“LOVE YOUR OWN LIFE AND HATE EVERYBODY ELSE'S”
AN INTERVIEW WITH VINCENT BENNETT OF THE ACACIA STRAIN
By: Marisa Connelly ~ Courtesy of UpstateLIVE Music Guide
WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
My name is Vincent Bennett and I am the vocalist for The Acacia Strain.
WHAT IS YOUR NEWEST ALBUM “CONTINENT” ABOUT?
Basically it is about the destruction of the entire human race and one person's survival from that.
SO THEMES OF NIHILISM?
OK. SO, THE LYRICS OF “THE COMBINE” PAINT A POST-WAR APOCALYPTIC LANDSCAPE, BEREFT OF HUMAN LIFE. A COMBINE, THE ACTUAL MACHINE, HAS BEEN USED IN LITERATURE AND VIDEO GAMES TO REPRESENT THE MECHANISTIC WAY OF MANIPULATING AND PROCESSING HUMANS, SUBTLE EMASCULATION, OR AS MICHEL FOUCAULT DESCRIBED- A SUBTLE, INVISIBLE OPPRESSION. KEEPING THIS IN MIND, HOW DOES THE TITLE OF THE SONG CORRELATE WITH IT'S LYRICS?
Basically, when I titled most of the songs it was to, um, each title is named after someone or something that is the eventual destruction of humanity and of the world. So “The Combine,” as you said, I took it from Half-Life 2. It's probably the most ominous of the enemies in the game, so that's basically where that all comes from. Other songs like “Skynet” and “Stay Puft” even are negative mythical creatures that play a part in the destruction of humanity.
LIKE TERMINATORS AND LIKE CTHULHU FROM H.P. LOVECRAFT?
DID YOU EVER READ “ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST” [BY KEN KESEY]? BECAUSE THAT DEALS WITH THE SAME THINGS AS HALF-LIFE. AND THE FRENCH PHILOSPHER FOUCAULT ALSO WROTE ABOUT STUFF LIKE THAT.
Really? No, I haven't.
MAYBE I WENT TOO DEEP ON THAT ONE. MAYBE IT JUST CAME FROM HALF-LIFE.
[Laughs] Yeah, it did.
OK. “FORGET-ME-NOW”, “CTHULHU”, “BABY BUSTER” AND “BALBOA TOWERS” ALL SEEM TO DEAL WITH SIMILAR ISSUES. CAN YOU ELABORATE ON THESE SONGS?
A lot of people ask me if I write songs about specific people, and I don't. A lot of people say 'Well, why do you hate women so much?' and I don't. I hate everybody. But the reason I use the female pronoun of “her” or “she” on many of those [songs] is because I think it's more romantic than using “him” or “he.” Basically, when I use the word “she” I'm referring to the world and I'm referring to humanity, and its kind of grouping them together into one personality. And that's basically what that's mostly about. It's just complete and udder destruction, and my personal hatred for humanity as a being.
IN “BALBOA TOWERS” THE LYRICS READ, “I HAVE FOUND BEAUTY IN PERMANENT EXILE. THIS IS MY RECLAMATION. THIS IS MY CONTINENT. I AM MOST HATED OF THE WORLD.” CAN YOU ELABORATE ON THAT?
That song is about just wanting to be, it's about a person's search for exile, like the lyric says. The only way that character can really find true exile is basically destroying all living beings on Earth. So it's his reclaiming of that plot of land, the continent. And that's where the title of the record comes from. Once everything is destroyed and once that person is finally alone he's truly developed his own continent and his own world.
HOW'S DR. RON, YOUR NEW MERCH GUY, WORKING OUT?
Vincent: I plea the fifth on that one. He's doing some work behind us right now.
Dr. Ron: What are you guys talking about?
Vincent: It's none of your f**king business! Um, he's doing some work right now, he's wearing a v-neck t-shirt. And he's probably listening to something like Paramore.
AND HE'S GOT SWOOSHY HAIR.
Vincent: Yeah, he's gay. And not gay like he likes to suck d*cks.
Dr. Ron: Shut the...
Vincent: Gay like stupid, like a stupid kid. He's like a hipster and he's really young, so he's really influenced by things.
TIGHT JEANS AND SWOOSHY HAIR?
Yes. Tight jeans, girl's hair, smokes cigarettes. He doesn't do the eye liner thing, but he wears v-necks. I'm not really into them, so I'm probably going to kill him by the end of the tour.
[A Tour Manager walks up]
Vincent: What's up Swiss?
Swiss: Just hanging.
Vincent: Just hanging? Just taking it in?
Swiss: Yeah, I'm just going to sit with you guys for a little while.
Vincent: He's just going to sit with us, make sure I'm giving all the right answers.
OK. MAKE SURE YOU DON'T SAY ANYTHING INCRIMINATING?
No, I love to incriminate myself!
THAT'S AWESOME. ALRIGHT, YOU RECENTLY TOURED IN AUSTRALIA, WHAT WAS THAT LIKE?
Australia is probably the best place on the planet Earth. If I had to choose to live anywhere, it would probably be there because it's basically like America, but a better sequel. Australia is like America but with a more laid back attitude. There's less anger there, less crime. Everyone's just really nice. That's my take on Australia. It's probably the only foreign country that I've been to that I don't mind it and I would love to go back, ya know?
DID YOU MAKE OUT WITH ANY KOALAS?
I did not. But I held a koala in my hands. I did not get syphilis. And I laid down on a kangaroo, that was fun. And we played in front of anywhere from 2,000 to 5,000 people a night. It was definitely beneficial for us.
YEAH, AUSTRALIA SEEMS LIKE THE PLACE TO GO. EVERY BAND IS GOING THERE.
Yeah, and I appreciate Parkway Drive for giving us the opportunity to go over there. I hope to pay them back sometime in the future, definitely. It was awesome!
COOL. SO, EVER VIDEO THAT I'VE SEEN OF YOU GUYS, I WAS LAUGHING MY ASS OFF.
OK, that's good!
SO TELL ME ABOUT THE VIDEOS.
The Acacia Strain's stance on everything is that if you can't have fun doing something, don't do it. I mean, that's why we're in a band. Just to have a good time, ya know? And some people might hear our CDs or read my lyrics and think that we're 100% serious all the time. And pretty much we're serious 5% of the time, and the rest [of the time] we're just out to have a good time. And we try to portray that in our videos. A lot of the shit on Youtube and stuff is just so serious. You fall asleep half way through it. And we try to just make things so people will want to pay attention, and I think humor is the best way to do that. It's eye-catching I think.
DEFINITELY! LIKE HAVING THE BIG BLACK GUYS PLAYING YOUR SONGS!
Oh yeah! Those are my boys!
THAT WAS HILARIOUS!
We try to do something different, ya know? Playing by yourself in a warehouse has been over-done, as far as videos are concerned. So we try and bring a new element to the music video. I hope we did a good job at it.
YEAH! SO TELL ME ABOUT THE NEW DVD THAT'S COMING OUT. DO YOU HAVE A RELEASE DATE?
We filmed a DVD, we have two separate shows filmed for it. One is at a small club show, because we like small club shows better than the huge concert hall shows. So, we do a small club show, there's about 600 people there, it was just a good time. So that'll be on the DVD. That was in Holyoke, Massachusetts, our home town. Then we did a show at the Worcester Palladium, and there was about 2,000 people there, it was sold out. And it's probably the most people we've played in front of headlining, which was crazy! That was a great time! It was awesome! So, that was fun. And we're going to do a whole bunch of other stuff for the DVD, ya know, we like to make people laugh, so we're going to do a bunch of funny stuff. And do some audio commentary, like “What were you thinking during this part of the DVD?” It's going to be called “The Most Known Unknown” and it'll be out around July or August. We're shooting for that, and there's going to be probably a documentary section, like the Killswitch [Engage] or Lamb of God DVD. Just interviewing people we know, and their opinion and stories about the Acacia Strain and from the road. Hopefully it will be entertaining and people will buy it. Or download it, I don't really care. It's coming to the point where you can't fight with the internet, so I'm giving up and just telling people to do it.
CAN'T BEAT 'EM, JOIN 'EM?
WHAT OTHER PLANS DOES THE ACACIA STRAIN HAVE FOR 2009?
We're going to Europe in, well, actually first we have to finish this tour we're on right now with Bleeding Through. Then we're playing Bamboozle in New Jersey on the Sunday date with No Doubt, which is going to be really weird.
IT'S GOING TO BE A GOOD CROWD THOUGH!
Oh yeah! It's going to be a ton of people! I'm really excited! A lot of people ask me, “What's up? Why are you playing that shitty fest with Gwen Stefani and The Used?” And I'm like, listen! So I can talk shit about every single person that's not there to see us! And then after that we're playing in Europe. We're going there with Aborted.
NICE! THOSE GUYS ARE GOOD! REALLY GOOD!
Most definitely! They're really huge over there, it'll be a good tour. And then the future is wide open from there. We'll probably do a headliner. We're going to Japan at the end of August. That'll be really exciting. We're playing a fest called BloodAxe Fest, and do some shows around there. And who knows? The future is wide open.
HAVE YOU BEEN TO JAPAN BEFORE?
No, never been to Japan. It's one of the two places I've ever wanted to go in the world. One being Australia, the other being Japan, so my dreams will be fulfilled. I'm very excited.
NICE! SO, YOU SAID IN A RECENT INTERVIEW THAT THE INSPIRATION FOR YOUR LYRICS ARE, “HATRED, NIHILISM, HUMANITY'S DEPENDENCE ON TECHNOLOGY, AND MY COMPLETE DISGUST FOR EXISTENCE.” YET IN THE SAME INTERVIEW, YOU STRESS THE IMPORTANCE OF THE VISUAL ASPECT OF BEING IN A BAND, AND HOW RECORDED MEDIA, LIKE BEING IN A DVD, MAKES A BAND IMMORTAL. HOW DO YOU RATIONALIZE NIHILISM AND THE IDEA OF IMMORTALITY?
Vincent: I am probably 50% nihilistic, I'm not 100%. I still have that kind of love life attitude. And basically my message is to tell everyone that's watching this interview to get the fuck out of here, first of all.
[I'm laughing because a couple random band dudes and roadies had stopped to watch the interview]
Random band dude: I love you!
Vincent: Yeah right! So, I'm 50% nihilistic and the rest of me just loves life. It's kind of like, I have a battle going on inside my brain.
Random band dude: Gay!
Vincent: You're f**king gay!
[The bickering continues for a moment]
HOW IS THAT [BATTLE] WORKING OUT FOR YOU?
It works out, because I have the stage to take me out of the happiness and just focus all my rage and anger on that 45 minutes of my life, so that's good. But also, I have the stage to spread my message. My message on this tour has been to love your own life and hate everybody else's. And that's, I think, what I'm all about lately. And that is where the tug of war reaches a plateau. It's kind of like, with the war going on inside my head, I need something to settle it down. And what does it is that one phrase- Love your own life and hate everybody else's. Kind of helps me make sense of it all, ya know? The nihilistic part of me would love to see the world die tomorrow. But the thing with nihilism is that there's no point to life, and I believe that, ya know? Why are we here? Who cares? There is no real point. But, you're alive, so you might as well deal with it, ya know? And you might as well have a good time while you're here. That's where that ends I guess.
WHAT ARE SOME SPECIFIC THINGS ABOUT HUMANITY THAT YOU HATE?
Specific? Walk down the street any day of the week. Go into a McDonald's or a Wal-Mart or anywhere. Go to New York City.
HOW ABOUT SPECIFIC PET PEEVES?
Well, one thing that humanity does that specifically bothers me is breathing, because that keeps them alive. I don't know, maybe talking on your cell phone really f**king loud in a small confined area, or anywhere. No one needs to hear your conversation. I don't like the way people drive. I don't like the way people talk with their mouths full, ya know? Everybody has their own pet peeves, and I guess mine would be human life, ya know? That's it. That's all I really have to say, but I could go on for hours about everything that I hate. But I'm not going to because you're going to run out of room on that thing [voice recorder].
I JUST PUT FRESH BATTERIES IN IT, AND I'VE GOT ABOUT 100 HOURS LEFT.
Oh damn! Well, I'll spare you! [laughs]
WELL, YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY READ “ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST” BY THE WAY. IT'S RIGHT UP YOUR ALLEY.
OK, I definitely will. I'll look into that, I appreciate that.
COOL! ANYTHING ELSE?
Just come out to our shows, have a good time, ya know? Live your life, because you can't really help it. That's it, I guess.
WELL, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR TAKING A FEW MINUTES TO DO THIS.
Thank you. I appreciate it. Anytime, even when I didn't know I was supposed to do this.
RIGHT ON THE SPOT! THANKS FOR BEING VERY FLEXIBLE!
Exactly! F**k it!