Nik Heftman/ Madness to Creation

Fresh off their eighth studio album Gravebloom, hard-hitting metal band The Acacia Strain was one of the first bands to perform at the 2017 Vans Warped as the festival made its way through Shakopee, Minnesota. The Massachusetts based band has been inciting mosh-pits since 2001. Vocalist Vincent Bennett is the only original member . Guitarist Devin Shidaker joined the band in 2013. We sat down with the two after their energetic performance at Warped.

M.T.C: Hows the Warped Tour treating you guys so far?

Devin: It’s going well, not as difficult as I thought it was going to be. You usually do the same thing everyday. Wake up, somebody has to help load in, then you sit around until you have to play, then sit around some more.

Vincent: It’s a lot of sitting.

M.T.C: Vincent, you asked the audience to crowd-surf some corn dogs to the stage. Is that something you usually do?

Vincent: I asked for it on my twitter for the last three days and no one delivered. I got a hot dog, but that’s not what I asked for. I got three corndogs today. That makes up for the other days for sure. And I got a banana. I appreciate the effort, though I almost choked on the banana.

M.T.C: You also brought fans from backstage to perform during a few songs. Is that something you regularly do?

Vincent: We do that everyday. Anyone who wants the microphone can have it. It’s less work for me.

M.T.C: From what we hear, you guys are pretty big Seinfeld fans. What’s your favorite episode or moment from the series? 

Vincent: Everyone says “The Contest,” so I’m going to say every episode beside “The Contest.” The one where Kramer swims up the east river and stinks up their mattress is a good one too.

Devin: They’re all great. I can say my least favorite is the Puerto Rican pride day episode. It takes you out of the show’s element. H.E. Pennypacker is one of my favorite characters. I like the one when the head of NBC is on the boat with Larry David.

M.T.C: Vincent, in a previous interview, you said that Gravebloom had a heavier vibe to it. Was that a vibe you guys were intentionally going for?

Vincent: I guess. I don’t know. It’s darker. We were trying to go dark, not necessarily heavier, just dark.

Devin: We just kind of do what we want. What comes out is what everyone gets.

Vincent: That’s basically it. We write from feeling. Whatever we’re feeling just comes out. Gravebloom is just sad, dark, depressing. I guess we were all sad when we wrote it.

M.T.C: Favorite track off Gravebloom?

Devin: I like every song on the record. I like “Cold Gloom.” I like “Walled City”. I think I  would really like to play “Dark Harvest” live to see how that goes.

Vincent: Abyssal Depths is my favorite song. It’s very A-typical of Acacia Strain

M.T.C: How has the band evolved since its formation 2002?

Vincent: We grew up. I started the band when I was 19. Now I’m 35, so think of the changes you go through as a human being when you are a teenager to when you’re an adult. That’s how the band has changed, I would say.

We’ve had a lot of member turnover, and that changes a band too. The things that you think are problems when you’re 20 years old change when you’re actually an adult with adult problems.

Devin: It’s like going from, like, “I’m gonna’ get grounded” to “How am I gonna’ pay my mortgage.” I’ve only been in the band since 2013. I could say the same thing. Even the stuff that I wanted to make when I was in high school versus what I want to play now is completely different.

M.T.C: Favorite part of Warped Tour so far?

Devin: Today was f-kin awesome. Playing is the best part. Playing and hanging out with my friends all day are the best- or taking a nap.

Vincent: Playing is the best part of the day. Everything else is secondary. You’re in a band to play music in front of people, and anyone that says their favorite part of the day is something other then playing shouldn’t be in a band.

M.T.C: Vincent, you joined Hatebreed on stage last week. Can you talk a little about the experience and your relationship with Hatebreed? 

Vincent: I’ve been listening to Hatebreed since I was 15. That’s 20 years I’ve been listening to Hatebreed. Our first tour with Hatebreed was terrible for us cause we were playing in front of no one everyday, but we got to watch Hatebreed everyday, so it was kind of give and take. I’ve grown up around them, and we’ve known each other for a while. (The Acacia Strain) started as a local band, but it’s cool that Hatebreed doesn’t think of us in that way and its kind of an honor for me to get asked to perform two songs with them. It was surreal. It’s cool to just go from a local band to kind of a friend.

Devin: I got to see my friend sing in band and I really don’t get to do that because I’m usually standing there thinking ‘The hell is this guy’s problem?

M.T.C: The Acacia Strain puts out music that is known to be mosh-inducing. How would you like your music to define your band?

Vincent: I just want people to have a good time. That’s really it. Yeah we’re dark, but music is supposed to be fun. Live shows are supposed to be fun. I want people to look back and say “Hey, remember that one time?” To me, that’s how I remember bands.

Devin: There’s music we like that the crowd doesn’t like. We goof off on stage and do whatever. We’re eating corndogs. Vincent flips me off sometimes. We’re just fun.

M.T.C: When can the fans expect new album?

Vincent: Never. We literally just came out with one so don’t expect another one. Nobody really cared about this one, so why would we be in a rush to put out another one?

Devin: It’ll happen sometime in the future.

M.T.C: What’s next for the Acacia Strain?

Devin: I’ll go home and hang out with my wife, my dogs and my cats. I manage a video game store called Warp Zone in Hilliard, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. We focus on retro and imported games. 

Vincent: I’ll catch up on Twin Peaks, hang out with my dog, drink coffee and listen to jazz.

Find The Acacia Strain at the remaining tour stops via Vans Warped Tour:

Friday, August 4th- Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California

Saturday, August 5th- Qualcomm Stadium at Jack Murphy Field in San Diego, California

Sunday, August 6th- Fairplex Pomona in Pomona, California

Find The Acacia Strain at the following locations:

Nik Heftman/ Madness to Creation

Warped Tour Review

The Acacia Strain was one of the first bands to perform at Warped in Shakopee. They stepped foot onto the Mutant South stage seemingly unscathed by the pressure of setting the tone for the rest of the day. The band opened up with singles “Bitter Pill” and “Big Sleep” off of their latest studio album, Gravebloom. The perform also featured older singles, like “Cauterized,” a track released in 2014. The energy of the performance grew as festival enthusiasts gathered around the stage, resulting in an inevitable mosh-pit that saw scores of participants. At one point, Bennett asked audience members to crowd-surf a corn dog to the stage. The audience acted accordingly, passing three corn dogs up to the stage. Bennett also allowed fans behind the stage to perform during a few of the songs-and the audience loved it! One would be hard pressed to say that The Acacia Strain did not deliver one of the most entertaining sets of the day.


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