In 2005, Acceptance released an album called Phantoms, a collection of dynamic rock songs that continues to stand the test of time. It was the Seattle group’s first and only album – until now. After a decade of silence since their breakup in 2006, the band has not only reformed but created a highly-anticipated follow-up album, Colliding by Design, which will open the second chapter of their career.
After the band split up, having only released one album and two EPs, the five band members scattered, falling into their own lives across the country. Some continued making music, but others moved on, never imaging that Acceptance might emerge again. Christian even continued his music career in the band Anberlin. In 2014, Jason received an offer from Skate & Surf for the band to reunite at the New Jersey festival. He was out of touch with the other members, but the offer eventually made its way to Christian, who looped everyone back in together. The decision was made to regroup for Skate & Surf in May of 2015, and everything propelled from there. The band released a new song, “Take You Away,” and found themselves so inspired that it was only logical for an album to follow.
“Acceptance has always been a big question mark for me,” Christian says. “I get asked about it a lot. It’s been ten years, and everyone is in different places in their lives. But, still, everyone fell right back into place. It felt really good to play together again, and it got everyone really excited. It’s since grown into what it is now – we’ve officially reformed as a band. I’m really excited.” “We don’t have a history of being a certain type of band,” Jason adds. “It felt logical to start again and see where we could go with it. We wrote one new song together after practicing a few times. It was a lot of fun, and it became ‘Hey, why don’t we make a record?’”
The band recorded the album from late 2015 through the spring of 2016 in Seattle and Nashville, the members sending ideas back and forth and flying out to meet each other whenever possible. It was an easy decision to work with producer, Aaron Sprinkle (Anberlin, Copeland, MxPx Emery), who was responsible for the direction on Phantoms over a decade ago. The group recorded 12 tracks with Aaron, all of which were guided by his trusted, skillful hands. “Aaron was instrumental in honing in Acceptance’s original sound,” Christian notes. “Some of the coolest moments and coolest ideas on Phantoms came from him. Aaron helped us, pushed us and expanded our instrumental abilities. He has been doing the same thing on this record.”
There was a lot of discussion early on in the album process of how to bridge the gap between Phantoms and Colliding by Design, which is named for the sense that fate has brought the musicians back together again. They wanted to make a solid rock album that felt timeless and impactful – the same way that Phantoms does. The lyrics grapple with how the musicians have experienced the world over the past ten years and touch on the idea that different backgrounds and beliefs can connect as one.
“We’ve gone through different parts of life and grown musically and creatively and personally,” Jason says. “We wanted to tap into what we were feeling at the time, and it may or may not be completely relevant to Phantoms. We wrote the music that we loved to see what happens, which is exactly what we did last time. We really were in love with Phantoms, and we wanted to capture that feeling again. The band has always been about impacting the world and the people who are listening to the music. We want to continue to connect with people and stir up strong emotions with every song we write.”
Since the release of Phantoms, every member of the band has changed and grown. Past strife and ideological differences no longer disconnect them, and any drama from their early years has been put to bed. The band members find themselves particularly thankful to have drummer Garrett Lunceford back in their ranks and to have reconciled with him after his departure in 2003 (Garrett’s replacement, Nick Radovanovic, has elected not to be part of the band full-time). Acceptance has collectively rediscovered their love for music, putting any sense of being jaded by the industry behind them.
“Before the band was even considering getting back together, Jason and I had met up at a coffee shop to talk after years of not speaking to one another,” says Garrett. “The reconnection and rebuilding of friendships is by far the best part of this entire experience for me, and I feel as though that’s really come out in the music we’ve been creating.”
“We don’t have to be back in this band,” Christian says. “We’re doing this because we want to be back in the band. It’s a rekindled passion and rediscovered love of playing music and writing music. It’s been really fulfilling and exciting.” “It was a really cool experience when we got back together,” Jason says. “It’s surreal and it’s surprising that we’ve been able to pick it up again. But it feels great. It feels like it’s right.”
With this album comes a new beginning for Acceptance. The band plans to continue writing music together and hopes to write and record another collection of songs after this one. It’s not a reunion, but an actual rebirth, giving Acceptance a second chance to carry on what their music is and can do. “This process has been really fun,” Jason says. “I like the idea of continuing to make music and release it in various ways. We’re so grateful to have a second chance at this, and I think you can hear that in the music.”