THE ACACIA STRAIN IS MY FAVORITE BAND [W/ INTERVIEW]
You know how sometimes you will get completely obsessed with a band, and you’re all “ZOMG CANNOT STOP LISTENING TO THEM!!!”? That is how I am right now with THE ACACIA STRAIN — I probably listen to Wormwood at least three times a day, and when I’m not listening to it, I am singing it in my head.
It’s always awesome to get the chance to see a band when you are at the peak of being into them, so I was very stoked to check out the DEATHCORE ACROSS AMERICA tour when it rolled through my town the other day: I Declare War, Whitechapel, Veil of Maya and The Acacia Strain = YOU’RE FUCKING MOSHING! I also got a chance to chat with TAS bassist Jack Strong [mirin that name, sounds alpha as fuck].
In this post I will share the three reasons why TAS is my favorite band at the moment, as well as a few words from Jack to support my points: 1. Their diverse fanbase 2. They are punk 3. Last but not least, TAS are fucking heavy as fuck.
1. THEIR DIVERSE FANBASE
The worst part about going to metal shows is being stuck in an enclosed space for hours with metal fans. I like to think of it as the human version of that little trap in the drain of your sink that collects all the gross crap. Conversely, one of best things about The Acacia Strain is that they attract teens from all walks of life to their shows. “I don’t know why there are so many girls that come to our shows,” Jack told me, “but it’s cool. I mean, I have no idea why they would come see us, because there’s nothing cool about us, we’re just a bunch of nerds in a metal band, but it’s cool!”
He is being modest, but it’s a fact: TAS fans are way cooler than the usual rejects and human detritus at metal shows. For those of you who haven’t had the chance to catch TAS live, I took pictures of some of the most interesting teens at the show:
Not sure who told the Rocky River High chess club about this show, but props to them for showing up and supporting the scene!
This “Mr Old School,” who sets himself apart from all the little scene kids by rocking the “I bought one of everything in the fall 1996 Hot Topic catalog” look. The Tito Ortiz-style flame beanie says “DON’T FUCK WITH ME” [Phil Anselmo voice]
Fig 2, jailbait couple. Girls with facial piercings are usually childhood abuse survivors, which means they have low self-esteem and desperately crave the male attention their fathers never gave them. In other words, snakebites = DTF
This kid is partying like it’s 2003, white belt and everything — looks like a Blessed By A Broken Heart promo photo from back in the day. Hit him up on Makeoutclub!
Mirin the matching Emmure shit and Despised Icon mesh shorts, brah! Didn’t get them in the pic, but his Nikes matched too.
2. THEY ARE PUNK
“Deathcore” means part death metal, part hardcore, but the truth is that very few people in deathcore bands actually know anything about hardcore — that’s why they just write shitty, generic breakdowns with weak, inhaled vocals over the top instead of real songs. This is in stark contrast to The Acacia Strain, whose punk rock roots keep them firmly grounded in both musically and personally.
“We are definitely a hardcore-influenced metal band,” Jack said, his Hatebreed hoodie and Terror beanie protecting him from the harsh cold. “That’s what we grew up on.” Jack is not the only punk rocker in the band: front man Vincent Bennett’s stage banter reminded me a lot of Scott Vogel when he said “I need you to get negative. Get angry, get violent. There is no positivity on this stage.”
Having a sense of humor is a very important part of being a punk rocker, and all of TAS’ videos are pretty funny. In this one, they pretend to be sexual predators.
It’s also refreshing to see a band of their caliber who aren’t up their own asses. If you’ve been around Asking Alexandria, Austin Carlile, and other popular metalcore/deathcore bands, you know that many of them want to be rockstars real bad, and it’s real annoying to be around. “If there’s anybody who wants to be a rockstar playing this kind of music,” Jack said while shaking his head, “my advice is, don’t do it. But if you are cool with driving around in a van with five other people and making no money for years, then go for it. Don’t try to be famous. That would be bad advice!” he laughed.
Also IDK about you but I have had an assful of deathcore/metalcore bands hopping on the djent and dubstep bandwagons, so I was pretty stoked that TAS have no plans of doing either. In fact, Jack was barely aware of either genre. “We heard this term the other day, ‘djent’,” he explained. “It’s the dumbest fucking thing I’ve ever heard. That word sucks so bad!” he said with an irritated laugh. “And as far as dubstep, we started playing that on tour as our set-up music; it’s playing over the PA while we’re getting our gear ready. We were hoping it would bum the kids out,” he added, then laughed “but, uh, it didn’t! They love it, which kind of sucks.”
Antagonizing your audience (ala The Germs or GG Allin) is punk as fuck, and I approve 100%.
30 seconds into the first song on Wormwood and you are already fucking moshing!!
3. THEY ARE FUCKING HEAVY AS FUCK
Last but certainly not least, The Acacia Strain is without a doubt one of the most sickeningly brutal bands on the face of the planet, both live and recorded. And if you thought their earlier records were heavy, Wormwood will knock your dick in the dirt.
“We just wanted to make the heaviest record we could,” Jack says simply of their latest record, which is a lean, stripped-down moshing machine compared to their earlier albums. “It wasn’t like we sat down and said we were going to have less leads or whatever, it just kind of happened that way.”
“Tactical Nuke” is what Earth and Sunn 0))) would sound like if they grew up listening to Hatebreed and Pantera
It’s very easy for super heavy, downtuned bands to just sound like mushy, sludgy crap, but Wormwood is a goddamn masterpiece of metal production. Everything is crystal clear, every instrument has room in the mix, yet it is still thick and brutal as fuck. “[Our producer] Zeuss did a great job on it,” Jack agreed. “We still played regular 6-string guitars on Continent, but we switched to 8-strings for this one, and I think it sounds way heavier.”
People say it’s easy to write breakdown-laden metalcore songs, but I disagree. I think it’s pretty easy to write generic, shitty metalcore songs, but it’s extremely difficult to write original, catchy-yet-brutal metalcore songs like The Acacia Strain. Listen closely and you might agree, especially with some of the newer songs like “Tactical Nuke,” which is so fucking heavy and sludgy it almost sounds like Earth to me. “We love Earth, so if people compare it to them, I think that’s awesome,” Jack shrugged. “I don’t want to say our shit is super complicated or anything, but yeah, I think there’s more to it than people might think.”
Why do YOU love The Acacia Strain?? Which of the teens who I saw at their show is the coolest??? Is Wormwood the best-produced metalcore record of all time?? Is TAS the punkest deathcore band? How hard will Jack rage when he hears about djentstep?!?!?!?
Sergeant D.’s Stuff You Will Hate = YOU’RE FUCKING MOSHING!