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Scorpion Child: Fear and Loathing in Austin, Texas


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Scorpion Child is a band that revitalises a bygone era. The young Texan five-piece don’t just make classic rock n’ roll, but they live and breathe classic rock n’ roll.

The motley crew of vocalist Aryn Black, guitarist Christopher Cowart, bassist Alec Padron, drummer Jon “Charn” Rice and keyboardist AJ Vincent embodies the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll lifestyle, so much so that they named their brand new concept album Acid Roulette.

And if you don’t know what acid roulette is, Aryn’s on-hand to help you out.

“You cut up a sheet of acid into little squares and then you cut up a sheet of paper into little squares,” the singer smiles.

“You put all the pieces into a jar and then you shake it up. Then everybody takes five pieces of paper, so you have no idea if you’ve got five hits of acid or one with four placebos. It’s quite brilliant: a lot of people get significantly more fucked up than others.”

And Scorpion Child have found a way to work their unique pastime into the story of the album, in which a man is wrongly imprisoned for murder and ends up losing his family.

“It symbolises escape in the story. The man has such a horrible experience losing his wife and children to another man in the false conviction of murder. He found out that she was leaving him while he was away, so he has to go through a grieving process.

“And he remembered when he was a teenager going out into the desert with his friends, playing acid roulette, which he brought into the prison walls to offer him an escape and a little bit of joy. He plays it with the other inmates and watches the guards just lose their minds. So it’s the X factor, the release from dealing with the pain of human emotion.”

The unpredictable and enigmatic nature of Scorpion Child also presents itself in the album’s recording, which – like the band’s 2013 debut – was heralded by producer Chris “Frenchie” Smith.

“The first album was such a process to make: there was so much conflict. We tried suing each other afterwards but then came back just to realise that we’re like best buds. The idea of making another record together, it sounded pretty incredible. We said to each other ‘Yo! Let’s just make another record together,’ then we went ahead and did it. He’s crazy, I’m crazy: it just works!

“I think everybody’s just insane enough to let this happen again and I feel like we’ve made something even more incredible this time around, because of the ups and downs with Frenchie. He’s a wonderful person. We went from loving him to hating him to loving him even more. We always support one another’s endeavours.”

Scorpion Child’s self-titled debut was a hit both critically and commercially, which inherently places a lot of pressure on the follow-up, Acid Roulette.

“If you focus on the pressure that they like to put on you while you’re doing it, then I can see it being quite difficult. I just kind of ignored all that: ‘Yeah yeah yeah, I get it! It’s gotta be good, I get it!’ But we focused more on one another to see how we could get this one out and it actually worked quite well.”

But despite this, the band’s die-hard fans are proving to be greatly optimistic for the new album.

“We released [‘She Sings, I Kill’] as a sample, a teaser. It was a rough mix of that song, like a demo. We’re gonna have a single for ‘Reaper’s Danse’ and an animated music video to accompany it. It should be coming out in a couple of days.

“Overall I think people have been pretty excited about it. I think people are ready to hear it as a whole piece – which is how it was intended to be heard – to delineate and figure out where they sit with it.

“Obviously there are going to be those people that don’t really listen to something: the people that automatically think the first record’s got to be the better one. They set it in their minds that that’s how they’re going to decipher it.

“And then there’s those people that cannot wait to hear what the new line-up sounds like. So we get all kinds of response, but mostly good.”

Three line-up changes have been made to the Scorpion Child band since the previous album, namely with the additions of Jon Rice, AJ Vincent and Alec Padron.

“I think with this line-up, we don’t have to sit around and pine over parts for months and months and months or change things just to arrive a year later back at the original idea. The problem with the older set-up was that we’d just overthink everything,” says Aryn.

“Playing the original idea and then the song we finally came up with, they were almost identical. But these guys, they know when to leave it alone, so it makes song-writing much quicker.

“And the musicianship is so incredible now; everybody’s making everybody else involved so much better. We’re challenged by one another, which is great. It’s brilliant to have something work synonymously and so well.”

Scorpion Child’s brand of old-school anarchy will be hitting the UK next week, when they play the second stage of Download Festival on Saturday 11th June.

“We love playing in front of giant crowds. I know some people do and some people don’t, but I think it’s more uncomfortable playing in front of your parents and two or three other people in a room.

“But what I don’t like is the 25-foot barricade and that open space between a giant stage and the crowd. But I guess with a crowd that massive it will feel like they’re only a few feet in front of you. There’s a connection because there’s so many people, but you’re so disconnected because you have a huge gap in front of you and then a line of security.

“They make the crowd far away so you can’t stage-dive. You’re gonna have to get a pole-vault to jump in. That’s actually a good idea! laughs Aryn.

This has been but a brief insight into the insanely unpredictable existence of Scorpion Child. If you happen to be going to Download Festival this year, be sure to head to the Zippo Encore Stage and prepare yourself for a round of acid roulette as well as Aryn Black soaring into your face on a 25-foot pole.

And if that won’t be enough for you, the band will be back in October: “The calendar’s starting to fill up; we have one [tour] in October that we’re gonna announce soon with Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats for Europe. And there’ll be a couple festival appearances there too.”

Whether you’re heading to Download or catching Uncle Acid and Scorpion Child in the autumn, you’re guaranteed a show the likes of which rock n’ roll hasn’t seen in years.

Scorpion Child’s brand new album, Acid Roulette, will be available physically and digitally via Nuclear Blast Records on 10th June. Read our review of the album here.

Scorpion Child will be playing the Zippo Encore Stage at Download Festival on 11th June.

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