Bedfordshire-based Akiva is friends-since-school Malcolm Carter (guitar, vox), Rob Mercel (bass) and Dave Mercel (drums) plus singer, guitarist and synth programmer Dave MacKenzie, from England’s northwest. The band believe music is a medium for a message, never more so than in these troubled times. We caught up with them to find out more about latest single ‘Broken Ship’.
This song isn’t about Brexit, it’s about the social structure that’s existed over the last few decades, which has gradually eroded away people’s confidence and led us to this point.
First up, tell us bit about yourselves - what led you teaming up as Akiva?
We’ve known each other for years, since we were about 10. We all went to school together and started playing as a band when we were 16. That was quite a long time ago! Because we’ve spent so much time together over the years, we’re a pretty tight group of mates. We’re in this for the friendship as much as the music.
Who do your take inspiration from?
Loads of places but the long line of classic British rock and roll bands have always been a massive inspiration. The Stones, The Who, The Jam, The Roses, Blur, Oasis, Primal Scream, Arctic Monkeys. These were all the people that made us want to be in a band. These days we take a lot of inspiration from bands with a lot of bleepy, analogue synths like The Horrors, Glass Animals, Tame Impala and Everything Everything.
Why the name ‘Akiva’?
‘Akiva’ is the name of a character in an old Second World War film called Kelly’s Heroes. We write a lot of songs about war! We’re pretty obsessed by the Second World War in particular. It was a horrendous event but the world became a pretty amazing place in its aftermath. It’s pretty tragic how a lot of that good work is now eroding away as it fades further into the past and the few remaining living links to the war are dying out.
How would you describe your musical style?
Lots of bleepy analogue sounds layered with big wall of sound guitars, rolling bass-lines and drums that shuffle and snap. We always try to get some sort of message in the lyrics as well. We’ve always thought it important that music carries a message.
If you could collaborate with any living artist or band, who would you choose?
Damon Albarn. He’s an absolute genius and something of a personal hero. He’s put his hand to so many different types of music and always carries it off with style, originality and insight. He also comes up with absolute killer melodies. He manages to create these songs that sound new, fresh, exciting and edgy but also feel familiar and lodge themselves inside your head almost instantly. It’s incredibly hard to do that! I love everything he’s done. It would be an incredible learning experience just to spend a day working on something with him.
Tell us about your new single ‘Broken Ship’. It’s been described as an angry takedown of the forces behind Brexit Britain. Can you tell us why more about why you wanted to write the track?
Yeah, it’s a bit of frustrated rant. There are a lot of angry people at the moment and there are huge levels of resentment and mistrust between different groups. Brexit is one area where people are at each other’s throats but it’s not the only one. There’s suspicion and bitterness in so many areas; it all makes for a pretty depressing social environment to live in sometimes.
This song isn’t about Brexit, it’s about the social structure that’s existed over the last few decades, which has gradually eroded away people’s confidence and led us to this point. For people to be able to get along they need to think the rules are fair, and for the rules to be fair there need to be consequences for actions.
There have been too many situations in recent years where some people have been able to get away without facing the consequences for their own actions, while others have to clear up the mess. That’s why people have lost faith and that’s what this song is really about. “When it’s heads you seem to win but when it’s tails you never lose!”
When did you write ‘Broken Ship’, and where did you record it?
The original idea for the song came quite a few years ago but we parked it for a while and it took us a while to finish it off. Last year was a decade after the financial crisis and it felt like the right time to record it and put it out. We recorded it at Angelic Studios in Oxfordshire. Everything Everything had just been in a few weeks before. That was quite inspirational for us as we’re big fans of theirs.
How does ‘Broken Ship’ build on your style?
It’s a bit more directly aggressive and heavier than things we’ve done previously. We’ve always had a lot of guitar but it’s normally been a swaggering style, layered over keyboard parts and bouncing drums. This track is a bit more spiky and direct. The guitars are louder and the drums straighter. It’s a bit more punk and shouty but I think it needed to be given the message it’s trying to get across
What are your hopes for ‘Broken Ship’? How do you want listeners to react?
We just want as many people as possible to hear it and have a think about whether they’re happy with the way things are at the moment. If not, then go out and do something about it.
What other plans do you have for the year?
Mainly more writing and recording. We have a few new tunes we’ve been working on and we want to get back into the studio to get them down.
Finally, if you could go back in time and give yourselves one piece of advice, when would it be and what would you say?
Don’t worry too much about what other people might think. Just set your agenda, decide what you’re going to do and crack on. I spent a huge amount of time worrying about what other people would think when I was younger. It was pretty exhausting. These days I’ll just write something and if it feels right then I’ll go with it.
Watch the video for ‘Broken Ship’ on YouTube below. For news and tour dates go to the Akiva Facebook page.