(from Love Is Simple on Young God)
Akron/Family released their final album on Michael Gira’s Young God Records before leaving New York City to try something new as a trio. They will be finishing their residency at the Steve Allen Theater tonight. Bassist Miles Seaton speaks just before exiting a train. This interview by Chris Ziegler.
What’s the best thing that ever happened to you because of your HEY MAN I WANNA PARTY WITH YOU t-shirt?
Miles Seaton (bass): The person that gave it to me is a dear friend and there was a point when he said, ‘This is just sad that I have this because I don’t want to party any more.’ So I took it around and wore it and at some point his life tuned around and he asked me to give it back. It’s a cool thing—‘I’m feeling better—I think I’ll take that shirt back.’ But I never gave it back.
Is that a happy ending or an awkward ending?
Super happy. I still have it, but I want to take the ‘h’ off of it so it says I WANNA PARTY WIT YOU.
Did you think about making him a shirt and you’d have this perfect little shirt trade?
That’s a good idea. I had a shirt that I gave him for his birthday once—the way I gave it to him, I was like, ‘Hey, man, can I borrow your shirt for a second?’ And I grabbed it from him and took my shirt off and I was bare-chested in the street. ‘Here you go—the shirt off my back!’
Are you often bare-chested in the street?
No, it was a sentimental moment. But there have been some bare-chested moments in the street. In Austin last year, we ended up in the street and I realized I was talking to people and wearing a headdress covered in confetti, and I was like, ‘Wow, what am I doing standing in the middle of the street like this?’
How many moments in the last year have you had where time freezes like that?
So much of the press about the last album talked about how exhausted the band was—did you get the rest you needed yet?
It’s tough to tell. I feel rejuvenated with a new sense of searching for joy in what we’re doing. I feel making this record was a point of closure for us interpersonally and as a band. Just like our own lives. Everyone is growing and changing. Being alive can be exhausting. I think if you have the good fortune and blessing to live your life to the fullest, that can be a pretty tiring thing.
You said before that you want the music to be as screwed up as possible. Did you try that on this record?
All of us try and take care to speak from our personal perspectives when were speaking on behalf of the group, so that was me referring to myself in a lot of ways—but there’s a sense of building the whole thing up then stopping and going, ‘This shit sucks now.’ I also feel like you get to a point, especially when you’re touring and presenting something, that the process becomes less creative. For me, I’m digging for the energetic situation—that’s what the idea of raising the sparks is about. Or digging for fire. There’s this vibe of trying to throw yourself into the storm as much as possible and challenging yourself as a thinker, a problem solver and as a person and as a man and as a friend and as a collaborator to grow—because theres no other thing you can do on this earth than to make and die, and there’s this sense that screwing it all up gives that opportunity to find that really beautiful thing.
You spoke once about playing with guitarists from Mali who ‘wade into the river’—is that the same thing?
That’s another angle. It is that sense of stepping to the tradition and letting the momentum that is occurring burst around you, and it will take you back down into it.
I feel like we’re circling around something greater here.
Well, as soon as you identify it, it doesn’t exist. That’s the idea, isn’t it? You circle around the greater truth for the entire thing and you think you figure it out—then it’s time to circle around another million times.
What was the last big breakthrough for you guys?
All of us really like talking with each other frankly—we’re starting to honor the friendship of our band in a huge way. Playing with Megafaun was a huge experience for us because those guys process everything almost to ad nauseum. They talk about the show afterwards, they treat their relationship as the very most important thing and their music as a seamless and flawless expression of that relationship at any given time. The attention to that commonality and process creates a sense of warmth and brotherhood that’s unparalleled to me. We’re all kind of intense dudes and we try to play it off like we’re laid back, yet all of us have our own vision and ideas and strong opinions about life. And there’s just a sense to honor each other and get closer to one another because sometimes you get so excited and so into shit that you forget—you’re looking at your bro. You’re on stage and you’re like, ‘I fucking love you, man.’
Has that sentiment ever been vocalized?
Yeah, it has. Almost always it’s like, ‘I love you, too.’ And it’s great—it’s special. I really feel like these guys are my best friends and I feel really lucky to watch them grow. And that’s the ‘wade into the river’ thing—it refers to Seth having a great experience with his life as an individual and it’s great to watch him grow in a new direction. And same thing with Dana. You know—I like making coffee. I love espresso—you can always find me at Intelligentsia. I’m a barista geek—I can pull the best shot you’ve had. I can go travel and build relationships with farmers and there’s just a million things people can do, but the enjoyment of this is that the friendship in this is carrying over into life. That’s what all of us are trying to go for and it’s going to make our music so much better.
Has ‘Auld Lang Syne’ ever moved you to tears?
No, but I was moved to tears when we were cutting the take of that. I didn’t break down and end up in a heap.
Were they warrior tears?
Yeah! Cowboy tears. Actually, that’s the name of my new band: Warrior Tears. Just me with a loop pedal and somebody with a floor tom.
When’s the last time you played all night and walked out to see the sunrise?
We got close once. We played at a college once—it was so bad. Weirdly bad and keggy and crazy and we kept going out of tune and we were playing all these other songs—everybody a step out of tune from each other. It was so disgusting and we kept smashing it down again into really dark dark wicked jams, and it ended up going until five and we got out and it definitely was close to sunrise.
How many people dropped out of college after seeing that show?
I hope a few. No, just kidding. If your parents can afford it, stay in school.
AKRON/FAMILY ON THU., MAR. 12, AT THE STEVE ALLEN THEATER, 4773 HOLLYWOOD BLVD., LOS ANGELES. 7:30 PM / $15 / ALL AGES. COMPLETE LINE-UP AND OTHER INFORMATION AT STEVEALLENTHEATER.COM.