Having caught the band at both Green Man and End of the Road Festivals last year, there is a meeting-up-with-old-friends familiarity to the Singing Adams album released this week. And followers of Steven Adams previous band The Broken Family Band will find a comforting familiarity too in “Everybody Friends Now”. The new line-up backing Adams bring a range of experience from other bands: bassist Michael Wood from Michaelmas, drummer Melinda Bronstein from Absentee and Wet Paint and guitarist Matt Ashton from The Leaf Library and previously Saloon.
But still intact in the Singing Adams sound from Adam’s earlier work is that sharp wit and word-play, lean, punchy indie-rock tunes (but here less country-leaning) and a confident saunter that can easily collapse into doubt and vulnerability. One noticeably different development is the prevalent theme of flight, escape and progress – apparent in song titles alone: ‘Bird on the Wing’, ‘Move On’ or ‘The Old Days’. But this is tangential rather than directly autobiographical. The album is not one of retrospection or bitter recrimination. This theme has probably more to do with the sense of Adams taking control in a way he didn’t with the more democratic approach in The Broken Family Band: “I've been writing songs and singing them since I was a kid and I thought it was about time I took some responsibility for how it all turns out, so I could say, I wrote these songs, I got this band together, I produced this album”. So a break from the past but not a radical departure, a degree of familiarity but also a relaxed freshness. And of course as ever great hook-laden tunes.
Singing Adams head out on tour this week starting tonight in Cambridge’s Haymaker’s Arms followed by stops in Cardiff (10th), Bristol (11th), Leicester (12th), Sowerby Bridge (14th), Newcastle (15th), Leeds (16th), Manchester (17th) and London (19th). Steven Adams took a break from bag-packing to answer a few questions:
Do you feel Singing Adams is something new, a fresh chapter? Or a continuation of previous endeavours?
It's both. I have a new group, and I've been in a few. It's a new chapter but hopefully it's a long old book.
I suspect will always be asked about the Broken Family Band - how do you feel about this?
Fine. That was a good group and I'm very proud and fond of it. It's not the questions I need to worry about, it's the answers.
How did the four of you meet? Mutual friends, musical respect, by accident?
I knew them all from various places. I think Matt and Michael were dimly aware of one another. They're three people I've liked and fancied playing with for a long time.
“These are not the best days of your life, these are the ones you piss away” ('Red Carpet'). Will there ever be a time when you write a song about contentment?
I certainly hope so. I write about whatever comes easiest or seems most appealing, and I love a bit of contentment. I'm hardly going to start singing "ooh I'd like a biscuit/this is nice/what's on telly next" though. I imagine my songs of contentment would be 'wry' and 'arch' and those other things people say about my songs. I think the others would kill me as well.
Records Records Records is a relatively new label. What attracted you to them? Did you not consider self-releasing the album?
Yes, we thought about self-releasing but it seemed like such a lot of hassle. These guys are pals and they make the whole thing seem like fun, which most record labels seem to have forgotten about. We love 'em.
Recording the album in Norfolk: quiet rural seclusion or party hard in the Fens? It was more about the focus than the rumpus. We had fun, but I wouldn't say we partied.
Finally, nine gigs in ten days: what's on the Singing Adams tour rider?
We've been pretty undemanding so far. I'll be interested to see if anyone takes the piss.
Singing Adams: undemanding when it comes to the rider, to-the-point when answering questions but a pretty damn fine band live and on record. Support for all dates is the excellent Deer Park