Really, said Akron/Family singer/multi-instrumentalist Miles Seaton, “There’s no real way to describe ‘inspiration’ on this basic, mechanical level…(for it) to be realistically digested by people who are, already, overloaded with information and don’t have time. The reality is, the generous thing to do, as an artist, is…”
He pauses. What does it really, simply, merely, come down to…?
“…is to make art.” And he chuckles.
But still, “I feel inspired!”
Listen: - Akron/Family - "Silly Bears"
Anyhow – this weird and invigorating “connection” can be found and felt on the
“We’re not really a big rehearsal band,” Seaton quipped. “We figure out what to emphasize and how to frame it and just go for it. It has to do with us getting to a place where we’re communicating with one another, clearly, what we want to accomplish, and then reaching a decision. Then it’s just a matter of quick execution.”
Indeed. They took some time to hunker down with Chris Koltay at High Bias , on the fringe of Corktown, near the slopes of the emaciated Grand Central Train Station, in
But, actually, the album, (S/T II) was “born in (
The band seemed to find a muse in the land of the rising sun, spurred by their touring of Japan with Deerhunter through summer 2009, combined with what Seaton remarked as a particularly inspiring performance that Akron/Family attended, by Japanese noise-legends the Boredoms at last years’ All Tomorrows Parties festival.
“It was inside of us,” Seaton said, of this ‘explosion of creativity.’ “So, when we got to
“I do feel like there’s a level of intimacy achieved in (S/T II). Our first record was almost entirely recorded with one crappy SM57 microphone in a shitty sequencing program. We embellished it in the studio. But, we were creating in a vacuum; we weren’t out in the world, in the scene, listening to a bunch of bands and approximating it, none of that. I feel like it was just this intimate, very direct sharing that was happening. That intimacy was very important.”
“When you improvise and when you are free and are making really loud, like—literally loud statements, there’s a level of everyone in the room being together, because they’re all being sucked up in the loud sound; everyone’s hearing it, they’re all having their own experience but everyone’s hearing it, so there’s this intimacy that can occur, or this sort of presence that can happen. I feel like there’s a capability in loud, really extreme musical circumstances, that can really happen but I feel like we hadn’t realy thought about it htat much or paid attention to that quality.
"Where, before, when we were first playing and Michael Gira (of Young God Records, their first label/collaborator) first heard us (at Pete’s Candy Store,
“Intimacy, that drawing people in, was the real intention behind the record.”
Akron/Family returned to work with their previous sound molder/collaborator, Chris Koltay, for S/T II. The band have made a personal, professional, and in some ways, cosmic, connection to the consummate, Detroit-based engineer (whose resume includes Liars, Deerhunter, No Age). “We’ve gotten close enough to him, at this point, where we kind of use him as a spirit animal. He really puts his heart and soul into what he’s doing; I feel like he really understands the musicality of sound. I can’t say enough about how awesome he is…On a sonic level, he just gets it.”
Akron/Family albums up to now have spanned from stripped down, obscuro-acoustic based folk experimentations, to saturations of eclecticism with banjos, sitars, and synthesizers under tribal/spiritual chant-churning drum circle-esque trance tumblers, to keyed-up, guitar-surged, raucous whirls. S/T II, with its cool; its confidence, its grace, balancing dreamy/hazy acoustic sways with the more cacophonous, rock-leaning exuberance, they blend funk and blues, to sun-soaked
What’s been steady throughout is, first, of course, their striking, honeyed harmonies and their penchant for found sounds spackling the edges of their songs. Set Em Wild Set Em Free and its predecessor, Love is Simple (2007) seemed rapt with the earthy/woodsy vibe, furled by cricket chirps, whereas their first album opened with the melodic elements of a cellphone. S/T II balances the elucidation of the outdoors with the tangled, humming wires inside a computer.
Listen: Akron/Family - "So It Goes"
“There’s definitely a weird nature aspect to technological stuff; technology sort of apes natural processes in a lot of ways; that’s just something we’re interested in. When I first started listening to John Cage or just more abstract music, there was this potential expansion; I’d always kind of enjoyed sound, like, I enjoyed the hum of an air conditioner or an engine or something, so I started to get into those sounds and it became musical to me in this way, to where I felt like I could walk around and be surrounded by music. So, for us, there’s this level of wanting to encourage and bolster that experience in listeners.”
He regaled Akron/Family performing at an abstract space, outside, at a festival on the East River in
“I feel inspired!”
And, this date, 2/22 at the Lager, it being a week and a half into their 2011 tour, Seaton said, “I feel like we’ll be there just around the time when we’re starting to get crazy…”