What made you decide to play music?

I have been a musician in one capacity or another since age seven. I have been in and out of bands for years, some for fun, some more serious, most recently with my band Dangermaker for over a decade here in San Francisco, CA. I have been active in the SF Bay Area music scene and beyond for 2 decades producing, recording & managing projects in professional studios, composing licensing work from scores to content for The North Face, as well as performing with Dangermaker and now self-producing my own music as Adam Brookes.

Introduce us to you and your musical history?

Currently I’m pursuing a solo project under my name Adam Brookes, recording and producing mostly myself with guest artists from time to time. Before Covid I was performing live with Dan Caporale on drums (Strange Cities), Sabrina Simonton on synths (TREASVRE, Ponyskull), and occasional guest vocalists. 

My history as a musician goes something like this… I was originally born in Los Angeles to a slightly unorthodox family. I started playing classical violin around age seven or so in school. Around 11 my father recognized that I had more of a passion for guitar based music – all the classic butt rock like AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses, Van Halen, etc – and drove me down to a pawnshop in LA and bought a cheap Fender knockoff guitar for $100 or so.

I played that thing to death, and after that always played music and wrote journals growing up, thinking back it was probably self therapy. I think it was through that practice that I accidentally became a songwriter. After moving to San Francisco in the late 90’s I began seriously writing and recording music with a collection of cheap instruments some of which I found, an old mic my dad stole from the oldies radio station he worked at in LA, and a four-track Tascam cassette recorder I set up in the closet of my apartment. I had to play quiet and sing soft because the walls were thin, I think that may have led to my current vocal style today.

I was heavily into artists like The Verve, Oasis, & Wilco back then, as well as the explosion of electronic music at the time. I was laid off from a journalism job and chose to take unemployment as long as I could to write and record a bunch of song ideas I had accumulated. After a few failed projects I formed my band Dangermaker, drawing on cathartic modern pop & rock such as Phoenix, The Wombats, & Anberlin, which I recently walked away from after 10 years to focus more on a new solo electronic pop project. 

What’s one question you’re sick of being asked when interviewed?

I guess to “describe my music”, that’s always tough for me. That’s your job! haha

Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories? 

Well not specifically, but here in the U.S. our government does all kinds of things behind closed doors and covers it up. I think most governments do, and we don’t find out for decades sometimes. For example, I’m sure they have proof of aliens, which only recently has slowly been leaked to the public. Other than that, it is well documented that the Smurfs were really communist propaganda aimed at children. Think about it.

What useless party trick do you have? 

I used to work in catering for weddings and events, I can pour two bottles of wine at the same time and not spill a drop. It’s a very useful trick actually. All in the twist of the wrist.

What was the most fun you have had on stage?

The most fun on stage is always when you don’t really care when there’s no pressure. The big important shows I’ve played, festivals, large venues, and such, those are very memorable and exciting, but the most fun has always been in a small venue with a good crowd that loses themselves in your music. There have been many of those. I can tell you the least fun I’ve ever had is playing corporate parties, also the highest paying though, go figure…

What was the worst experience on stage?

There have been a few, the first that always comes to mind was New York City for the CMJ Festival with Dangermaker back in 2013(?) We were added to a showcase sponsored by The Deli Mag and due to delays didn’t take the stage until 3:40am, the venue closed at 4. We played to a room of 2 or 3 people and the sound was cut off during our 3rd song. Ouch.

Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about? 

My mother and father first met in jail. Long story.

If you had to describe your music to an alien how would you describe it? 

This is that question from before I’m sick of being asked when interviewed. 

What makes you stand out as an artist?

I like to think my music speaks for itself. I’ve never been one to rely more heavily on image or branding, I don’t really care as much about that. I have a great passion and dedication to music, it has always been very important to me. I have to do it.

Right now, what’s pissing you off the most? 

People keep stealing my shoes. There has been a lot of theft and burglaries in San Francisco over the past couple years. It’s out of control actually. The building I live in has been broken into several times, I’m down about 4 pairs of shoes, I leave them in the hallway. That really pisses me off.

I hear you have a new single, talk me through the thought process of the song.

The initial inspiration for Different Times came to me a couple years ago. I had recently walked away from my band Dangermaker of ten years like I said, my son had just been born and I was reevaluating what was important to me in life. I felt like I was becoming a different person, which I was in a way. At the same time the city around me felt different too, like things had changed, the people living here had changed, the scene had changed. I found myself saying the phrase “different times” a lot actually when talking about it, because it is different now. Those themes pop up in a lot of my new solo songs, change and navigating through it. Then Covid happened and things REALLY changed drastically of course. For me it started right when I finally felt like my head was above water from the new parent experience, and it felt like a giant wave knocked me under again for two years. I am just recently feeling like my head is above water again, treading water and starting to move in some direction. 

Musically over the past few years I’ve gravitated to more ethereal, refined sounding songs, drawing less on angry alternative rock and more electronic pop elements that take you on a journey. Artists like The War on Drugs, Glass Animals, Tame Impala & Roosevelt are current influences, mixed with more classic ones like Daft Punk, Gorillaz, & even Steely Dan & Fleetwood Mac. Something old and something new. Rhodes piano features a lot in my new material for example, often combined with electronic drums and synth bass. I am putting the finishing touches on a debut solo LP I hope to release later this year, as long as I can stay afloat…

What was the recording process like?

I try to document ideas as much as possible, record ideas into my phone, write down lyric phrases, make notes about a tone/instrument/arrangement/reference song that I like and why. Then when I’m in the right state of mind I listen and look back on it all and see what excites me. Different Times came out of the simple Rhodes piano part you hear, that’s all I had, then decided on arrangement and what production direction or genre I wanted to go in. I have a private studio I record and demo ideas in, so I can really spend time developing a new song idea, and more or less fully realize it before other musicians are involved. Then I either continue producing solo as I have lately, or bring in others if desired. 

What was the biggest learning curve in writing Different Times?

I have been challenging myself to learn the entire recording process end to end, from writing to mastering. The danger has been avoiding burnout. By the time you finish a song and start planning your release you’ve heard it a million times already. So I guess learning how to work fast but efficiently so as to avoid that.

Would you change anything now that it’s finished?

I’m sure I’ll think of something in a few weeks haha…

What are your plans for the year ahead?

I have not played live in two years, I was performing right up until Covid started in 2020. Live-streaming isn’t my thing. Two years ago I had big plans to finish up a debut solo album, perform live with my new project, get things rolling you know. That’s still my ultimate music goal right now. I have also done some producing and remixing for other artists and would love to do more of that. I really just want to get the ball rolling again anyway I can, feels like I’ve been waiting around treading water forever.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

Yeah. Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.