Incendiary meets Adam Green – Part Three

It always amazes me how people kind of perceive stuff. It’s so annoying. I mean sometimes I just wish that some people could just be locked up. For like, for being so dumb.

It always amazes me how people kind of perceive stuff. It’s so annoying. I mean sometimes I just wish that some people could just be locked up. For like, for being so dumb.

Incendiary meets Adam Green – Part 3. Starbucks, critics and a full voice





IN: I want to know more about you and Starbucks. I mean, how did you, and how bad were you as a coffee shop worker?


AG: Well let me just clarify that. I didn’t HAVE to work at Starbucks.


IN: No no, I understand, but I’m interested in knowing why you did that?


AG: The circumstances around my Starbucks working experience is pretty much that I was living with my brother and his really conservative girlfriend. Just staying with them but I was not enjoying being in the house and I just kept on going, I was going to Starbucks. They had a for hire sign and I just applied there. Apparently they were looking for people and they hired me right away because I told them that I used to work in a coffeeshop in my home town. Of course I didn’t tell them that my job was playing music in a coffeeshop and I didn’t really know what I was doing, but they hired me and I went home and told my brother, “Hey man I’ve got a job at Starbucks so I’m not going to be around,” and he didn’t know what to think.

   I think I was just going a little crazy. You know I’d been doing too many tours and I just wanted some like routine and something to ground me a little bit. Also I was trying to finish the last few songs on my album and I, for some reason, thought it would be helpful. And maybe I’d learn how to make good coffees or something.

   I think one of the big reasons I worked there was because I wanted to remember how shitty working jobs like that is because, I mean, I used to work at Pizza Hut when I was a kid and I hated it so much. I’d always do these shitty jobs like washing dishes or selling video games at a video games store and I’m sure there are a lot of people who would like to be a singer for a living and stuff. Sometimes I think it’s like a survival instinct for me to release a record every year. You know I can’t have some people releasing a better record than me this year. I feel like some kid’s gonna come in and sing better than me or something. Sometimes I get a bit paranoid and I have to keep on top of it and I think that working there was part of it. Like, you know what? I don’t even have an education, I don’t want to be doing jobs like that for the rest of my life.  

   But you know? I think it was pretty clear that I wasn’t taking the job too seriously. I got fired in two weeks. But at least I did get to finish a song when I was cleaning the floor. Jolly Good. It’s ironic because I started it here, in the Melkweg when I was backstage, when I was sick. My voice was really funny it was actually pretty low so I felt like I was a blues guy and I was playing rag time guitar and singing some of this blues stuff to it and I came up with part of that song, but I didn’t work it all out till I got to New York and started working there so at least it all kind of worked out for me, heh heh.


IN: Talking of your voice, it sounds a lot deeper on the new record, what brought on this new approach?


AG: Well I really figured that out when I was in Berlin. I was losing my voice on tour and I met this opera singer one time and he told me that opera singers only sing from their chest. That they develop these stomach exercises and they have really strong stomachs and that’s how they project and that’s how they get this tone. I was thinking about it and I was in the dressing room experimenting with, like, singing from my stomach and it was sounding pretty cool. And it wasn’t hurting my throat at all because I wasn’t really using any throat and I thought,” Fuck yeah. I’m gonna sing the whole show like this.” And I did. And afterwards my sound guy was like, “Adam, that’s the best show that you ever did. Your voice is getting really strong,” and I was, like, “Huh?” but my stomach was hurting all over the place. It really felt sore and I wasn’t sure if this was the correct technique or whatever but I’ve been developing it and that’s the sound that you hear on this record.

   In a lot of ways it’s the way I’ve always wanted to sing, since I was a kid, but I just didn’t realize that it came from a different place. I always just figured it was for big six foot tall guys. I figured people could just sing like that because they were born like that. It’s funny how it works, but I found a way to get a really full sound. But you know, I’ve always liked Elvis I’ve always like The Doors, Scott Walker, Frank Sinatra. Just people who can really hit those low notes and it sounds so full. Even the high notes sound full, which is the funny thing. You get a really good reverberation in your voice and I always liked it when people did it, but it’s just I hadn’t put two and two together and figured it out. But I mean, I’m sure that I’m not the first person to figure it out, heh heh.


IN: You mentioned earlier that Gemstones wasn’t that well received over here.


AG: Nor in England.

IN: Do you think that has something to do with the way that you write lyrically? I mean, you don’t write about the fact that your life is terrible or that your girlfriend left you and all that kind of self pitying stuff. You know the bog standard singer songwriting stuff. Your lyrics are so playful and I think that sometimes journalists look at things that are playful and they just dismiss it as something throwaway.


AG: Like it’s a joke, yeah. It always amazes me how people kind of perceive stuff. It’s so annoying. I mean sometimes I just wish that some people could just be locked up. For like, for being so dumb.


IN: But these are the same people who will say that I Am The Walrus by The Beatles is so good.


AG: Yeah, it’s awesome.


IN: But then you look at it and go, well look how playful that is, look what they’re talking about.


AG: Yeah I know, I know, it’s crazy. The problem is that a lot of the people that review my records and stuff, they just see my ego. They listen to the records and they only hear ego when they hear my music. It’s like they’re thinking, “Boy, this guy’s got a lot of nerve and thinks that he can play around with stuff. The only people who can play around with stuff are musical legends like John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix and shit, or someone really cool, you know. Or somebody who’s black.” You know the critics aren’t black but they’re saying that people that are black or from that kind of culture, they’re pimps so they’re cool, but then Adam? He’s, like, some Jewish American kid, his parents are doctors, he can’t play around. He’s got to confess. He should feel guilty. As if he’s part of this, whatever, white guy thing. A lot of reviewers seem to think that I think I’m really smart. As if I really write my lyrics thinking, “Man I’m so smart.” I just write whatever’s interesting to me.

   But, it’s like Gemstones, if they tried to write Gemstones I wonder what they’d come up with. I can’t even imagine what they’d come up with because I’ve been writing songs for twelve years. Constantly. And for me, Gemstones was like a big achievement. They think it was just something I, like, strung together. I didn’t just string anything together. I fucking spent, like a month, trying to figure out how the rhythmic changes would go. It’s just ridiculous.

   It does piss me off, but to be honest it doesn’t piss me off that much because I get to make music for a living and I don’t have to do anything else. Plus, thankfully, there are parts of the world where I’m better received than that and I do sell a bunch of records whenever I make them so, it’s not a concern of mine. And I do feel that, eventually, people will come around in every country and I’ll be able to play in each part of the world and have, like, full shows. Then some of those people that did criticize my stuff initially….will eventually change their opinions of it and realize that I wasn’t actually going for what they thought I was going for. Maybe it’s coming from a different place than they thought. But maybe, we’ll see. Heh heh.


Interview: Damian Leslie


Part One – Where Adam and Incendiary get to know one another 

Part Two – Confidence, coffeeshops and 30,000 people