Remember those first two Stooges records in the late ’60s, before Iggy Pop’s name was out front or Bowie worked his way into the production chair? The proto-punk that the band created was chaotic, unbalanced, and jagged, punctuated by Pop’s primal howls. The songs seemed to barely be in control but still had a dangerous swagger, and the vocals were all about sneering attitude rather than the more focused anger that groups like the Clash would develop later on.
Now imagine that primordial stomp with a generous dose of Black Sabbath-style doom-and-gloom thrown in, with the occasional touch of chopped-and-channeled early-’80s surf-punk guitar a la Agent Orange. Welcome to Acid Bath, the debut album from the Savannah trio Rude Dude & the Creek Freaks. Though they’ve only been together a year or so, the band (singer/guitarist Blake Lumry, bassist Zachary Estess, and drummer Anthony Bayness) have created an intriguing hybrid sound that manages to have the best of different musical worlds all at the same time.
And no one’s more surprised about how well it worked than the band themselves. Estess and Lumry had already played together in straight-ahead hardcore punk bands in Columbus, Ga. before making the decision to move to Savannah, where they met Bayness and hit it off immediately.
“We just started jamming last summer,” Lumry says. “We played our first show on Halloween at our house, and we’ve been doing it since then.”
There’s a specific chemistry between these three that led to the band’s stark, unpredictable sound — a style that Lumry says that he never could’ve imagined playing otherwise.
“All three of us play a role in this,” he says. “Each of us is a very important part of what we do. We’re all into a lot of different kinds of music, from the Cramps to Black Sabbath and everything in between, along with surf-rock and surf-punk. I mean, we don’t surf, but we like the music. We just mix it all together.”
In fact, the band clicked so completely that they were able to write all 10 of the songs on Acid Bath, one right after the other, seemingly within a few hours. “‘Eye Of The Sun’ [the opening track on Acid Bath] was the first track we ever wrote, and they just kept coming one right after the other,” Lumry says. “It just kind of happened naturally.”
The album was recorded at a similar pace. It took Rude Dude and the boys two days to get Acid Bath done, working with engineer Devin Smith (of another Savannah band called Garden Giant) at Volition, Smith’s home studio.
“His place was just a few blocks down the road from us,” Lumry says, “and we just went in and did it live, because that’s how we wanted it to sound: like a live show. We didn’t want to do it track by track.”
And Smith apparently figured out the key to helping some fellow musicians get an album done quickly: Keep them happy, caffeinated, and full of sugar.
“Devin was very accommodating and easy going,” says Anthony Bayness. “He made us frozen pizza, got us coffee and donuts every morning. That’s how you make a good album: You get Dunkin’ Donuts every morning.”
Perhaps the most interesting track on the album is the final one, a bouncing riff-rocker called “Creature Of The Night.” It takes the band into horror-rock territory, laying down a squalling Dick Dale-style guitar tornado while Lumry intones his fright-night lyrics in a high, theatrical screech. It’s the tightest, most non-punk song on the album, and it might point toward the band’s future direction.
“We were debating whether or not to even put ‘Creature Of The Night’ on there at all, because it’s such a different song,” Bayness says. “We’re working on music for three EPs right now, and our songs are a lot different from where we started out.”
Wherever the band’s new sound ends up, they’ll probably have a lot of fans in Savannah that want to hear it. Rude Dude started getting booked for local gigs almost immediately after forming, becoming well-known enough to play the city’s popular Stopover Music Festival earlier this year.
“There was no one really like us in Savannah,” Bayness says. “There was no one that played that style of music. It was all either punk or folk or metal. Getting all those gigs early on really helped us grow.”
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