CARRIE AKRE

ORBITER

Experience Music Project, Sky Church, 770-2702, $10

8 p.m. Fri., Aug. 9

After years of trying to deal with the bipolar condition

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Support System

Carrie Akre gets by with a little help from her fans.

CARRIE AKRE

ORBITER

Experience Music Project, Sky Church, 770-2702, $10

8 p.m. Fri., Aug. 9

After years of trying to deal with the bipolar condition that was her career in the music industry, singer Carrie Akre decided on self-help and family intervention: She started her own label and got her friends and fans to finance her new recording. The result of that unusual partnership is Invitation, a sumptuous sounding affirmation of Akre's renewed mental, emotional, and artistic health.

"I have great fans," a radiant Akre says over lunch, "people who have been with me since Hammerbox. So when I was down and a friend told me, 'never underestimate how much people would want to help you,' I finally said, 'OK.'"

Akre first came to Seattle in the late '80s to study photography at the University of Washington but got sidetracked when she joined Hammerbox, an aggressive, eccentric punk/metal band led by guitarist Harris Thurmond. Seattle's musical population was then almost exclusively male, and the female-fronted foursome stood out. But the appeal was more about sound than gender novelty, and in '88 the band was signed to local imprint CZ Records.

For Akre, it would mark the beginning of a long roller-coaster ride through the music business. Hammerbox was picked up by major label A&M in 1993, but despite loads of touring and favorable reviews, the band was dropped after their debut, Numb, failed to produce a hit. Akre left Hammerbox in 1994 and formed Goodness with guitarist Garth Reeves. Again, they released an independent disc and were quickly snapped up by a major label, this time Atlantic's Lava imprint. They parted company with the label after releasing '95's self-titled debut, moving on to Epic for their sophomore effort, Anthem. But a chronic lack of label support and the absence of radio airplay marked another professional divorce. Akre and Reeves regrouped, forming their own label, Good-Ink Records, and released Goodness' swan song, These Days. Akre's first solo outing, Home, followed in 1999 but failed to refill the coffers.

It was then that a friend suggested the idea of a "presale"—getting contributions from fans to finance Akre's next release. Through her Web site and word of mouth, she garnered the needed funds. "The deal was that $50 would get you a photo, poster, and two CDs, one signed," she explains. Contributors were also invited to a private release party and Akre's upcoming official CD celebration at EMP. "There's also a group photo inside the Invitation case [with all those who contributed]. Some people actually gave more! It's so cool," she says. "I think about it a lot. It just keeps you grounded and thankful."

Akre co-produced the 12-track Invitation with engineer/bassist Pat May and computer wizard Dave Dubh Black, and it proves to be her most satisfying work to date. Muscular and adventurous where Home was subdued, the new disc offers a range of styles: rock, sultry noir-influenced ballads, soul, and gospel, all unified by the rich, singular quality of Akre's emotive voice.

"I wanted to do something more danceable, energetic, and celebratory, something with flavor and variety. Maybe it's too eclectic, but I think of it like a good conversation. You wouldn't talk about the same thing for four hours, would you? Besides, I knew I'd be working on it for over a year, and while I liked Home, I thought, 'I'm not that sad anymore, let's do something else.'"

Akre will be joined at the EMP show by openers Orbiter—featuring her old bandmates Harris Thurmond and former Goodness bassist Fiia McGann. "I really love Orbiter," says Akre, "and Harris will definitely join us for a couple of Hammerbox songs."

As for taking control of her fledgling solo career, Akre says it's still a work in progress. "Once you [become the] leader, you have to have the courage to have balls enough to say, 'Here's what I want,' and not care so much about if you're going to piss somebody off or someone's not going to like you or be jealous or some shit like that. That's hard for me; I'm still trying to get over it, but it's my name on it, and I take the fall.

"But I'm willing to take that fall," she smiles. "I have no problem with that."

info@seattleweekly.com

 
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