Sunday, January 29, 2012

adam green: autumn shade fanzine interview by kristin angelique, 2004

autumn shade fanzine
cover art by toby goodshank!

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adam green, age 17: courtesy of adam green

In a town
In a city
In an eyeball
On a rock
In a fence
Where a goat
Was alone by himself
There was a boy
Who was there
A boy who built a snowman
Out of himself

[Excerpted from "Can You See Me"; Lyrics by Adam Green]

adam green, artland, brooklyn
september 2004
photo credit: kristin angelique

An Interview with Adam Green
By Kristin Angelique

On the phone, before the show - June 29, 2004

Kristin: I really like the new songs you played at your Mercury Lounge show the other night and I am wondering if they're all going to be on your new record.

Adam: Yeah.

Kristin: Where are you in the recording process right now? And/or, well, maybe just tell me lots of stuff about your new record

Adam: I'm almost done with most everything, except for the strings right now my strings arranger is Jane Scarpantoni, who is the same lady that did the arrangements on my last album.

Kristin: They were awesome.

Adam: She's working right now on the arrangements, and I don't knowit takes a while so we're probably not going to be able to record that she's going to be away on tour for a little bitthat's going to take some time so we'll probably be finishing up the record in September.

Kristin: I really like the way you use strings now; it sounds really awesome.

Adam: Thanks.

Kristin: Who is playing with you on this album?

Adam: It's Steven Mertens on bass; Parker Kindred on drums; Nate Brown is going to play the Wurlitzer and piano; and Chris Isom on guitar.

Kristin: You have a truly unique writing style. In many ways, at times, your writing reminds me of word puzzles - particularly acrostics - especially in your fanzine but your writing is often very profound, so I'm guessing that there is much more of a method to your madness than word substitution. Your phrases remind me of these word games from when I was a kid ("mad libs") where there's like a story with all these blanks that you fill in with randomly chosen words well, your writing reminds me of this - but you choose very good words - it doesn't seem random

And I feel really stupid Um, never mind I guess all I'm really trying to ask you, is - when did you start writing and what's your process?

Adam: I guess when I was 12 is when I started writing songs. Um, sometimes I do that but mostly, it's just you know, making it up while singing.

Kristin: It's good that I read that you carry a tape recorder with you. That's really smart. Because, I'll think of really great songs, or things and then (I forget them and) they're gone

Adam: Yeah yeah, it's like good for short-term memory to use a recorder. And, yeah, so for me, I'm making up the words while singing You know, it's like a song for me, starts with like a feeling and then, I guess, the words become all the associations I have with the feeling and then allowing the emotions to shape the words into a melody.

Kristin: That's a really good answer! Hey, do you listen to Frank Sinatra?

Adam: Yeah.

Kristin: Frank Sinatra's awesome. [Um, I really digressed here for a while, being a huge Frank Sinatra fan]

Kristin: You feature four of your videos at your website and I guess I'd like to know the names of all the directors you've worked with but I also am interested in one video in particular, so that will be my next question

Adam: I think that all the videos on my website were directed by Galen Pehrson, my friend, except for the "Jessica" video, which was directed by a team of people, like sort of a company - called Mission but all the others I did with Galen.

Kristin: Didn't he (Galen) also do like art design for you, like on your CD?

Adam: Yeah, he helped me design the Friends of Mine cover and different things he did the cover for the "Friends of Mine" single, oh, and he helped me design the cover for the "Jessica" single - yeah, he's done a lot.

Kristin: He's really talented!

Adam: Yeah he's really good on the computer.

Kristin: How much of a part do you play in the creative process of your videos?

Adam: Oh, so much.

Kristin: Cool.

Adam: Yeah, very much, a lot

Kristin: I especially love your video for "Baby's Gonna Die Tonight". The photography is excellent, that video is super creative.

Adam: Yeah.

Kristin: Those shots from outside - is that a window? Or like, you know, where there's kind of like lights around it - and it's black and white at that point - that's awesome

Adam: Oh yeah, yeah - it's a store window.

Kristin: That looks so cool.

Adam: Yeah, (Galen) was good.

Kristin: When did you make that video?

Adam: I don't know we made it a year ago?

Kristin: I was just showing that video to one of my friends last night - Danny, who just turned 16 - and he thought it was really cool, too and he was asking me, "why isn't that on MTV?" And I told him - I was just taking a guess, but that it's, "presumably, because MTV are idiots"

Adam: (Laughing at this statement) Well, I don't know

Kristin: It's, I don't know, but it's REALLY good.

Adam: Thanks.

Kristin: And I think more people should see it. It's really creative and I really love all of the photography and there's a lot in there! And you're on the subway, too that's really cool. What train is that? Do you remember?

Adam: Yeah, it's the N/R.

Kristin: You just recently returned from another tour in Germany, so I thought maybe you might tell me about that?

Adam: What aspect?

Kristin: Anything, I don't know, maybe this is not a good question

Adam: We play a lot of festivals, and a lot of theaters, sit down places that were really nice pretty much every night we had a concert in a different city. So, a lot of travel we stayed on a night liner bus, so I slept on a bus the whole time

Kristin: You have a lot of fans there, don't you?

Adam: Yeah, there's a lot of demand for me to go to Germany. That's why I keep on going. And, you know, they speak really good English over there.

Kristin: That's good to know, especially if you don't speak German, I know I'd be lost otherwise

I wanted to ask you about your songs, and when you sing; it's kind of a long question

Your lyrics are very thought provoking. Even when you are being humorous (which is quite often) you are also usually pretty deep You have an amazing (and very nontraditional) way, with imagery. There are a lot of your songs that I love and am very interested in hearing you discuss, but because we probably wouldn't have enough time, I chose just one of them, my very favorite song of yours - "Can You See Me" This is a really wonderful song! I think it's beautiful. It also seems really personal. Maybe you'd rather not comment on it, but if you don't mind - I'm really interested in hearing whatever you have to say about it, like even, just when you wrote it

Adam: Yeah Let's see, I wrote that maybe 4 or 5 years ago, when I'd just moved to my parents had just moved to the city. So, I didn't really know anybody yet, you know, and I'd just sort of wander around just looking for something to happen. You know? Maybe bump into somebody. I was playing in the subway a lot. I just didn't really know anybody, and I don't know, I just found myself making up that song.

[During one of our follow-up sessions, Adam told me that he was 17 when he moved with his parents to NYC (circa 1998) and from around that time up until some time in 1999, he performed in the subway.Mostly, at the 8th Street N/R (Uptown) station and, mostly with his friend, Turner Cody. They'd take turns. ]

Kristin: It's a really good song, Adam. And even though it's simple, it just says so much it's so perfect.

Adam: Yeah, I like playing it. I mean, I still play it a lot, you know, these days.

Kristin: When you played it at your last show, I was really excited, but also I was taking pictures and when you went for the guitar, I was even more excited and I also thought that would be great to photograph but it's such a quiet, pretty song - and it's my favorite - so I was just waiting and listening I'm used to hearing it on the CD - and I was expecting noise towards the end and that's when I planned on taking the picture, because I was right in front of you and I was worried about my camera being too loud and I didn't want to distract you but then you suddenly finished, and I was like, "Oh, no!" and then you put the guitar away

Adam: Well, that's very considerate of you.

Kristin: Oh, yeah, thank you. (Being considerate) seemed more important than getting the shot

I love that song! Someday, I hope to make more movies I've been working on one for a long time. It's called "Child of the Moon" and maybe some day when it's finally ready, I'm going to ask you if I can put "Can You See Me" on the soundtrack.

Adam: Oh, Ok.

Kristin: (Laughing) I'm not expecting like an answer now! It's just, I totally have visualizations when I listen to that song and it speaks to me a lot

[I digressed again]

Kristin: I have the Jessica EP, although I don't have your cover of (The Libertines') "What a Waster" on my version, even though it's supposed to be an import from England, so I don't know what happened

Adam: You can get that on the Internet I think it's on

Kristin: Oh, OK! Cool!

I thought it was really cool that you put those songs from 1989

Adam: Oh, that old song?

Kristin: Yeah!

Adam: Yeah, I was 8 years old. I found this tape recently I do remember making it. I think, you know, I was just wandering around my house, you know, up and down the stairs and I think we'd just gone on a field trip to The Bronx Zoo, and so yeah My dad bought me a tape recorder and so I was just, like, making up this song and I thought it was pretty good.

Kristin: It is!

Adam: So, I thought it'd be cool to put it as a B-side. It's like the first song I ever wrote I guess, when I was 8

Kristin: It is very good. I'm very impressed.

I know you get this question a lot - but I was hoping you would tell me about starting The Moldy Peaches, just like any history about your band

Adam: Like how it started?

Kristin: Yeah, like I've read that you were 13 and that Kimya was your baby-sitter that you met at a pizza place, that you took in a tape you made to a record store

Adam: Yeah, well, it's all like the same I worked at a pizza place (Pizza Pizzazz) when I was like 13, and then, down the street was a record store (Exile on Main Street Records); it's in Mt. Kisko And Kimya worked at the record store - and unfortunately - that store just closed this year, went out of business

Kristin: Oh, that's sad

Adam: Yeah So, on lunch break I'd go over to the record store and hang out. But, Kimya was so much older than me; she was 9 years older than me. At the time, that age difference, you know, was more significant, because we couldn't really hang out so much, like friends so what we did mostly was like write songs. And, also, like, I wanted to go and see shows in the city, and Kimya would sort of, my parents would, like give her money to buy us both tickets and take the trainand so you knowin that sense, she was sort of my babysitter. She'd sort of get me there and back safely, and I was like 13 and 14

Kristin: That's really neat. She's really amazing.

Adam: Yeah.

the moldy peaches, the hook, brooklyn
october 2004
photo credit: kristin angelique

[This information came from our follow-up session: How, The Moldy Peaches were first formed, by Adam and Kimya - "We'd written and recorded a bunch of songs, in my parents' basement" The 1st Moldy Peaches tour was Adam and Kimya only, supporting The Strokes on their UK tour (circa 2001?). The 2nd Moldy Peaches tour was supporting The Strokes on their (2002) U.S. tour and the lineup for that was Adam and Kimya with Aaron Wilkinson, Jack Dishel, Steven Mertens and Strictly Beats. The longest standing lineup of The Moldy Peaches as a full band - was Adam, Kimya, Jack, Steven, Strictly Beats and Toby Goodshank.]

Kristin: I believe that in your "official bio" - it says that you watch a lot of movies, and since I'm a filmmaker - I really wanted to ask you about that if you really do like movies and do you like certain movies, filmmakers

Adam: Yeah. I don't know, I like the video store that I rent movies from, is sort of organized by individual directors or movie stars. You know?

Kristin: Yeah

Adam: So a lot of times, I'll just watch like every Woody Allen movie or every Marlon Brando movie or every Francis Ford Coppola movie It's just like sort of organized that way And I just make my way down the section. But, I can't really say that I think too deeply about movies. You know, I mostly just watch them to pass the time and I don't usually end up watching them over and over again. So, I can't really say that I have a lot of opinions about movies - for me it's just - you know, I watch them.

Kristin: Well that's a very good answer I very much love everyone's work that you just mentioned.

Kristin: Do you plan on still putting your fanzine out? Like, will there be more issues?

Adam: Oh yeah. Well there's a publisher in Germany - SUHRKAMP VERLAG - they're going to publish a bunch of stuff that I wrote, including the magazines, all in a book.

Kristin: Oh, COOL! Will it be here (in the U.S.)?

Adam: Uh, well it won't be I mean I'm going to try to get it so that they can sell it at stores here but in general, it won't be released here.

Kristin: But you could, like, order it from somewhere?

Adam: Yeah, I'm going to try and get it so that specific stores can, like, order it from them It's going to be bilingual - all of the left pages are going to be English text and the right pages are going to be translated in German.

Kristin: That's a cool idea.

Adam: Yeah. Well, you know, that's because it's going to be mainly released in Germany. So, hopefully I'll be able to sell it at my shows and to get a few boxes of them and hopefully distribute them in New York.

Kristin: Like, at St. Mark's Books? (They sell Adam's magazine.)

Adam: Yeah, hopefully there and a few other places

Kristin: Has there been anything since issues 1 and 2?

Adam: No because You have the one that ends with "The Flowers of Capitalism"?

Kristin: Yeah.

Adam: That's sort of there was 1 and 2, and then I made a bigger one that had 1 and 2 and "The Flowers of Capitalism" and then this one - the book is (also) going to have another poem that I wrote.

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What Adam told me about his original magazines and the new book during our follow-up session:

Issue #1 was written over a long period of time; stuff I'd written and collected (notebooks and diaries) for a few years, in chronological order. Issue #2 was a culmination of writing - every night - for two weeks, then edited - in chronological order - there's more flow "The Flowers of Capitalism" was written as a whole, as a poem. (The new poem, which will appear in the new book) "8 Pages for Allah"* was more of an idea - of writing a poem - the most cohesive piece of writing I'd ever done at the time, up to that point

[*8 pages on the computer, may be different in the book]

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Special Guest question - by Christopher Robin Donaldson, age 14, Denver Colorado

Christopher Robin: Do you base your disturbing phrases in your songs off of your own experiences?

Adam:  Yes.

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Interview conducted/written by Kristin Angelique.
Copyright Adam Green and Kristin Angelique.