The latest book in the Attack Magazine online store is ‘A Brief History of Acid House’. It’s a colourful, fun and highly enjoyable new book about the history and legacy of Acid House. We spoke with the author, Suddi Raval, to find out more.
Attack: The striking thing with your book is that your passion for the genre clearly comes across. It feels personal. Can you tell us more about your history?
Suddi: My love of music began with Acid House but my passion extended to me forming a band with my best friend Jonathan Donaghy after we met at the Blackburn raves. We only ever wanted our record ‘Hardcore Uproar’ to be heard at the Hacienda but it just grew and grew and then the major labels came bidding for us. It was incredible to be at the centre of a bidding war but in all honesty, it wasn’t something I felt comfortable with as there is no love for what they do. It is purely driven by money.
I never wanted to sign to Pete Tongs label FFRR but somehow we were forced to by our lawyer. We were kids in our teens so easily duped but FFRR wasn’t a bad label to be on but we always wondered what might have happened if we signed to the label we wanted to Deconstruction. I still think to this day that we could have concocted the bidding war to inflate our advances. I wish we were that clever!
When did you have the idea to make the book?
The idea has been knocking about for many years and it was going to be called Encyclopaedia Acidica. I broke my leg early 2017 and as I was sat at home unable to move, I got my laptop out and started making this version which started out as “An Acid House Bedtime story”. Friends advised me to ditch the title if I wanted to find some success with it. I’m glad I listened to them.
What inspired you?
One of the things that inspired me is that I have most of the books on Acid House out there and they are so serious, at times academic which can be great but Acid House was fun and colourful so I wanted to create something that reflected the mood of the music and the people who followed it.
How long did it take to make?
It probably took about 3 months in total which doesn’t sound like long but all the various chapters from the Roland intro, pages on Chicago and Phuture, the stuff about Police riots and even the smiley face pages, they were all going to form a part of the predecessor Encyclopaedia Acidica so even if the pages weren’t written fully, I’d been thinking about these themes for years.
How on earth do you break down Acid House into 60 pages? What made you decide what did and what did not make the cut?
If I had had forever this would have been, god knows how long!
It was very difficult deciding what to keep in. I have a trick for my writing. As I could not pass the text to an editor whenever I need a second opinion, I put all the text into a voice synthesizer. This way, it feels like someone else is reading your story to you. You can then get a better feel for what to keep and what to cut.
If you going to publish something it has to be bang on. I run stuff I am unsure about to close friends. They can be ruthless but honest feedback is golden in any creative field.
Tell us about the illustrations.
To be honest, I wish I had so much more time for the illustrations.
I have never drawn anything before! I had the images in my head, I knew what I wanted and I even met up with some graphic designers to get an idea of costs and it was many hundreds per image so I realised very early on, if I wanted to do this I am going to have to try myself.
I wasn’t sure how the images would be received at all. I was actually quite nervous telling anyone about it or showing any one. So I thought I’d do it in secret and if its crap no one needs to know
How did the book chop and change as you were making it?
The biggest change was the decision to not make it a kid’s books. Some of the ideas still remain like the more controversial political stuff might have been a lot more serious if I came at this with a more serious mind set initially but I felt it was important to not get overly serious and certainly not come across as bitter about anything that the media and government did.
But the overall tone changed dramatically and this was one of the things friends universally advised me: don’t make it a kids book. I am really glad I made that change before finishing it.
The book is fun and irreverent. A bit like Acid House maybe?
Absolutely. I have read so many books on the subject that are so serious, and whilst there is a place for that there is room for some less formal writing too.
Even in this book, ‘fake news’ is a theme which happens to be more poignant than ever today. What’s the solution?
It’s a tricky one. The very people who you think you can trust to provide you with the news and information you rely on are bullshitting us. I wish it was illegal. I find it incredible that you can print any lies you want for your own personal gain and there is no come back.
Have you got an original TB-303?
As well as the original TB-303, I think I have every 303 hardware clone there is! I tell a lie I don’t have the Avalon. It is too expensive but I still want it. You could say I am a collector, some might say I am, a bit obsessed.
Can you recommend any soft synth versions of the TB-303?
As far as soft versions go, I would highly recommend Audio Realisms 303. It’s a cracking bit of programming. I interviewed the designer and owner of it years ago for the precursor of A Brief History Of Acid House and it was obvious this man understood the machine in ways most of took for granted.
Tell us a story from the Hacienda.
On the 8th birthday of the Hacienda, Mike Picketing played ‘Hardcore Uproar’ and for the first time in Hacienda’s history, balloons came raining down on the crowd below.
With it’s atmospheric Star Wars-stealing intro, the place erupted in ways I had never seen. Me and Jonathan were so blown away we didn’t dance for a while but just starred in disbelief at what we were seeing. Then it occurred to us to get on the dance floor. We were virtually doing cartwheels by the middle of the track.
Have any scientists pulled you up on the Periodic Table of Dance Music?
Haha! Not yet. I think most of my friends know I have a slightly nerdy side with my love of Star Wars and Sci-Fi they are not surprised at all. I have a slight interest in some scientific subjects too so this was a perfect thing to parody.
A Brief History of Acid House is out now and available at the Attack online store priced at £14.99.