Akron/Family | Interview

Alternative Ulster | Kiran Acharya

ZZ Top have great beards, I will admit, but they lost their cred.


They've recorded the sounds of chairs squeaking and pounded the breath from their chests for percussion to create structured, sprawling songs, as much at home in the clubs as by the campfire. Three records’ worth of DIY home-recorded the acclaimed split EP with Angles Of Light and their eponymous debut album. Theirs is a world of aural weirdness, tripped-out fold and found sounds mixing with alt-rock psychedelia in compelling, chanting, kaleidoscopic glory. Most-of-the-time singer Ryan gives us the lowdown. 

What is Akron/Family's musical heritage? 
     We all share an interest in all different kinds of music and that comes into play. We try and dig up all the different kinds. Pop music has definitely been a big influence as with most people of our generation; Zeppelin, Hendrix and of course The Beatles. We don't really relate to the newer stuff as, well, it's mostly shit. 

Is there a story behind the name? 
     It's a combination of different things ‘Akron’ in Greek means ‘the edge’, so sometimes we like to think our music’s like the edge, living on the edge; but not like the guy from U2. Maybe he uses the name for the same reason, I'm not sure. 

How does the Family set about recording its tracks? What's the recording process like? 
     The recording process can be spontaneous but taking time over spontaneous activity. Many acts coming together with re-investigation, taken apart, put back together and then taken apart again. 

What's the oddest sound you've recorded? 
     No sounds really seem that odd to me as sound is just sound, there’s not much difference in things used to create something. Somebody had a raw frozen chicken once that we threw against the wall. That was kind of weird. We cooked it later. 

Who has the best beard in music? 
     A lot of poets have great beards; Whitman, Longfellow. In music, Khan has a great beard; Hazrat Inayat Khan, the Sufi musician. And then, of course, probably the best beard in all musical time. Jerry Garcia. ZZ Top have great beards, I will admit, but they lost their cred. 

Do you guys benefit from the ingestion of any kind of stimulant? Artificial or otherwise? 
     Coffee. We're huge fans of coffee and drink a lot of it. That and Yerba Matte. Are you familiar with it? It's an Argentinean drink, like a tea, pretty high in caffeine with a nice flavour. 

No 'eye of newt' or 'goat placenta'then? Do you know what 'craic' is? 
     Crack? The drug crack? That's great, alright; Oh, Irish craic! I've been warned that even though we all speak the English language, when we come to Ireland I might not know what's being said.