Akita: Doggone Good Funk
By Maggie Hendrix Foster
the dog breed Akita is known for:
The name certainly fits.
Patrick Buckley and Zak Ferrell, drummer and bassist respectively, are the founders of the band Akita. The six members were carefully chosen. “This isn’t about just cutting a record. This is about finding my best friends,” says Buckley. Sharing the center mic are a sunglass-clad Charlie Lamprecht (saxophone) and Dan Hamalainen (trombone). After recovering from a hand injury last year is Sam Farnham, returning on guitar. Rounding out the sound is newest member Tomi Gulden, organist. Akita is named for Buckley’s dog “Rex,” a “90-pound badass dog” by all accounts. The dog breed Akita is known for power, dominance, and friendliness. The name certainly fits.
Their covers are intricate and tight, with Akita choosing some of the most challenging tunes of their funk predecessors, such as James Brown, The Meters, and Earth Wind and Fire. A crowd favorite is Bongo Band’s “Apache.”
“‘Apache’ is a fucking party tune. It will get everybody, but you don’t want to blow everything too soon,” says Buckley.
Set lists are flexible, as the band listens and watches for crowd interaction. The covers may guarantee that the entire crowd will hit the floor, but Akita’s aggressively fun originals are the grooviest part of every set. The moody, sultry “Mori” is a hip shaking siren song. Big and bold from the start with dirty horns and frighteningly tight drums is “Hot Step.” Although the band doesn’t have a vocalist, the crowd often “sings” along “Ba Da Bum! Ba Da Bum” to the opening strains of “Reggae Button,” a reaction the band finds awesome. Akita will make the room shake.
“This is 100% party. We bought a candy cannon.”
Akita hits the studio for their latest album, “Go” on March 2. The band was moved to return to the studio this winter, but opted to wait for the conclusion of their tour. Serving as Akita’s drummer and manager, Buckley plays two important and opposing roles: “Musician side: ‘Yes! Let’s record!’ But then the business side says ‘Slow down, plan.’” Only the tightest, best tracks will make it to the studio.
What songs is the band most excited to record?
“Go:” The title track. It’s five seconds to party mode.
“Epic:” It’s fucking epic.
“Reggae Button:” All members can agree on this one. Clocking in at a run time of 5:36, it’s on the longer side of their catalog, but Lamprecht isn’t concerned. “You’re gonna be lost in the music; you won’t worry about the minutes.”
Ferrell’s excitement for the album is contagious. “All the songs are in order, but the album doesn’t have to be sequential. You should listen to it all the way through; it’s our new collection.” The band has a collaborative process for writing new material. The members are always seeking new sound with a consistent energy and vibe. From there, they invest in the best songs from the sets, hitting the sweet spot of strong composition, crowd reaction, and band’ favorites.
In addition to the new album this year, Akita is planning their annual event, Culture Shift, which strives to get live music back in the hands of the bands and the fans. Akita books every act, and hopes Culture Shift develops its own following so the event gains as much attention as its host band.
“We have more control over everything. Control over the whole show. We can do our own party. Every band should do this to learn the business side of the music business,” says Buckley. “This is 100% party. We bought a candy cannon. Do people know they like funk? You’re not going to hear this on the radio. This is the resurgence of funk. People don’t know it; then they hear it. We want to get it out there; that’s funk music.”
Folk Around highly recommends Akita as a band to see in 2019. What to drink when you do? After some debate, (Four Loko, anyone?), Akita recommends chilled tequila. The last stop of the current tour is February 15 at Heist Brewery in Charlotte, North Carolina. Tour and band information is available at AKITAFunk.com.