Possibly 4th Street 25: Akron/Family
Rob Trucks's "Possibly 4th Street" expositions, in which he invites musicians to perform live and impromptu somewhere in New York City, run intermittently here at Sound of the City.
Akron/Family headlines and curates the Knitting Factory's farewell party this Wednesday, December 31. Tickets are $35 and still available here.
photos by Rob Trucks
Possibly 4th Street
Number 25 (Part One)
by Rob Trucks
By the time the three (or more) members of Akron/Family take the stage for their show-closing, year-closing, Knitting Factory-closing set on December 31, six months will have passed since we spent the better part of an afternoon in the backyard of the band's last remaining New York outpost. (Thankfully we can report that their MySpace page has been updated in the interim).
Seth Olinsky's moved back to Pennsylvania from New York, Dana Janssen down to Tobacco Country, and Ryan Vanderhoof has left the band completely. Only Miles Seaton remains in Brooklyn.
Following three songs by the collective's now three-man core, we sat down with Olinsky to discuss the differences between free folk and freak folk, Albert Ayler and Ornette Coleman and how a band that once lived together now functions from three different states.
Akron/Family Performs "A Lake Song"
Possibly 4th Street
Number 25 (Part Two)
Seth Olinsky of Akron/Family
Wednesday afternoon, July 23, 2008, one day before the band's show at Castle Clinton.
The backyard of A/F's Miles Seaton's Brooklyn living space
Your band's MySpace bio reads, 'Four extremely nice, sincere and well-mannered young men.' Obviously four is now a prevarication, which kind of kills the whole sincere thing, but are there any other untruths I should know about before we continue?
[laughs] Well, it is sincere. We were four people. We were a four-piece for the longest time. It's a Billy Joel day. I think four and a half years ago we started, and we were a four-piece for about three years. And then last summer, about a year ago now, I guess, our fourth member left, Ryan, and so it's kind of been all over the place the last year. What you just saw was the three of us who are kind of a core now, but we've fleshed it out with various assortments of friends and musicians and done five-piece groups and seven-piece groups and twelve-piece groups.
Akron/Family Performs "Crickets"
So it's not so much that you're a liar as much as you're not particularly timely when it comes to updating your MySpace page.
Right. Well, we don't have one number that we've settled on yet, and yeah, we don't really edit our mySpace page that much. But we are fairly sincere. Or we try to be.
Tell me about the derivation of the band name. You may be the only band that I can think of with a backslash.
Right. AC/DC has the lightning bolt but . . . There's no real mystery. I mean, as I said, we started as four, but really Miles and I met in New York and started recording in my apartment and making stuff on a 4-track, and eventually had enough to kind of make a little CD-R and hand package it. And we were like, 'Well, what are we going to call this?' And we decided to call it Akron. And then Dana moved to town, and I grew up with Dana, so we started playing as a three-piece and then Ryan, who I mentioned before, joined the band and it kind of kept growing and growing, and we had this e-mail address that we called Akron Family, and eventually kind of tried to decide as we were growing, should we call ourselves Akron Family or just keep Akron? And I think at some point I mentioned to my mother and she said, 'Why don't you put a slash in it?' So that's where the slash came from. It was my mom's idea.
But why Akron? None of you are from Akron. Did you have a really good weekend there?
No, no real reason. Through no real planning of ours we ended up playing our first gig in Ohio, actually at Oberlin. We drove out there and that was the first time we'd ever played in front of people, and we stopped in Akron on the way home. But no, no real reason. Is Chicago from Chicago?