LOLA-bound band boasts funky folk

Akron/Family loves Canadian music fans, Bob Dylan

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009


HOW MANY HIPPIES CAN YOU FIT INTO A VAN? Akron/Family offer music as funky-fresh as their quirky beards. They'll be playing Victoria Park at this weekend’s LOLA festival.

Akron/Family is not your average folk band.

With scruffy beards and acoustic tunes that bloom into electric jam pieces, the musicians in Akron/Family mix folk-rock with psychedelia reminiscent of The Beatles in its “I Am The Walrus” days.

Akron/Family percussionist Dana Janssen believes ‘60s folk music influences the band’s sound the most in its lyrics and storytelling.

“The big thing I take from folk music is the story that someone tells. Like in country music as well, they’re telling a good story,” Janssen explains. “Bob Dylan [is a] great example. He really illustrates the picture for you.

“It’s just so honest. And not that we necessarily achieve that, but that’s something along the lines that we try to achieve, whether it be vocally or sonically " achieving the telling of a story.”

Akron/Family will bring its unconventional sound to London for the first time at the LOLA Festival.

Although Londoners represent a new demographic for the band, Janssen has nothing but praise for the Canadian audiences he has encountered so far in his career.

“Man, I think Canada’s amazing. The first time we played there, it was the second show on our very first tour. [It was] in Montreal and we were opening up for The Angels of Light and then serving as the backing band. After our set, the whole crowd gave us a standing ovation. It was unbelievable, man. I was blown away.”

Janssen attributes the fans’ glowing review to Canadians’ ability to let themselves truly experience a concert.

“Canadian audiences just seem unafraid to express themselves at a show, whereas in New York City your standard indie rock kid will stand there with his arms crossed,” Janssen says. “In New York, you see a lot of music every night and it’s not that it justifies [apathy], but it’s understandable.

“Whereas Canadians, regardless of whether they see a lot of music, still just really go for it. And I love that about Canadian audiences.”

This October, the LOLA-bound band will release its latest album, Love is Simple. The New York-based outfit enjoyed a different experience in the recording studio than for previous records.

“This time, [recording] was a lot more relaxed as far as the pace of everything and the environment,” Janssen says. “We had room to really try out a lot of ideas and sort of breathe with this record.

“[Recording] was done at Andrew Weiss’ studio, which is essentially in a house. And so we set up, we camped out, we slept there and ate there and everything and just didn’t leave this house in the middle of New Jersey for two weeks. [Having so much time] let us get into some nice places.”

The leisurely time frame kept the band at peace, in contrast to the frenetic pace of its previous recording sessions.

“Everything else that we’ve done has been sort of like, ‘We only have X-amount of time and we’ve got a lot of things to do,’” Janssen says. “So we just gotta get it done.

“[Recording Love is Simple] was completely the opposite. It was like, ‘We’ve got time. Let’s just take our time and try things out.’ We were much more relaxed and in good spirits as opposed to being stressed out and rushing through everything.”

The relaxed studio atmosphere lent a mellow undertone to even the most experimental and guitar-heavy of Love is Simple’s tracks.

“The record as a whole really captures that mood,” Janssen says. “It wasn’t just a singular state of being, it was left and right, up and down, all over the place.”

Akron/Family also shuns convention when it comes to its members’ musical responsibilities.

“[We] don’t necessarily assign roles. For the basic tracks, we’ve got a more traditional set-up, but anything after that? There are no limitations,” Janssen says. “If someone has a percussion idea, I don’t have to do it. And if I have a guitar idea, I can lay it down; it’s not designated to any one person.”

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