Monday, September 28, 2009

DC Interview: Akron/Family

Importantly, Together: Akron/Family

(photo: Sebastian Mlynarski )
(for more Akron/Family - read my Tiny Mix Tapes interview with Seth Olinsky here)

“All of our records have been the same,” says Akron/Family bassist Miles Seaton, a deceptive comment at first considering the Brooklyn-based trio’s weird wiggly tribal psychedelic errantry with which their sound has barreled from record to record. He clarifies, “They capture us as a creative force in motion and the idea of them being this definitive document is not really gonna work.”

Akron/Family - "River"

Seaton is rehashing the last two years, which saw the departure of longtime member, singer/guitarist Ryan Vanderhoof, the transition to a new label and the reassembling of the band, not just in finding its functionality as a trio, but finding a new definition, in direction and sound. This leads to his reflection on their 2007 false-start/quasi-breakout album Love Is Simple, the epically scoped (if a bit awkwardly abstract in staunch spiritual folk, radical escapist strung-out pop and Buddhist incantations), which still garnered them considerable attention on the national indie-rock scene – perhaps fueled particularly by their engaging live shows.

Seaton would field post-performance audience comments like, “I listened to your records and it didn’t make sense to me and now and I saw you live and now I understand them…”
“That’s because it’s a whole picture,” said Seaton, who came to New York from Seattle a year into this fresh century to meet singer/guitarist Seth Olinsky. “(Love is Simple) sounds to me like a real representation of where we were at (in 07), like the actual definition of ‘the record’ as a record of a moment.”

Seaton has played music his whole life. When he moved to New York, fresh out of college, it was a “shit or get off the pot” moment for him, in terms of actually making music his life. Thus, he sought a band, and found a kindred spirit in Olinsky. Dana Janssen moved up from Florida and added drums to the demos they were preparing; from there, submitting to Young God Records and taking off from there with aid from label head Michael Gira.

“It seemed like it happened pretty quickly,” said Seaton of the ideal choreography of the band’s history; meeting Vanderhoof, putting out their self titled debut in 05 and the well received Meek Warrior EP in 06. Early on, said Seaton, the four “made an agreement to quit it all and throw it all into the pot and see if it works. The reality is, it did.” But, he clarifies, not without the usual back breaking. “We played all the time. I worked 40 hours a week, from six in the morning and then rehearse from six at night to two in the morning and go home, get a couple hours sleep then do it again the next day.”

Even tougher in a scene, NY of all scenes, they were loners. “We played so many shitty places in New York, we weren’t friends with anybody. We weren’t playing cool rock parties with hip bands. Later on we met bands on tour. But back in New York it felt kinda lonely.”

This strengthened their bond, as friends and band mates. “I can’t mince words, I love these dudes.” Thus, when Vanderhoof left before they started recording Set ‘em Wild, Set ‘em Free (out last spring on Dead Oceans), the band used it as a time to find themselves, as well as close the chapter on the overly whimsical past. Not to say they didn’t follow whims, which led to recording with Detroit-based engineer Chris Koltay.

more info at Dead Oceans
or on Akron/Family's myspace

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