Dubbed "The Most Negative Band On The Planet", The Acacia Strain puts on quite the show and manages to scare plenty of new people every night with their abrasive brand of heavy music. Things get outright scary while The Acacia Strain is on stage. In fact, Jordan Buckley of Every Time I Die recently stated "I wouldn't go into an Acacia Strain mosh pit if you gave me $100 and a football helmet". I got to catch up with one of my favorite vocalists in the scene, Vincent Bennett on Valentines Day in Portland, OR.
A few days after speaking with me, the band rescued a dog from a Walmart parking lot, affectionately named "Bagels" - however, Bagels needs some medical attention before being placed in a new loving home, and you can pick up a benefit t-shirt from All In Merch here.
You can follow the band on Facebook, as well as Twitter. You can follow Vincent on Twitter as well. The band's Rise Records debut, Death Is The Only Mortal, can be purchased here.
Today is Valentine's Day. What are your first thoughts regarding the holiday?
Vincent Bennett: What are my first thoughts on Valentines Day? That it's not a real holiday, because nobody gets it off; if it was a real holiday, you wouldn't have to go to school or work.
How's the Every Time I Die tour been going for you guys?
Vincent Bennett: It's awesome. We've had some rough luck in the past couple months and we needed a good tour to boost our spirits, and this is definitely the one. We're having a great time and the shows are awesome, it's just a good feeling.
You guys recently went through a pretty nasty van accident a few months back. You guys have bounced all the way back from that, correct?
Vincent Bennett: Yeah, we're fine. I mean, some of us are a little more mentally distraught than others, but we've bounced back.
Are you still doing drawings for PayPal donations?
Vincent Bennett: I've fallen behind a little bit on that, and I apologize to anyone who hasn't gotten their drawing yet. But I have your names and your addresses. I've gotten a few "return to sender" situations where people send me the wrong address or some shit, so I've got to get their addresses right.
We're in Portland, home of Rise Records. How has your time on the label been thus far?
Vincent Bennett: Rise is great. I mean, we've had them do more for us in the one year we've been signed to them than the other labels have done in the other 6 years we've been signed. They're really personable, they're literally a phone call away, as opposed to going through all these different channels just to talk to your own record label. They treat us like human beings, you know?
As far as promotion goes, I've seen way more ads in magazines, online, etc.
Vincent Bennett: Exactly. They're not afraid to promote their bands.
Have fans chilled out about you signing to Rise?
Vincent Bennett: Yeah, because the record's out now and they've realized we're not going to change because of the record label we're on.
Yeah, and I think people forget about exactly who is on the label sometimes. For instance, you have bands like American Me, Thick As Blood, Bleeding Through, and they all do well.
Have you thought about doing a tour with these bands?
Vincent Bennett: Yeah, we've thought about doing a "Rise Records Heavy Hitters" tour, it's just never come together. We'll see if it actually works in the future.
Other than you changing your sound, are there any other misconceptions people might've had about the record?
Vincent Bennett: No, we've had a pretty positive response. There were the people who thought we were going to change, but everything that I've read or heard has been positive. Even if it was negative, I don't really care because I like the record and that's all that matters.
What makes this one stand out from your past records?
Vincent Bennett: It's 100% self-produced. We had no producer/engineer input whatsoever, we could do whatever we wanted without getting scolded or criticized. We had 100% free reign on whatever we wanted to do.
How long did you spend recording the album?
Vincent Bennett: About a month. It's funny because Kevin took about a day to track drums, I took 4 days to track vocals, and the rest of the time was spent tracking guitars.
How long did you spend writing the lyrics to this album?
Vincent Bennett: I write lyrics over a large period of time, I actually started writing these lyrics once Wormwood came out. So it took me about 2 years to put everything together.
Coming back to the vocals, you tried a few different things on this record, such as adding highs. What pushed you to do that?
Vincent Bennett: I actually did highs on the last record, it just got pulled down into the mix so you couldn't hear them. I did highs on The Dead Walk and 3750, so I wanted to bring that back and make it stand out because I do it live, so I figured I should do it on the record.
And the highs definitely come through on the live record, The Most Known Unknown, which was still fairly recent.
Vincent Bennett: Exactly.
Let's talk about the new record, Death Is The Only Mortal. The album title was inspired by a painter named L'amour Supreme, correct?
Vincent Bennett: Correct
So you took inspiration from his painting and made it work for you. If fans take your lyrics and interpret them in their own way, is that what you'd prefer?
Vincent Bennett: Yes, art is art. Whether it be painting or music, or whatever medium you use, art is always subjective. You take from it what you will. If someone takes something specific from a song because it has meaning to their life, then I'm doing what I want to do, it makes it personal from person to person.
But with lyrics like "Stop chasing your dreams, they will never come true" ("Doomblade"), you aren't concerned about someone taking it the wrong way?
Vincent Bennett: It depends on the person, everybody's different. Some people take things literally, and some look a little deeper.
You have Kirk Windstein of Crowbar on the song "Go To Sleep". What can you tell us about Crowbar?
Vincent Bennett: Crowbar is one of The Acacia Strain's biggest influences, and the fact that we got a legend to sing on our record was pretty mind blowing for us. We've been collectively listening to Crowbar since the inception of the band and before. When you think of heavy, think no further than Crowbar.
And you also had Bruce LePage of 100 Demons on Wormwood. Is there anyone else you'd like to work with?
Vincent Bennett: There's a lot of people we'd like to work with. There's dreams like Phil Anselmo (Down, Pantera). We recently got a Facebook message from Max Cavalera (Sepultura), asking for merch, so maybe the next record we'll have him on there.
Yeah, because you have atleast one more record on Rise, right?
Vincent Bennett: Yeah, we have as many as we want to.
That's fantastic. What's your favorite song to play live from the new record?
Vincent Bennett: I like playing "Dust and the Helix" a lot, because it's fast and to the point, there's no fucking around and it hits real hard.
When writing the setlist on this tour, what things went into consideration?
Vincent Bennett: First and foremost, stuff we want to play ourselves. Secondly, we ask fans what they want to hear; because we play for them, not for us. We definitely take into consideration what songs people want to hear, and pick and chose from those.
You've added "Tactical Nuke" on the end of the set, right before launching into "JFC". There's not really any lyrics to that song, was there a specific reason you added it on there?
Vincent Bennett: Fans wanted to hear it, and it's heavy as fuck, there's no getting around that.
You've had a lot of requests for that one?
Vincent Bennett: Yeah. Not like requests on the internet, but people yelling from the crowd that they want to hear that song.
"Servant In The Place of Truth" was a great single that was released before the album came out. D.L. mentioned in a past interview with us that he's always in "writing mode". With that in mind, is there a possibility we can see another brand new single or even another EP before the end of the year?
Vincent Bennett: Nothing is planned, but like he said, he's always in writing mode so we'll see.
Yeah, wasn't that Black Sabbath cover for Homefront (Video Game) pretty random though?
Vincent Bennett: Yeah, we got asked to do that and they gave us a list to pick from and "War Pigs" was the heaviest song on the list, so we figured "Why not?"
Speaking of D.L., he mentioned that he'd come back to the touring line-up at the right time and with the right tour. Have you talked recently about him doing that, or is he still at home writing?
Vincent Bennett: He's at home, that's his thing.
So there's really no chance of him coming back soon then.
Vincent Bennett: I'm not him, I'm not in his brain.
Tour plans for later this year...I can confidently say that Warped Tour is never going to happen again, right? Ha!
Vincent Bennett: No...Warped Tour...I mean, we haven't gotten asked again, I don't know if we'll ever get asked again...
Yeah, with the last day in Portland the last time you were on it and everything...
Vincent Bennett: Yeah, I don't like to talk about that...but we do have a lot of plans. Nothing is 100% definite. We're doing European tours in the summer, festival tours. After that, we're still working on it. We're playing the Jamboree in Ohio, we're doing some shows around that. But other than that, I don't really know what's going on.
What are some newer bands to check out? I remember you brought out Harms Way on the last tour that came here.
Vincent Bennett: Yeah, we tried to bring Twitching Tongues out on tour with us, but then we flipped our van. Born Low, our friends from Albany, NY. Check out Xibalba, check out Alpha & Omega because it was their van that we flipped. The internet is a wellspring of information if you're looking for new music.
If fans were looking to bring you guys gifts while you're out on tour, what sort of stuff would you like...other than Albuterol inhalers.
Vincent Bennett: Other than inhalers? Star Wars Lego sets, I've been hooked on that shit recently; I've been farming the internet, just looking for people to help me with Star Wars Legos. I don't know if anyone knew this, but I just found this out recently about a month ago - there's a Star Wars Lego Death Star, and it's $400, it comes with like 17 mini figs, and it would take any normal human being 24-38 regular man hours to build because it's GIGANTIC, it's fucking ridiculous. I just can't justify spending $400 on one.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Vincent Bennett: We're honestly lucky to be alive right now. So if people come out to our shows, that's all we care about, people coming out and having fun. Because we were pretty close to death, and we were doing what we loved. So come out, and no bullshit.
I've never liked this band, and this interview has made me like them less. He seems like one of those really annoying people that thinks heavier = better. Maybe if you weren't trying to be heavy constantly, all of your songs wouldn't sound exactly the same.
This happened. MOSH THE FUCKING PORT-O-POTTIES! MOSH THEM THE FUCK OUT! Last day, so all hell broke loose. People walking out of the Port-O-Potties unexpectedly getting punched in the face, all the Port-O-Potties got tipped over. I've never seen Kevin Lyman so upset in my life, he was screaming over his walkie talkie to cut the sound. Dr. Doom was right before they kicked into Carbomb/JFC, so the show was essentially over at that point, only 5-6 minutes left.