just one more thing...or...uh oh hello!
Kevin McAdams of Elefant.
interview by Kenyon Hopkin
The very cool Kevin McAdams plays the drums at the back of the stage with Elefant. That you may know. You may, however, be completely floored to hear that he also does his very own music. And it's GOOD! This is rare. He's a regular Ringo Starr. Elefant's third album is in the works, while McAdams' own material--which is only a few slices away from the romantic rock of Elefant--has kept him busy until the band gets real busy again. His second solo album is soon to be completed with help from Elefant guitarist Mod. [Kenyon knows how to write a feature story but doesn't have that kind of time. So here's the ever-popular Q & A.]
So the first obvious question is, what's going on with Elefant? It's been almost two years since Black Magic Show. Which is okay, i'm not complaining. What's the status of the next record? Will it again be issued through Kemado and/or Hollywood records?
Right now, we are starting to reconvene and reconfigure. Meeting up again as people and making a plan as to how we want to proceed. There is plenty of material there, so we're in the process of fleshing things out for a possible next record that will be released through a new label.
You've mentioned that you prefer not to have a publicist. Do you have time to handle all that stuff yourself? Does that mean the whole band doesn't have a publicist or just you for your solo efforts? What has been the positive outcome of not having one? Any drawbacks?
Actually, having a publicist is great, especially the right publicist. In general, it really comes down to working with people you relate to and who understand your music. In this sense, a publicist should help to magnify the message of an artist, not distort it. In addition, I think artists should have direct communication with their fans, which is why blogs and networking sites are great. If all communication is filtered and presented through official bios (which often read as over-hyped junk) and statements, there's an undeniable disconnect, which defeats the whole point of music in the first place.
When you played Webster Hall in New York, i noticed you didn't have roadies and guitar techs getting your gear ready. I think everyone but Diego [Garcia, vocalist] had stepped on stage before actually starting the gig. Is this another example of you guys doing things on your own? Or did you not have the money yet for that?
A few years back I saw the Flaming Lips getting ready to play a show, and who was out there setting up the stage, but Wayne Coyne himself, which immediately put a smile on my face because it showed how personally vested he was in every detail of the performance, which of course ties into being a bit of a control freak, but I relate. Anyway, I guess it depends on the artist. Personally, I am into the ridiculous drama of a rock show, because it should be fun, but not the elitism. So, this definitely ties into the idea of doing things on your own. Who should better represent you than yourself? It's just what I'm comfortable with, I guess.
Being on myspace, have you found it hella easier and better to communicate with fans or is it annoying? What did you do before there were networking sites?
Myspace and other sites have been great. We don't even have a website anymore, because there just isn't any point. The networking sites are much more reliable and interactive. The only annoying aspect has been too much spam, but even that has gotten better in the past year. Before, it was about e-mail lists and websites and before that postal mailing lists and post cards.
elefant. the band.
Are a lot of people that don't know you well stunned that, as a drummer, you compose and sing on your own?
Yeah, especially my bandmates and myself to some degree. I wrote songs as a kid, but eventually sort of stopped because I became more immersed in my role as a drummer over the years. I had written fragments of songs for years, but until recently, hadn't had a chance to finish them. Another great aspect of the process was finding my singing voice. It's given me a whole fresh outlook and confidence on music in general and has validated a lot of my original ideas. It just goes to show that you should never be afraid to try anything in life. Just when people think they have you figured out, it's always nice to throw them a curve ball every so often. Keep 'em on their heels, I say.
So you like Columbo [detective show starring Peter Falk]. Rad. What do you love about Columbo, what is your favorite episode and why?
You know, Columbo understates himself and welcomes being underestimated, which creates a false sense of comfort, especially for those suspects with overblown egos dependant on constant validation and the illusion of superiority. Columbo can put himself in this position because he has a genuine confidence and comfort in his own skin and ill-fitted trench coat. In line with understating himself lies his silent tenacity and attention to detail. Peter Falk's embodiment of this character is a thing of beauty. As far as my favorite episode, that is extremely tough. All in all, I guess my favorite would be the very first pilot episode titled "Prescription: Murder". The camera shots are extremely psychedelic, which really add to the mood. The killer is extremely tough to deal with and Columbo has to use an array of tactics to get his man. His character wasn't fully formed yet so he's a bit more aggressive. "Ransom for a Dead Man" is great too. You really can't go wrong with the first season.
Are my questions as good as Columbo's?
They're not too shabby. You may want to end by saying, "...oh, just one more thing.."
Does Diego get all the girls?
Ha ha. What do you think? It definitely makes my time on stage much more enjoyable. Seeing waves of girls singing along to these little pop tunes is a far cry from where I began playing shows in my teens. I cut my teeth as a drummer playing in underground thrash metal bands. I'd be out on school nights playing the dirtiest backwoods dives to some of the meanest and ugliest looking dudes you've ever seen. On a sidenote, there's a certain beauty in playing music your parents hate or don't understand, especially when you're a kid. Like any form of art, you should never be afraid to push some buttons or piss people off.
How's life in New York City? You love it? Anything you hate about it? Do you reside in Brooklyn or elsewhere?
I have a love/hate relationship with this city. It's very much a what have you done for me lately type of place. It feeds off of young energy, which is great, but it also forces you to live like a perpetual child, which starts to wear thin the more you want to enjoy life as an adult, if that makes any sense. It's still my favorite city, though.
What are the best bars/clubs/venues in Brooklyn and/or in Manhattan?
Ha! I'm probably the wrong person to ask since I'm a virtual hermit. I like a good dive bar and there are a few left if you know where to look. As far as venues, there are more now than I can ever remember. Back then, you had The Spiral, Coney Island High, Arlene's, Brownies and The Mercury Lounge. I still like seeing a show at The Mercury Lounge every so often. There's always plenty of things to do, but I definitely recommend going out early in the week and avoiding weekends, if possible.
further reading and listening: