Akron has been home to some important figures in Alternative/Modern Rock — Chrissie Hynde, Devo, Robert Quine, Tin Huey, The Waitresses, The Black Keys and more. But, strangely, Akron/Family isn’t one of them. The trio, touring in support of its new album S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT, formed in Brooklyn in 2002 and its members now live there and in Portland. There is no connection to the northern Ohio industrial town.
“I moved to New York and met Miles (Seaton) there and we started making music together,” says Seth Olinsky, the now-Portland-based band member. “At some point, we had enough music to make a CDR for friends and I said, ‘What will we call this thing?’ And he said, ‘Let’s call it Akron.’ So, OK, I’m into one-word names.
And when Dana (Janssen) and Ryan (Vanderhoof, now departed) moved to town and joined the group, I ended up starting this e-mail address called Akron/Family.”
Akron/Family is a hard group to pin down, geographically and otherwise. Over the course of the albums its members have made, both solely as Akron/Family and in collaboration with others, it has mixed elements of Freak Folk with Rock and experimentalism. S/T II continues and expands that visionary quest. Preliminarily written during a two-week stay at a cabin built near an active volcano in Japan and then recorded amid the urban ruins of Detroit, it shows the influences of Jazz, Prog Rock, Eastern Classical music, Folk Rock, Noise bands … you name it. It’s the sound of a band with an active, probing intellect seeking liberation and enlightenment through music.“It really feels like we came together on a conceptual level to try to dream this thing into existence,” Olinsky says. “We had this image of a ‘Shinju TNT’ character which we just made up, and it represented this kind of explosive, transformative energy behind change. And on a spirit level, we were relating to this concept of breaking down the walls.”
Akron/Family Plays MOTR Pub Tuesday, March 1.