A few weeks ago, I had the chance to talk to Vincent Bennet of The Acacia Strain about their new album, new members, and becoming a veteran band. He was super down to earth and fun to talk to. Here’s what we said:
Joe: Let’s start off talking about Gravebloom. Can you describe some of the themes you’ve put into the lyrics this time around?
Vincent: The whole album is about my life for the past five or six years. It’s been a rough go for a while now. I haven’t been having a great time. I figured instead of having it in the back of brain for the rest of my life, I should probably talk about it and the only way I know how to truly express my feelings is through music. So, that’s what I did. It’s sad and it’s depressing and it’s angry and it’s dark and that’s exactly what I was going for because that’s how things have been.
Joe: You’re turning a negative into a positive.
Vincent: Yeah, exactly!
Joe: I remember in an interview a couple of years ago you guys did for Coma Witch, you said your approach to composing as a band had become much more collaborative and equal. Do you think Gravebloom continues this trend?
Vincent: I think so. I think we did that even more so than Coma Witch this time because we had a plan with Coma Witch. We went in and we knew exactly what the record was going to be about. It was a concept record and we knew what we had to do. With Gravebloom, there were no real guidelines. We just kinda went for it. It was a very pure and natural expression. We all just went with the flow, with whatever came out of us. It was really cool. It was how I assume jam bands write music or like, stoner doom bands, you know? They just riff! That’s exactly what we did. Anything that came into our minds, mouths, or fingers, went into the record. It was a really cool experience. On one hand it was really freeing but at the same time we were still confined to writing while we were on the road. We had to put together a record in a couple months on tour. We really should have been more stressed than we were. It was a free flowing thing.
Joe: So I’m assuming usually when you prepare to write an album, you have a set amount of time to write a set amount of music? How did the change affect things?
Vincent: Well, with me and my lyrics, I’m always writing stuff down and with this record I could really just add anything that came to my mind in the last few years to it. Somehow, it came together to be cohesive. I really don’t understand it. I don’t sit down to write and think about it consciously. It’s more like just my thoughts here and there, whatever is floating around in my head. Somehow it all just came together and I think the music really reflects that. Like I said, there wasn’t really a guideline. With Coma Witch, we knew what it was all going to be about it. With this one, I was like, “uhh..sad?” and that was the end of it.
Joe: Are there any particular albums you like to go back to when writing?
Vincent: Every record is different. I never try and repeat myself. I don’t use myself as an influence. As human beings, we’re always changing. There’s always something new in our lives that impacts us in a positive or negative way, up or down. I’m never going to write the same way I did for another record. I’m older now and I have a different way of thinking. It’s cool when bands continue to write new records because you watch them grow and mature. That’s what I always try to go for. I never want to write the same album twice. It lingers in the back of my mind: that thought of “what if this isn’t as good as the last one?” but it’s never in the forefront. I’m never worried about it because then you’re dooming yourself.
Joe: Have recent politics or social issues made their way onto Gravebloom?
Vincent: Not really. I’m not a political person. Obviously, we’re at a weird spot in our nation’s history but I’m not gonna write about it. I wanna keep that to myself. What fuels most people’s rage and hate and dislike for a certain thing is talking about politics because we’re all in it. It’s something that affects everybody. There’s political bands out there and I really respect them but that’s just not us. For this record, I just wanted to write about myself. That might sound selfish to some people but I just needed to. It was really a need more than a want.
Joe: Griffin and Tom are pretty new to the band. What have they brought personality-wise and musically to the band since joining?
Vincent: Griffin is a really cartoony human being. He’s really fun to be around. He just eats Skittles all day and he’s basically an adult child. He’s open to creativity and everything. It’s great! Tom is really young. He was in elementary school when we started this band. He brings a different knowledge to the table. When you’ve been in a band as long as we have, you don’t fucking care about new music. It’s happenstance. You know it is exists but you just don’t get into it. Tom will show us new bands. He has a finger on the pulse. He’s keeping me youthful. He’s like my little brother keeping me hip to all the cool new kids’ things.
Joe: With such a long history as a band, do you see your influence in younger bands?
Vincent: I don’t think that way. I think bands exist because they want to play music and we might be an influence but I don’t like to think that way. If a band tells us something like that, I just think they’re being nice. A band I do see that reminds me so much of a young Acacia Strain is Knocked Loose. We brought them on tour and when I saw them play it reminded me of Acacia Strain shows 10 or 12 years ago. It was insane to watch because it’s like watching a mirror image of yourself. It’s so weird. I love those kids. They’re fucking awesome. They have no egos or anything. They just want to play aggressive music and bounce.
Joe: On your recent EP with Fit For An Autopsy and Thy Art Is Murder, you did a cover of “Black Hole Sun”. Can we expect a performance of it live on any Warped Tour shows?
Vincent: I don’t think we could do it justice live, honestly. We just wanted to do it something fun for that EP. I don’t like doing covers live. It’s fun to do on a record but that’s all it is. We did a cover of “War Pigs” but we never did that live either. I don’t know. When people come to see us play, they wanna see our songs. You know, rest in peace. Now, you’ll never see Soundgarden play “Black Hole Sun” again and that’s the mystique of the whole thing. That song is even more legendary now that it was before. No one will see that song live again. It’s a cool mythos. I wanna play Acacia Strain songs.
Joe: Final question. What song are you most proud of or most excited to play live on this next tour?
Vincent: I enjoy “Abyssal Depths” the most. It’s a good dynamic in the middle of the record. Starts soft, goes hard. It’s such a non-Acacia Strain song to me. It’s a weird balance. I think it’s gonna hit people in a really good way.
Joe: Well, I can’t wait to hear it. Thank you so much for this interview, man.
Vincent: Thanks, man! See you around.
Acacia Strain’s new album drops June 30th on Rise Records. You can read our review of it here.