Interview with Jake Starr in I Wanna Punk Rock online fanzine - December 2001
How are your memories about the start of Adam West in 1991? What can you tell us about the release of your first record titled "I Get A Sensation" (Fandango Records, 7") in 1993? What kind of changes have you noticed since then?
Even after all the alcohol and drugs, my memory is still pretty good! I started Adam West with an old buddy of mine, Bill Crandall, because we both had been in bands since high school that had since broken up. Basically, we were both bored and decided to work together. We wrote some songs very quickly, got the band together and went immediately into the studio to record a demo. After that, we decided to record some more songs and take the best two as our debut 7" single, which turned out to be "I Get A Sensation" b/w "Little Sister." I decided to form Fandango Records to release that one 7" single. I pressed 500 copies with the first 100 on green wax and hand-numbered all 500. That record is extremely rare now, but I'm very proud that it was our debut 7".
Since then, there have been MANY changes! In fact, I'm the only original member of the band. But our history is better documented on our website!
How was everything around Washington at that time?
Personally, I thought Washington sucked around that time. In fact, I think Washington went down the toilet right around that bullshit "Revolution Summer" in 1985. That's when the great punk bands got watered down and sprouted the emo shit that still pervades this city and the world. All the bands lost the spirit of rock-n-roll and became too PC and non-fun. Fuck them all!
How do you see Adam West's career so far?
I've always done Adam West as a fun project. I mean, I've always worked and had a job, so I've never done Adam West 100%. I was never looking to be a "full-time rock star" or expect to make enough money to live. And that's why I think we've been so successful over the years! We've released so many records, played so many shows, and met so many cool bands and people that it really is a blessing to be in this band. I wouldn't trade any of the past years away for a Number One hit single that made me a pop star for 15 minutes, y'know?
The rhythm you have been releasing material in different formats seems to be unstoppable. Is Adam West having a great welcome in the States? And what about Europe? Where do you think you work better?
I have been a record collector since I was a kid, so I enjoy releasing a lot of Adam West records. We're lucky that record labels ask us for songs all the time and we usually have a couple cover songs sitting around for split singles and compilations. Fans that collect Adam West and the Fandango label get frustrated sometimes because there's so much to collect! As far as the States and Europe? Europe is a million times better than the States. There is no viable rock scene in the USA. The major labels will not allow it. In Europe, rock music has never gone away, so we do very well when we tour Europe and we sell most of our records there too.
You've done many 7" splits with such important bands as The Candy Snatchers, Bellrays, Powder Monkeys, Hellacopters . . . Did you go on tour with all these bands?
I've always liked the idea of a split single because you get twice the distribution than you would otherwise. Basically, the other band has to promote and sell thier copies of the single too, and that works well for us. I became friends with all the bands you mentioned and either they brought it up with me or I asked them to do a split single. We've played about 20 times with the Candy Snatchers and a couple times with the BellRays. I hung out with the Powder Monkeys in Scandinavia for 6 days and I've hung out with the Hellacopters numerous times over the past 3 years in Europe and the States. Like I said, I like to do split 7"s with friends of mine.
You took part in Tributes to Radio Birdman or The Flamin' Groovies, and among your songs we could feel the spirits of Kiss, AC/DC or the mighty Stooges. Which were the bands that most influenced Adam West in your opinion?
We are all influenced by rock-n-roll. I grew up with 70s hard rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Thin Lizzy, etc. When I discovered punk, bands like the Damned and Misfits were played every day in my house. Then I started discovering the whole Detroit thing like the Stooges and MC5. Naturally, when I started singing and writing music, all these bands influenced my style. The same story applies basically for every member of the band. We all go back to good rock-n-roll as a base.
How did you come to the decision of starting Fandango Records? How is the label working? Do you have any plans for the next future?
I started Fandango Records for the sole reason to release the Adam West "I Get A Senation" 7" back in 1993. After that, I realized how easy it was to press records, so I kept going all the way to today!!!! But since Adam West is getting very busy these days, I'm only releasing a couple more records and then I'm gonna put the label away for awhile. Upcoming in December 2001, I have a split CD for the 1's (from Belgium) and Los Bad Mongos (from Catalonia). Each band gave me 7 songs and they all ROCK! Also in December I have the Flaming Sideburns live 7" that I've been advertising for a year now. The Flaming Sideburns are from Finland and are one of my favorite bands. Then, Gluecifer (from Norway) might give me 2 songs for a 7" single next year. But that's gonna be it on Fandango for awhile. I may do a CD compilation of all the early, rare, out-of-print 7"s since they're impossible to find and very expensive when you do find them.
You will release a 7" on Lixo Urbano Records soon, this Spanish label is putting out great records in recent times. How did you achieve to make contact with them?
The 7" on Lixo Urbano Records came out in August 2001 already. It's a split 7" between Adam West and German band Dogs of Lust. I invited the Dogs of Lust to open some concerts for us on our recent European tour. Butch, the singer in Dogs of Lust, suggested we do a split single as a tour 7", so I sent him our version of the Ramones song "Psycho Therapy" and he contacted Lixo Urbano and arranged the whole deal.
What do you think about Adam West's welcome in Spain?
This past tour we only played one date in Spain: the Atzavara Club in St. Feliu. But of the whole tour, that concert was my favorite show of all! The people that run the club are so fantastic and Los Bad Mongos played with us. The whole night was just fucking great! When we return to Europe in June/July 2002, we'll be playing 5 or 6 shows throughout Spain!
Do you know something about the musical scene in Spain?
Well, I'm friends with Kike Turmix, so I know something about the music scene there! Safety Pin Records released a 7" for Adam West in July 1999 and since then we've gotten many many fans in Spain. I can't wait to return!
How can you describe your shows? Do you play covers nowadays?
Our shows are hi-energy, full-throttle, rock-n-roll! Every member of the band plays each show like it's the end of the world. I've always been a singer that goes over the edge every night because I've always hated singers who turn into pussies on stage, y'know? If you're in a rock band, you have to play every show like it's your last. As far as covers in the set, we usually know about 5 or 6 cover songs when we go on tour and play a couple as encores if the crowd wants to hear more. In St. Feliu, they wouldn't let us leave the stage!!!! We had to play every song we knew!!!!
You have just released a great 10" titled "Hi-Balls Are Rolling!" (Fandango Records) that includes many covers (AC/DC,Thin Lizzy..) How did this new product work? What kind of reviews is it receiving?
Actually, we released that 10" in February 2001 and it's already long sold out! Originally, Spanish labels Munster Records and then Bang Records were gonna release that 10", but both labels fucked up. So I decided to release it myself. It includes some old songs we had unreleased at the time and a couple new cover songs that were chosen by each band member. Every review I've read about the 10" says it's fucking fantastic... and I must agree!!!!
Was this 10" published for the Adam West's fan club only?
Not exactly, but I originally advertised it years ago as a fan club release, so I left that on there. There were only 500 pressed on brown wax, so not many people have it throughout the world. The good news is that Twenty Stone Blatt Records in Scotland plans to release the 10" on CD with 14 bonus tracks! It'll be all 6 songs from the 10" plus 14 tracks from singles and compilation appearances over the past 3 years. I think Twenty Stone Blatt will release the CD in Spring 2002.
By the way, the sleeve is fucking awesome!!, and in the credits we can see Dirty Donny is the artist . . . Who is this guy? What can you tell us 'bout him?
Dirty Donny is this crazy Canadian artist who had done some work for Electric Frankenstein and my buddy Dave Champion (Nomad Records). I wrote Donny and told him my idea for the "Hi-Balls Are Rolling!" cover and he painted it perfectly. He said that piece of art was his favorite! I think the artwork is fantastic and thankfully will be included on the CD release of the 10". Donny's website is: http://www.dirtydonny.com
If there is something else you wanna say . . . Go ahead, Jake!!
Well Pepe, I just wanna say that I cannot wait to return to Europe and especially Spain! For all who read this, please write me an e-mail and get in touch! I like to talk to rock fans all over the world. Here is my e-mail: (firstname.lastname@example.org). Take care and we'll see you soon!
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