Flash back to the late ’90s: Seattle-based rock band Acceptance was finding success playing festivals such as Warped Tour and Cornerstone Festival. The band released their debut album Phantoms with Columbia Records. The album was a great success, but the nightmare that followed led to the group’s ultimate demise. Phantoms was involved in the Sony rootkit debacle forcing it to be recalled. The already existing inner turmoil within the band members proved to be too much and in 2006, they announced they were splitting up.
Following their first gig since 2006 at 2015’s Skate and Surf Festival, Acceptance announced they were back and here to stay. They’ve scheduled a few shows with Taking Back Sunday and a new album, Colliding by Design, to be released on February 24, 2017.
DuJour met up with lead vocalist Jason Vena to discuss the band’s break-up, reunion and what fans can expect from the upcoming album.
Your first show together after the breakup in 2006 was in 2015 at the Skate and Surf festival. What made you decide to play that gig?
That process was very interesting. A lot of us had gone years without being in contact. That festival had actually been contacting Acceptance annually to play. When Anberlin broke up, Christian [McAlhaney] got the ball rolling for the Acceptance reunion. Once we were back, it was such a positive, personal experience for everyone. Bands get back together for multiple reasons but if you had to prioritize why Acceptance got back together and stayed together, it’s because we look forward to spending time together and we’re having fun making music again.
Was there any awkwardness when you first got back together?
My first conversation with everyone was saying that I was sorry. The band had a very militant environment back in 2005 and a lot of that was my fault. When we reunited, I wanted the guys to know that I had learned a lot over the years and was interested in doing things differently. Luckily for me, everyone was open to the idea of getting back together and having it be a positive experience.
What were some of the reasons for Acceptance breaking up in 2006?
The origination of the band was that we loved making music and connecting with people. Our belief was that we would make music that could change the world, as cheesy as that sounds. I think we were too young at the time to navigate the process and it quickly became less about having fun and making music. All of a sudden we were making stupid music videos that cost too much money and Sony was getting sued and the record was being pulled from off the shelves. It was just a nightmare.
The business-side of being a successful band was interrupting the fun of making music. I remember the day that I walked into the studio and I told the guys that this wasn’t for me anymore. I’m sure that a couple of the guys had the same mindset as me but were able to work through it and I just couldn’t continue.
What are some of the differences between the band today and the band back in the early 2000’s?
Our sound now is probably a lot more similar to what we wanted to put out in 2005 but weren’t capable of doing it. Lyrically for me, this is a much more personal album. Phantoms was more of commentary on what I’d seen in life. Colliding by Design is more about what I’ve experienced in life. If you like Acceptance, you’re going to love this record but it definitely shows an evolution of our sound. It’s a record with a lot of emotion and it goes to a lot of different places.
Since we only put out one album, I think there are still a lot of people who have never heard of Acceptance. We have the opportunity to attract a whole new audience, along with the fans of Phantoms.
What does the title of the album, Colliding by Design mean?
The idea that two years ago, if someone asked me if this band would ever come back together, I would’ve said no way, not a chance. We’ve returned with the same lineup we started out with in 1997. We’ve all been through so much and for us to come back together and for it to work in such a unique and harmonious way must have been by design. The idea that this was meant to be; we collided by design.
What is a band or artist that fans would be surprised to hear you listen to?
U2 had a huge influence on me and I still listen to Joshua Tree actively throughout the week. Also, people might be surprised to know that I listen to a lot of Tears for Fears. My Pandora station at home is strictly Tears for Fears. It’s the only not-cheesy ‘80s playlist on Pandora, I think.