Few albums had such a profound impact on the pop rock scene of the new millennium (and my personal music journey) as Acceptance‘s 2005 debut Phantoms. The band parted ways the next year but that record solidified itself as one of the most memorable of that era, holding up among records from bands that have continued touring until today, such Jimmy Eat World, Taking Back Sunday and Yellowcard.
The five members of Acceptane reunited in 2015 to create new music and this Friday, February 24th will finally add sophomore album Colliding By Design to their discography, more than a decade after their debut record’s release. I spoke with vocalist Jason Vena about the new EP, the band’s widened perspective and why the band is enjoying more freedom and creativity then ever before.
Lyrically, Phantoms explored the relatable, painful, joyous emotions of love, friendship and growing up. “In my life, when we were writing Phantoms, the things I’d experienced weren’t as broad,” Vena explained. “There was a lot of discussion about love and relationships and I had a close relationship back then that was not a good period for me, so I wrote a lot about that.”
On Colliding By Design, the focus has shifted internally, at least partly, examining relationships between the band members. During their first reunion in 2015, it had been almost ten years since Vena had seen his bandmates, yet there was “almost an immediate electricity.”
The band channeled that into their new album, which explores, “going out, growing up, learning about life and who you are, and then coming back together.” Vena explained, “We broke up as five people who had similar lives and backgrounds and viewpoints. We came back together as five people with very different lives and stories now… we are growing and evolving and our relationships are much stronger.”
Vena was raised in a conservative home with “singular versions of the world.” His experiences in the last decade have helped him become “more open-minded and accepting”, which suggests the band’s moniker has truly come full circle.
The moment the stadium-sized guitars ring out in the album’s opener “Diagram Of A Simple Man,” it feels as if Acceptance never left. Although Vena was the sole member who did not write music during the band’s hiatus, the emotional lyrics hit just as hard, as he laments, “As the air is getting colder while the years are turning over / where will I exist?”
The dreamy “We Can Escape” explores the band’s widened perspective. “That song is about opening yourself up to people and different experiences,” Vena explained. “You have to help make the world a better place by celebrating the uniqueness of every person. I think it’s helpful right now with what we are dealing with this in this world.”
Musically, the band has matured as well, experimenting with a wider range of influences, such as electronic-based sounds in songs like “When I Was Cursed” and “Haunted.” While the group had used sounds in classics like “Contagious” and “Take Cover” that were not traditional pop rock band sounds at the time, “we didn’t know how to incorporate those things at that point in our lives… we were so young,” Vena said. “Everything was purposeful on this record, everything had to have a meaning behind it musically and had to connect with what we were trying to create with that song.”
This new freedom also gives the band the ability to choose when and how they release that music. “We did a traditional lyric video and then a concept lyric video, on our own, in about a week. We just pushed ourselves to get it done, not because a record label told us to. Christian [McAlhaney] did all of “Haunted” on his own with his friend from start to finish in a week.” Check out the video below:
With this stellar new album under their belt and excitement mounting, the men of Acceptance are working out how to balance their personal lives with being in a band, touring, and what that will look like in a world that has greatly changed since their inception. “The way people listen to music is so different now, so we want to write more and give more songs and make it about continuing to evolve.”
In celebration of the album’s official release this Friday, the band will perform at the El Rey Theatre for the first of three stops, promoting the new EP (tickets available here). The band will then tour Australia with their new millennium emo rock classmates Taking Back Sunday. We don’t know exactly where Acceptance will head next, but Colliding By Design suggests that they are here to stay, at least for a little while longer.
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