Leading the way in the heavy music scene with animosity, raw power and adrenaline stand The Acacia Strain. Set to blaze our shores this coming month, the relentlessly heavy band is sure to pull crowds in abundance. Bass player Jack Strong checked in from the studio to talk with us about the tour, what they stand for and the pros and cons of heavy music.
You guys are coming down under this month for an Australian run.
I can confidently say for all of us in the band that Australia is our favourite place to tour, because it’s such a nice place to tour and play.
What was your last experience down under like?
That was pretty interesting. We played what was left with the scraps of Soundwave Revolution. We ended up playing our own headliner alongside the little mini-festival that got out together after Revolution’s cancellation. We pretty much followed that tour around. It was great because we’d play a show then have a day or two off. It meant we could do all the exploring and touristy stuff we wanted so it was really nice. It afforded us more of an opportunity to go an see everything we wanted it I guess.
Now there’s no doubt about it that The Acacia Strain are a heavy and intense band on record. How do you go about putting all that animosity from the studio onto the stage?
We pretty much just go out and play the songs. We’re just five guys playing our respective instruments. There’s nothing really that special or magical that goes into it. We just want to have that raw, movie energy. So many bands we liked were like that and the live experience is something we really try and make a big part of the band. So many bands are great on the record and then their live performance is a bit weird and we try and get them as equal to the record. The experience is unmatched when you go see a band you like and they’re fantastic and great, and it becomes an awesome experience. We just like to be a regular band out there, no fancy tricks or things like that. No pyro or that kind of thing. We’re just five dudes who go out and have a good time live.
Now before I ask this next question, I want to know, what genre do you see The Acacia Strain as?
I see us as a heavy band. I have heard the term "deathcore band" before and it seems to be making its way around these days. I’m still unclear as to how one could break it down; I’ve never consulted with a deathcore specialist before who can tell me where the fine line is. I think if a band is a heavy metal band, then they’re heavy metal, if they’re hardcore, they’re hardcore. Not to be reduced to one of those cliches who don’t believe in labels and genres but I see no point to it. I see no reason in it. It is just some extra non-consequential thing people like to talk about.
Okay well that still let’s me ask the next question. As you said, you see yourself as a heavy band and the way I see it, is that these heavy bands are slowly coming into fruition in the public eye. It’s becoming a lot more open and less taboo in the maninstream to acknowledge these bands as actual musicians. What are your thoughts on that statement?
I think it’s really interesting and I think you probably notice that a LOT more down in Australia. I feel like there is so much competition and money involved in the mainstream acts these days whether it be pop-stars or indie-rock bands. I feel like there is such a huge barrier in the heavy music scene of getting into the mainstream over here in the states. And the bands who are like that, it’s because they’ve been around for thirty-fucking years. It’s really fascinating in Australia with Parkway Drive for example; they’re huge! You don’t really see a lot of bands like that in the states because bands like that don’t make it to the mainstream over here like they have. I don’t know why it’s happening to them or to other bands here that get big but I’m glad it is. It is odd however that there is an idea that being in a metal band, you have to be underground and small.
Leading in from that question; what do you love, and what do you hate about the heavy music scene?
I love that it is a positive outlet for a negative emotion. It’s an output for bad feelings in a great way. But what I hate is ALL the fucking bands. It’s just too much. It’s so overly saturated. No one can just go to a show and live a normal life. Everyone has to be in a band. That sucks. It sucks because there’s such a huge difference in the majority of bands in this scene than there were ten years ago. It’s not my place to say who should and shouldn’t be in a band but boy I find it annoying! Just too many fucking people trying to do the same thing. I don’t know – I can’t do it, these bands with their crazy hair and crazy logos and skinny jeans, it’s all too much (laughs).
I can safely say that it is exactly the same down here (laughs)! Now Vincent [Bennett, vocals] does have a certain style to his lyrics. They’re pretty macabre and dark, and at times violent. How do you feel when he brings these violent and confrontational lyrics to you guys, taking Mouth of the River for example?
Well I think the way that he deals with his lyrics is he does them entirely on his own. That is his end of the whole deal of the band. He’ll usually end up doing the lyrics when we’re recording the new album. But there is a lot of people that take what he says to heart in a too literal way. Not a metaphorical or poetic way, which makes them miss what he’s trying to convey. They look at it as, "Oh that’s ‘she’, it must be about a girl". Like an actual thing and not a metaphorical figure in poetic-license. They read too far into it and too literally and they miss it all. Which is why he’s labelled as a misogynistic pig. Well, no, he’s not and he’s never been like that. I guess they’re just missing the point.
You’ve no doubt been asked this but are you worried about that someone will maybe take it too literally to the point where it becomes their central belief ideas and they become violent and spiteful towards others or life in general? Because it’s been known to happen.
You know, I think its [the lyrics] doing as much damage as whatever video game or Marilyn Manson song is influencing kids these days to grab a gun and take it to school. You can’t come out with stuff creatively and hold yourself accountable with whatever weird concoction that a strange childhood or medicated mood-disorder makes them come up with and what may or may not happen through some interpretation they have.
So you guys are in the studio at the moment, what’s the go? Is it a new album, a single? Are you writing or recording?
We are working on a new album and we are recording. We’ve been working on it for about three weeks and we should be done in about a week. I guess we haven’t really put out anything saying that we’re recording via press releases or Facebook. We’re not trying to keep it quiet or anything. But yeah, we’re in the studio and we’re nearly done on the album.
Now that you’ve written it and you’re recording it, what do you think is the direction of it?
I think that, without sounding too drastic, yes it does sound different. It still sounds like the same band but I think we’ve incorporated new ideas into it. It’s nothing new and wild, with synths and singing but it’s definitely riffier. I really like it, I’m really happy with how its going and I just hope everyone else is on board. I think it holds true to our past but also opens up a new future for us.
How complex do you like to get on your bass parts? Do you like it to be pretty clever of you enjoy getting the job done and getting it heavier?
With this new record a lot of what I do is following the guitars. There are some parts where Kevin and I work together like some weird kick patterns and go off on our own. It’s more prominent on this record but I really back up the guitars a lot as with this genre and the amount of low end if everyone is off doing their own stuff, it just sounds like mud. And then it won’t be that pipe crushing sound we’re going for.
Last question in relation to your bass parts; you no doubt have a heavy and crushing sound and with that comes the "only using open-string and first-fret" jokes. How do you respond to those comments and jokes?
I’ve actually never responded to it before. I get the joke, I think it’s funny as it’s accurate in a humorous way. I’m not bothered by it as everyone makes jokes about everything. If you take yourself too seriously you become the joke. So let ’em joke, people say worse shit about our band. So it’s fine with me as it’s funny and it’s not a literal interpretation of our music as we’ve been known to experiment the fifth fret and even the fourth fret sometimes.
Thanks so much for your time, Jack. All the best for the tour and I can’t wait to see you guys.
Thanks, Matt, take care.
Killyourstereo.com presents The Acacia Strain on their Australian tour this April/May.
…with Aversions Crown and Graves.
Wed 23 April – YMCA HQ, Perth AA
Thurs 24 April – Amplifier Bar, Perth 18
Fri 25 April – Fowlers Live, Adelaide Lic/AA
Sat 26 April – Bang, Melbourne 18
Sun 27 April – Arrow On Swantson, Melbourne AA
Tues 29 April – The Basement, Canberra 18
Wed 30 April – The Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle 18
Thurs 1 May – Lansdowne Hotel, Sydney 18
Fri 2 May – Studio Six, Sydney Lic/AA
Sat 3 May – The Lab, Brisbane AA
Sat 3 May – Thriller, Brisbane 18
Sun 4 May – Expressive Grounds, Gold Coast AA