Editor’s Note: It was a great night for hardcore music in a rundown, filthy, yet sexy venue known as the Vaudeville Mews in Des Moines, Iowa. The Acacia Strain put on a killer show in their one-off concert before they ventured off to be a part of the summer’s hottest festival, the Vans Warped Tour! Here, we had an awesome conversation with Griffin Landa, who is the bassist for The Acacia Strain. It’s appropriate that we interviewed Griffin right at his hometown of Des Moines, Iowa. Apparently, The Acacia Strain was in town for several days hanging out, and they continuously expressed their love for Iowa, and I knew it was a genuine love for the Hawkeye State! Griffin discusses his career, the upcoming release entitled “Gravebloom”, which is due out via Rise Records on June 30th, and The Acacia Strain’s upcoming jaunt as part of the Vans Warped Tour. Sal also asked a couple of questions as contributor for Madness To Creation, so without further delay, here’s our quite entertaining conversation with Griffin of The Acacia Strain!
M.T.C.: What’s going on?
Griffin: Oh, you know, just hanging, getting ready to play.
M.T.C.: Tell me who you are and what do you do in The Acacia Strain.
Griffin: My name is Griffin and I play bass.
M.T.C: You started in The Acacia Strain almost two years ago.
Griffin: Yep, almost two years ago, my first show was in June of 2015.
M.T.C.: What’s the best moment that you’ve had so far in The Acacia Strain?
Griffin: We played a couple of huge fests in Canada, one was in Montibello, and the other one was Heavy Montreal. Montibello was Amnesia Rock Fest, those were sick. But I think the Warped Tour will top it for sure. That’s what we’re about to head on.
M.T.C.: So, you remember the Amnesia Rock Fest?
Griffin: Yes, it was great!
M.T.C.: You missed that one, Amnesia, you’re not supposed to remember it!
Griffin: Sick, yes! *laughs* Love it!
M.T.C.: You told us about your best moment, what was your most embarrassing moment since joining The Acacia Strain?
Griffin: It was kind of funny, the worst show that we played since I was in the band was when we played in Des Moines two years ago. It was at Val Air Ballroom and the sound guy blew the subs, all the subs at Val Air during the local bands. So when the tour package started, there were seven others besides us, it was all the high end, no low end sound. It was Val Air, and lately Val Air Ballroom has taken a turn for the worse, and half of them didn’t show up, it was just the worst day of that tour.
M.T.C.: I’ve noticed that a lot of venues are closing up shop so to speak, from a musician in a touring band’s perspective, what can venues do to help the touring bands out so to speak?
Griffin: Being in a touring band, when you show up to a venue, if the local staff doesn’t know 100% of what they’re doing, and they’re just winging it, that’s a giveaway. It comes down to experience. A lot of people feel like they can just open up a venue and people are going to show up. What it comes down to is they need to really work hard to put on a good show.
M.T.C.: Speaking of working hard, The Acacia Strain is releasing “Gravebloom” via Rise Records on June 30th, can you give us a couple of insights on the writing process of The Acacia Strain and other details?
Griffin: So, this will be the first full-length that I have been on. I recorded on “The Depression Sessions”, which we did December 2016. This will be the first full-length that I have been on. We wrote most of it in Des Moines in my studio, we wrote like seven songs over there, then we went immediately on tour, then we wrote the last four songs on tour, whenever we would get done with a show, we would get a hotel, and I would always take a mobile recording rig with me, and just jam, but we lost the guitar player right before we started writing the record, so it’s just pretty much me and Devin writing. It was interesting because it was just two of us writing most of the music, but it was also awesome because we were all kind of stressed about it, so we think that it kind of came through on the record.
M.T.C.: What were some of the stressful times that you mentioned?
Griffin: I mean, it kind of comes down to, we had recording time set up, it was the month of June 2016, and we had a week in Des Moines, just me, Kevin our drummer, Devin our guitar player, to write, and we wrote all week, and we immediately went on tour after the writing, then when that tour ended, we went directly into the studio. It was stressful knowing that we have seven songs done, and we have to write four more. I wrote one in the studio, but we both felt like it brought out a weird vibe between us because we had no idea what to expect, especially when it was my first time helping out to write.
M.T.C.: Speaking of the songs, tell us about the two songs that have been released “Bitter Pill” and “Big Sleep”
Griffin: “Bitter Pill” is one that I wrote for the record. “Big Sleep” is the one that Devin wrote for the record. A lot of the stuff that I did for the record was kind of faster, it’s got a lot of punk beats, a lot of fast riffs. Devin is great at the doom-y stuff, so it was kind of cool with Devin and I writing, we kind of combined the doom stuff and the fast stuff like with our old records, but pretty much when we were writing, we would just send riffs back and forth, and we had a Dropbox full of 50 or 60 riffs, and we cut stuff and said, “okay, this could be in this song, this could be in that song”, and we kind of work that way because we live all over the country, I’m the only one that lives here, Kevin lives in Ohio, Devin lives in Albany, New York, and Tom, our guitar player who just joined almost a year ago, he lives in New Jersey. It gets tough at times to write. Dropbox is a magical thing.
“Bitter Pill” by The Acacia Strain
“Big Sleep” by The Acacia Strain
M.T.C.: Kind of a fun question for you, The Acacia Strain contracts with Pornhub to release a song for one of their movies. What song from The Acacia Strain catalog goes on there?
Griffin: That’s a tough one! *laughs* Honestly, I would say like one of the older songs, like “Dr. Doom” just because it’s so fast, and it could be like an action scene. I can also see that song in a car chase for sure.
M.T.C.: Fun question, using a movie title or a 1980’s or 1990’s television sitcom, describe The Acacia Strain to someone that might not have heard of your band.
Griffin: Collectively as a band, we all love Seinfeld. Although we’re in very dark and heavy music, we’re all lighthearted and funny guys, so that’s what we would do.
M.T.C.: Give me your favorite Seinfeld quote.
Griffin: Favorite Seinfeld quote? There’s three that our band always yells. One is “I had a pony”, one of my next tattoos is going to be “Serenity Now”, and the other is “I had hope”, “my wallet’s gone” When Jerry’s dad is at the doctor and he thought his wallet was stolen but he just left it somewhere, we just yell those all the time.
“Serenity Now” Seinfeld
M.T.C.: Who is the prankster of the band?
Griffin: Probably Devin. He doesn’t really pull pranks on people, but we all like to joke around a lot.
M.T.C.: What’s his style of humor?
Griffin: It’s one of those where you have to think about it, it’s one of those where he’ll be making fun of you, and you don’t understand what he’s talking about, then you realize it ten seconds later, and you’re like, “oh, good one”.
M.T.C.: Based upon the Vans Warped Tour, what’s the one thing that you’re looking forward to the most?
Griffin: Vegas will be sick because it’s at the Hard Rock Hotel. So, there’s a couple of stages that are around pools, but mainly a lot of our friends’ bands are on Warped Tour this year, so between the two heavy stages, that’s where they’ll be. It will be really fun to hang out with them again, and just meeting new people, there’s like 40 or 50 bands on it, so it’ll be fun!
M.T.C.: All right man, I know that you have a show to prepare for, so I’m going to give you the floor to say what you want to say about “Gravebloom” and where people can find the band?
Griffin: Like Vincent, our vocalist says, it’s the spiritual brother of “Comawitch”, it takes off where “Comawitch” left off, I think under the circumstances, and with my first time writing with the band, me and Devon are the only ones that wrote all of the music, I think we did pretty well. That’s what I would say.
Jethro: It’s Griffin! Can I get your autograph please? You’re the new guitarist right? *disclaimer* Jethro is fan number one.
Griffin: We’re doing an interview real quick.
Billy Bob: Oh, shit, we’re sorry! *disclaimer* Billy Bob is fan number two.
Griffin: Keep that in! *laughs*
M.T.C.: What should I call them?
Griffin: Those guys? The typical The Acacia Strain fans!
Jethro: I didn’t mean to interrupt!
Griffin: It’s cool!
M.T.C.: No worries! Speaking of fans, what is the most embarrassing moment that you had with a fan?
Griffin: Anytime that a lot of people don’t know that I’m in the band, but I would say, that, right now! *laughs*
M.T.C.: Where can people find you guys?
Griffin: Right here, usually during every tour, we’re the band that’s hanging out, we have 15 or so chairs that we set up in the trailer mount. Everyone else likes video game stores, me and Kevin will be drinking beers by the trailer, if we’re not on the stage we usually hang by the trailer for some reason.
M.T.C.: Where can people find you guys on this Internet?
Griffin: People can find us on all social media @theacaciastrain. My personal stuff is @griffinlanda, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. I have a pretty unique name, I think there might be one other in the world with my name.
After the interview, Griffin wanted to share some thoughts on Chris Cornell, so here it is:
“Chris Cornell’s death was kind of a shocker to all of us, we just covered “Black Hole Sun”. It was weird because we got asked to do this split in “The Depression Sessions” with Thy Art Is Murder and Fit For An Autopsy, and our cover that we chose, every single person in the band, in unison, said “Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden. Every other band was going to do some death metal song, Fit For An Autopsy did a Nine Inch Nails song, Thy Art Is Murder did “Du Hast” by Rammstein, we all did a 90’s thing, it was really cool. Soundgarden is one of those bands that you really can’t top, they’re going to be timeless, and they’re going to be huge forever. It sucks, like you said, he was the voice of our generation. I’ll never forget first seeing “Black Hole Sun” on MTV, and I was like, “what the hell is this”, and I ended up buying the record the next week. I’m a huge “Superunknown” fan, and I would turn on that record. Soundgarden is one of the best bands in the world.
“Black Hole Sun” by The Acacia Strain
And there you have it! This was an incredibly fun time with Griffin of The Acacia Strain, and The Acacia Strain brought it to Vaudeville Mews, if you’re ever wondering about whether or not to go see The Acacia Strain in your neck of the woods, please read what we had to say about their performance here! In the meantime, check out their Warped Tour dates here!
Check out the Vans Warped Tour dates below!
Friday, June 16th at CenturyField North Lot in Seattle, Washington
Saturday, June 17th at Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem, Oregon
Wednesday, June 21st at Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Thursday, June 22nd at Fear Farm Festival Grounds in Phoenix, Arizona
Friday, June 23rd at Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada
Saturday, June 24th at Utah State Fairpark in Salt Lake City, Utah
Sunday, June 25th at Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado
Tuesday, June 27th at The Fairgrounds Nashville in Nashville, Tennessee
Thursday, June 29th at Lakewood Amphitheatre in Atlanta, Georgia
Friday, June 30th at Tinker Field in Orlando, Florida
Saturday, July 1st at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg, Florida
Sunday, July 2nd at Perfect Vodka Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach, Florida
Tuesday, July 4th at Legion Stadium in Wilmington, North Carolina
Thursday, July 6th at PNC Music Pavilion in Charlotte, North Carolina
Friday, July 7th at BB&T Pavilion in Camden, New Jersey
Saturday, July 8th at Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, New York
Sunday, July 9th at Xfinity Theatre in Hartford, Connecticut
Monday, July 10th at The Pavilion at Montage Mountain in Scranton, Pennsylvania
Tuesday, July 11th at Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater in Virginia Beach, Virginia
Wednesday, July 12th at Xfinity Center in Mansfield, Massachusetts
Thursday, July 13th at Darien Lake PAC in Darien Center, New York
Friday, July 14th at Keybank Pavilion in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania
Saturday, July 15th at PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey
Sunday, July 16th at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland
Tuesday, July 18th at Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
Wednesday, July 19th at Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati, Ohio
Thursday, July 20th at Klipsch Music Center in Noblesville, Indiana
Friday, July 21st at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan
Saturday, July 22nd at Hollywood Casino Amphitheater in Tinley Park, Illinois
Sunday, July 23rd at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minnesota
Monday, July 24th at Marcus Amphitheatre in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Wednesday, July 26th at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Maryland Heights, Missouri
Thursday, July 27th at Providence Medical Center Amphitheater in Bonner Springs, Kansas
Friday, July 28th at Starplex Pavilion in Dallas, Texas
Saturday, July 29th at AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas
Sunday, July 30th at NRG Park in Houston, Texas
Tuesday, August 1st at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico
Friday, August 4th at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California
Saturday, August 5th at Qualcomm Stadium at Jack Murphy Field in San Diego, California
Sunday, August 6th at Fairplex Pomona in Pomona, California
Visit www.vanswarpedtour.com for tickets and further information!
Fans can find The Acacia Strain at the following locations: