FAMILY VALUES Akron/Family

The experimental band
reinvents itself once again.

 

BY NANCY DUNHAM

 

Miles Seaton, nominally the bass player for Akron/Family,
isn’t going to be pinned down on who did what part of the band’s new album Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free (Dead Oceans).

 

Fans know the band members each love to dabble and create,
working as almost a musical co-op. The result is pieces of Jimi Hendrix, the
Grateful Dead and all the artists in between coming together as Akron/Family
sound that perhaps even the members can’t specifically describe.

 

“You can definitely feel it’s a lot wider and thicker
sound,” explains Seaton. “There is a heavy feeling to it.”

 

It’s impossible not to think of Akron/Family as arguably one
of the most pure jam bands around. The musical stew of ideas combined with each
member playing every instrument on the album at various points finds the sound
on this latest CD moving from jam to psychedelic and beyond.

 

Although one of the band’s original members, Ryan
Vanderhoof, recently left, Akron/Family – Seaton, Seth Olinsky and Dana Janssen
– doesn’t feel like a different band “by any stretch,” says Seaton. “We are
always looking to reinvent ourselves and change and grow.” The move proved a
positive one, proof being found in the 11 songs on the album, which constantly
shift and change almost like colors in an old Wurlitzer jukebox. “The call of
outside stuff is always there. All of us love the music and really want to work
on every process of it. On this [album] we spent a lot of time playing music
and recording different versions of things and keeping the music together. “

 

Considering the band’s background, that isn’t surprising.
The basic formation of the band came together when Seaton met Olinsky as a
co-worker at a New York
coffee shop.

 

“It was a real dead end job in a coffee shop/restaurant,”
recalls Seaton. “We worked ‘til 2 or 3 a.m. and then… got off work and played
music. We were both looking for something more than we had found previously.
Looking back, it all kinds of makes sense now.”

 

Life had grown so harsh in New York that Seaton was on the verge of
leaving when he met Seth.  Music, says Seaton,
became their shelter and life preserver. “The menial job and all that stuff was
tough. But when Seth and I were working on recording together, it all sort of
came together. My girlfriend at the time listened to it and said it was really
beautiful. Before I met Seth, I had lived in New York for six months and thought, `This
place is a bummer. I’m leaving.’ When I heard the music we recorded, I thought,
`That is why I came here.’

 

“God, I haven’t thought about that in a long time.  That’s so cool to remember.”

 

 

[Akron/Family will be
touring all summer. Dates at their MySpace page
]

 

 

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