LIKE ANY BAND worth its salt, folk-rock-noise-prog-etc. four-piece Akron/Family has maintained a staggering work ethic: touring constantly, recording prolifically, and evolving into an efficient organism of sincerity. Their newest release, Meek Warrior, is a document of four friends exposing their microcosm to the world in a swift burst.
MERCURY: It was obviously important for you to record with jazz drummer Hamid Drake, what did he bring to the table?
MILES SEATON: Hamid brought not only his outer-space-level talent, he also brought his humility, kindness, and over-all-heaviest good vibes to the session. He has the most piercing smile. It really made a potential bummer into a totally mellow living-room-with-friends scene. The vibe is every bit as important as the sound of a room when recording—not saying that tension and pressure don't sometimes produce some good sounds, but over all, working with Hamid made us all really grateful, and that feeling of "what luck!" is there for sure.
Word is that you retreated to the mountains to recover from the exhaustion of recording the new record. The natural environment seems to be a subliminal theme with the band, like your artwork for example.
SEATON: I myself moved to the Hudson Valley in upstate New York after our last record, to a town of 1,600, and found the natural beauty there very inspiring. Living a good deal of my life in the Northwest, I think that nature has been a constant theme in my life. As far as the band, there is a possibility that part of our sound may have been a response to a lack of trees in the deep city. I do love me some trees.
With so many artists using this kind of imagery lately, do you worry about this resurgence of nature being nothing but a fad?
SETH OLINSKY: In the near future, with the advent of nanotechnology and a general abundance of food and raw materials, I predict that it will not matter all that much. People will go on doing whatever it is they do, hopefully learning more and more not to hurt each other, and hopefully learning that nature is more than a fad, and even more than just the woods. Hopefully, the big HOPEFULLY, people will learn to get over themselves.
Crowd participation and inclusiveness are recurring themes of your live shows. Are those goals that you aim for, or is it instinctual?
SEATON: It's a little of both, I don't know if I have put too much thought into the hows and whys at all. That said, as far as intention goes, I do feel that communal experiences is a step in the right direction, as far as me trying to uncover the real lack of proximity that actually exists between myself and all other beings. Loving others (however imperfectly I actually do) has been a beautiful, heartbreaking, life-altering feeling, and I'd like to share that feeling in any way I can. If, one night, it seems like a loving thing to do is to run out in the crowd half naked and barefoot and dance and sing and make a fool of myself, that's no problem.
What's on the horizon?
OLINSKY: We are in New Jersey now, alternately recording all day and tracking the Jersey Devil through the mysterious Pine Barrens at night.
SEATON: Can you imagine what the Jersey Devil would sound like through a Mu-Tron [effects pedal]?!