The only reason I make records is so that I can get to sit and talk all the time to journalists.
Incendiary meets Adam Green. Part One ‚Äì Where Incendiary and Adam get to know one another.
The American Hotel in Amsterdam is a nice place, but almost too nice for someone like me. It's big, it's posh and the chairs in its bar/cafe/lounge type place are all high backed and poncey. It has a lot of those lovely big celing fans that gently turn the cigarette smoke into a mini hurricane too. It's the type of place you'd like to enjoy a high tea whilst reading a broadsheet, but on this day I was bloody freezing and in no mood for etiquette so I asked for a beer and a bowl of peanuts. Working class, I can't help it. I was made aware of the fact that I was simply one interviewer in a long, long, long line of interviewers that would be talking with Adam today so I sat back with some fellow journos and enjoyed a beer or two whilst waiting for my number to come up.
Eventually, DING, it was my turn. I had ten minutes. I left the ponsey bar and made my way out into the thankfully quieter foyer and up the stairs, where I found Adam slouched in a chair, playing with his hat, looking thoroughly bored. I said hello, he said it back. We started talking. Almost an hour later, we stopped talking, much to the annoyance of those journalists still waiting in the queue. Two hot chocolates, four glasses of beer and an endless supply of peanuts resulted in the following, handily chopped into manageable portions for you. Enjoy.
IN: So how are you doing Adam?
AG: I'm good.
IN: You sick of talking yet? You've been doing interviews all day.
AG: No I live for this. The only reason I make records is so that I can get to sit and talk all the time to journalists.
IN: Oh I'm sure.
AG: This is my tenth straight interview.
IN: Really? God.
AG: So where you from?
IN: Aren't I supposed to be asking the questions?
AG: Yeah, but where you from?
IN: Originally I'm from England. In the North East. Do you know Newcastle?
AG: Yeah. So you're a Geordie.
IN: Well, kind of. I'm from near Durham, so people from Newcastle wouldn't class me as Geordie, but to everybody from outside of the North East I am a Geordie. It's the same area though.
AG: So why are you here?
IN: Well I came here originally for a week and seven years later I still haven't gone home.
AG: What are those funny things that Geordies often say?
IN: Wheeze keys ah these.
AG: Yeah. And what is that?
IN: Whose keys are these.
AG: Does that often come up?
IN: Not really, but it's a phrase that people seem to pick up on.
AG: Anything else.
IN: Haddaway and shite.
AG: And what does that mean?
IN: Go away and stop talking nonsense. And there's canny, but that means almost anything.
AG: Can I write this down?
IN: If you feel like it.
Adam pulled a notebook from his bag and proceeded to scribble notes down.
AG: So how is 'canny' used?
There then followed a five minute conversation where Adam asked me questions about the Geordie dictionary. He seemed to like the idea of canny, yet kept pronouncing it 'cunny' no matter what I said. He also couldn't seem to get his head around 'Haddaway and Shite' either, but wrote it down nonetheless and the less said about 'gannin' the better I think or I could be here all day. Eventually, the pen was put down, the notebook was closed and Adam relaxed back into his chair. Now it was my turn.
AG: Thanks for the lesson.
IN: No problem, so are you just over for press stuff at the minute?
AG: Yeah I was in Belgium yesterday and then tomorrow I'm gonna go to London.
IN: Why are you always in Amsterdam when it's fucking freezing? It's Baltic outside and last time you were here there was a foot and a half of snow on the ground. Can't you ever come here when it's warm?
AG: It's always raining or shitty when I'm here. I'm never here on a nice day.
IN: But at least you've got your voice back this time, which is good to hear. (I was referring to Adam's gig in the Melkweg last year when he was very ill with the flu, poor chap and his voice was ever so croaky.)
AG: Yeah, that was unfortunate. I'm sorry.
IN: But it was a great show though.
AG: Yeah I think it turned out well. That's why I did it 'cause I thought, 'It'll be funny. I'm drinking all this cough syrup, feeling kind of loopy'. Then someone gave me some Jagermeister and I thought, 'yeah, this is gonna be a good show'.
IN: We finished that night off by having a mass snowball fight on the Leidseplein, with about 50 people involved.
AG: It was a strange evening.
IN: You must try and get here when the weather's warm though. Come in the summer next time.
AG: Yeah, I'm gonna try.
IN: I got sent jacket Full of Danger last week and I would say that it's definitely your most mature album to date, would you agree?
AG: Yeah I'm pretty pleased with it. I think it's maybe, like, my best album. I mean, I think that if I was gonna die or something and there was one album that I wish people would hear, then I'd want it to be.....this one.
IN: I don't think it's as jaunty or as happy as your other albums, or even as poppy but I think that the actual structure of it is so much more impressive.
AG: I don't know. I'm just trying to make the most exciting types of music that I can think of in my head. Trying to not let any idea go to waste and try to make it happen and I think that my band are getting really effective in, like, figuring out just exactly how things are sounding in my head and making it come out on tape. I feel like I was really proud of Gemstones when I made it, but it seems that that record hasn't been as well received, over here, as some of my earlier stuff. I don't understand why? I think if people come back and listen to Gemstones in a few years from now it won't sound too shabby.
I don't think any of the records I've made have been really trendy and I think that they'll sound fine in, like, ten years or whatever, they'll sound as good as now if not better.
IN: Well I think the fact that your albums don't sound trendy or don't sound like...
AG: The Killers.
IN: ....yeah, or any other type of, whatever band is the band of the moment. You know, you're not the next Interpol, or the next Franz Ferdinand or the next, whatever? Your stuff just sounds different, you sound like you come from a different place.
AG: Yeah well I think I just come from a different place, musically, as most people. And I certainly was never into the 80's. It wasn't my era. I remember when I was growing up, I mean I was born 81, I remember for the first 8 or 9 years of my life I always, whenever I heard music on the radio, just thinking, "This stuff is just so cheesy." I can always remember thinking that the old records were better than the new ones and it wasn't really until I heard something like Nirvana when I thought, "Wow, this is just like how I'm like."
But it always amazes me when there are all these people who are so enthusiastic about the 80's because for me I always perceived most of the popular music to be so bad. And it wasn't until I was, like, 12 years old when people started introducing me to some of the stuff that had gone on during the 80's and I'd been too young to know about it. Like Black Flag, Minor Threat, Bad Brains, The Pogues. I can remember listening to the Pogues for the first time and thinking, "Man I can't believe I was alive when they were making this and I was too young to go to their shows."
IN: I always had the same problem when I was a kid because my parents never bought music.
AG: Yeah mine either! Mine either!
IN:... and all I had was the radio and the radio was always...
AG: pretty bad yeah.
IN: ...shite. And then it wasn't until I got to university that people started telling me to listen to Echo and the Bunnymen and Orange Juice and stuff like that.
AG: Well I think there was some good stuff in the 80's but I just find it weird that so many people are reminiscing so much about it 'cause it just wasn't such a great time for music for me. I think that perhaps there's this thing that people don't like my music because it's not very '80's' and that's so ironic for me because the whole reason why everyone got so upset to start with was because the 80's were so fucking boring. I mean that's why grunge became popular and instead of taking some of the freedom that people got with grunge and applying it to, well, more artful musical forms, it's like people are going straight back into the 80's again. It's like the 90's never even happened.
IN: Or they're just trying to recreate Nirvana.
AG: It's so weird. I just think that there's so much to be learned from the old music. It's so exciting. Most of the exciting music I hear is old. Like, you know, Motown or Rock and Roll, Buddy Holly, Little Richard. Or old blues music and traditional American folk music and, man, a lot of 60's music. A lot of psychedelic music, a lot of tripped out fucking music. And also, if there's anything that is ever exciting on the radio it's the modern R&B stuff, 'cause the hip-hop stuff has the most creative lyrics. So it's weird that, even though I come from such a different place, I find myself just tuning in to those stations and analyzing them as opposed to the stuff that's on the rock radio that I totally just ignore.
Interview : Damian Leslie
Part Two - Confidence, coffeeshops and 30,000 people
Part Three - Starbucks, critics and a full voice