The ACME Principle is the dynamic Champaign rock group that has been described interestingly enough as a cross between Weezer and Black Sabbath. The group consists of vocalist and guitarist Mike Clayton, drummer Dave Domal, bassist Bob Henne and Wes Johnson on the guitar. Although The ACME Principle just released their first album, Non-Age-Appropriate Music, on March 24th, this isn’t the members’ first time around the block when it comes to the C-U music scene. As Domal puts it, “We’ve played with other people, now we’re playing together… no need to talk about our exes.”
Vocalist Mike Clayton has been making music in Champaign as far back as the 80s when he was the lead for the popular rock group Hot Glue Gun, later joining Domal in local bands Squirrel Pinata, They Came for Our Dead, Holster Monkey and Mad Science Fair. Dave has also been in bands Black Widow Maker, Texas Tim and his Dancing Dust Bunnies, The Hardest Card and Dottie and the Rail with ACME principle’s Henne. Surprisingly enough, ACME Principle’s fellow guitarist Wes Johnson originally excelled as a drummer, touring as an understudy for Carl Palmer.
Although Wes Johnson had never previously played in any bands with the other members of the crew, The ACME Principle says they owe it to him for giving the band the intensity and motivation they needed to keep making music. After playing together at the Highdive’s Annual Great Cover Up, the group realized they clicked extremely well personality-wise and musically.
The ACME Principle has been working with Parasol Label Group’s Mud Records, a record label designated for more rock-oriented bands. For Clayton, who has been with Mud Records since it first originated, the local label is like a family genuinely wanting to help out other local people. As seasoned veterans when it comes to Champaign music, Domal says it has been a rollercoaster. There have certainly been a fair share of ups and downs for all of the members of the group, but they believe Champaign music is currently on the way up. Domal said the group appreciates seeing so many new music groups from the area and venues like The Highdive and Cowboy Monkey doing all they can to help promote music.
After so many years in the industry the members were each at a point where they had to make the decision whether music was something they wanted to keep pursuing, and luckily for their listeners, they made the right choice. Non-Age-Appropriate Music serves as proof of their passion for music, still strong as ever.
Although the band’s members have all played in a plethora of different music groups, the ACME principle is distinctly different. For starters, Clayton jokes, the band is definitely a little more sober. But what really sets this band apart from their past experiences is the complete lack of self-consciousness when it comes to the AMCE Principle’s music. The band describes Non-Age-Appropriate Music as “selfish.” This time around the group is focusing on truly making music they enjoy for themselves.
The band describes the album as “a ten car pile-up on a highway to the sun. Each song melting into a new permutation of the Rock. It races past thrasher punk, skids on Hot-Rod rockabilly, drives through rap-metal, coasts down shoegazer drone and parks on a country ballad.” The spontaneity of the album can’t be denied, even seen in it’s quirky song titles, one of which, “Mr. Acorn,” originated because a member just happened to show up wearing a shirt with an acorn on it the day that particular song was worked on. With so many different genres of rock infused into the album it is guaranteed to appeal to a wide variety of listeners.
The ACME Principle promises to not disappoint at their record release party this Saturday at Mike N Molly’s.
— Smile Politely, April 3, 2015
By Jonathan Tuttle
Sometimes music is best when you throw caution to the wind and forget about any hidden agendas Just get a bunch of friends together and play music for fun; after all, isn’t that the intention?
Champaign, Illinois’ the Acme Principle did just that when creating their entertaining debut album, ‘Non-Age Appropriate Music.’ The quartet is made up of seasoned veterans Mike Clayton (guitar and vocals); Dave Domal (drums); Bob Henne (bass); and Wes Johnson (guitar). These guys are no strangers to playing in bands together. Frontman Clayton has been a part of, in one way or another, Mud Records since their infancy, playing in the influential band Hot Glue Gun. Clayton has also played with Domal in the bands Squirrel Pinata, They Came for Our Dead, Holster Monkey and Mad Science Fair. Domal has also spent time in the bands Black Widow Maker, Texas Tim and His Dancing Dust Bunnies, The Hardest Card and Dottie and the Rail with bassist Henne. Needless to say, The Acme Principle is kind of incestuous.
All formalities aside, the band’s debut is a 1990s-tinged album mixed with fuzzed-out guitars, hard-hitting drums and a bit of lo-fi thrown in for good measure. Album opener “11-Inches Tall” is a driving, bass loaded track going about 100 MPH while throwing a few “motherfuckers” out the window. “Evil Sock Hop” is an interesting mix, to say the least, with its low end distortion overlaid with crisp and clean guitar strums and a monster bridge section, while “Company Bake Sale” draws comparisons to Jane’s Addiction. In addition, if you want a little alt country jangle pop, turn up “Ms. Acorn.” Though “Lost Country” has the same chord progression as Bush’s “Come Down,” the song is the standout with its smoldering beginning leading up to the fireworks of the midsection.
Singularly, I’ve never heard Clayton sound so good on the vocals, and Domal’s drumming carries this band with his abilities to lay back for a bit of a jazz pop feel, then turn it on with monster fills and seriously hard hitting, but the unsung hero of The Acme Principle is the killer bass playing by Henne. In short, you can hear through the 10-tracks that it’s just four guys in a garage or basement having fun playing music.