Akron/Family InterviewDana Janssen's iPod playlist When you're part of a band called Akron/Family, fielding the usual questions can get slightly tedious. Why is the music so hard to classify? Do its members like the term "freak folk"? How much is planned and how much is improvisation? What's this "AK-AK" philosophy fans talk about obsessively?
Dana Janssen - one of four player-singers in the New York troupe - has a stockpile of polite and friendly answers to draw upon. But he'd much rather harmonize with his friends and play several instruments, including the drums. He'll do just that on Thursday at Birmingham's Bottletree, spreading the word about Akron/Family's latest disc, "Love Is Simple."
Janssen, 27, also is happy to talk about his personal music library. He collects vinyl and CDs, and describes his tastes as extremely eclectic, ranging from Fleetwood Mac to the Flaming Lips.
Justin Timberlake? It's in there, Janssen says. Aretha Franklin? He likes the R&B queen, too.
About a year ago, Janssen succumbed to the iPod revolution and bought a black, 60G player in the Apple store in Manhattan's Soho neighborhood.
"The whole band has gotten iPods because we tour so much," he says. "We don't want to junk up the van with CD books."
Although much of Janssen's CD library has been downloaded into his iPod, he had no trouble coming up with five albums currently in heavy rotation. Ask him next month, Janssen says, and this list might be entirely different.
1. "The Black Album" (2003), by Jay-Z - "It's amazing. It's really real. The songs are great and well produced. Pretty much every track on there is awesome, and I like that he has his mom on one of the tunes. I've got his entire catalog."
2. "Passages" (1990), by Ravi Shankar and Philip Glass - "It's nice, neo-classical driving music, for when you're going through the desert at night and spacing out. I think they both obtain that drone-y, plaintive sound. It's a drone thing with the sitar. And Philip Glass has those busy yet steady pieces, so busy and yet they create an even kind of feel."
3. "Dick's Picks, Vol. 25" (2002), by the Grateful Dead (live archival performances from May 10-11, 1978) - "It's got this whole'70s sort of thing. It's from the good psychedelic era, before they got too far down the cocaine hole. You can always find something new going on; they noodle so much."
4. "Rumours" (1977), by Fleetwood Mac - "Lindsey Buckingham is an awesome songwriter, man. His songs on there are great: `Second Hand News,' `Never Going Back Again.' I love Stevie Nicks' voice, all raspy and gravely and grindy, not your typical woman's voice. And she was beautiful - really hot back then."
5. "Opposite People" (1977), by Fela Anikulapo Kuti - "Fela's the man. I'm totally into his Afrobeats, which are darker than some I've heard, and how he holds the same groove for 15 minutes. He was a great bandleader, too. Fela's just deep - there's an intensity - and his performing is unparalleled."