Posted On 26 Apr 2017
Seattle rock band Acceptance have made their triumphant return after a decade of silence. Their highly anticipated sophomore album via Rise Records, Colliding By Design, dropped a couple months ago on February 24th to critical acclaim – charting on Billboard. Plus their celebrity super fans Joe Jonas, WWE’s Seth Rollins, and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers have praised the band numerous times.
Learn more about Acceptance in the following All Access interview:
What are some words you would use to describe 2016 for you and your music? What were some of the highlights? What are you most excited about for 2017?
Unexpected would probably be the best word to describe 2016. Anberlin was saying its goodbyes at the end of 2015. I had been working on a side project with the bass player, Deon, which was soon to become our main project. I also had the intention of reaching out to the Acceptance guys to see if anyone had any interest in playing any shows as it had been 10 years since we’d called it quits. 2016 loomed as a giant question mark. Reconciling and reforming with the Acceptance dudes, playing concerts together for the first time in 10 years, playing shows with my new band Loose Talk, and releasing new music with both of my projects have definitely been the musical highlights of 2016. This year has started out amazing with the release of Acceptance’s first album in 12 years, CD release shows up the west coast, and an Australian tour with Taking Back Sunday. I’m excited to see what is next for both my projects.
Growing up, did you all always want to be musicians? Can you recall your earliest musical memory?
I think I was always musically inclined. My mom is a phenomenal singer and piano player. I can vividly remember singing harmonies in the car with her at like age 5. I really started pursuing music in middle school. I played trumpet in band, took piano lessons, taught myself guitar at 13, and started taking classical guitar lessons shortly after that. One of my best friends played guitar and we use to sit around and figure out our favorite Metal songs and play covers in my parents garage. My first “real” band was in High School. I remember we’d rehears at least twice a week. We played a bunch of random shows; house parties, birthday parties, High School talent shows, and some all ages venues in the area. Its actually a funny story because I had known all the Acceptance dudes since early high school and our bands would play shows together. We had this kind of teenage rivalry back then. My band went our separate ways for college and I joined Acceptance shortly after.
Last month you released your sophomore album called “Colliding By Design.” It’s been a decade since you released anything so what was it like to put that out and put together?
This whole process has been such a blessing to myself and the rest of the guys. Some of us hadn’t spoken since the band broke up so its been amazing for all of us to rekindle lost friendships. The record making process was difficult to say the least. Proximity played a roll as I live in Florida, the rest of the band lives in Seattle, and our 6th member / producer, Aaron Sprinkle, lives in Nashville. Individual life circumstances also played a roll. A lot of life happens over 10 years. Some of the guys are married with kids and everything has to be planned around everyones individual work schedules. I think the most time was spent around trying to figure out what we wanted to sound like 10 years after our only full length album. There was also the pressure of living up to the legacy of Phantoms. It was, after all, peoples enduring interest in that album that really was the catalyst for our reformation in the first place. We ultimately wanted to create something that resonated with people the same way that Phantoms did. I will say that Colliding By Design was the most difficult writing/recording process that I’ve ever been apart of but I believe that the record benefitted from these difficulties. I know I speak for the rest of Acceptance when I say that we are absolutely proud of the record we made and completely humbled by the response that it has received.
What got you all back in the studio to record music together again? And what have you all been doing since you worked together? How do you think that your sound has changed since your debut album was released?
Like I said earlier, I truly believe it was peoples enduring interest in the band, and our record Phantoms, that initially sparked the reunion conversation. I joined Anberlin shortly after Acceptance broke up and I quickly started noticing that more and more people, fans and other bands alike, wanted to talk to me about Acceptance. Over the years I would relay a lot of these exchanges back to some of the Acceptance guys as it started to seem to me like the band had gotten bigger in the years since our breakup. Towards the end of Anberlin’s farewell tour I received, via Anberlin’s management, an offer for Acceptance to play Skate and Surf festival in May of 2015. That show was the subject of my first email to the Acceptance guys. It had been 10 years since Phantoms and it appeared that there were a lot of people who still loved the band and wanted to see us live. Was anyone interested in playing some shows? Everything grew from there.
Most of the guys initially continued to play music after our breakup. Nick, Kyle, and I moved down California to start a new project and work as songwriters/touring musicians. Kaylan and Ryan started a band, Search Rescue, with some of the members of Gatsbys American Dream. Garrett played with a slew of Seattle bands eventually joining up with Portugal. The Man. I ended up joining Anberlin in 2007 until our own breakup in 2014. Eventually most of the guys fell into full time careers.
I think our sound has naturally evolved since Phantoms. 10 years is a long time between records and I think Colliding By Design reflects the growth and change that happens over that amount of time. Our goal has always been to make smart rock music that we enjoy in the hopes that others will enjoy it as well.
Let’s talk about your single, “Fire & Rain.” How creatively involved was the band with the song’s video out now? What was it like making it?
We were pretty hands on in the conceptualization of the video for Fire and Rain. Matthew Ryan Ford and his team definitely shared our vision and truly brought it to life in ways that we never expected. The shoot itself was an absolute blast. We shot the video at an amazing creative and marketing agency, Belief Agency, in Seattle, which, oddly enough, was founded by friends that we’d know form our early days of playing local shows.
How was your Australian tour with Taking Back Sunday? What were some of your favorite venues? Had you played there before on a previous tour? Do you have another more tours scheduled for this year?
The Australian run with Taking Back Sunday was incredible and we can’t thank them enough for bringing us over with them. It was an honor to share the stage with them and a pleasure to watch them perform every night. I personally had been to Australia a ton with Anberlin, but this was Acceptance’s first tour overseas EVER. I think one of the perks of our inability to tour full time is that experiences like these feel more like a vacation than anything else, if that makes any sense. Due to families and careers we can’t be on tour long enough to get tired of it, and yes, touring is amazing, but it can also be absolutely exhausting, especially overseas. We spent 3 days in Melbourne so that’s probably where we all had the best time. As far as future touring goes, as I’ve mentioned throughout this interview, its kind of a logistical nightmare navigating around 5 separate family and work schedules. I do know we are in the process of planning out some touring for the fall, most likely in the US.
How do you think that what drives you all to make music has changed over the years? Or has it not really changed?
I don’t think creative drive changes, at least for me. I write because I enjoy it and it is absolutely fulfilling. I will say, from experience and observation, that sometimes the circumstances surrounding that creativity can change the drive. There is a difference between doing something because you want to do it and doing something because feel like you have to do it. I think with success comes subconscious pressure to maintain that success. As one transitions into being a full-time career artist other factors can begin to impact your motivations. Acceptance is in a unique position because of the fact that this isn’t our main gig. Everyone works full time and Acceptance is our creative outlet to be true to ourselves and hopefully to our fans as well. Do we want to be successful? Absolutely. Do we need it to be successful to survive? Sure don’t.
Who are some of your favorite artists? Who continues to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
I’m inspired by artists that never give up, the ones that when one door closes they’re kicking open the next. I believe that persistence and drive is much more important than any “natural talent”. Dave Grohl is a perfect example to me. He was in one of the biggest bands on the planet and could have hung up his hat happily when Nirvana ended. He instead reinvented himself and grew the Foo Fighters, once again, into one of the biggest bands on the planet. He’s loves music, it comes across in everything he does, and he does what he wants, when he wants, because he wants, and he can. I guess I’d like to work with Dave Grohl… or just hang out with the guy.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people take away from your songs?
I’ve said in other interviews, but life is tough. Everyone in this band has experienced the bliss and the tragedy that comes with living. Our goal is to hopefully connect with people and give them the sense that they are not along in whatever they are going through. Music has always been cathartic for me. Its embodied every possible emotion that I’ve ever felt. Our hope is that our music can do the same for others.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourselves or your music?
More than anything we just want to thank everyone who supported us over the years. It was this continual support that got us back together and no amount of words can express how grateful we are.