Acey Slade “One of my favourite things about music is connecting people, and we all connect over coffee” CatFight Coffee Interview

You have probably heard Acey Slade play with bands like Murderdolls, Dope, Trashlight Vision, his own solo projects, or seen him on -stage with Misfits or Joan Jett and The Blackhearts lately. Now with all this rock n roll experience, he has decided to launch a brand new product and it’s not a beer, a movie, or clothing line: it’s coffee. A lot of the rock and metal community share a love for the caffeinated substance so it’s only fitting someone of his caliber does this. So we caught up with Acey to talk about what it takes to set up a coffee business, his experience in all the great bands he has played with, and the struggles in the States and around the world.

So how are you, and how do you feel about what’s going on in the States, and the world?

It’s obviously challenging and very heavy. Especially her sin New York between coronavirus and that had led into the protests. It’s difficult as a “public figure” I have to be careful, I’ve put my foot in my mouth a couple of times by getting behind causes, like PETA for example, and found out their affiliated European associations were killing seals. But I didn’t know about this. The death of George Floyd is an atrocious thing. It makes it tough because you have to make sure you say the right thing. I’m sad and I’m fuckin’ angry. What it really comes down to is leadership. I come from Newark, which has had a horrendous reputation of being like the Detroit of the East Coast. We have a high minority population and our mayor is black and most of their police officers are black. At their protest yesterday, the mayor was at the front of it. The police worked closely as well, and it was peaceful. Newark has had some of the worst riots in the 1950s, I think it was, that’s why leadership should be an example. 

It’s a weird time to be an American, so when I saw they were happening in the UK – I took it a little less personal as an American if you know what I’m saying. I’ve always felt such solidarity with my friends in the UK. It was my second home for a while. I’ve been to more places in England than most English people (laughs). When our current president was elected it was like ‘What did you do?’ And then shortly after, Brexit happened so I was like ‘Hey guys…?’ (laughs). My wife is from Taiwan and she has a home in Taiwan, which is a close kinship with Hong Kong. Hong Kong has a lot of oppression now. I suppose what I mean is: it isn’t an American problem, it’s a global problem. 

It certainly is a horrible situation. Let’s hope it get’s the attention it deserves.

Your new venture is the coffee company, CatFight Coffee, so after being in so many great bands over the years – why coffee?

Well…(smiles) you can’t digitally download coffee yet. About 10 years ago I went to the school of cosmetology… to become a hairdresser… my logic was it’s recession-proof, it’s an occupation that will never have to worry about losing its job, etc. Yet here we are and all the hairdressers can’t go to work. There’s bittersweet humour to that. But I love coffee, I always have,  it brings people together. Plus there’s not a coffee that represents people like you and me who love rock n roll and love punk rock. A lot of the good coffee companies are very hipster-y, quite elitist. If you ask any questions they can be quite snarky. So, I wanted to create a coffee company that was a lot of fun, that had a real community to it for rock n roll/punk/metal to it, and didn’t have its head up its ass. I saw a market for it.

 I love playing music and one of my favourite things about that is connecting people, and we all connect over coffee: whether it be a friend you haven’t seen in a long time or you go to lunch or even breakfast. It has that similar component to it. 

So what kind of work goes in to setting up a coffee business?

The first thing we contemplated doing was something called ‘private labeling’ where you find a coffee company you like, then put their coffee in your bag. That happens with a lot of different things, it’s common practice across the board. You buy stuff that might just be in a different box. We started to do more research and decided we didn’t want to do that. We wanted our own thing. The roasting mechanisms are very expensive so we do something called ‘pulverizing’ I contact an importer, I test out the beans, I do a ‘cupping’ (which is like a tasting),  you do a roasting profile and take the beans to my roaster. We sit down and come up with a game plan and then we roast our beans and put them in our bags.

Where did the iconography, and name for Catfight Coffee come from?

I have to admit I was wrestling with a name for a while. My wife told me to sit down and write down some words that I like, I thought it was a terrible idea … but okay. So we wrote down a bunch of words and went on a website that gives you synonyms of different words.  So I ended up with words like “black, onyx, shadow… black shadow” and things like that. ‘Cat’ was one of the words, but things like ‘Cat coffee’ didn’t work. I’m a cat lover, I always had cats for pets, or maybe they have me as a pet. I’m not sure! Then ‘catfight’ just popped into my head when I was driving and I told my wife and she said: “That’s it!” Once I said the name out loud I could envision it. It goes with B-movies, leather jackets, Doc Martins, switchblades, the aesthetic we’re very familiar with. 

So is this going to replace your music career, or work along side-by-side? 

Side-by-side for sure. I have my wife as my business partner, with the two of us there will never be a lag. We’re lucky at the level of touring that I do, that we are very well taken care of. I can do work on my laptop at the airport, I can do work from a dressing room, I can really be mobile and take care of my business. 

So what’s your ‘global domination’ plan?

This might sound weird but I don’t think I’d want to be as big as a brand like Costa, for example. I mean Starbucks was cool to a point until socialites (Acey poses like an Instagram model at this point) started taking photos of their Starbucks cup. So I’d hate to think we would ever lose our ‘cool level’ that way. I see us more as a community. We started off as a coffee company but started our social media with contests, Spotify playlists before we even sold one bag of coffee. Let’s build our community from the inside first. I’d like it to be overseas to save on shipping. But global domination? I’ve never been one to be a corporate motherfucker! But at the same time, I want to know this business is run like a real business. 

Kind of moving it over to your music career, would you ever do a coffee for any of the bands you have worked with like Dope, Murderdolls, etc. ?

Absolutley. I’m going to do one for Halloween, I won’t say which band but it shouldn’t be hard to figure out! 

Sticking with the music, do you have any more tours planned?

Right now, everything on hold – which is a bummer! Everything I had planned for the year fell through, like a Russian tour with Dope is meant to happen in November. Hopefully, that’s still on the books, something to look forward to at the end of the year. Unfortunately, there are no plans for anything. I was supposed to play a gig in May, in Mexico City. I was just hoping that the gig would happen. We knew this would happen sooner or later just not when. 

I feel on behalf of RAMzine readers everywhere, it is my duty to ask this: Would you be up for a Muderdolls reunion?

Absolutely. It’s a weird thing. I can’t give Wednesday 13 enough credit. He is at the top of his fucking game right now, he is just crushing it. I don’t think it will happen any time soon. That’s not in a pessimistic way. More the fact that someone else is doing really well with their own thing. I would love for it to happen very soon and there are no bad vibes between myself and Wednesday, we spent months on the road together last year. I enjoy watching him every night so …yes! We also had a great time at Ben [Graves, Murderdolls drummer who passed away in 2018]’s memorial too.

One thing that Wednesday is doing right now, that I think is great is the fact he has finally found a way to step out of the shadow of a lot of other shock-rockers. He’s doing something really original, not that he wasn’t before, but certainly what he is doing now is very original. 

Does it feel weird talking about these things over a decade later when some bands have somewhat of an expiry date?

I think that’s why we all have good chemistry, we are ‘lifers’, we all love this. None of us were like ‘well it didn’t work out so I’m going back to my job at the pet shop’. For example, people like myself and Wednesday had times where things weren’t so great and our careers stalled out. That’s true of anybody though. For example, Alice Cooper, has times when his career wasn’t going so well. KISS, any band has that but if you stay in there it comes back up. 

Speaking of KISS, Gene Simmons said a few years ago that ‘Rock Is Dead’, do you believe that?

Depends on the context. When I was growing up: I went to the mall or the gym or a public place you would hear Def Leppard or AC/DC playing. You don’t have that now.  What I find ironic in that statement though is we don’t actually want our music there, do we? As long as the spirits there,  there’s some kid in a small town somewhere, who hates his fucking life and picks up a guitar, to blow off steam or show the world what he’s made of then rock n roll’s alive. 

You have played with some of your idols like Joan Jett, among others,  is there any band you would love to play with at least once?

The bands I currently play with – Misfits and Dope, and if there’s a Murderdolls reunion – I’d be alright with that. It would be cool to play with Nine Inch Nails or Rob Zombie, but if I only play with those 3 bands for the rest of my life: that’s cool. 

To steal a question from my friends from The Undead 13 podcast: If you were to form a band from horror movie characters, who would play what and why?

I’d have to say Sammy Kerr from Trick Or Treat would have to be there. Well it’s a band, so I’d have to put him in there. Plus the guy who plays guitar from Slumber Party Massacre II [doesn’t have a name but credited as ‘The Driller Killer’] so there’s two guys … who else? Someone who could hit something, not Jason with his machete… Wouldn’t mind having Candyman on drums. He has a hook for a hand so he might rip the drum skin. Maybe chainsaw Charlie because he has all the skin. [Reagan from The Excorist] could throw up on the crowd, pee on them, do the GG Allin thing. 

To settle a kind of rumour, is the ‘Slade’ part of your name a nod to the British Glam Rock band? Or just sounds cool?

Oh, yes! It absolutely was taken from the band Slade, who I still think is one of the best bands ever. Noddy Holder is one of THE best rock vocals. 

So, was the British music scene important to you growing up?

Once Nirvana came on the music scene I got more into some British bands. Dogs D’amour, The Wildhearts, Yo-Yos, Manics, It was an interesting time because I wasn’t a fan of the LA Hair Metal thing, so I was glad to see that go. But, I wasn’t a big fan of the Seattle scene either. 

You. can order a bag of CatFight Coffee by clicking here, keep an eye on RAMzine too for further news on CatFight Coffee and Acey’s music projects.

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