Jake: Speaking about your personal playing, you employ quite a few techniques within your style. When you’re in your sideman role for someone, do you have to be careful with that, or do you feel as of late you’re being hired for “your” voice?
Adam: Honestly, in the sideman role, I play a different person than I am when I do my records. I learned the hard way many years ago that artists who hire you to play their music pretty much know what they want out of you. If you’re coming in on songs that have been previously recorded, or you can see that a career has already been laid out for this particular artist for many years, they don’t necessarily want you to come in and be what I would call a stylist. I reserve that type of playing and experimentation for my own projects, or instrumental projects where I know the artists might want that from me. Since moving to Nashville five years ago, I really got more serious about the idea of what can I do to provide them the best customer service as a bass player, so to speak. I know it sounds cliché, but if you want to be a studio player and a touring sideman, you want to be well rounded, and you do have to be a bit of a chameleon. And that covers everything from the phrasing you employ in you’re playing, to the type of bass you’re playing, or the tone you might be going for that will be compatible with the type of environment you’ve been hired to play in. All of those things are really important. The type of playing that someone might hear on my solo releases is completely different from what I do as a sideman or studio player, and the honest truth is, that’s where the majority of my income comes from. I hope that answers the question.
Jake: I’m going to jump to a question I was going to ask a little bit later. It seems to be more difficult for solo artists like yourself in these times to keep the focus on “being” a solo artist—-would you agree?
Adam: You know, for me there’s a new existence at play, and the only reason I state it like that is because I’m very protective of whatever the musical scenario is that I’m working within. I try my absolute best to satisfy that scenario. You’ve heard it said a million times before, play for the song, or play for the band, don’t just play for yourself. As much as I love doing studio work for other people, and as much as I love doing more experimental music or artsy type stuff on my own, I don’t think I’d be happy doing just one thing. I really do enjoy the variety that I’m fortunate enough to be a part of in my career, and I hope it can stay that way. But the best-case scenario is to flourish in every aspect of your career. That’s the model of aspiration for me. It’s a bit of a roller-coaster ride because the success you enjoy in certain aspects of your career will ebb and flow and change with the seasons, and you have to kind of roll with it.
Jake: Let’s talk about the music “business” for a bit which we both know has gone through some serious changes in the last decade or so. With the times as they are, what might you be telling a young enthusiastic new player to focus on in an effort to help him have an idea on how to approach being able to sustain a career in the business at this point in time?
Adam: For most people, if you want to be able to sustain a career, I think you have to be able to operate effectively in a variety of different musical situations, and what I would tell most players coming up is that if they want to make a living in music, don’t just have your heart and your mind set on quote unquote making it in a band, with huge mainstream success, or making it as a solo player enjoying media coverage and accolades from your peers. That does happen, but the majority of the players out there that are making a living are employed doing several different types of things. I guess I’m kind of the old fashioned in this way, I feel you have to take on a lot of things seriously, and really work on a lot of different things as a player as you’re coming up. One of those things would obviously be your facility as a player, the quality of how you play. And another thing I believe is important is your tone.