Interview: Dr. Acula on Making You a Little Uncomfortable

If you imagine finding yourself trapped in an old, decaying house where howls emanate from god-knows-where and the walls suddenly crack, with ghoulish arms shooting from the wreckage and grasping for your ankles, the scene would be something like what the new, self-titled album from New York’s Dr. Acula evokes.

“We definitely want it to feel like an assault,” bassist Rob Guarino shares of the new record, out this October from Silent Pendulum Records. “We want you to be a little uncomfortable. We want it to be a little erratic. I think we probably used to do that a little too much in our youth where it would just go off the rails. So this time, we were like, how do we do that? But a little more contained, like lightning in a bottle almost. Like, make it fucking crazy, but still be able to vibe to it or get in a rhythm with things. We purposely reused riffs on this album, which is something that our younger selves would scoff at us for doing.”

Dr. Acula, who are releasing their first album in a decade and the first in even longer with this line-up, perform brutal, breakdown-driven metal. Metalcore, deathcore, grind —Whatever the term, the music is pulverizing, ripping across the landscape like an industrial-strength chainsaw that somehow became sentient. It’s dramatic, but the music proves extremely direct in its impact, and the physicality of it all helps amplify that personal feeling, as though the energy suddenly wells up from within whoever might be listening.

The band bring the energy in their live performances.

“I am in no way near the shape I was in at 19 years old, 20 years old, back then,” Guarino says. “And so it’s a little tougher now for me, but that chemistry, like how we go about stage movement and banter, it just came back almost instinctively, which was nice. It was one less thing to think about. It was just now getting the cardio up to, like, 40 minutes while also jumping around and headbanging and all that other fun stuff.”

Guarino explains the reunited lineup specifically sought high energy in their new shows.

“Coming back, it was really important to us. If we’re going to do these shows, they need to be good because if people are going to come and see us, and take time out of their life and their day, and come to a venue and buy a ticket, we need to not fuck around,” the bassist shares. “Because that’s not cool if someone’s excited to come see us, especially after all this time, and we half-ass it. If I need to sweat my ass off for 40 minutes, but the crowd’s having a good time because we’re not standing there like zombies, that’s worth it, super worth it.”

Ultimately, the songs on Dr. Acula seem lean. The group increased their level of rhythmic stability enough to make the tracks (perhaps surprisingly) catchy, at least if you’re looking for this kind of music.

The group also made the themes of their new music somewhat more serious than some of the years-old songs.

“The intent was to definitely be more serious and have some storylines,” Guarino explains. “I mean, most of them are pretty real. We didn’t want to write the same party song over and over again. We’ve definitely grown up a bit. So having all these life experiences to pull from and different things that we’ve all gone through, we wanted to pull from that and give people something material to consume. Because that’s the stuff that we really enjoy now, a good story that has some depth to it, saying something. So we wanted to challenge ourselves to be able to write something in that lane as opposed to what we’ve done earlier.”

Guarino says the band appreciate their newer fans and those who have stuck around after all this time.

“We definitely have the older crowd, where they saw us when we were first around, and they’re super excited that we’re back,” the bassist shares. “They found us as they were learning what their music taste was too. It was informative of the other bands they listened to of that era. And it’s just very pleasant to be around and also fun to see they stuck around for that long and still care. That kind of blows our mind. Fifteen years later, you still really care. Like, alright, awesome. Let’s do this.”

Follow the band here. 

Photo courtesy of Dr. Acula

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