Seething Akira get ready for a wild ride in the Dysfunctional Wonderland with album number two

For nearly a decade now, Seething Akira have been in the vanguard of heavy music bands to emerge from Portsmouth.

Friday, 12th February 2021, 8:58 pm
Seething Akira. From left: Stu Radcliffe, Richard Ellis, Simon Williams, Charlie Bowes, John Corney, Kit Conrad.

Widely acclaimed for their high-octane live shows, it took them six years – not entirely for reasons within their control – to release their debut album, Sleepy Skeletor.

Ready to build on that momentum, the electro-metallers promised a swift follow-up.

The new album was recorded last January, and an April release was pencilled in.

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A slot at the ultimate heavy music festival, Download, loomed in June 2020.

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‘Then Covid hit,’ says singer and synth player Charlie Bowes in a Zoom call with The Guide, ‘and we've just been postponing, postponing.

‘Ideally you want to build things up towards a tour. It's hard to get income on this stuff and about the only way to do that these days is by being on the road and selling merch and so on, so we held it off and held it off.

Seething Akira picking up their Best Band trophy at The Guide Awards, January 2019, from The Wedgewood Rooms' Geoff Priestley, left. Picture: Sarah Standing (280119-7526)

‘But it got to a point where it's just like we want to give everyone something cool to experience while we're all in these horrible times.’

A single, Gravity, was released last spring, when it looked like Download might still happen.

‘Oh my god, that's a killer!’ says Charlie, thinking of what might have been. ‘We’ve done Bloodstock, but this would have been our first time at Download.

‘I try and be an optimistic, it could be this year, but hey, if it's not, it's next year. We'll just have to see...’

With the six-piece line-up now settled for some time, the band had been looking forward to getting album two together and out here.

‘When Simon Williams and John Corney came in on guitar, we wanted to bring in a little bit of a heavier sound. We didn't want to drop the catchiness and hooks, but we wanted to make it heavier – we're all into heavy music.

‘We actually wrote this album all together over the space of about eight months.

‘This album was put together faster than we've ever done anything in the past, and straight after those eight months we went right into the studio, so it wasn't meant to be as painful as last time around.

‘But it's not our fault this time!’ he says with a laugh about the delays.

The album was recorded at Hidden Track Studios in Folkestone with producer Oz Craggs.

‘We wanted to be sat in a room all together this time, old school, and really be able to build a vibe off each other, make it a real experience.

‘We wanted that, because we've never had that before, so we wanted the right producer, and it was absolutely incredible, one of the best experiences of my life.

‘I loved it, and we're really proud of what we pulled together.’

Previously the main songwriter, Charlie has eased back to allow the others contribute more.

‘The process of us all working on the music, rather than me being so dominant on my part of it and letting the reins go, I think we've produced a much better album for it.’

The album, Dysfunctional Wonderland, is due out on April 16. Lead single, the ferocious Knock Off God came out last month, with second single Kenneth Dopeland out this week.

‘it's probably the most scatty, crazy track on the album,’ Charlie says of the new single. ‘It's quite nuts, you'll see!’

As for live shows, the former Guide Awards Best Band winners can’t wait to get out there again, even if it is in compromised circumstances.

‘I'm quite hopeful that by the time the album is out, socially-distanced gigs might at least be back on the menu, of which we're planning on maybe playing a couple.’

Charlie is all too aware that their music is not best suited to the format.

‘When they were first suggested, we were like: “No that doesn't work for us, we're too animated,” and now a year down the line we're going,’ he laughs at the absurdity of the idea: ‘“Give us the socially-distanced gig!”’

Sleepy Skeletor and some high-profile support slots had been helping Seething Akira build a national profile, which as Charlie says: ‘It's awesome, we've always wanted to get out there.’

However, it seems you can take the boys out of Portsmouth, but...

‘We are still so Pompey though, Kit (Conrad, co-vocalist) in particular – and he’s actually from the Isle of Wight!

‘I'm proud to be from Portsmouth, but the more we can get our music out there – I love it.’

While acknowledging that life has been difficult for many this past year, Charlie says that staying the course in a band at their level is tough.

‘When you're a band like us, a weeny little band just trying to make something, it's very easy for people to be interested at first but then lose interest, because it's a hard slog.

‘It takes a special kind of person to hang around and do this, and we've got a real solid core at the moment. We're really close and we're good friends.’

‘It is harder than a standard job because you're so emotionally invested in it – knock-backs are harder. I think that's why a lot of people chuck it in, and I can sympathise with that, because it can be really, really, tough.

‘All that being said, the one thing that's kept us going forever is performing – we love performing, Whether that's in front of two people, 200 or 2,000, honestly, it really doesn't matter.

‘Being able to tap into that has always been the real outlet that's kept us going.

‘We're all sitting here, and we're all frustrated that we can't play this stuff, but that day - that day we can get on the stage, it not be social distanced and we can be together with people doing this, that's a bit of a driving force.

‘It's going to be a momentous day for everyone when that happens - for all bands, and all fans of live music.’

Knock Off God and Kenneth Dopeland are out now on all major streaming platforms.

Dysfunctional Wonderland is out on April 16.