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Washington Post Weekend Feature - September 3, 1999

Adam West's New CD
"I told you we're a [expletive] rock band!" screamed Adam West frontman Jake Starr into his microphone last week at the Metro Cafe. "We ain't no indie pop band! No ska band! We're here to rock!"

And rock they did, late into the night, with members of the quartet working themselves into a sweaty mess. Guitarist Derrick Baronowsky, bassist Steve (just Steve) and drummer Tom Barrick kept up admirably with Starr's frantic bouncing around the microphone, playing their mix of punk, metal and garage rock with passion and ease.

Most of the best tunes came from the band's new CD, "13 De Luxe," songs that find the band hitting its stride in both musicianship and songwriting. "We were all set to record with our old guitar player and he quit just before we went into the studio," Starr says. "So we got Derrick on board, and put off recording for four months, just rehearsing and rehearsing. We became a really tight unit and came up with lots of new things."

The addition of Baronowsky also completed the musical shift of Adam West from somewhat campy garage band into a roaring jet engine of a full-on rock band. "People say we're a punk band, we're a hard rock band, WAMA called us a metal band," Starr says. Well, sort of. Adam West won a Washington Area Music Award last year for best metal/hard rock band and Starr, a graduate of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, won a Wammie for best metal/hard rock vocalist.

"So when people ask, I just say we play punk rock 'n' roll. When we started out in 1991, we were more like a '60s British invasion kind of band. We were very tongue in cheek, which you can tell by our cheesy name." (Pop culture vultures will remember that Adam West is the name of the actor who played Batman/Bruce Wayne in the '60s television series.) "But we moved on, sounding more like the Stooges and MC-5." Those two bands are obvious influences on Adam West, and that's why you'll find the band, along with several other local bands, at Phantasmagoria on Saturday night for an "Iggy and Stooges Tribute."

"Iggy Pop is probably my favorite performer of all time," says Starr, "and John Stabb [from Betty Blue, the night's organizer] knew that and got intouch with us. We'll perform 'Real Cool Time' from the first Stooges album and 'Search and Destroy' from their third. I can't wait."

"13 De Luxe" is Adam West's second full-length CD, released on the band's own label, Fandango Records. The first, "Mondo Royale," came out in 1997, and that release was preceded by several seven-inch Adam West singles. "We like putting out singles. It's a fun way to approach getting our music out there," Starr says. "And we've begun to release stuff by other bands, like the new single Fandango is releasing by BST Payback. They're my absolute favorite band around here."

Starr says he's been approached by larger record companies (and at Metro Cafe he announced a possible Adam West release on Seattle's Sub Pop label), but generally, he says, the band prefers to remain free of any major label attachment. "We get to do what we want now. We've talked to a few major labels, but they always give you some [expletive] contract telling you what you can and can't do. No man, I want to do what I want."

That includes setting up a European tour next spring in support of a couple of singles soon to be released in Spain and Sweden. Locally, other than the Phantasmagoria appearance, Adam West will perform at the Velvet Lounge Sept. 22 for the WAMA Crosstown Jam, at the Metro Cafe Oct. 8 with Candy Snatchers and BST Payback, and Oct. 10 at the Taste of D.C. festival.

By Eric Brace, Washington Post Weekend, Sept. 3, 1999


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