Andrew Adkins

Interview by Christopher Duda (Sugarbuzz 2 hours North)

“That’s the problem with drinking, I thought, as I poured myself a drink. If something bad happens you drink in an attempt to forget; if something good happens you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens you drink to make something happen.” ― Charles Bukowski

1.    Do you subscribe to the notion that most of the more interesting or challenging music made
defies categorization or labels?

Very much so! I think that is what the problem with most modern music is! The same people who are running most of Nashville and all of mainstream music are the same people who are running Best Buy and chain restaurants! It’s all about numbers, figures and public perception. Music and artistry is tucked somewhere in the background, if at all. It scares me to see a lot of music being robbed of integrity and the whole art-form aspect of it.

2. Do you strive to follow suit in that vein and/or do you just allow what happens to happen thus being part of the creative process?
Everything I do, write and play is a result of what moves and inspires me. Be it music, poetry, books, film, life…it all plays a part. I cannot do anything other than what I have been doing and feel gratified.

3. I have been to Nashville and searched for the music scene. Where primarily is the hotspot for live music?
I wouldn’t say there is one specific area. There are great places to catch live music – Exit/In, The Ryman, The End, 3rd and Lindsley, Lower Broadway, Mid-town, Mercy Lounge. The local scene has grown so much in the past few years. Sometimes it boggles your mind to think about the scope and pace at which it is moving. It makes you excited but sort of intimidated at the same time. Over all from the East side to West Side of town and in between there is music popping up everywhere.

4. Is Nashville supportive of what you are doing?

Well, I definitely do not fit in really anywhere. The Music Row folks think my music is not “pop” enough, the folk/Americana people thinks my music is “too rock” and the rock folks think my music isn’t “rock” ENOUGH! Ha Ha! I have heard my style is hard to market because you can’t really box it into one genre. Granted, it’s commercial suicide making music NOT targeting a niche-genre, following trends but then again…if I am not making the music I am making right now – it would not be me nor would I be fulfilled. Therefore, I might as well get a “real job” and do something entirely different.

5. If you stick around awhile do you think you will open a store like Charlie Daniels or Dolly Parton (and if you are really lucky perhaps a wax figure)?

Ha Ha! Hopefully not. Maybe when I am gone people can resurrect a burning man-type of effigy of me and set it on fire and sail it down the Cumberland River. Ha Ha!

6. Listening to your new release I hear many influences from many different eras. Do you believe that your musical landscape and taste has shaped what you are currently doing and who you
are?

Yes, without a doubt. My problem is I listen to so much. When I say I love everything in music, I literally mean that and I think it shows within my output. Most folks want you to sound the same all the time. I cannot do that. I have to constantly be evolving and creating. That is one of the reasons I wanted to just stop the Mellow Down Easy thing. I feel we overstayed our welcome a bit and the music was not moving me any longer. Also, living in Nashville really inspires me – the history and the people who put this town on the map, the songwriters, producers, and people behind the scenes. Being on the road really stirs your creativity – meeting new people, experiencing different things, cultures and so forth.

7. Who are your biggest musical influences?

I like Townes Van Zandt. He’s my favorite songwriter. Guy Clark, John Lennon, Led Zeppelin, John Prine, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Velvet Underground, Hendrix, RHCP, The Ramones, Waylon Jennings, Wilco, Otis Retting, Ween, Muddy Waters, Kris Kristofferson…I could go on and on and on. I am also really influenced by literally people like Allen Ginsberg (poet), Jack Kerouac (poet), Stanley Kubrick (film maker), Charles Bukowski (novelist/poet), Hunter S. Thompson (journalist), Harmony Korine (Nashville film maker), Ezra Pound (poet).

8. Do you plan to tour this release and primarily bring it outside the U.S.A?
I hope to. I know I will do a few shows in various parts of the US eventually. It might not be until 2012, depending. I want to make up to Canada and over to Europe badly so we’ll see.

9. Lyrically your words are well thought out. How important is it to you to convey what you are feeling through your words? Where do you draw inspiration from?
As predictable and corny as it may sound – life. My life experiences – be it my own or people around me. I also like to create fictional accounts in my head sometimes. Like “Blood of the Gambler” on my new album. I have always admired people like Marty Robbins or Mickey Newbury that can paint such beautiful scenes and imagery within their songs be it about their own feelings, situations, other’s stories or something completely drawn up within their mind.

10. Is there anyone currently that you would like to share a stage with?

Guy Clark, John Frusciante, Kanye West.

11. Where did you cut your teeth so to speak?

I am a Midwestern kid. I have been in bands since I was 13, playing in bars and clubs since I was 17. I grew up in a small town South of Toledo in Ohio. The music scene was barely existent and there were only a handful of bands and musicians there. It was fun though. Some of the best memories I’ll ever have.

12. Were you ever a fan of punk?
The Ramones are one of my favorite bands EVER! I LOVE punk – Iggy and The Stooges, New York Dolls, The Germs, early Joy Division, early Misfits, Black Flag. Sex Pistols used to be my fave punk band back in the day but I lost all respect for them when they did their horrible reunion tour in the late 90′s. Nobody wants to see a 50 year old Johnny Lyndon oozing out of his stretch pants! Ha Ha! Velvet Underground is one of my biggest inspirations. Lou Reed is a very important figure to me and everything I do. I also dig MC5 a lot. They are such an underrated, pioneering band. As a matter of fact the lyric, “Love Is Just Like A Rose, Only Love Can Make It Grow” from my song, ‘A Little Bit of Mercy’ was totally derivative of ‘Ramblin’ Rose’ by MC5!

13. Where do plan to be musically in the future?
I have no clue. Who is to say if my future on the Earth will be brief or long? Either way – alive or dead, I hope my music and creative output will always be appreciated in some way or fashion. More than likely, my music and words might be more relevant or poignant in the future than it is today. Who knows?

14. Are you aware that Cheetah Chrome from The Dead Boys lives in TN? Would you consider
working on a musical collaboration if it came to fruition or do you think your styles would mesh?

I would LOVE that! If you know people who can make that happen, let’s do this! I produce albums also. I have done hip-hop, punk, blues, folk, and country. I can blend in well with most styles as long as there is substance within and it moves me in some way.

15. Are you a fan of Hank Williams III and do you concur with his feelings towards The Grand Old
Opry?

I very MUCH empathize with his feelings towards the Opry. Hank III and I have never crossed paths but we have mutual friends. I had his first couple of albums. I totally respect him and his music. I am honestly really disappointed in what the Opry has become. Once upon a time it meant something completely different than it does now and had this almost mythical appeal to it. Now it just feels cheapened and such a mere shadow of what it used to be.

16. What is the most frustrating portion of getting your music recognized (and don’t say doing these
stupid interviews! Ha Ha)

No, I actually love these questions. This is one of the coolest interviews I have had in ages. I think the most frustrating is the business/political aspect of it. If I could just play my tunes, sell my tunes, play shows and not have to worry about all the other it would be awesome. I don’t mind interviews but there are certain things that go along with shows, public appearances and pleasing people that turn this routine sour for me at times. I hate photo shoots, videos and radio interviews for sure.

17. Do you believe what happens on the road stays on the road or do you have some good dirt that
needs a spreadin’?

Oh goodness. I have been told by several people that I should write a book. I am not too sure about spreadin’ dirt but I can definitely say I have seen my share of craziness on the road. When you get paid to travel, play music to rooms filled with alcohol and parking lots and pockets filled with various other things where it is hard, at least it was for me, to just get off stage and head back to the hotel or turn in early. The road is a monster – sometimes a good one, sometimes an evil one. All in all it definitely leaves a mark…and a supply of endless stories and experiences to say the very least.

18. How was recording your first solo cd different then recording with your band “Mellow Down
Easy”?

I missed having the camaraderie in the studio. I missed bouncing ideas from the other guys. It was definitely a new thing. Granted, Rodney from MDE did all the drums so at times he was present. Daryl from MDE did a bass line, a banjo part and some backing vocals and did lend an ear when mixing was going down. So, I had the guys involved but separately. In MDE our focus was the over-all sound of the band – all three members. The solo album was focused on the song. Everything else was secondary. I love Rodney and Daryl so much. They are still a couple of my best friends and brothers. I miss them terribly but I do not miss the music MDE was making.

19. Your voice is very reminiscent of Donovan. Are you familiar with his output? Would you consider
covering the classic track Super Lungs My Supergirl?

Thanks for the Donovan comparison. I used to get that a lot in Mellow Down Easy as well. I dig Donovan for sure. “Season of The Witch” is a masterpiece. I cannot say he was a huge influence for me but after I started hearing the comparisons I started to delve more into his music – which I really enjoyed. I would love to cover any of his songs.

20. What is your drink of choice?

Bourbon. Bourbon and Bourbon. I am definitely a whiskey man. If not whiskey – micro-brews, dark, pale, hoppy beers. I like a good, dry red wine also.

21. What gear do you use?
I have 2 main acoustics – a 1974 D-18 Martin, a 1967 Gibson acoustic. Electrics I have tons but my main ones are a 1974 Gibson Les Paul Custom (that used to belong to Lou Pallo of the Les Paul Trio), a 1956 Gibson Les Paul reissue, a Custom Built Fender Telecaster. My amps are 1998 Vox AC30, 1971 Fender Twin Reverb. I used an old Fender and Silvertone Banjo and Epiphone Mandolins.

22. Parting thoughts or use this forum to rant about the state of the world, American Idol and the current fad of dressing your children up like prostitutes and parading them on Tots in Tiaras or
whatever the fuck that show is called?

I had a friend on American Idol once. The show is horrible. It gets worse and worse. I really hate how easily amused our society is these days. I fucking HATE ‘Bad Girls Club’, all the ‘Real Housewives’ shows, have always hated ‘Survivor’ – is that bullshit still even on?
I do dabble in Netflix and definitely watch DVD’s and Blu-Rays. I would be a liar if I said I didn’t love HBO Sunday Nights, though. My heart broke when ‘Entourage’ ended. That was one of my favorite shows. ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’, ‘Hung’, ‘Bored To Death’. Also love ‘Always Sunny’. The Tots in Tiaras-thing is pathetic. I think Christopher Guest and company need to target those people on their next film.

As far as the state of the world right now…everything is SUCH a mess! Nobody knows who to trust or turn to anymore. Yes, I voted for Obama. No, I am not totally impressed in how things have been going with his administration. Yes, I truly think that he is still picking up the pieces that the last administration left and coming from that nothing can be fixed over night or even for several years. We had Howdy Doody running our Country with Satan disguised as a sheep, at his side for 8 years! Come on, now!
I also think Sarah Palin is an idiot and I believe the Tea Party are a bunch of imbeciles. We all need to lighten up and stop pointing fingers so much at one another.

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