Jake Starr of Adam West
by Dominick Dell'erba
WMUC-88.1 FM (University of Maryland at College Park)
April 19, 1997
Dominick: This 88.1 WMUC FM in College Park. Dominick with you here today. We've got something a little special here today . . . something we've been working on for a long time. We've got ADAM WEST, actually Jake Starr. I won't say ADAM WEST, but I might call you ADAM WEST cuz basically Jake Starr IS ADAM WEST.
Jake: Oh no, the rest of the band won't appreciate that!
D: Okay. That's just a rip. I read some of their interviews in the past and uh, quite the humorous bunch you guys are.
J: Yeah, well, you gotta have a sense of humor if you're gonna be in a rock-n-roll band. I mean, you know, there's a time to be serious and there's a time to just be a rock star. We're pretty much rock stars.
D: Absolutely, absolutely. The ADAM WEST band is: Take two parts the Stooges, one part the MC5, and one part the Misfits. You pepper it up with some 60s garage punk and you've got ADAM WEST. ADAM WEST was formed in 1991 when singer/songwriter and my guest today, Jake Starr, decided to form a 60s garage band, which I always hold close to my heart. ADAM WEST started gigging Washington, D.C., and soon built up a local following. They've had successful shows at the 9:30 Club, the Black Cat, Asylum in Exile, and the 15 Minutes Club in Washington, D.C., as well as shows in New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Virginia. ADAM WEST received excellent reviews in popular periodicals such as the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, and Scene Magazine. ADAM WEST's recordings and live performances also received great reviews. ADAM WEST recorded songs like "I Get a Sensation," which was the one that first captured my ear. That was what, 1993?
J: Yeah, I think we released that in June '93.
D: And "Little Sister" which was released in June '93, which is their first 7-inch on their own label, Fandango Records, and distributed by one of my favorite labels, Get Hip, which is the label the Cynics are on. And they're big Misfits fans. They did a cover of the Misfits song, "Cough/Cool," and in June of 1994, Messiah Complex Records in Australia, which Jake laid a very nice rare copy on me that is a four-song "Dance Session" EP, which included the first single?
J: It was the first single: "I Get a Sensation" and "Little Sister" on side A and a couple outtakes from different sessions on side B.
D: The Ides of March cover "Vehicle" which was just terrific. And recently, ADAM WEST did a split 7-inch with the D.C. band, Bubblegum Christ, which was released in April '96. And "Beauty," I think, is their latest 7-inch single, which has been featured on several local music showcases on Washington radio stations, including that unmentionable station, WHFS, the other unmentionable station, DC-101, and the one we can mention, WMUC, right here.
D: There was a July '96 release: Fan club single #2 covering the Misfits songs "Halloween/She," and the Stooges "Search & Destroy." It was released to the fan club and the lucky few, of which I wasn't one of them unfortunately (!), to receive the limited pressing of 200. The new CD, "Mondo Royale", containing all-new material by ADAM WEST is now out and available on the Fandango label. And ADAM WEST . . . the line-up for that is . . . I have to mention the guys in the group.
J: Aw, please! Otherwise, they're gonna kick my butt!
D: I hope they take that as the joke it was meant to be. With a line-up of Jake Starr on vocals, James Marlowe on guitar, Steve on bass, and Tom Barrick on drums, they are often performing in the Washington, D.C., area. Please give the material a listen as we're gonna do today and concentrate a bit on "Mondo Royale," as well as a couple of the older singles that Jake brought with him today. So, welcome to WMUC.
J: Thanks, Dominick. I appreciate it.
D: And Jake . . . as I switch around my microphone . . . Jake was a DJ at WMUC. Talk about your time. When were you at WMUC . . . '85?
J: I was here in '84. I was a freshman here.
D: 13 years goes by quick. J; Yeah. No one guess my age, please, I'd appreciate it. But, y'know, I grew up listening to rock-n-roll and punk rock and so when I came here, I was very glad to see that there was a free-format station, so the first thing I did was come in here and got a job as a DJ. I had kind of a sketchy time slot. It started off Wednesdays from 3 to 6 a.m. So, not a whole lotta people listened, but I got a lot of people from the Goddard Space Center who were up on the graveyard shift.
D: The 'round-the-clock folks.
J: They would call me up and I'd play a lot of interesting stuff. I was playing Minor Threat going into Miles Davis going into Kiss and everybody really appreciated it. And, of course, I tried to play the Jam and a lot of garage stuff as well. I mean, it was cool.
D: That's great.
J: Then my show got switched. I had an afternoon shift for a little while. And then I just couldn't handle it with my course load, so I gave it up. But this is the first time I've been back in here in at least 10 years.
D: What was your major?
J: I was a German languages and literature major.
D: No kidding?
D: Do you do any German translations of your stuff?
J: Well, I worked for the German Embassy for 5 years. I also lived in Vienna, Austria, for a while. But it has nothing to do with what I do now.
D: Oddly enough, Billy Idol used to translate a lot of his songs, or most of them, into German and release them in Germany. He did good German too, I gotta admit.
J: Oh really? I had no idea.
D: I'm not a huge Billy Idol fan, but he did good German.
J: He was great in Generation X. I mean, he just got a little out of control.
D: Generation X: That's the group that really made me appreciate him.
J: Absolutely. Their first album is just incredible. There's not a bad song on it. But anyway, I was a German language major and I pretty much shifted gears. I got more into graphic design and computer work and now I presently work at the Library of Congress.
D: Wow. Did the music you were outlining . . . that you played on the air, did it influence your formation of ADAM WEST at all? I mean, this was like 3 years before the Cynics came out.
J: Yeah. I got into the garage revival thing pretty early. I think i first heard bands like Plasticland and the Chesterfield Kings. Bands that were getting started like around '79 and '80. And for some reason, back then it was all kinda mishmoshed together: New Wave, Punk, Garage, it just seemed like, and y'know, Rockabilly, it all kinda came together cuz it was all new music. So, I think things were very open back then where you could just play and listen to whatever you wanted. You didn't have to be judged, "Okay, you're a garage person. You're a skinhead. You're a punk or you're a hippy." I mean, it just kinda seemed to all come together. So, obviously, I take a lot of those influences into ADAM WEST. I mean, I have a lot of lyrical influences. Bands like the Chocolate Watch Band, which most people wouldn't even know.
D: I love them.
J: And you listen to a song like "6 and 6 Is," the first track off "Mondo Royale." I've got a line in there: "Sweet young thing from down the lane..." and I got that right from the song "Sweet Young Thing" by the Chocolate Watch Band.
D: Speaking of candy, did you ever get into the Marshmallow Overcoat?
J: I think I might have something by them, but I can't remember any songs specifically. I definitely remember them. They're probably on one of my many garage compilations.
D: We've got one of their albums here, but I don't know, we might play it, but I wanna concentrate on ADAM WEST.
J: That's cool.
D: Also, there are a lot of bands that came outta WMUC. I gotta plug that. Such as Velocity Girl, Unrest, which became Air Miami, and you might have known Carl Krimmelmeyer (?), who was in Crungehouse.
J: I don't know him. I was friends with the guys in Velocity Girl when I went to school here cuz they're all my age too. Although, they probably didn't want me to say that!
D: Actually, I think Carl started here maybe in '87 or '89.
J: No, I don't think I know him, but the Velocity Girl guys I know for sure.
D: Right now you're at the Library of Congress. What's up with that?
J: Well, I gotta a really good job there. I'm a computer specialist and I also do a lot of graphic design. When I first started working there about 3 years ago, I was called the "punk rocker of the cultural affairs division" because I don't look like a lot of people down there. Most people are pretty conservative.
D: That's great. We need variety, it's the spice of life.
J: Thank you, sir.
D: Let's start off with a song that first grabbed my ear by ADAM WEST, which is "I Get a Sensation" right here on 88.1 WMUC FM in College Park.
Plays "I Get a Sensation" and "Haunted"
D: This is 88.1 FM WMUC in College Park. Dominick with you here. We're back with the lead singer of . . . and wiggles? Wiggles also? Throat and wiggles. I read your interviews!
J: I do some on-stage wiggling. It's true.
D: It's not "Jake the Pelvis," though? It's just "Elvis the Pelvis?"
D: Do you wiggle a lot when you do "Little Sister?"
J: Well, uh, we don't do that song anymore, but I used to. What I wanted to mention was we just played the Black Cat last nite and last week at the 9:30 Club and we had the cover girl from "Mondo Royale," Trixi, a friend of mine; she and her friend, Allie, were go-go dancing for both of these shows. These were both our CD release parties, so I had them both go-go dance. They were taking care of the majority of the wiggling. They looked damn good. They were doin' their thing. It was something right outta "Riot on Sunset Strip."
D: We're gonna talk about that. We're gonna have an ADAM WEST cover in a little while. In past writings, you mentioned meeting Adam West while he was doing a Batman series. Tell us about that. That's kinda the way the group got formed. Now, we might have been at that same car show.
J: Right, I used to live in Philadelphia until I was about 12 years old. My dad took me down to a car show. They used to have these funky car shows with all the crazy hot rods like the Big Daddy Roth stuff on tour. So here I am in Philadelphia about 8 years old and I found out that the Batmobile was gonna be there and Adam West was gonna be there promoting the thing. And pretty much the series was over. This was 1973 or something like that. He needed money in a big way, so this is the way he got money by traveling around with the Batmobile, dilapidated as it was. So I show up there and here's Adam West, the actor, in the Batman outfit, but he's got a broken arm so the costume is ripped off at the shoulder and he's got a cast. So I'm 8 and I'm smart and everything, but I'm still kinda like, "Yo, man, what's up with Batman with a broken arm, y'know? He's a superhero."
D: Battling 15 evil doers at one time.
J: Yeah, something like that.
D: Somebody hit him with an anvil.
J: So my boy's got a broken arm and everything, so go up to him and I say, "Could you sign this?" And he had these promo pictures, so he signed, "To Jake, from one crimefighter to another, Adam West." So, of course, I framed that and that thing's been on my wall ever since I was 8 years old. So, when I first formed the band back in '91, we're like sitting around and writing songs in my living room and I said, "God, we've been together like a month and we've got a couple songs. We should think of a name if we're gonna perform." We were going through all the different cartoons and shows we used to watch in the 60s like Ultraman, Speed Racer, Marine Boy, cuz we wanted something that connoted that 60s mod feel. My guitar player at the time, Bill, looked up on the wall and he saw that picture and he said, "ADAM WEST." And it has just the perfect amount of tongue-in-cheek feel cuz, y'know, Adam West is an actor, but he's kinda a pathetic guy. He's gotta be in those tights to make a living. I don't know, I just thought it was perfect and, quite frankly, everybody who sees us remembers our name. Y'know, no one forgets the name ADAM WEST. So, there ya go.
D: That's terrific. A lot of great groups get named quite by accident. I love those stories. REM got their name by accident. They were all scrolling names on the wall and they were going through them and as they would all reject them, they would cross them out. I read in an interview with Michael Stipe that the only two left on the wall were REM and Negro Eyes.
J: Boy, I wonder what would've happened if they had chosen the other one!
D: They decided against that one, but a couple members of the group were really into Black history and that's why they almost called the group Negro Eyes.
J: Well, the name I wanted to call the group was The Jake Starr Experience, but they didn't exactly think they wanted to give me that much attention!
D: I like ADAM WEST; it adds a mystique . . .
J: Yeah, of course.
D: Also, the connotations are . . . it's kind of a toughness, an edge.
J: Well, he's also done soft porn. I mean, there are just so many levels.
D: You're kidding!
J: Oh totally! I've seen his butt, man!
D: Boy, are you a fan or what?!?
J: Yeah, well, I got USA Network "Up All Night." It's all good.
D: Well, I'm glad you didn't grow up around Batman the movie. I don't think the name Val Kilmer would've worked very well.
J: Or Michael Keaton. Or George Clooney or whoever's playing him now.
D: But the line-up has changed a lot over the years actually. How did the sound change?
J: Well, as I said, when we started off the band, I really wanted more of a garage sound. Kinda like an early Kinks/Who type thing. I wanted to keep that early British Invasion toughness to it. We started writing that kind of stuff and we kind of got off-track a little bit. We got into maybe a little funkier stuff. If you listen to "Little Sister," it's kind of funky in there. Y'know, it's not straight-ahead, three-chord garage like "I Get a Sensation," so we were experimenting with different sounds. That line-up lasted until November '94. That was Bill Crandall on guitar and Andy Rapoport on bass. Andy used to be in a popular D.C. punk band called King Face in the 80s and they recently reformed as a matter of fact. When they quit the band, Tom, the drummer, and I were sitting around saying we wanted to continue but what did we want to do? I've always been a big Iggy [Pop] fan, a big Detroit late 60s/early 70s MC5 type fan, so I wanted to do something more like that. And I didn't think that was possible with the other line-up. So it gave me an opportunity to go more in that direction. I put an ad in the City Paper and I found my bass player now, Steve, and another guitar player. That guitar player lasted about a year and we recorded "Beauty" with him.
D: And the drummer Tom Barrick's been with you since the beginning, correct?
J: Yeah, since the very beginning. Yeah, so that [line-up] was more like a late 60s Detroit sound in 1995.
D: Sort of a Detroit Wheels sort of thing?
J: Exactly. So then in '96, Johnny was out, that guitar player, and then James Marlowe joined. And he's just the most amazing guitar player I've ever played with. He just gave us a whole new dimension. He's much heavier on the wah pedal.
D: And he was with . . . ?
J: He was also in the band, Bubblegum Christ, that was on the split single of "Beauty."
D: They renamed the group. It used to be called something else before they named it Bubblegum Christ.
J: Yeah, before Bubblegum Christ they were called Death Camp Skinny.
D: That's it, yeah.
J: And they were just a local hardcore band and he's been in a bunch of hardcore bands over the years, but I don't think he ever got a chance to play this kind of stuff. So if you listen to "Mondo Royale," our new CD, there's all kinds of stuff on there. There's garage, there's straight-ahead hardcore, there's kind of slower Black Sabbath-y type stuff. And we have the Velvet Underground cover on there, "Venus in Furs," which happens to be my favorite Velvet Underground song. I always wanted to cover it. Hopefully we'll hear that later.
D: Oh, absolutely.
J: So, this line-up is definitely where I want the band to go. I mean, I still get to do the garage stuff and I still get to do other kinds of stuff as well. It's a good exercise for my voice and the songwriting.
D: Do you think you'll go back to the more, simpler kind of garagey sound that as well? I was leaning towards the psychedelic question because they were some great combinations, especially being on Get Hip, cuz we're both big Cynics fans as well as Misfits fans.
J: Oh yeah we are.
D: I noticed on some of the Cynics' early albums they were very psychedelic oriented, but it had that garage-edge feel, but also that psychedelic wash to it. Especially when Becky was playing keyboards as well. Do you think you'll dabble in that . . . cuz ADAM WEST keeps evolving?
J: What's cool is that we can sit there in rehearsal and write new songs and we can pump out like a strictly garage song and that sounds great. Then we can shift gears and do something with a heavier, Black Sabbath type thing as well. And that's what I like about the versatility of the band and the songwriting that's going on cuz we can go in these different directions and I like that. As far as the keyboards go, that's funny. That was kind of a bone of contention a couple years ago. I wanted to get a second guitar player cuz the original line-up of ADAM WEST had 2 guitar players‹my dream. The guitar player at the time didn't want another guitar player; he wanted a keyboard player. He was really into Radio Birdman, the Australian seminal band from the 70s, kinda like a Stooges-type thing, and they were very heavy on the keyboards. And that just wasn't what I was into. I have a friend in a local band who plays Vox keyboards, Farfisa organ, and things like that and I've been thinking about pulling him in. Maybe on one of our songs and letting him do something live, or maybe just writing a couple songs with him. Cuz I just love the sound of the keyboard.
D: It does add a great wash. On the Cynics "12 Flights Up" album, they use the keyboards very tastefully; it doesn't take away the energy of the band. But it adds that psychedelic backwash to it. I'm kind of equating some of your rhythms with theirs in it's that kind of straight-ahead, in-your-face garage and then you hear this backwash.
J: Right, and you always gotta have a good-looking girl playing the keyboards. That's the most important part.
D: Absolutely. Speaking of old songs, another one that captured my ear was on the "Dance Session" single and no, I'm not giving my copy away, so. . . . This is a cover of "Vehicle," which was originally done by the Ides of March. What was that, nineteen-sixty-?
J: I think it was 1970.
D: Oh, that late. Oh, okay.
J: It was actually 1970, and this is a song that I've loved as a kid. I always wanted to do this song and I always wanted to do "It's Not Unusual" by Tom Jones.
D: What guest musicians are sitting in on this song?
J: We have Charles Bennington. He's been around . . . I went to high school with him. He's part of WGNS Studios that records a lot of the popular punk bands. We recorded with WGNS back then with Geoff Turner from Gray Matter, also another D.C. scenester. Charles Bennington grew up playing horns, so he was there and I said, "Hey, can you loan us your saxophone?" Y'know, so he came down into the studio, he learned the song in about 10 minutes, and laid down the track. And you got "Vehicle" coming up, baby.
D: This is 88.1 FM WMUC in College Park and we're here with the lead singer to ADAM WEST, Jake Starr.
Plays "Vehicle" and "Electrified"
D: Alright. ADAM WEST from the album "Mondo Royale." Which song was that?
J: That song was called "Electrified." We also made a video for that. We're gonna submit it to VH1 cuz that's the kinda band we are.
D: VH1? Nah! Do you feel like you're compromising a scuple or two doing that?
J: [laughter] Uh, huh huh huh. Nah, I think I'm gonna try to submit it to M2, which is the MTV so-called alternative video network. But it seems like none of the cable operators carry it yet. They won't play us on regular MTV cuz we're not on a majorly signed label.
D: What have they got against indie-pop?
J: Well, it's all payola, man. I mean, that's how you get your video on MTV. You gotta pay the right guy and Fandango ain't about to pay thousands of dollars to some bigwig at MTV to get a video played. It just ain't gonna happen.
D: Speaking of Fandango, how did you guys hook up with Get Hip?
J: How did we hook up with Get Hip? Well, since I've been a garage head for so many years I literally, when the first single came out, "I Get a Sensation" in '93, I went to see the Cynics. They used to play down in D.C. quite a bit. I just went right up to Greg Kostelich, the guitar player and head of Get Hip, and I gave him like 5 singles and said, "Here, listen to this and gimme a call if you want more." And he wrote me a letter like 2 weeks later and said, send 30 more. Y'know, and that's what started my relationship with them. So they've distributed everything we've put out so far. And they're cool.
D: They're great. I love them. Greg is very receptive as well. I saw him down at the Black Cat and I wish I would've brought my tape recorder because after the show, we ended up talking for like half an hour. It was terrific . . . it was like a mini-interview. I don't know, I can't remember what was said. He did tell me an industry rumor though. He said that Henry Rollins was coming out of the closet. That was the big industry rumor.
J: I don't wanna comment on Henry Garfield.
D: (much laughter) Henry Garfield!
J: I don't wanna comment on that. I've got some strong opinions about that guy, so let's just be quiet on that.
D: Before "Electrified," we heard ADAM WEST's cover of the Ides of March song "Vehicle." The songwriting is shared by the group getting back to the originals. The songwriting, you mentioned in a few interviews, was shared by the entire group. But not really one person comes up with the original idea for a song. I mean, it's not always you or it's not always James.
J: It switches around. I mean, usually James or Steve are the ones that come into rehearsal with some kind of riff. Sometimes it's more worked out than other times. Other times, it's just a very, very simple riff idea and we build on there. Tom lays down the drums that he thinks work and if James has the riff then Steve comes up with bass lines, and they leave all the vocal melody/lyrics things to me. And I just . . . whatever pops into my head usually. And sometimes I have to play with a song. A song like "Electrified" that we just heard, I pretty much, the first time I heard it, came up with that whole melody right on the spot. That's kind of an exception. Sometimes I have to massage a song for a couple weeks. My favorite time to write songs is when I walk to the metro. I have about a 10-minute walk to the metro to get to work and I'm just very extroverted. I sing at the top of my lungs, testing stuff out. People are looking at me and pointing their fingers; I don't care. For some reason, when I'm walking I get so bored that's when I'm my most creative, I guess.
D: So you let the artistic juices flow no matter who's around or whatever. But any other times that you write? Any other atmospheres you like to write in?
J: Well, yeah. What I like is after rehearsals. We rehearse and sometimes it's a little hard to come up with stuff right on the spot. Y'know the band's already working out the music pretty well. The structure's being worked out and they're looking at me going, "Come up with something!" Y'know, and I'm like duh duh duh. So sometimes when I'm going home and once I get home it's like midnight or something and then the ideas start to flow cuz I've got the rhythm and I've got the song in my head and that's when I get my pad out and writing. Then the next rehearsal, I go in and that's when I usually have some kind of formulated idea. But the songwriting goes relatively quickly with us. I think we have a lot of good ideas. And since we're all pretty much looking in the same direction, y'know, it just comes together very easily and very quickly. And I like that.
D: Cool. You mentioned "Quadrophenia" and the Who. In my opinion, they were one of the best bands ever. I just love . . . I think my favorite song on "Quadrophenia" is "Can You See the Real Me." That straight-ahead, in-your-face. . . .
J: That's amazing you said that. The Who is my favorite band and I think they will always be my favorite band. "Quadrophenia" is my favorite Who album and "The Real Me" is favorite song off "Quadrophenia."
J: Shake my hand, brother man! I mean, "The Real Me" is absolutely incredible. Keith Moon's drumming on that is just ridiculous.
D: Some of his best drumming is on "Quadrophenia." Between "The Real Me" and the way he finishes off the song "Love Reign O'er Me." It's almost . . . he's like playing the drums like a symphony at that point.
J: Yeah, well, he actually destroyed that kit in the studio and they just let the tape roll and then, y'know, Townshend went back and said, "Yeah, I like that. Let's put that on the end."
D: His drumming . . . he built his drums so strong for his live shows. I remember when I saw him about a year before he died. They played the Capital Centre and he was the one who talked to the crowd and introduced everybody in the band and said what a great time they always had in D.C. And as he was doing this, and he's such a little guy though, he climbed up on his stool and then he's walking around on his drum kit. He's walking on the mounted toms, he's stepping on the snare I mean, it was so strong . . . and it's like those things aren't even giving, y'know, under his weight. But I remember seeing them shake when he played.
J: Yeah, yeah, exactly.
D: Amazing. And Kenney Jones has such big shoes to fill.
J: Well, what I was going to say, was that on the Who boxset that came out maybe 1 1/2 or 2 years ago, they have a version of "The Real Me" on there that was supposedly Kenney Jones' audition to the Who. And, quite frankly, I think it's terrible. Especially after growing up with "The Real Me" from "Quadrophenia" with Moon on it. I don't think I could listen to it. I mean, it wasn't fair to put that version of "The Real Me" on that box set cuz Kenney Jones lost all respect for that.
D: You're a big Misfits fan, too. Talk about the influence they had on you and your songwriting and ultimately, ADAM WEST.
J: Well, I think when I was a kid when I started singing, one of the singers I really admired, besides Roger Daltrey, was Jim Morrison. I have a natural baritone. I think I'm able to sing in a similar way. I mean, people have compared me to Jim Morrison. So, when I discovered punk rock and stuff, the Misfits were just incredible because here's Glenn Danzig who's got this powerful, kind of Jim Morrison-esque, Elvis-like voice and I was like, "Wow, here's someone singing the way I like to sing but also doing punk rock," which is what I was into, so it just seemed like a natural thing. I really took to the Misfits and the songwriting and everything. So, I always wanted to do Misfits songs, y'know. And we ended up doing that. We've done 2 fan club singles so far for ADAM WEST. The first one was a cover of "Cough/Cool," which was the Misfits very rare first single.
D: This is not a medley, though.
J: That's not a medley. That's one song, "Cough/Cool."
D: Cuz there's slash in it. We notice that "Halloween/She" is a medley, which we have on the table next.
J: Right. We're probably gonna hear that next. That was the second fan club single that came out last July. We did 200 of those on orange vinyl, sent them out to our fan club, gave some away, y'know, to people who came to the shows. This is gonna be a medley of the Misfits song "Halloween" going into the Misfits song "She."
D: On 88.1 FM WMUC in College Park. We're with Jake Starr of ADAM WEST.
Plays "Halloween/She" and "Speedbump"
D: Alright. Welcome. This is WMUC FM in College Park. Is that number 10?
J: We want 12.
D: I'm sorry. Lemme get rid of that. There we are. That's it. Yeah.
J: A little technical difficulties.
D: We're gonna talk over for a few minutes, close out the show over the cover of "Venus in Furs," the Velvet Underground cover. When was that? What does that date back to?
J: That first album came out in '67, although I think most of it was recorded in late '65/66. It took over a year to get out. They had to get Warhol to actually get it out. But it's my favorite Velvet Underground song. In fact, I used to play it all the time on WMUC . . . every single show I used to play this song. So, I said, we wanna do a cover for the CD and it just seemed like a logical one for us.
D: And if you wanna see ADAM WEST, they're playing this Tuesday, the 22nd of April, at Phantasmagoria. In fact, the fellow that books Phantasmagoria used to work here.
J: Oh really? Tom Berard?
D: Yeah, Tom Berard.
J: Oh yeah, he's an old school scenester.
D: And he's got his own band as well, as a matter of fact. What kind of changes do you see for ADAM WEST? '96 was a busy year for ADAM WEST. What's gonna happen in '97?
J: We released a couple covers, we recorded the CD. It just came out. Y'know, it took a couple months to get it out after we recorded it. I'm looking to do another fan club single. I wanna put out a CD EP, hopefully. I think a couple labels might be talking to us soon. We just had to get this one product out, y'know, to get our name around a little more. Y'know, you do vinyl and some people dig vinyl, but a lot of places don't even accept it, so we had to lay down the money and do a full-length CD.
D: Do the fan club stuff on vinyl so I can get it.
J: Oh, well the fan club stuff will always be on vinyl. Every summer we like to do a fan club single. So the next one is probably gonna be a live one. We're playing up at CBGBs on May 2 and we've played up there before.
D: If you get enough money together you can release the 12-inches on vinyl.
J: Yeah, that would be nice too. Well, maybe if we can convince Get Hip to do a vinyl release of "Mondo Royale," that'd be great.
D: Yeah. What about "Five the Hard Way!" When is that coming out? We've been waiting for that one.
J: Yeah, now "Five the Hard Way!" was the original, full-length album I recorded with the first line-up of ADAM WEST, of which only the "Dance Session" EP tracks came out. I've got 14 tracks still sitting on tape that have been mixed down that just need someone to come up with the money to put them out. "Five the Hard Way!" is gonna be a 14-track compilation of all the singles we put out, the B-sides, and the unreleased stuff from that first line-up. Hopefully, I can get that out at the end of this year. We're probably only gonna press 500, y'know, cuz we don't really play those songs anymore. But it'd be nice to document that period in ADAM WEST. I think there's a lot of good stuff there that never got to see the light of day.
D: Yeah, very true. Now I know that in the past, you've been a little bit against the Dischord label.
J: Well, not so much against . . .
D: I mean, probably what's happening with it now as compared to what's happening with it when you were first getting into the music scene.
J: Right, right. I liked it when it first started coming around, like the early hardcore bands like Minor Threat, Government Issue, Faith, and Void and that stuff. All that stuff was great. Then, I don't know, my personal taste just didn't go for some of the later stuff.
D: You found ADAM WEST going in a different direction?
J: Right, I mean we've never really been . . . I mean, I know a lot of those people, but we've never really been associated with that. And it seems a lot of people look at D.C. and they only think Dischord; they don't think of the other types of bands that are here. Y'know, we're just not like a Fugazi-type band; we're more a rock-n-roll band. And I just hope . . . I know there are people out there that like that kind of stuff, y'know, so . . .
D: Does ADAM WEST have a hard time fitting in or being accepted by the music scene, cuz I know it's cliquish as well?
J: That's exactly what I'm trying to say. In D.C., it's very cliquey and if you're not friends with the right people, it's hard to play the clubs, y'know? Cuz we don't play that kind of music. I mean, I don't wanna put those bands down but that's just not what ADAM WEST is about. We're a rock-n-roll band. A lot of those bands are . . . they're doing their own thing and they've got a lot of the local labels backing them and paying for their CDs and stuff. We're doing everything ourselves, y'know. But I know we have a lot of fans in D.C. and I know there are people out there that dig it. So I'm just gonna keep going.
D: But you haven't really had a hard time fitting into the scene cuz I notice you're playing 9:30 Club and the Black Cat.
J: Yeah, yeah, but not with the regularity I would like! But, y'know, it's hard to play in this town. It's hard to be a local band and play for anybody.
D: And just to remind you, you can see ADAM WEST Tuesday the 22nd at Phantasmagoria actually in Wheaton, Md. It's part of the WAMA Crosstown Jam. What do you wanna close out with?
J: I'd like to close out with "6 and 6 Is," the first song, number one.
D: Alright. This is 88.1 WMUC FM in College Park. Thanks for coming by.
J: Thank you, Dominick.
D: Anything we haven't covered yet?
J: Oh, there's quite a bit. Maybe I'll come back next time.
D: Next release you're coming back and we're gonna do it all over again.
J: I will be here for sure.
D: Thanks for coming by today. Look for Black Cat. They're always in the City Paper.
J: ADAM WEST!
D: ADAM WEST.
J: You said, "Black Cat!"
D: (laughter) Black Cat? Always look for ADAM WEST, they're always in the City Paper around town. This is 88.1 WMUC FM in College Park. Let's close off with "6 and 6 Is.
Plays "6 and 6 Is"
Article reprinted with the permission of Jake Starr/Adam West
©1997 Jake Starr/Adam West/Dominick Dell'erba/WMUC
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