Adam & Elvis
ONE of the tasks that has been keeping me busy throughout this year…
has been following – and trying to keep on top of – the assorted bands playing around London. It might be fruitless – getting a grip on it and hearing them all – but the best are certainly starting to prove their worth. I have been talking with the curiously-named Adam & Elvis. They are preparing the official release of their single Hanging Tree: a song that addresses those who lose their heads when faced with all-consuming, logic-screwing love. Pat and Tom (the band’s brothers) discuss their latest single and plans for an album; they pitch a couple of rather peculiar, but well-worth-a-punt titles. They also open about how they got together and the differences between Berkshire and London (the boys grew up in Berkshire) and reflect on the sad news of Leonard Cohen’s death. Being huge fans of his work, and inspired by his poetry, I was keen to learn more about their influences and how this year has been going.
Hello, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Tom: Not bad cheers. Well, actually, I have just read that Leonard Cohen has died which is very sad to hear. He was a massive influence on us and genuinely one of the greatest songwriters of all time. Obviously, everyone is going on about Donald Trump – as if the world was a glorious place before that election.
Pat: It’s not that surprising, really. There was no attempt to sway Trump’s fans in the Clinton camp. It didn’t need to be anything racist or sexist. Maybe if she tried (just) ditching the celebrity endorsements for an hour or two and try to communicate with some scared and confused Americans.
For those new to your music: can you introduce yourself, please?
Pat: We’re a five-piece that try and create moving Pop music that is intellectually stimulating to a relatively sad and socially static class of people.
That band name strikes a chord. I know you must have been asked this before but what motivated the choice of moniker?
Pat: I thought it up at university whilst studying The Bible and there was there the big push for gay marriage – and thought it would be a homo-erotic, Rock & Roll subversion of Adam & Eve.
We don’t really like the name now, to be honest.
Tom: Someone once thought we were a covers band – that performed only Adam Ant and Elvis covers.
Pat and Tom: being brothers, was there any competition between you two as youngsters? When did the two of you decide music was your calling, as it were?
Tom: Outside of the band, I don’t think we’ve ever had any real competition or rivalry. Inside the band, we have definitely had our fair-share of arguments and fall-outs – but they are usually about nothing of any real importance and fueled by too much alcohol. We are usually on the same wavelength.
Pat: I know you are inspired by writers Leonard Cohen and Charles Bukowski. What is it about them that appeal to you? What are your views on Cohen’s latest album?
Pat: Leonard Cohen and Charles Bukowski are both matter-of-fact and (both) magic – none of that metaphor nonsense.
Don’t get me wrong; I can read something like Virginia Woolf very slowly and the writing is transcendental – and it makes you want to move life slowly and watch everything with slow motion precision. Bukowski and Cohen are like friends. Sometimes, Bukowski’s writing is lazy and boring but it’s always like he’s in the room typing away at his typewriter.
Tom: your basslines are impressively dirty and seductive. I hear a bit of Pixies’ Kim Deal and others in there. Who are your bass heroes and how did you mould that particular approach to the instrument?
Tom: I only started playing bass because our old bassist left, and instead of replacing him I thought I’ll have a go at that. I was listening to a lot of ‘Stranglers at the time and just loved that metallic dirty sound they had. It cuts through nicely.
Hanging Tree is out on December 2nd and already being met with speculation and buzz. What can you reveal about the song and what inspired it?
Pat: It was inspired by a conversation I had with a perfectly rational and very smart individual who was losing their mind over a love interest. They were able to move through life with confidence and a level head – but romance was too much. The song is basically about smart people becoming stupid for love.
Tom: I’ve cut about fifteen different mixes for this song- it has driven me crazy. I would also like to say that there are no female voices in the song, as one review has said. It’s my masculine voice doing the backing singing.
The song’s video was shot at U.K. Live Sound (Reading) and certainly captures the eye. What was it like shooting the video and is video-making something you’d like to do more?
Tom: I work at the studio which gave us a bit of freedom to mess about. It also helped having some great guys who knew their sh*t doing the filming and editing for us.
We mainly drank a lot and tried not to feel too foolish jumping about the place. I would definitely like to make some real freaky videos in the future.
Pat: We like videos but we don’t want to be in them anymore. We’d love to have some interesting filmmakers interpret our songs in their own way and create their own thing out of our song. In fact, we are already talking to a cool actor/filmmaker about our next video.
Your music has been compared with everyone from Pixies and The Teardrop Explodes. There are big singalongs and memorable hooks. What bands and artists did you boys grow up listening to?
Pat: I remember my dad playing Edison Lighthouse’s Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes). We don’t think there is anything as beautiful as a catchy chorus like that. Don’t get me wrong: we are picky. Coldplay, Embrace and that stadium chorus stuff just doesn’t do it -has to be a bit silly.
Tom: A lot of Pulp.
You have been performing some intimate gigs around London lately. What has the reception been like?
Pat: Really good. Lots of people have been complimenting the energy and songs which does disgusting amounts of good for our egos.
Steve Wraight (vocals/percussion), Juliet Styles (synths/saxophone) and Dan Robershaw (guitar) complete the band line-up. How did you meet those guys and what is it like performing alongside them?
Tom: I’ve known Steve for years. In fact, I’ve been very good friends with him since the beginning of secondary school. He’s a crazy fuc**r who used to work in a brewery and is completely obsessed with all types of beer. He walks around town drinking beers from small, colourful cans and people thinks he’s just necking a Fanta.
Pat: I met Dan working at some dirty little bar in Reading and later on he came to a show of ours and asked to join. We tried him out and turned out he was a great lead guitarist and that was that.
Hailing from Berkshire – and catching the ear of local media – you have shared the bill with the likes of Fat White Family and The Zombies. What have been your favourite memories in music so far?
Pat: Mine is probably the moments in the studio working on songs. I love the feeling on the songs coming alive – it’s good stuff.
Tom: The gigging is fun but I think my favourite moment was when we laid all the demos down for our album and realised: This sounds pretty good, actually!
Is there a marked difference between the music scenes in Berkshire and London. Are there any local heroes (London or Berkshire) you recommend we investigate?
Pat: Yeah. In Berkshire, the bands don’t take themselves too seriously. In London, there’s lots of impressive and original stuff to compete with. That’s why we moved: to up our game.
Tom: The quality in London is usually quite a lot better. The bands are usually more out-there and a bit more freaky. About 70% of music from Reading just sounds like a bad Britpop knock-off.
A lot of our favorite bands from the Reading area aren’t actually going anymore. One of our favorite current bands is Teleman. They actually say they are from London but we went to the same school as they did so we know their dirty little secret.
I hear there is an album planned for early next year. Can you reveal a title or any songs that might feature on it?
Pat: It will either be called Dead Cinema or Upgrade to Curly Fries for 50p. What do you think is best?
Tom: Patrick has named it about fifteen times now. Not sure where we are currently at. There is definitely a tune on it called The Ballad of Britney Spears, though.
There must be some real characters in the Adam & Elvis ranks. Is there a band member that likes a good joke or is not especially punctual? Any secrets about the band you can reveal?
Pat: Band members who are not punctual are fired and middle-of-the- road sense of humour is frowned upon. J. Coatzee writes a bit about how he loves the art but hates bohemians: skipping on the rent and adapting to the latest scene. We fuc**ng hate people like that. So, what are classically known as characters or loudmouths don’t really fit in with us. Band secret is: freaky=good; cool=sh*t.
Tom: Dan genuinely doesn’t know if he’s ever eaten broccoli. It’s not really a secret, but it’s a shocker.
Christmas is coming up shortly. Are you having some downtime? What are your plans for this Christmas?
Pat: We’re going to release a Christmas song online this year…
Tom: …and finish mixing and mastering our album.
Could you provide any inspiration or advice for new musicians coming through?
Pat: Write about the parts of your character you can’t talk about in public.
You can say all sorts of muck to a good tune – the kind of stuff they would hang you for saying in the light of day. What an opportunity!
Finally, and for being a good sport, you can select any song you wish (not yours as I’ll include that) and I’ll play it here.
Pat: Wesley Gonzalez’s Come Through and See Me. Saw him live at the Rough Trade at Green Man. Best thing of 2016.
Tom: Yeah. He was incredible at Green Man.
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