Monday, December 21, 2009
AKRON/FAMILY - NOVEMBER 2006
Originally published: Monday Magazine
Random thoughts: I really can't believe I missed their live show in town. One of those write-about-them-but-get-sick-before-show dealies. I've heard they are one of the best live bands, as the YouTube clip below will attest.
Akron/Family avoid rock trappings for a whole lot of love and joy
By Jason Schreurs
Let’s face it; rock shows are a bummer sometimes. Some greased-up fools on stage, sweating and spitting, while the cooler-than-thous in the crowd stand sneering with their arms crossed. But a select few bands, such as Brooklyn’s folk/noise troupe Akron/Family, are interested in a live show that transcends the bad vibes.
“Our approach is trying to have a sense of community as opposed to a lot of rock shows where you’ll go and the band will just sort of play at the crowd,” explains multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Dana Janssen. “We like to entice the crowd to sing along, clap their hands, and really join in on the show and be part of the experience.”
And with their feel-good reputation preceding them, Akron/Family excel in their alternately mellow and jarring hopped-up-hymns in a more improv-friendly live setting. The foursome’s recorded output is free-form and inventive enough as it is, but the band must get downright giddy at the thought of jamming out more on stage.
“Oh, totally,” gushes Janssen. “I’m sure I could be happy doing the same show every night, but it would definitely get old. With this band, it’s a blessing, man. Totally a blessing...”
Um, blessing? Janssen likes to throw that word around, furthering the theory that Akron/Family is some kind of beardo religious cult disguised as a folk/noise/improv band. Let’s test the theory on Janssen: “No, no…” he lets out a high-pitched laugh. “That’s a myth. People take things and they just run with it. Some of the guys practice Buddhism, but besides that there’s no cult or formed religion.”
Okay, maybe not, but there’s certainly a strong mantra going on here. One listen to sing-along numbers like the gonzo-gospel “Blessing Force” and the phenomenally uplifting “The Rider (Dolphin Song)” and it’s clear the band has a message in mind.
“Joy, love… love, joy. That’s the message,” confirms Janssen. “I don’t know if people don’t have time for those two things, or people just fail to recognize them in every day life. Our message is to wake that up in people and make them recognize that joy and love can be found everywhere.”
Okay, got it, an Akron/Family live show is the polar opposite to the typical sex, drugs, and rock and roll. “A lot of bands want to be too cool, and kind of standoffish, and that doesn’t make any sense,” says Janssen.
So Akron/Family is the anti-cool? Does that work? “Totally man,” beams Janssen. “I like it!”