Interview: Groovebox Adam | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Sunderland’s purveyor of lo-fi sounds aka Groovebox Adam released his album, D.I.Y. on Sunday 12th January via all major platforms. Recorded between late 2015 and early 2016, this collection of grooves emerged as a response to overproduced, overly clean pop music that saturated the industry. With a new project in the pipeline, Adam decided to mark the end of this period with a formal online release. We caught up with him to find out more.

Who were your musical influences growing up?
Free was probably the most played band by my old man when I was a kid so I guess that’s where I developed an appreciation for that kind of ‘unpolished’ sound you often get from rock bands of that era, as a lot of the records were live.
The Prodigy hit the scene just about the time I was beginning to form my own musical tastes and I think like a lot of people I was struck by how original their music was, I’d never heard anything like it and I loved hearing something for the first time and thinking, “what the fuck is going on there?”.
Then some old mates invited me to what turned out to be England’s final Ozzfest in 2001 and I got hooked on heavy metal.
I always preferred the bands that sounded like no-one else and there were a lot of really creative metal bands taking the genre in all kinds of different directions at the time so I spent a lot of time getting smacked around in mosh pits during my teen years.

How would you describe your latest album D.I.Y.?
If there’s a genre it perfectly fits into, I’m not aware of it at the moment.
I guess it’s lo-fi in spirit with hip-hop beats and a kind of grunge feel.

Can you tell us more about the writing/recording process?
I’ve always written music and played, but about 7 years ago I decided to pack in working shitty part-time jobs and all that and focus on music full time.
So I got a battery-powered amp and someone gave me an old iPod with all these drum tracks on so I just jammed along to them on my bass on various street corners around the North East.
I wasn’t a very good busker but I came up with some decent bass lines so decided to make them into songs.
Since I would often be joined by other musicians when I busked, I tried to keep them simple enough so I could jam with just about anyone without having to shout out complex chord names every other bar.
Around the same time, I picked up work in a wedding band and often did session work for people I knew who needed a bass player.
What struck me about working for other people was how standards had changed in terms of production values from back when I was a kid listening to Free (who had records out where technical issues had meant the guitar cut out halfway through a tune and they would not only keep playing, but put the recording out for sale just as it was).
These days it was all click tracks, pitch-correct and quantizing which often left me thinking. “Why have human players involved at all?”.
So, I decided to completely shun the whole production side of things and make my tunes as raw as possible.
I had a loop pedal that could record ten minutes worth of audio (if you exceeded ten it went into meltdown and the whole tune was fucked), a cheap microphone, a multi-fx pedal, my bass and a keyboard.
The loop pedal had two inputs and the time limit generally meant I had two takes, meaning I only had four ‘tracks’ to play with so had to get creative with the fx to fill out the sound.
When it was done I had a big jack to mini jack lead to hook it up to my battered old laptop where I recorded it onto a program called ‘windows sound recorder’ which I think the lads at Abbey Road should switch to if they don’t use it already.

It was recorded between late 2015 and early 2016. Why delay the release?
Originally, I thought to stay true to the whole DIY theme it made more sense to just plug it at gigs on CD with hand-drawn artwork (I would have preferred cassette tapes but the only person I knew with a walkman lived in the same house as me so was sick of the tunes to start with) so I spent a couple of years just playing around open mic nights and small gigs with a bag of CDs for anyone interested.
The main reason I’m releasing it online now is so it can reach people outside of the areas I’m familiar with.
I’d like to think that if people further afield come across it on Spotify or wherever then there’d be the possibility of gigging in their town when I’m out plugging the next album.

You say that you are ‘proud of the album’s imperfections.’ Do you think the music industry is becoming too obsessed with perfection and production?
 I couldn’t speak for the industry as a whole as there are all kinds going on but in my experience of music as well as society, in general, there’s been a growing tendency for all things to be ‘airbrushed’ and the final presentation is usually a bit too clean for my tastes.
Not that I dismiss the cultural significance of people from almost any walk of life now having access to the means of producing industry-standard music which is a real game changer of recent years. I just prefer, in the words of Dimebag Darrell to “Let it all hang out.”

Have you got any shows to support the release?
There will be an announcement on social media after the release in January regarding the next years’ gigs.

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