a bit.