Wednesday, November 18, 2015

11 Questions with Adam Darowski

Adam Darowski's outstanding solo full-length debut YAY! "is the perfect mixture of pop sensibility, early '90s indie guitar crunch, big hooks, and lyrics that are as clever as they are insightful" resulting in a sound that is equal parts early Weezer and Beach Slang.  Needless to say I love this record.

This interview was conducted via email November 10 - 14, 2015.

For more information on Adam Darowski check out his official website, Twitter, Dribble, GitHub, LinkedInBandCamp, Last.fm, and CD Baby pages.

Dave:  When did you first start playing and writing music?

Adam Darowski:  I first started playing guitar around 1994. I started writing songs (the first songs I'd actually keep and play later in bands) in 1995.


Dave:  In the mid to late ‘90s you played in the band Ego Booster.  After that band called it a day, you recorded a smattering of songs before moving on to other endeavors.  What happened with that band?

Adam:  Ego Booster was a 3-piece band based out of Somerset, MA. We actually self-produced a full-length CD in 1998 and pressed a few hundred copies—all but 100 or so I ended up tossing when moving a few years ago. We played a dozen or so shows in a couple years, but started to simply fizzle out. Our bass player left in 1998 (we actually recorded the album as a two-piece) and we never replaced him. We did play some shows as a two-piece, but we were certainly no Local H. The drummer went off to culinary school and I played bass in another local band (Bi Janus) and recorded some demos of my own.


Dave:  After nearly 10 years of not playing or writing music, what made you decide to bust out the guitar and try your hand at music again?

Adam:  Last year, my family (my wife and three kids—now aged 11, 8, and 6) decided to uproot our entire life and move to a tiny artsy town in the mountains of New Hampshire. I guess we were kind of hitting the reset button on a few things in our life. During that process, I decided that I'd like to start writing again. Turns out, ten years of parenthood gives you a lot to write about. Since it was just about ten years since I'd written anything, I made it a personal goal to record and release a song before a full decade elapsed. With "All My Axes Are Exes" I made it with a month to spare.


Dave:  For those who have never heard your stuff, how do you describe your music?

Adam:  Weezer's Blue Album is a huge influence and I think that really comes through in the first two tracks I recorded: "Axes" and "Mountain". Around that time I was just getting into a band called Iron Chic. They essentially write existential crisis songs (which is what I named my EP during the recording process) and their influence really came through on "Breakdown". I like to think that the album is equal parts Blue Album, Iron Chic, and Beach Slang, but that's mostly because those are three of the best sounds I can imagine.


Dave:  You recently released your full-length solo debut YAY!.  What’s the story behind the record?  Why did you decide to go the self-release route instead of working with a traditional record label?

Adam:  Honestly, I never considered going the label route because I'm just not a musician. I'm a dad with three kids. I work as a web product designer by day. Music is really something I do from 10pm to midnight every other Friday night when everybody falls asleep and I have some overwhelming feelings I need to get out. I really didn't spend much time on the record at all, which I think helped it. Every once in a while I had a couple hours to work on a song but when the time hit I think I made it count.


Dave:  Do you have plans to tour in support of the new record?

Adam:  To do that, I'd need a band. Right now it's only me (and I haven't played with other people since 2003). It's something I think I'd like to do someday, but I'm not sure when I'll fit that into my life.


Dave:  Do you have any specific type of songwriting process?

Adam:  I basically start with having a bit of a song in my head and then trying to teach it to myself. It is usually just on part of a song, which I'll then record (to make sure it works) and try some other parts of the song. Then I just keep playing it in the car or in my head until I chip away a bit more and eventually it's finished. Some are done in a couple hours (like "Mountain"). For some, this process takes weeks (like "Thanks Obama").


Dave:  What are your thoughts on the music scene in New Hampshire?  What are your thoughts on the state of music in general?  How have things changed since your days in Ego Booster?

Adam:  Honestly, since I've been recording this myself I've been largely unaware of the scene around me. If I go to see bands I like, I'm still heading into the Boston area. To be honest, Beach Slang has been my scene so far. James Alex is just about the nicest person on the face of the earth. I wrote "Power Chords and Fragile Words" about going to a Beach Slang show and shared it with him. He very kindly shared it on social media and it got a great response (in fact, that day my music had a lot more activity than my album release day).

In contrast, the Internet has become my "scene". I've befriended a couple bands in the UK that are quite like-minded—War Waves and Black Surf. War Waves released an album this year that's probably the best record you've never heard. Black Surf's album is right around the corner.


Dave:  This is a High Fidelity inspired question. What are your top five favorite bands, albums, movies, television programs, books/authors?

Adam:  Let's see, life is busy so I don't have a ton of time for movies, television, or books. Because I work on the web, I listen to music for about ten hours a day. My top three active bands would be Beach Slang, Iron Chic, and Mike Krol (he's also inspirational because he's a graphic designer who put out two records on his own, quit his job, and just put out a phenomenal record on Merge Records). The last two get the nod for long, outstanding careers—Teenage Fanclub and Mogwai.

Top five albums is something I think about all the time but never come up with a concrete answer. I can tell you that my two favorite albums of all time are Weezer's Blue Album and Pinkerton. I often say that I don't really acknowledge music that came before September 24, 1991 (the release of Nevermind). That album simply made music relevant to me (even though if I'm going to pick one Nirvana album to listen to now it'd be In Utero). If I needed to pick a few more, I'd go with Smashing Pumpkins' Siamese Dream, Radiohead's The Bends, and maybe even Iron Chic's The Constant One.


Dave:  What’s next for you?

Adam:  Gosh, I don't know. Probably another self-produced album (unless I really get the itch to start a real band).


Dave:  Any final thoughts?

Adam:  A few people now have told me how the album (or a particular song on the album) really resonated with them. That is an incredible feeling. My goal was to release the thing. I had no goals or expectations beyond that. The fact that people like you actually listen to it and like it is kind of blowing my mind. I truly appreciate it.