Feature on Adam West in University of Maryland newspaper "The Diamondback" - March 15, 2001
Local band Adam West was hoping that the Batman actor would have sued them for the use of his name. After all, it would have given them even more exposure than they've already received over their ten-year span.
But regardless of publicity stunt hopes, Adam West has received much attention lately after racking up two WAMA (Washington Area Music Association) awards last month for best band and best vocalist, appearing on the radio station WHFS show "Megahertz" last week, releasing their latest CD titled "13 de luxe," and playing a string of new performances in the area.
Adam West is composed of drummer Tom Barrick, guitarist Kevin Hoffman, bass player Johnny May, vocalist Jake Starr and guitarist simply known as Steve.
In addition to "13 de luxe," the band has released a series of live performances over the past few months, giving fans a taste of what's to come in their upcoming album, which they will start recording mid-April. The releases also feature recent additions Hoffman and May, who joined the band this past year, who are "fantastic and inject even more energy and creativity into the mix," said Starr.
"For fans, the sound is going to be a different lineup, especially with the new band members, so expect a twin guitar attack," in the next album said Hoffman.
It also helps that Starr started his own label, Fandango Records, in 1993 to not only release Adam West records, but to promote other bands like "The Hellacopters."
" I started my own label because I wanted to do it myself and when you're the boss, nobody can mess with you. I formed the label to release the first Adam West single and the label has flourished ever since," Starr said.
And though Adam West has made strides in their exposure nationally and overseas, they find there are few avenues for them to tap into the local college scene. A major gripe is that college radio stations aren't offered off-campus and do little to incorporate local bands into their playtime. Starr, a University of Maryland alumni, used to work for the campus radio station WMUC while in college.
"Because little airtime is given to local bands, it leaves the perception that college radio doesn't care about them," Starr said. Another problem cited is that few places exist near local college campuses for students to see bands perform.
Refusing to characterize themselves in a single genre of music, Adam West instead cites their music as in-your-face rock and roll combining "60's garage, 70's hard rock and punk. Our sound and lyrics are very tongue-in-cheek, a style that goes with the rock and roll persona, a high testosterone stage image," Starr said. Influences ranging from AC/DC, Kiss, The Kinks, Iggy Pop and The Stooges are inspirations for the band's music style.
As for "13 de luxe," the album plays front to back like a live performance should, kicking off like a roller coaster with high energy beats in "Platinum" and ". 357," then keying it down a bit in the lengthy "Doomsday" and leading the listener back up again. It's a rock album through and through full of deep guitar riffs and bass lines mixed with vengeful, sexual and seemingly autobiographical lyrics from vocalist Jake Starr, leaving one hoping to never get on his bad side.
A good example of lyrics imitating the band's music style is on "Done Me Wrong" with Starr's throaty belt of "5, 4, 3, 2, 1, ignition/blast off/right from the start." In contrast, songs like "(Come on up to the) Penthouse" take on a sarcastic and testosterone feel in lyrics like "Pandora's box you've opened up...come up to the penthouse, and I'll make you feel alright." There are no moaning, melancholy ballads in "13 de luxe," just pure hi-caliber rock delivered in raw desire.
The album ends with trippy "13," an all instrumental piece full of gritty guitar and hypnotic sounds reminiscent of Theramins used in old horror flicks, and serves as a consistent finale to the earlier aggressive songs.
"Sometimes, I can't believe that anyone knows or cares about our music," Starr said.
To learn more about Adam West, visit their Web site at fandangorecs.com or call Velvet Lounge's 202.462.ROCK ext. 7 to hear a sound clip. For a live performance, the band performs on March 27 at The Ottobar in Baltimore and on March 28 at The Velvet Lounge at 915 U. St. in Washington, D.C. Recent and previous releases can be found at Vinyl Ink Records, DCCD, Yesterday & Today Records, Joe's Record Paradise and Tower Records.
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