It’s been 10 years since Seattle-based rock band, Acceptance, broke up. For bassist Ryan Zwiefelhofer, the time apart was part of the journey to get them to where they are now. “I’m not really one to value the merits of fate or destiny, but in a lot of ways, the 10 years of each of our various personal experiences, trials, victories, all those things, seem to have led up to a moment when this all made sense,” Zwiefelhofer said.
Now back together and having released their second studio album, Colliding By Design, Zwiefelhofer said that it’s been great to be back with his bandmates and working together again.
“It’s been such a pleasure and wildly rewarding experience being back together,” Zwiefelhofer said. “Not just with performing with one another again, but speaking, traveling, and spending time together after so long really feels like home for us.”
Zwiefelhofer said that for many of those years apart, there wasn’t much communication between them. That’s just another reason why this reunion had been so special. But being back together didn’t mean they would be working the same way. Zwiefelhofer said that the process of putting together Colliding By Design was very different from how they worked on their first album, Phantoms, back in 2005.
“Being in a band was a full-time job back then,” Zwiefelhofer said. “Now we all have different careers, families, and responsibilities.”
That made it difficult to devote long periods of time to solely focus on putting an album together.
“Just being able to drop everything for three or four weeks or a few months isn’t inconvenient; it’s simply out of the question for us,” Zwiefelhofer said.
So the band had to work out how to best accommodate all their schedules. According to Zwiefelhofer, the band figured out how to make it work as they were going, and the process worked out well. As for what it was like for the band members to play with each other again after so long, Zwiefelhofer summed it up simply.
We carry with us this overarching feeling that we can do something good with our music.
“It was like putting on an old sweater you thought you lost or listening to a record you loved but had forgotten about,” Zwiefelhofer said. “It all just settled in and felt right.”
From the start, the band knew they shouldn’t recreate their first album. Too much time had passed and their perspective on things had grown and changed. Zwiefelhofer singled out vocalist Jason Vena as one member of the band who came into creating Colliding By Design with this newfound perspective that’s reflected in the album.
“Lyrically, Jason really pushed himself to set up scenes and scenarios that he could speak to and challenge and discover and come away saying something people would resonate with,” Zwiefelhofer said. “It was really awesome to watch him craft his words, as I think it was awesome for him to watch us evolve and craft the music.”
Musically, Zwiefelhofer said that just as people’s viewpoints change over time, so do their influences and interests.
“What I’m listening to when I go for a hike or commute to work isn’t what I listened to when I was in my 20s,” Zwiefelhofer said. “We all found different things we are drawn to in music, and it’s an eclectic group of guys.”
When it comes to the technical aspects of music, Zwiefelhofer said that playing the instruments slowed down for them, because of age.
“We aren’t using as much distorted guitar or faster chord progressions now,” Zwiefelhofer said. “Turns out it does actually get harder to play faster as you get older. Those reaction times deplete a little bit.”
One of the biggest worries for a band returning from a long hiatus is whether or not the fan base was still there. Zwiefelhofer said that the response from fans so far has been “overwhelmingly encouraging, inspirational, and humbling.”
“A very real question we asked ourselves at the onset of this whole reemergence was about if people still cared,” Zwiefelhofer said. “To see all of the stories, excitement, and kind words that people have been sharing with us as we’ve been moving along over the last few years is staggering for us. We’re so incredibly thankful for that reaction. It makes all of this so much more rewarding.”
Zwiefelhofer mentioned that looking at the future, the band will be doing a lot more touring. While Colliding By Design may have just dropped, they are also beginning to think about its potential follow-up.
“We want to play as many shows as we can,” Zwiefelhofer said. “Maybe get overseas a bit more, and continue to write songs. Like, a lot of songs. We’re just setting Colliding free, but we’re already writing and getting excited for the next chapter.”
Acceptance may have been apart for 10 years, but Zwiefelhofer said that now there’s nowhere else they’d want to be and nothing else they’d rather be doing than producing more music.
“We carry with us this overarching feeling that we can do something good with our music, that we can reach out and be something good for people,” he said. “So, I don’t know if the timing of the return and new record had some grounding in thoughtful intention, but I’m sure as hell that we’re right where we want to be right now.”
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Acceptance Releases New Album After 10-Year Hiatus. Photographed by Jake Gravbrot