Acid Reality Casualty Test
Acid Reality Casualty Test, a brand new Reno psych-doom band, jams in a loft overlooking a warehouse transformed into an artists’ workshop, covered in Simpsons graffiti and shopping carts turned into armchairs. A half-burnt joint lies on the amp as the bandmates noodle on their instruments.
The band consists of Chris Monzon on vocals and guitar, Alex DuBose on bass, Wyatt Law on lead guitar and Garrett Caufield on drums.
ARCT started out as just Monzon and Caufield, who have played in a number of projects together. After coming up with the riff for their song “Peyote Coyote,” Monzon declared they should play a show in a week.
“I’m an idiot,” Monzon said of the idea, sheepishly.
When they heard Acid Mothers Temple was coming to town, they decided they needed a demo to get on the bill. They recorded live with one mic pointed toward the drums and the other toward the bass. Monzon came in late nights to record guitar and vocals.
Their demo, released to Bandcamp on New Year’s Day, features tracks “Peyote Coyote,” “The Love and Terror Cult” and “Mystic of the Hill.” The collection of songs is littered with distortion, reverb, experimental song structure and desert imagery.
“The big, desolate landscape is a blank slate for a lot of stuff,” Caufield said.
Following roughly four live shows as a two-piece outfit, Monzon and Caufield posted on Craigslist looking for musicians in a “psych-death-band thing.”
DuBose recalls thinking, “I like death, let’s do this.”
What originally started as krautrock agrave; la Kraftwerk or Can turned into something heavier with the addition of DuBose and Law. ARCT exists in the crossroads of psychedelic, surf, doom and punk. Or, as DuBose so eloquently describes their sound, “Loud.”
ARCT remains an ever-evolving beast, a genre stew based on each member’s influences. Monzon comes from a noise punk background, with Sonic Youth informing much of his writing. DuBose listens to a lot of John Zorn, Bathory and nomeansno. As for Law, he is the band’s silent shredder, quietly analyzing every situation, ready to bust out a face-melting solo at a moment’s notice.
“Wyatt [Law] is from the ’80s,” Monzon said. “I think he was practicing, and Ozzy Osbourne was about to ask him to play. Then Randy Rhodes invented a time machine and sent him here and wiped his memory and replaced him.”
Each member is involved in some other musical project. Caufield drums for metal band Rotted Fumes. DuBose plays in the Reno Video Game Symphony. Monzon has his solo project Baby Dog. Law records at his home studio in Carson City.
A gig at the Holland Project on February 4 would have been the bandmates’ first live show all together if not for a particularly nasty snow storm that prevented Law from attending. Their performances maintain the loose improvisational spirit of their practice sessions.
“It was fun,” DuBose said. “I messed up a lot. I don’t think anyone cared, though. And that feels weirdly liberating.”
In everything the band does, they seek to break down boundaries and rebuild them on their own terms. At one point in the show, Monzon forgot the lyrics to a song he wrote the night prior. As a joke, he invited someone onstage to sing it instead. Eventually, nearly the entire crowd came onstage.
“There’s only one time to get it perfect, and that’s on record, because that’s what people are going to listen to over and over,” Monzon said. “But when you’re performing live, it’s an experience. It’s cool when things go awry or when you try something out that you wouldn’t normally do because a live setting forces you.”
What do the bandmates hope people got out of their live show?
“Tinnitus,” DuBose responded.