Acid Tongue and Shaina Shepherd Are "Suffering For You" (KEXP Premiere)

KEXP Premiere
Jasmine Albertson

In the words of our lord and savior, Olivia Rodrigo, “God, it’s brutal out here!” In one of the, I’m sure, many ways that he relates to Rodrigo, Guy Keltner is also feeling the heat. His forthcoming Acid Tongue record, Arboretum, delves into the various brutalities of living, not just as a human but as one with some influentiality, where the pressure is high and trust hard to find. But his greatest agony, like Rodrigo, is that of the heart and the fucked-up ex who broke it.

In order to accurately portray this tale of torment, Keltner and his bandmate Ian Cunningham recruited local luminary and Bearaxe frontwoman Shaina Shepherd for the Arboretum track “Suffering For You.” Officially out tomorrow, November 5th, but shared a day early via KEXP, the song displays the range of new sounds Acid Tongue is unveiling on the new record.

Usually known for rolling out glam rock scorchers, “Suffering For You,” sees the band pull back on the theatrics to let the lyrics shine. The purposely strummed guitar keeps the energy high while hints of twinkling piano shimmer around Keltner’s gravelly admissions of continuing to come back to a person who treats them like absolute garbage.

About halfway through, Shepherd joins him in support. Her husky voice trembles and warbles with the emotion of someone who’s also tried to please someone who will never accept them as enough. Then, by the last refrain of the chorus, more voices come in, both in vocal and instrument form, crying out like a call to arms as if to say, “We see you, we’ve been there too. You don’t have to suffer anymore. You can choose something else.”

Keltner and Shepherd had this to say about the song:

Guy Keltner:
I have been through so many tough relationships in my life that the original inspiration for this tune had become slightly lost to me when I finally showed it to Shaina earlier this year. She met me on a sunny day in Tacoma to lend her voice to our new record, and she had a lot of questions for me. Why was I in so much pain? Was I the subject of the song? I broke it down to her that, growing up in an abusive household, I gravitated towards dysfunctional relationships. I poured all of my shame and all of my suffering into these lyrics. Shaina added so much depth to this song - her voice has the ability to simultaneously communicate so much fragility and an overwhelming, aching intensity.
Shaina Shepherd:
Getting in the studio with Acid Tongue was the homie hang. After spending time in Guy's living room building out songs during the quarantine, hanging at Alma Mater was tops. Guy wrote the song about a toxic relationship feeding on and on for the speaker — I've been there. I asked him what he was feeling on that line "every flower has a weed, like yin and yang", and he said he was resigned. He's a great songwriter — it's honest in its passionate, tortured resignation.


Listen to “Suffering For You” below. Arboretum follows last year’s Bullies LP and drops November 12th via Freakout Records, which also happens to be the weekend of 2021’s Freakout Festival. Both Acid Tongue and Shaina Shepherd will be playing that night on the Salmon Bay High stage. Olivia Rodrigo has yet to announce tour dates, unfortunately.


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