Folk band keeps it in the family
Few modern bands are as dependent upon each other as the folk-inspired experimental rock quartet Akron and Family, performing in D.C. this Tuesday. On stage, the band members do not abide by such titles as bassist, drummer, vocalist or guitarist. In fact, Akron/Family's members do not have clear-cut roles whatsoever; everyone sings the lyrics and plays whatever instrument they feel like playing. However, during the production of its latest album, "Love Is Simple," the band took a different approach. Band member Miles Seaton explained that during its creation, he began to notice a departure from the band's "laissez-faire" mentality.
"We all wanted to make a different album," Seaton said. "This was the first time that we dealt with deadlines, both for the music and album artwork, and that made the process somewhat more difficult. This time around, we noticed the limitations."
After Akron/Family wrapped up production on "Love Is Simple," the band handed it over to Young God Records and went on tour. Midway through the tour, though, the studio had some problems with the finished product.
"We had to take a break from touring to fix up the album," Seaton said. "It was kind of frustrating, but we were in a different mind-set. The way our minds work: always thinking - what is next?"
Considering where the members of Akron/Family were a mere five years ago, this was a huge adjustment. Although the band is based in New York City, its members hail from rural areas in surrounding states.
"When I first came to New York City, I had the experience auditioning and miserably trying to find people to play music with," Seaton said. "Then I met Seth Olinsky and it was a revelation. We were both working at miserable jobs and began recording together."
New York held a certain allure and, even more so, a sense of challenge to the members. The band members figured that if they could make it in the city that never sleeps, they could make it anywhere.
"We got to the certain level where we began to think that what we were doing meant something, something great - something that gave my time meaning," Seaton said. "New York is distracting and expensive, and music is like a solace to us."
Akron/Family has been frequently cited for its employment of religious themes, yet Seaton prefers the term spiritual.
"I think that any kind of music that makes a profound impact has some sort of spiritual quality or connection to it," Seaton said. "I think that all of us are looking for meaning in our lives, may it be through religion or music. It's a way of relating to the world."
Seaton could not come up with an idea for the most difficult part of a member of a band. He explained that he was at a soul-food restaurant in Knoxville and that it was too loud to hear anymore. He went outside and delivered a simple, heartfelt answer to the aforementioned question.
"It's really great, actually," Seaton said. "Maybe it's not as financially pleasing as it may have been a decade ago, but I don't know, it's pretty cool. We are really lucky. I play music that I love with the greatest people I know."
Fans can check out Seaton and the greatest people he knows at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday night at the Rock and Roll Hotel.