Akron/Family has written some of the best songs of the current century. They have released two albums on Young God Records, both of which juxtapose musical sensibilities of the most diverse sort. To love them is to love music, not genres.
Identity Theory: Can you explain “Ak Ak”? What is it, exactly? I heard someone call it a religion.
Seth: It’s less a religion, and more of a perceptual glitch caused by over-exposure to loud volumes and extended periods spent in the van resulting in the breathing of rainbows and grids and bold statements like “the truth is such.” We know even less than the average person and are happy about presenting that on stage. Our faith in our lack of understanding is both hit and miss.
Identity Theory: All of your new material could definitely be considered “polarized.” You have the intense death-metal style of music juxtaposed against an intensely subdued acoustic sound. What effect are you interested in creating, by combining this two extremes? Or do you not view them as extremes?
Seth: I don’t know if we use the specific word “extremes,” but dynamic [shifts] are certainly one of the most prevalent and important parts of what we do. I do not think that we do it just to do it. Sometimes, I suppose it is for effect, other times it expresses specific ideas, other times it works to grab attention. But I think we are just drawn to including counterpoint, be it volume, melody, emotion, speed — one generally calls out for the other.
Identity Theory: When you write songs, do you feel that the structure and/or melody of the song could fit within multiple sounds? For instance, do you think a song like “Afford” could work as a darker, heavier and more aggressive treatment? Could “Moment” work as a subdued song? Or do you find that all songs call for a very particular treatment? I guess what I’m asking is: are songs and genre one in the same?
Seth: I think it depends. Especially considering the wide range of what we do. I’m inclined to say that something like “Moment” as a song is very arrangement-oriented, so that the arrangement of it, as well as the lyrics and structure, are much more integrated and tied together than something like “Afford,” which is a little more of a traditional so-called song. I would think that pieces that are simpler and more song-like would lean themselves more towards reworkings of arrangement and what you call genre, where as something like “Moment” is a little less flexible.
Identity Theory: How does the band interact together, in terms of songwriting?
Seth: It varies quite a bit from song to song. Some are started by one person and more or less finished (structure, harmony, melody, lyrics) and then just filled out by the band, for example “Afford” or “I’ll Be On the Water,” while other songs are more or less ideas that over time and lots of “discussion” are fleshed out into full pieces, like the songs “Moment” or “Future Myth.”
Identity Theory: How would you describe the mental state of the band during the recording of the last two albums?
Seth: The first album was collected from material recorded and worked on over a long period of time, and we were all a bit crazy. The last album was recorded in a week as soon as we got back from a 6-week tour with Michael Gira, and we were all a bit crazy.
Identity Theory: A lot of your lyrics use religious imagery. Would you say this comes from a religious place or would you say that you just like using the idiomatic phrases of “Lord” and so forth?
Seth: We all have our own beliefs and I would say it may mean something different for all of us. But it is truly sincere, and when we say “Lord” we mean “Lord” and are not just referencing some idiom or style, like “ohh, look at these nice post modern boys doing a gospel bit.” Usually people get it if they get it. We try very hard to include everyone, and by no means are trying to get people to think one way or another, but are trying to create a somewhat specific space for this music to unfold in.
Images courtesy Young God Records