Interview: Danny Thurston of Akkadian

Signed to Enso Music Management, Cambridge based five piece Akkadian have recently released their second single entitled “Emanation”. With a sound not too far away from Gojira, Tool and Slipknot, things have been going well for a band very much in its infancy. With the aim of 2020 to gig up and down the country, I thought of catching up with vocalist Danny before he packs the van.

Simple things first – where are you guys from?

All five of us currently live and were formed in Cambridge, but we do have one Greek and one French national in the line-up. They are: our bassist, Chris and our guitarist, Florian. The rest of us: Harry (guitars), Aaron (drums) and myself, Danny (vocals) are from in/around Cambridge.

How long have you been playing together as a band? 

We were fully formed in September of 2018 and played our very first show February 2019. But our origins do actually go back many years. The guitarist, Harry, and I (Danny, Vocalist) have been writing music together since we were about 15 years old. However, we never actively did anything with the songs we had due to education/job demands. So we thought that we would just take it slow, to spend some time developing our sound and song writing skills until the time was right and we had the best people we could find involved.

Describe your music. What makes you unique?

I think the fact that we all have a very wide range of open musical influences really does help. Our music doesn’t stick to one specific sound or genre for inspiration. We are always taking in and experimenting with new ideas from elsewhere, to then construct under the rock and metal “umbrella” so to speak. I think that playing the “ancient civilisation” and “inter-dimensional beings” card works in our favour too. Of course I’m sure that there are people out there similar to us. But when it comes to live shows, our set is very dynamic and hypnotic. We are trying to induce an experience on people, something they can feel and remember.

You have recently released your latest single “Emanation”. How does it feel to get the new song out there for the masses to hear for the first time and how have the responses been?

It feels great and it’s going well! It’s been out around a month now and we have had nothing but positive responses from people! It does have a slightly different feel in comparison to our first single “Black Sand”, but it was very apparent in the early stages of our live shows that Emanation was a crowd favourite. We also believe that it showcases our diversity and what sound we have the ability of constructing as a band in the future. So based upon this, we made the decision to release it as our second single.

It is clear with your band name Akkadian that you have an Egyptian theme throughout. What was it that compelled you to write about this era and how do you go about your research of this fascinating topic?

I think that it is just something I have always been deeply interested in from a young age. The mystery, the stories, the architecture, the art, the link between humans and outer space, life and death. It is all a gold mine for the imagination and creative writing. Not all of our songs are ancient Egyptian themed. A lot of it lyrically are also about spiritual experiences and theories of inter-dimensional beings. However, I guess it does all link back to ancient civilisations in some way. Research is carried out by lots of reading, listening to ancient civilisation theorists talk online for hours and visiting the countries and its artefacts themselves. Once you see it and read it all, you’ll understand why.

Do you consider the death metal band Nile to be one of the main influences behind Akkadian?

Strangely enough, no. We have a wide range of individual influences from all sorts of genres. However, we try to steer away from anything that is too similar to ourselves. Otherwise we may un-intentionally copy or become lazy and think, “let’s just do what they did”. It’s what keeps our ideas fresh and as original as we can. Our main collective influences as a band are Gojira, Lamb Of God, Tool and Slipknot. But in reality, that list can go on and on.

How often is the band able to get together and rehearse in the studio?  Where do you get together and record?

It varies and all depends on what gigs we have lined up. When we have shows booked, we practice between 1-2 times a week. But if it’s a little quieter, maybe 1-2 a month. For practice we go to Rhinocorn Studios in Cambridge. For song recording, we first demo the songs at one of our houses and then for the release product (of recent times) we have gone to Mike Bennett at Foxhound Recording Studios.

How are the songs created? Is it a collaborative process or are there some members who are the main songwriters?

Due to the fact that Harry (Guitarist) and I (Danny, Vocals) had already written a lot of the material guitar wise and lyrically, it has just been the case of everybody else learning the structure of the songs from that, but them coming up with and writing their own parts for each song. I.e. drums and bass. Of course everybody contributes, and gives their own personal flavour and opinions too. When newer material is written, a couple of us will take the lead to get the structure down, before showing it to the rest of the guys to have their input. From there it’s just experimenting until we are all happy.

Being a five piece and having different musical influences within the band, is there sometimes a lot of negotiating in the studio or do you feel you are writing the music you want to for the band?

No, I really don’t think there is much negotiating in the studio. Although we do all individually have varied influences, we share a lot of the same too. So we all balance each other out really well. Prior to entering the studio, the songs are already written and decided. So we just show up and record it. There may be the odd spontaneous -“Ooo! Let’s try this here!”- But the songs are already good to go by the time we get in the studio.

How hard has it been to juggle the touring side of things with the everyday jobs? Do you have plans to go on more bigger tours and further afield in 2020?

It can be difficult, especially between 5 of us when schedules clash with work etc. meaning we can’t play certain shows. But that’s all part of being in a band to begin with. We do have plans to go on some tours, play festivals and further afield, absolutely! It’s all in the planning and confirmation stages as we speak.

How hard is it for a metal band like Akkadian to survive in the current climate where bands have to tour non stop and sell merchandise in order to bring money back into the band?

Until we really get going, it is hard to say. Right now we aren’t relying on the band for income, as we have only just got started and been gigging for less that a year in total. But I understand that it is difficult. I think a big contributing factor is that there are a lot of bands trying to do it, so the market gets saturated. If there is too much to go around for audiences, then their investments are going to be low. I’m not saying that people should stop trying to be in a band, but I’m simply acknowledging that this is the way things are now. It’s competitive, so we need to get creative and think of ways to make money a different way. As actually selling your own music to make money is now an out of date approach.

Before the internet, magazines and fanzines were the places to find out about new bands and trends.  Now publications are replaced with thousands of websites catering for all genres. Do you think that some of the passion has been lost or do you think that the internet has been a good thing for music and Akkadian?

I have mixed feelings about it. The internet is completely over saturated with bands bombarding social media left, right and centre. The average consumer isn’t going to know where to look for good content. In the past, bands who had potential and were gaining attention for actually being good bands would get a little segment in a “go to” magazine or store. Now, because of all of the social media noise, it seems a lot of good music gets squished and becomes unheard of. I understand that there are certain accounts with large followings that still have the power to bring a bands into the light. But again, because of the amount of content online now and all of these algorithms, it can still get lost. Having said that, the internet is a great tool to communicate with people and cater for smaller bands in today’s day and age on a level that didn’t exist 20 years ago. It’s just adaptation, the old system of magazines etc. clearly wasn’t enough to cater for the large amount of music content coming out today. So we adapt and come up with new ways to bring band’s music into light. Such as pages like yourselves, it’s what is needed today. Plus, with the internet, musicians can provide fans with more frequent updates and personally talk to them. Whereas before, musicians were looked at as these untouchable beings who couldn’t be reached. Now you can just see what they post, comment on a picture and you could get a reply.

You are now on the Enso Music Management roster. How has it been to work with them and what are they doing to help push Akkadian to the next level?

We took time to decide whether or not we wanted a management/PR yet. But it came down to, “let’s keep this stone rolling”. 2019 was a great year for us, we achieved a lot and played various towns/cities all over the country and got played on the radio. But it was always small slots, at small venues, supporting other small bands. We felt like we were at the limit of what we could ask for off our own backs with the contacts that we had. We wanted things to go further and Enso was a good opportunity to make this happen. Take 2020 by the horns, get ourselves out there, get on larger shows and hopefully play some festivals.

What are your plans for 2020?

We are aiming to release our third single “Agenda” around April, and then potentially an EP towards the end of the year. But in between all of that, gig as much as we can in places all over the country and hopefully play some festivals!

Being from the Cambridge area, are there any other bands from your local scene that you would recommend?

We’re good friends with the guys in Akilla! We have played with them a lot and always support each other by showing up to shows when we can! But there are lots of diverse rock/metal here in Cambridge and it’s on the rise! Other local bands we’ve played with and enjoy are: Far From Refuge, Influx of Insanity and The Grey.

A fun question to end this interview.  If you were a DJ and were allowed to bring 5 CDs to the party, what would they be?

CD’s?…What year is this? Not a Spotify playlist or something?…kidding.

Okay, I’m going to go with something spicy:

  • The Doors – Self-titled
  • Led Zeppelin – Mothership (if that isn’t cheating)
  • Deftones – Koi No Yoken
  • Arctic Monkeys – AM
  • Gojira – Magma

Any last message for our readers here at Moshville Times?

I would just like to say a big thank you for you taking the time out of your day to be interested in the smaller bands in this current climate. By just following us on social media (links below), sharing us with friends and streaming our songs on Spotify and YouTube etc., you play a gargantuan role in our growth and development! We hope to play in a town/city near you in the coming months! Thank you to Moshville Times for the interview opportunity and thank you all again for reading!

Akkadian: official | facebook | twitter | instagram

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