Two Cheers is a Detroit based indie rock band who stands out from the pack in more ways than one. The band just dropped a new album entitled "Rollick", so it's only right that we connect with lead vocalist and songwriter Bryan Akcasu to find out more about the release, how they differentiate themselves from other bands in Detroit and much more.
After reading our exclusive Q&A with Two Cheers' Bryan Akcasu, be sure to follow the band on social media, and most importantly, stream/download their new album "Rollick". Stay tuned because our review of the album is coming real soon.
Where did the band name "Two Cheers" originate from?
It comes from a book of essays about political anarchism by James Scott called “Two Cheers for Anarchism”. It’s a book about situations in which people exert their collective strength to subvert negligent, irresponsible, or even malevolent governments. My favorite example is when some factory workers, accused of not following protocol and causing a lack of productivity, decided to follow every company rule to a T. Of course, overriding all their expertise and moment-to-moment judgement calls, including strategic breaking of rules required to get stuff done, actually led to a decrease in productivity, totally upending the management’s case for greater centralized control and micromanagement. The point is that anarchy is actually embedded in every moment of organic social life, and that anarchy is actually a pillar of a greater social stability rather than a total lack of organization. I like that theme because Two Cheers music always starts off with an improvised jam, or a quick creative spark that is built up into a song. I always want it to have that note of anarchy, even when there seems to be a classic structure gluing it all together.
But the band doesn’t really have any political point of view, mostly I just liked the ring of Two Cheers.
Tell us about how you feel you guys stands out from other rocks bands out of Detroit.
We’re one of the only bands doing happy, groovy, almost poppy 80s/90s-esque indie rock here. There is a lot of straight up rock, garage rock, etc., but that’s not to dismiss the diversity of styles you can find here. That said, I don’t think we quite fit in…
As we are new listeners to the band, would you say that "No Good At Talking" is a true reflection of what we can expect from the "Rollick" album from a melodic and theme standpoint?
In some ways, yes, it kind of embodies the sound of the whole record as far as the overall direction, the theme, and the sorts of sounds we use. On the other hand, this record is a variety show of styles, so it’s hard to say it’s going to represent the album. All the songs came from very different places and perspectives, and we did that on purpose. “No Good At Talking” was actually written a long time ago, before Two Cheers was even a band!
How hard was it for you to get back into writing music and recording after the passing of your mother?
It was hard because I was kind of speechless about it, I wanted to write about it and express my pain but I couldn’t find the words. The best I could do was “Hinterland”, which came to me in a dream, and “Rest Of My Life”, which I sort of pasted together from notes and memories of the last few weeks I had with my mom. They were both kind of abstract lyrically, but I think the music helps me convey the feelings of loss and mourning.
Would you say that your songwriting has changed since your mother passed?
Yes, it has already, though a lot of the new album was written before she died, so it’s not evident on Rollick. Right now I am writing again, and the songs are actually more fun, more buoyant, shorter, and more straightforward. I’m writing lyrics that are simpler, that just say what I mean rather than couching everything in poetry. When you come face to face with death like that, you realize that time is precious, life is short, and being direct and concise is a virtue right along with having a celebratory spirit about every day that you get to live. That’s the direction I’m going I think!
What do you enjoy most about performing live? And what's your favorite Detroit venue to play live?
I really get lost in the music, and I “re-feel” the spirit of the songs in front of the audience, and that is something I love. It’s cathartic. I also like to see people dancing, though people danced more in Los Angeles than Detroit, which is kind of a shame. Our favorite venue is definitely PJ’s Lager House in Corktown. It’s where we played our first show in Detroit and also our release show. They are always good to us there and the sound is always really solid. Plus, the food and beer selection is on point.