When Acrassicauda drummer Marwan Hussein found out on July 9 that his heavy-metal band had successfully raised $37,383 via Kickstarter to record its first full-length album, he says his reaction was elation tempered by “a sense of guilt.”
The elation: Acrassicauda’s three original members are Iraqi, and as they reached out to fans via the crowdfunding site, donors from all over the globe responded with pledges that exceeded the band’s original $33,000 goal. “I’m still in shock,” says Hussein. “It’s the first time we’ve ever had money in the band bank.” The guilt: Their success came just as the jihadist group ISIS began violently seizing large swaths of Iraq. “It escalated so fast,” says Hussein, who has nine family members in the country. “They used to say, ‘Don’t worry about us, we’re okay.’ Then they began to say, ‘If there’s any way you can get us out....' That’s when I knew it was serious.”
Formed in 2001 in Baghdad, the members of Acrassicauda -- a reference to A. Crassicauda, the Latin species name for the extremely poisonous Arabian fat-tailed scorpion -- had braved bullets, bombs and persecution for their art, as depicted in the 2007 Vice documentary, "Heavy Metal in Baghdad." After fleeing to Syria, then Turkey, the band found asylum in the United States in 2009. (They currently reside in Brooklyn and New Jersey.) In March 2010, Vice Records released their U.S. debut, the EP "Only the Dead See the End of the War," which was produced by Testament guitar virtuoso Alex Skolnick.