Interview: Wayne Adams
"During the lock downs, I found the evenings hard, I was getting bored because I'm a bit of a workaholic. At the beginning, I went a little nocturnal and a bit self destructive, so I started to do a single jam every evening to pass the time in a nondestructive way. Then I found a couple of new albums really inspiring. The latest couple of Craven Faults albums, also Trees Speak, plus some soundtracks, Mandy and Beyond the Black Rainbow. It gave me a bit of direction and I could hear an album in there, so I decided to get it out quickly".
You may know of Wayne Adams from his production of bands such as Gum Takes Tooth, Terminal Cheesecake and Casual Nun at his stronghold Bear Bites Horse Studios. As well as from his bands Death Pedals, Big Lad and Pet Brick. I myself have encountered his work many times both as a producer and musician when writing reviews, but aside from his work as part of Hominid Sounds and his musical output, I really don’t know much about him, so I figured I’d interrogate him. Let’s turn the microscope on the meticulous engineer for a change.
(((o))): I’ve mentioned your bands above and I see you playing synth extremely well and a lot, but I was wondering how many instruments do you actually play and which do you feel is really the most fun? Is there any you wish you could play in a band, but you’ve always ended up landing somewhere else? I kind of feel like once you can play synth and have that knowledge, it’s probably hard not to end up being the synth player, same as when people can play drums they kind of get stuck behind the kit.
WAYNE: Haha, I wouldn’t say I play synth well, I know how to use a synth, so I can get them to play themselves, if that makes sense! I can play lots of things, I’m not great at anything, but have just enough knowledge to get by! I’ve played drums in Dead Arms, I used to play Bass in Death Pedals and I did a stint as “Fat Zoo” on drums for Luminous bodies. Recently I have started Wasted Death, a Kind of D-Beat/Punk/Thrash band, in which I’m going to attempt to play guitar. I have never played guitar in a band! So yeah, I move around a lot, keeps things fresh!
(((o))): On a similar line of questioning, do you sing? And is that something you ever do in your bands? I don’t recall ever seeing you sing at a gig. Maybe it’s cause I get too trashed at gigs…
WAYNE: I can shout! I do a bit of vocals in Petbrick, and used too a bit in Death Pedals, so yeah you were probably trashed!
(((o))): That stands to reason. When you play guitar are you using a lot of pedals and if so what guitar and pedals are using? Do you also have a preferred amp for this project?
WAYNE: Nah, I’ll probably just use one distortion or fuzz pedal, probably something like EQD Hoof. I have been thinking about a two amp set up as we are just a three piece to give it more ompff. I’ll probably just grab a Quilter Tone block as an amp for this project, super portable, loud as shit!
(((o))): In regards to your solo album, Drift, were the tracks named after the Moog System-55 and what can you tell us about the writing process?
WAYNE: Yeah, I named the tracks after the bits of gear I used. The tracks are not directly about any subject matter other than exploring the synth I was using at the time, (I don’t own a real System 55 unfortunately, but have a clone!) so, it seemed fitting to give them names after the synth I was using, also the track number. A couple of the tracks on the album are like number 18 and 19, it took me that many goes at tracks to get something I was happy with, I like it when an artist gives you little hints to how they work.
(((o))): I had a similar process making an album whilst tripping on LSD, I usually name stuff, but whilst tripping it was easier to just call them 1, 2, et cetera. However, it did later make solidifying a tracklist kind of confusing.
WAYNE: The writing process was kind of about passing time hence the album name. During the lock downs, I found the evenings hard, I was getting bored because I’m a bit of a workaholic. At the beginning, I went a little nocturnal and a bit self destructive, so I started to do a single jam every evening to pass the time in a nondestructive way. Then I found a couple of new albums really inspiring. The latest couple of Craven Faults albums, also Trees Speak, plus some soundtracks, Mandy and Beyond the Black Rainbow. It gave me a bit of direction and I could hear an album in there, so I decided to get it out quickly. We are in the middle of a new Petbrick album, and I was chatting with Chris Reeder from Rocket about things very much feeling like products of the time we are in and this album is really a document of my personal time over the last year, so it’s been cathartic for me to get this out. Also so I stop trying to put too much of this style stuff into the Petbrick album, everyone is bit like, “why do these new tracks all have three minute intros!?” I think it suits the time we are in now.
(((o))): Was the solo album another lockdown baby or just business as usual in terms of prolific you tend to be?
WAYNE: It was a lock down baby sonically, I’m not sure I would have written this album if we were not in lock down, but yeah, I have been pretty prolific the last few years so I’m not sure anything is any different!
(((o))): I was wondering if the pandemic has helped you to get more of your own work done at the cost of not being able to produce as much? Beyond that speculation how has the pandemic effected your musical output as a producer and musician?
WAYNE: I’m definitely enjoying having the time for my own music more, usually I’m scrabbling around trying to find time to make my own albums, so that’s been a positive change. As far as producing bands, 2020 I was still quite busy as a lot of bands had written stuff pre-lockdown, I think I recorded 50 albums/eps or something a bit mad like that! So that kept me busy when things reopened. I am expecting a quieter year whilst bands regroup and get themselves into shape to record again, I fully expect 2022 to be chaos!
(((o))): I’ve reviewed a lot of stuff you’ve produced, if you had to pick some of your favourite records you’ve produced what would they be? This could be the same question or a separate question, however you prefer but, could you tell us some of your favourite experimental recording techniques that you’ve tried or perhaps notable ones that maybe didn’t work out as planned? I read Sylvia Massey’s Recording Unhinged once and since then I can’t talk to a producer without wanting to know what bizarre shit they’ve done to make a cool noise.
WAYNE: Ooo pick favourites, it’s funny because it’s not always about the sound of the band for me that makes me really enjoy a record I’ve worked on, it’s often the experience of making it. Like the early Yards and USA Nails EPs and albums, I have a real soft spot for because they were the some of the first records that I did that I thought started to have my own production sound. It’s nice when people are like “hey did you do that? sounds great!” making the last Terminal Cheesecake was a hoot, because we went to a residential studio in Wales, and it was crazy times, all the music was made from jams on the spot, and it was mega fun! But, really I love most of the stuff I work on, I’m super lucky, that there is so many great bands out there at the moment!
(((o))): That’s interesting about the Terminal Cheesecake record, especially with tracks like ‘VDK Neck’ that seem so solidly put-together.
WAYNE: There is a lot of editing post-jams on some of those songs, I remember ‘VDK Neck’ was about a 20min jam, that we cut up. The reason there is those big weird out breaks in that track is that the original jam’s tempo really ramped up through the take, so to get it to transition to the parts we liked from the jam, we needed to put in these big breaks so when it kicks in each time it’s not too jarring that the tempo has gone up so much.
(((o))): Who are some producers you feel are underrated?
WAYNE: I’m not so sure, I’m sure there are plenty out there, I kind of like to live in my own head so I’m not so down with who is out there doing stuff now, I have some friends that are great, and I’m not sure I’d say they were underrated as they are all busy!
(((o))): What can you tell us about your newest band?
Wasted Death is my newest thing! It’s with Tom who was in Death Pedals who now plays in USA Nails, and also Charlie from Beggar who are this killer sludge band I’ve worked with before! I found myself with a couple of spare days in the studio and wrote these tunes, so got Tom to play the drums because he is amazing, and Charlie to come and sing on them because I love his voice and thought it would be a perfect math for the tunes! It’s a D-Beat, Trash Thrash kind of band, it’s about keeping things simple! I love Petbrick and Big Lad, but, they are both kind of stressful as it involves a lot of electronics and organisation and stuff that can go wrong! This one is about being able to turn up to a gig with just a guitar and being able to play! I miss playing agro guitar music, there is something so beautify direct about a three-piece band, guitar, drums and bass. Like it’s definitely not going to change the world, but it should be a hell of a lot of fun!
(((o))): I can really relate to this struggle with the bands I play in, one is all about emotional release, plug in and play and the other is super gear heavy and focuses on high-production and clocked rhythms and stuff to create a really well-executed and meticulous result. It can be so mentally draining playing, that despite how awesome that kind of precision gear-wielding can be!
WAYNE: Yeah, I like balance in my life, if I’m doing something that is complex, I like to also have something that is simple. It reminds me that I like both sides of things and I like both for different reasons!
(((o))): Your collaboration with Deaf Kids (Deaf Brick), was really cool. Who are some other bands you’d like to collaborate with? Personally, I’d love to hear Big Lad or Pet Brick collaboration with Gum Takes Tooth. Melt-Banana would be super cool too, I think to have that totally different timbre of their vocals against your bassy rapture would be very cool. Blòm too for the same reason.
WAYNE: There is a collab recorded between myself and GTT that does exist, but it’s all techno, we did it live at Supersonic Festival a few years back – if it ever sees the light of day I’m not sure! I love collaborating, now I’d really like to collab with someone that uses instruments I don’t come across that often, something folky would be fun, to make some kind of weird dark folk techno collab!
—— Check out Prometheus and The Satyrs if you don’t know them!
(((o))): What are you listening to these days?
WAYNE: Craven Faults really blew me away, I think because I’d been noodling on my modulars, then to hear something that totally nailed what I was trying to do was totally inspiring. I really like Steve Von Tills new album. There is a great Spanish Techno label called Analogical Force that is releasing lots of amazing Brain Dance stuff, they almost feel like the new Reflex. I have started running recently and I’ve found a lot of the old metal albums I grew up with really fun to run to! Recently I ran to Burn My Eyes by Machine Head, also Trublegum by Therapy?
(((o))): It’s funny you say that about Burn My Eyes, I started running at the beginning of the year and have been running to that album as well, also stuff like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, early-Nine Inch Nails and SlipKnot. I like to just throw on an album and run ’til it’s over, but I have playlists too. What are some of the modulars you’re using? Are you eying any for future purchase?
WAYNE: Yeah, I did a run to SlipKnot’s first album the other day, was a total hoot! As far as modular synth stuff goes, I’m trying to down size my Eurorack collection at the moment, I spent the last few years picking up a lot of stuff, some stuff works for me, some doesn’t so much, so I’m trying to shift some of the stuff I use less! I love the Noise Engineering stuff, there is pretty brutal sounding digital voices. But then, I also love my System 55 clone, the stuff that kind of fits in the middle, that is over complicated, is going on the chopping block. I like the modules to be simple with very little menu diving and to be either classic or completely new.
(((o))): Do you know any obscure or unsigned bands you could spotlight to myself and the readers?
WAYNE: Yes sure, Liquid Shit (Chad: Great band name!) we released on Hominid Sounds, it’s like Bleach-era Nirvana with death metal vocals (CHAD: Sounds fucking amazing). Black Shape, listen to their album London, tell me it is not complete genius. Trigger are a new band that came out of members from Gnod, great Pysch Jams, Nick who sings has an amazing voice!
(((o))): Do you have anything coming up that you’d like to promote?
WAYNE: If you want a bit of a dig through my past musical adventures check out my bandcamp below, otherwise just keep an eye on Petbrick, Big Lad, Wasted Death!
—— Actually hadn’t heard a lot of this stuff, seems really good from a cursory first dip into it.
Thanks to Wayne Adams for that satisfying interview, it kind of feels like it was a long time coming. If you liked that you can check out my author’s page by clicking the hyperlink attached to my name at the top of the article to read more of my interviews and reviews and also follow the link to Wayne’s Bandcamp in his last portion of this article.