Interview with The Acacia Strain's Vincent Bennett
Band Photo: The Acacia Strain (?)
Four-piece metalcore act The Acacia Strain have been moshing their way across the globe since releasing their latest album “Continent” last August. Amidst a heavy touring schedule, the band made a one-night only pit stop on Dec. 28, 2008 in their home state of Massachusetts to film a special show for an upcoming DVD release. While the exact details of the DVD haven't yet been solidified, frontman Vincent Bennett graciously answered a few of our questions about the DVD filming, the importance of visualizing music, and what lies ahead for the band.
Pamela Porosky: I hear the DVD show was a smashing success. When will the DVD be available?
Vincent Bennett: I have no idea. All of the video has to be compiled and looked over. All of the audio still needs to be listened to, mixed and synched. This is for two shows as well. Plus, we have a bunch of other stuff that we want to do for extras and fun stuff. So who knows, maybe mid 2009? Not 100 per cent sure, though. Nothing is ever definite with us.
Porosky: How did you record the sound at the DVD show?
Bennett: Microphones were placed on the instruments and the sound was run through a mixing board into a computerized recording program. Easy as pie.
Porosky: Are you going to go back into the recording studio and tweak anything audio-wise?
Bennett: Not sure. Maybe, but that’s kind of like cheating. We aren’t cheaters.
Porosky: For those who weren't at the DVD filming, can you give us an idea of what it was like?
Bennett: We recorded a show at our hometown venue The Waterfront in Holyoke, MA. It was awesome. There were over 500 kids packed into this venue that fits about 400 people comfortably. Plus, it was the end of June so it was a hot, sweaty mess. Fun for the whole family!
Porosky: Are there going to be any sneak peeks prior to the DVD release?
Bennett: Nope! Actually, I don’t know... that would make sense. We give sneak peaks to about everything else we do, so why not?
Porosky: How much of an affect does the visual aspect of music have on you personally?
Bennett: A lot. I first started listening to hardcore and metal when I was about 14 and it kind of captivated me. But when I saw these bands live on stage it pulled me in 100 per cent. I knew I wanted to do that. Seeing live music gives an extra depth to the music. You see it, you feel it, and you hear it.
Porosky: What do you hope, as a band, to accomplish through releasing a visual component of your music?
Bennett: To show kids who have never seen us what we are all about live, and to remind people who have seen us what we are like live. Being recorded live is kind of like being immortal. The band might break up and we might all die, but that DVD is always there to remind people we existed.
Porosky: It seems a lot of bands are going the DVD route nowadays. What inspired you?
Bennett: Our label said "We want to do a DVD for The Acacia Strain," and we said "Okay."
Porosky: How do you keep your physical CD releases relevant in this day and age of downloading?
Bennett: I think there are still people out there who like to own physical music. Whether they collect vinyl or really like the artwork or they just really want to own the CD. They understand that the greater technology isn’t the only way. My iPod crashed and I lost all of my digital music, but I still had the CDs to back it up so it wasn’t really lost. It’s obvious that people are still going to download and not buy, but they still have the music. They are still listening to it and that’s all that really matters as an artist, right? I didn’t start down this road because I wanted to make money. And anyone who did is a fake.
Porosky: There's some really funky artwork with “Continent.” What goes into packaging design for an Acacia Strain album?
Bennett: Basically this is how it goes down: I figure out a concept for the album and I visualize how the concept looks in my brain. I call our artist Paul Romano about 300 different times with about 7000 different ideas. Paul takes note of all 7000 ideas and tries to put them all into one concept. The "Continent" artwork is the visualization of all these ideas taken from all of the song lyrics and the 7000 ideas from my brain.
Porosky: With so much music to choose from, how do you, as band, make yourselves stand out?
Bennett: We try to do the exact opposite of what is really cool and popular at the time, and we make it ours. And then we make it cool and popular.
Porosky: Are you currently working on material for a new album?
Bennett: I'm sure [guitarist] DL [Laskiewicz] is. He is always writing.
Porosky: Is writing something the band always keeps in mind, or do you set time aside just for the purpose of writing?
Bennett: I am always writing lyrics. Little by little though, nothing really extensive until we really start writing. Like I said, DL is always coming up with ideas and documenting them on his computer. The way we did it for “Continent” worked out really well, we set aside three or four months just to write. We met like two or three times a week and got the job done.
Porosky: So when can Acacia Strain fans look forward to hearing new material?
Bennett: Hopefully mid-2010. That would be optimal, but nothing is set in stone.
Porosky: When writing lyrics, where do you draw inspiration from?
Bennett: Hatred, nihilism, humanity's dependence on technology, and my complete disgust for existence.
Porosky: What is one of your favorite songs to play live and why?
Bennett: “Dr. Doom.” It’s fast and it hits fucking hard. I like it more when kids circle pit though... doesn’t happen much.
Porosky: Can you describe how that song was originally written?
Bennett: No, because I don’t remember anything about writing “Continent.” I kind of blacked out. I just kind of remember going "God damn, I want to play that song live already."
Porosky: Is that how you typically approach song writing?
Bennett: Blacking out? Yes. I don’t even remember writing lyrics.
Porosky: Do things change up when the band performs live, or do you try and adhere to the album versions?
Bennett: We change it up sometimes. Obviously we can’t bust out the hot solos because we only have one guitar player. We also slow some key parts down. It adds to the atmosphere of our live show.
Porosky: What else can fans look forward to when watching you live, whether heading out to an Acacia Strain show or picking up the DVD when it's released?
Bennett: Violence, lots of violence. It’s a positive outlet to negative emotions. Anyone who says the Acacia Strain endorses fighting is dead wrong. Get a grip. I just want people to have fun, which is why I throw the thumbs up at the end of the show. I tell people to smile. I WANT people to smile. Danger is just part of the fun.
Porosky: If you had to describe your music to someone who had never heard it before – without putting a label on it – what would you say?
Bennett: It’s heavy. You might hear other music that sounds like it, but those bands cant touch what we have. We have heart. We mean it.
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