Louisiana based rockers AKADIA have announced summer show dates in support of their new single “Turn Away.” AKADIA brings a fresh new rock sound fused with a high intensity stage-show that keeps fan wanting more of their crushing guitars, hard-hitting drums with a vocal assault.
Music Madness caught up with Keith and Guy of AKADIA to discuss the band’s stage show and the importance of their music’s message. The boys from Nola pack a lyrical punch that is meant to stimulate the sense.
Music Madness: Congrats to you guys on the new music. How has the reception been on “Turn Away”?
Keith: Pretty good, people seem to really like that song a lot. Our vocal response is fantastic and whenever we reach out and everyone hearing it for the first time live is usually when they hear it and the crowd always seems to love it. We love playing it.
Music Madness: Watching the video obviously there is something personal to the song. How did the lyrics for “Turn Away” come about?
Keith: Well it was based directly on a personal relationship of someone that I knew and just seeing that person go through the things that they did and always being there for that person no matter what that person did to them, seeing how the relationship was toxic and just needed to end. This song was born out of the necessity for having the courage and strength to walk away from something that’s just not good for you. It talks about finding your own way out. It’s not just saying goodbye, it’s completely washing your hands and saying I’m done, you can find your own way now, and I can’t do this.
Music Madness: Wow, I think it came across in the sound, the lyrics, and the video. You can feel that it had more to it and I actually had to go back and watch it four or five times because I felt like I was getting a little something more every time I watched it. Anything that can make me think about something for more than five seconds is always a good thing.
Keith: In this day in age, that’s a pretty significant statement.
Guy: You say that Steve and it does that for me too, I mean I saw our video, we put the time into it, we did everything with it, but I’ll go and watch it, maybe like once a week or so. I’ll go check and see how the reception is and if I need to respond to any comments or anything like that and I get a different feel and a different take out of it as well. Keith pretty much wrote that song and he did a great job.
Music Madness: Right now, is it a team effort when the band is creating new music and writing or does Keith handle most of the writing?
Guy: This particular song, Keith put it together acoustically. Then we had a producer come in and help write the music, but most of all of our music, up until the point of that song being written, we wrote as a band. We sat down as a band; we put the music together and then presented it to Keith, who took it from there, what lyrics or melodies to use.
Music Madness: Right on. I was curious of how you would describe your sound. How did your sound come about and are you guys hitting that mark on this kind of song?
Keith: I don’t think, when it comes to the overall sound of what we do, I don’t know that it’s entirely intentional. When I’m writing something, I do like to be considerate of the listener and try to be mindful of melodies that are memorable and things like that. Even for all sound itself, that’s just each member of the band, doing what they do. When Nate puts his wrist down, the way he’s got his amp dialed in and the way he plays, that’s years of listening to bands like Chevelle and Mudvayne, Tool, Perfect Circle, and even older bands like Def Leppard, Whitesnake and you know things like that.
John comes in on the drums, of course, his favorite band is Motley Crüe, you know what I mean? He’s modeled so much of what he does after that sound. Ryan, on lead guitar, Ryan is our modern day rock and roller. He’s the guy who listens to all the newer heavier stuff and that’s a major influence and then Guy is just a well-rounded musician that if it’s good, he listens to it. Then you have me, with my influences predominately were R&B, Hip and Hop and Pop Rock and things like that. It wasn’t until I discovered Sevendust years ago that I even considered being a rock and roll singer. Before, I discovered Sevendust I was really into Boyz II Men and Michael Jackson and all that stuff and that’s how I liked to sing. Then you just take all those influences and you throw them in a pot and you allow everyone to have their own personality and speak for themselves musically and that’s how you get AKADIA.
Music Madness: That is the cool thing when you can start drawing from all those influences and an even cooler thing when you guys can mesh and then create your own unique sound.
Guy: It really is because I can tell you, it’s taken those different types of influences and taken a personality of five different men and trying to get together and create something collectively can be challenging. I’ve been probably in 40 to 50 bands myself and trust me, this is the best that it has ever come out, the smoothest it’s ever come out. The best to work with. I really feel like we have something special. The five of us when we do it together. We have a great bond that influences well, so yeah definitely.
Music Madness: Very cool and I saw something that you guys had the opportunity to play in front of the home town crowd at the House of Blues on Bourbon Street. How was that experience? I’m sure it was surreal.
Guy: Oh, man, I’m going to tell you from my experience, it is nothing but adrenaline based off of love. The feeling that we get from the people who are at the shows … we open for a lot of national acts, and they’re drawn into us and we’re drawn into them, and it’s such a surreal feeling. We get nothing but love from the metalheads in New Orleans. They just love being a part of us. And I’m gonna let Keith jump on it from there, because I’m sure he has a different take on it too.
Keith: Oh, well, yeah. I’ve spent most of my time on stage from behind the drum set. I was the drummer that always wanted to be the singer, secretly, it was my passion and Akadia is the first band I’ve ever been the front man. So, for me, the very first time I got on stage with these guys with a massive crowd. I was on cloud nine and I have to make an effort to not put too much energy into every single song because I’ll wear myself out at how exciting it is to have the microphone in my hand and just able to say, “Put your hands up.” Everyone in the place goes crazy. It’s an incredible feel.
Music Madness: I can only imagine. Now, are you to the point where the fans are singing your songs back to you? How does it feel when the crowd starts singing your words back to you?
Keith: I think the Caribbean show was the first time I noticed people singing the chorus of “Turn Away” back on us in the quiet part of the song right after the bridge is where you can notice it the most and I’ll tell you man, it’s touching. It’s touching because as the writer, and not just the performer. As the writer of that song, it just tells me that what I was trying to accomplish with that song is happening. It’s not just meant to be catchy or be a hard rock song or anything like that. It’s meant to pierce the listener lyrically and, hopefully, each person takes something from it that can, boost them in a way, to maybe give them courage to finally stand up to that person . So yeah, it’s a very humbling experience when someone is singing back to you, something that you wrote yourself. Very much.
Music Madness: What else does AKADIA have going on? I know you had a new release and a small tour going on. Are we looking at anything bigger coming this fall? More music, more videos, more touring?
Keith: Oh we’ll definitely looking to tour. We’re trying to get some tour support and get out there. Hopefully, by fall, man we’ll be down in the thick of it. Continue to promote the way that we’re doing. Continue building our fan base. AKADIA takes a lot of pride in having personal relationships with our fans. And as the fan base grows, it’s harder and harder to do that, but I never want us to lose that element of fan feeling like they’re a part of the AKADIA family and so yeah, more music, videos for that music, pushing the songs that we have out now. Just hopefully continue to be received. I’d like to go overseas eventually, hopefully in 2019; we’ll spend some time over there.
Guy: We do have a new single that we’re holding onto that we hope to release probably mid-fall that we think is gonna touch a lot of people, even more so than “Turn Away” has. We’ve played it a few times live, it’s getting’ an even better response than “Turn Away”, and that’s saying’ something so we’re excited to release that one at some point mid fall probably.
Music Madness: Fall is a nice time in Florida. You know, we love live music down here so don’t forget us next time around when you guys are out on the road promoting.
Guy: We would love to go there. I was trying to set something up there and it just never came to a head. I pursued it a few times and then it just never happened so yeah, Tampa was actually, where I was looking at coming to. I love that city. I love going there. It’s a clean, nice place. It’s beautiful so yeah, by all means, we’d love to be there.
Music Madness: How did AKADIA finally come together as a band, the five of you? Did you guys know each other or was it one of those drunken nights on Duvall Street where you met and decided to start a band.
Guy: Let me give the history up to when Keith became involved. Then Keith can take it from there. So there’s two brothers in the band, Johnathan and Nathan, the drummer and the rhythm guitar player that I have played music with probably about fifteen or twenty years ago. Then we just lost touch for a while and I happened to run into to Nate at the grocery store, I believe it was. I was playing in a band called Inside the Gray with our former singer of AKADIA and John had become available. We were looking for a drummer and we brought him in. Once Inside the Gray fizzled out, the three of us decided to go from there and create another band.
Once Inside the Gray had fizzled out, the four of us left and decided to pursue AKADIA. In the midst of all that, we brought in a long time friend that we had since, well John and Nate had since they were kids, Ryan, our new lead guitar player. We had brought him in to play with us and he fit so well, I mean, we just fell in love with him.
And when things didn’t work out with the former singer that we had. I had known Keith previously from about ten or twelve years ago. He had come into my life through a past relationship. That’s how he came in. That’s how I met him and how he came a part of Akadia.
Keith: Alright, yeah, that was fun for me. I was kinda keeping to myself musically, wasn’t really doing much. I’d book a few shows here and there but I was so bored and I just wanted to do something fun so I blasted a big post on Facebook that, “hey, who’s interested in starting an Incubus tribute band?” And that’s what I wanted to do and Guy was one of the people that reached out me and was like, “hey man, I’d love to be a part of that.” I kept looking, putting my feelers out. I found a few other people that were interested, but I couldn’t find a drummer that was interested, or a drummer that I knew could really cover Jose Pasillas’ parts the way they needed to be played.
As time passed, Guy was like, “well, hey man, this Incubus tribute band doesn’t seem to be working out. I have a proposition for you. I’m currently in a band called AKADIA and we’re looking for a new singer.” That’s when he invited me to a show. They were opening for Hed PE at Southport Music Hall and so I went and checked them out. I didn’t know what to expect because I’d never heard their music. I’d never heard anything. I just knew Guy was a good musician and, man the second their music started coming off the stage, I was immediately inspired. The music just spoke to me and made me want to sing and I knew right away, I definitely want to be a part of this.
I talked to the guys after. They said, “yeah man let’s give it a shot.” My very first time getting together with them at their practice space was March 2, 2017. It was my birthday. They just started playing and I started singing over it. Everybody liked what they heard. I liked what I heard. They were like, “alright, well here’s your homework.” They gave me ten songs that needed melodies and lyrics. It was only music. At the next rehearsal, I think I finished three or four of them. It all just came together.
Music Madness: Nice. They said, “Go big or go home.” Right?
Guy: We were looking for a professional, man, and we knew a professional could do it. So, and Keith definitely took that horse and jumped on it and ran with it and gave us what we had been missing for some time.
Music Madness: That’s awesome. Yea, you had to go through a lot of people to find the right match and it sounds like you guys have done it. The music sounds great. I’m excited to see you guys live because I have this feeling that your studio sound doesn’t do you guys justice. Tell me a little bit about the live show and how you guys approach it.
Keith: Oh, man. Live shows are where it’s at. The energy and it’s obvious how much we love what we’re doing. I tell the guys all the time I wish I knew what it was like to experience us from the other side. I want to be one of the people in the crowd, feeling what people feel because man it’s high octane in your face the whole time. It’s good music and then we bring showmanship. Every member of the band is a performer in his own way. So, like you said, the live aspect is definitely, where it’s at for us. Anyone that hasn’t had a chance to see us, when they finally do get to see us, they become diehard fans. It happens every time. You’re going to love it.
Music Madness: Very cool. Who is the big ham on stage? Who is the showman on stage?
Guy: I know myself, I mean, I watch videos, and you know, everybody’s coming together. We work together so well. I’m going to go ahead and be egotistic and say it’s me.
Keith: And I would have to say it’s me. I’m sure each member would say the same thing. The advantage I have is I have all the room to run around the whole time and do whatever I want. You know, when you have a guitar strapped around your shoulder, I know it’s not as easy, or at least it seems like it’s not, I don’t know. I’ve never been a guitar player on stage.
Guy: Well, and you’ve got a microphone so you get to scream at every body and throw. And look your way, you know? Get their attention.
Music Madness: All I know is I need to get one of those hats so I can be cool and stand on stage with you guys because I’m pretty sure I can fucking rock one of those hats you guys wear. Every time I see a picture you guys have got those damn hats on.
Guy: Yeah, man, we love our hats, man. We put our own little personality into each one, so I guess it’s kind of like Slipknot with their masks. You know, but, not really we love our hats. We take pride in our hats, man.
Keith: It’s definitely become a staple of AKADIA’s whole presentation, you know. We could wear just all black clothes or Dicky pants or you know the button up Dicky shirts or we could do all of that and people would hear the music and they’ll remember the music but visually, man, as a performer you have to leave something with the audience.
So even if they don’t respond to the music the way you might want them to, sometimes, that visual representation is still going to be stuck in their heads. You know, they are going to be, “Oh yeah, the guys with all the steam punk and the hats that look so awesome.” You know? I think it’s important to have that memorable quality.
Music Madness: Was it done by design or did it just kind of happen, like somebody was wearing them and you guys all jumped on it?
Guy: Well, before Keith came along, Nate, the guitar player, and me we were just trying to brainstorm on things that we could do to make our show better, to make our presentation better because we were trying to separate ourselves from other bands.
So we were trying to find a way to separate ourselves and Nate kind of went off on a steam punk way and then we both kind of talked together about the whole top hat thing but he went out and bought a top hat for himself. Like why am I going to get a top hat, you’ve got a fucking top hat? Anyway, he’s my friend.
Anyway, so I kind of went on a little biker run. Much more of my style, you know. Then we decided to come together and make it work together but in our own personality, if that makes sense.
Music Madness: Absolutely.
Guy: So that’s where it began. Right there. And then, once Ryan came in and joined the band, you know he kind of was like I love the idea but I kind of like this style hat, and you know he kind of ran with that on his own. Then once Keith came in, Keith came in and became the conductor with the big coat and you know.
Guy: I guess Keith can explain how he came up with his style.
Keith: Oh man, I asked all the girlfriends in the band (laughs).
How should I look? Make me look a certain way and there are some shops around here that have some real authentic steam punk clothing. That jacket I wear, man, is very, very heavy. Very hot but totally worth it. I mean, but I saw it and immediately knew that’s the coat right there. And I just pieced everything together to fit around that and it’s gotten to the point now where I wear the same thing on stage every time and I’m going to pick out something new here soon, throw something else together but everyone remembers me as, “You’re the guy with the coat, man. With that freaking awesome coat.” (laughs)
Music Madness: I’m just going to let you know, you may not want to break that thing out in Tampa, you may just drop dead right on the damn stage, man. (laughs)
Keith: (laughs) I have to. I’ve got to wear it. Got to wear it.
Music Madness: Well guys let everyone know how they can check out AKADIA.
Keith: Okay, well they just need to know to look for AKADIA. You can find us on Facebook, Akadia Official. It’s the same on Twitter, Instagram, our website is akadiaofficial.com. Our single “Turned Away” can be downloaded via any streaming media platform that people use nowadays be it iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, or Google Play. You can find us on YouTube, just search AKADIA on YouTube, we have a page. Please subscribe to the page so you can stay fresh with all the latest posts and videos.
Facebook’s a great one, man. We try to stay busy on Facebook as much as we can, so any of our followers, at Akadia_Official on Facebook and become a part of the family, love to have you.
Music Madness: Awesome. Well, I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me. I definitely look forward to seeing Akadia sometime in the near future down here in Florida. Good luck on the upcoming shows and I hope to hear some new music soon.
Keith: Yeah, man. Thank you so much.
AKADIA is: Keith Anselmo – Vocals, Guy Daigle – Bass, Nathan Laurent – Rhythm Guitar, Ryan Duke – Lead Guitar / Backing Vocals, Jonny Laurent – Drums / Backing Vocals
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Interview by Steve Carlos