Having played Reading and Leeds last summer, supported numerous big names and just wrapped his own UK headline tour, singer-songwriter Adam French is now hitting the road once more.
Ahead of his appearance on the latest instalment of the New Faces tour, which features up-and-coming artists on a run of shows together around the UK, he spoke to WOW about home-made instruments, not being pigeon-holed, and the importance of honest songwriting.
Hi Adam. What kinds of music did you listen to growing up?
“I’ve always been massively influenced by guitar bands, but my old man’s record collection was my initial step towards being a music lover.
“That included the likes of Johnny Cash, John Lee Hooker, Otis Redding, Nirvana, The Clash, The Sex Pistols… its a long old list, but a great one.”
How would you define your sound in one sentence?
“I’m not sure I could, but that’s probably a good thing. I’ve always been keen on the fact people find it hard to pigeon hole what I am sonically. My songs are honest and I think that’s what matters.”
How did you get started as a musician?
“I was an inquisitive kid, always raiding the kitchen cupboards to make a drum kit out of pots and pans. I just wanted to create as much noise as possible.
“I was given a shitty acoustic guitar by my neighbour when I was about 8 or 9 because we couldn’t afford one. I taught myself from then on, picking up as many instruments as possible along the way.”
What’s your approach to songwriting and production?
“Songs have to be honest and mean something. If you have nothing to write about then don’t write. Production I’m very into and have been producing my own records for the past couple of EPs,
“I’ll often record as much as possible in my flat at my home studio setup (it’s modest but ever-growing), then take the projects into a studio in North London to track live drums, amps etc.”
What’s been your best and worst gigs so far?
“My favourite show was possibly a recent one at Rockwood music hall in New York. That was special. It’s a great feeling to travel the world playing your music to people who know it and like it enough to come out to shows.
“Another could be my first slots at Reading & Leeds Festivals. I’d grown up at Leeds festival watching my favourite bands and artists, so to perform there was a real full-circle moment.
“My worst show however has to be at the Flag in Watford about 3 years ago. I was booked to play before two high school teachers in their 50s playing along to a backing track of Sex Pistols and The Who covers…badly. My set time came around and the promoter told me I had to go on urgently. There was absolutely nobody through the doors by this point, and I mean nobody. I politely asked if I could move my set back ten minutes and cut it by ten minutes so as not to eat into anyone’s time. To which they replied, ‘No.. you need to get on now, it will be good practice for you.’
“Needless to say, I suggested they go f*ck themselves, and left without playing the gig. I’d travelled four hours to get there.”
How is 2016 shaping up for you? Any festivals on the horizon yet?
“2016 is looking beautiful. I’m just about to release another EP, then I’m doing the Communion New Faces tour. Straight after that I’m recording my debut album in May, and in June I head back out to New York to mix the record and play some more shows in America.
“I’m back here in the summer for festivals, and I’m also heading over to play some European festivals for the first time, so I’m excited about those.”
What’s the reaction to your music been like so far? Do you pay much attention to reviews?
“The reaction has been great. I’d love to sit here and tell you it doesn’t matter what people say, but it does. When you pour your heart into a record, the last thing you want is for people to slag it off.
“I’ve been lucky in that regard so far, and the response I’ve had has been great for the last couple of EPs.”
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
“Writing album four, touring album three.”
Which other new acts would you recommend?
“Strange Bones. Straight up guitar rock from Leeds and Blackpool. My friend Rob fronts the band and is a bit of hero live. Go check them out!”
Adam French plays the following dates as part of the New Faces tour:
Sat 23 Apr: The Loft at Arts Club, Liverpool
Sun 24 Apr: Ruby Lounge, Manchester
Mon 25 Apr: Rainbow, Birmingham
Wed 27 Apr: St Stephen’s Church, London
Thu 28 Apr: The Bullingdon, Oxford
Fri 29 Apr: Green Door Store, Brighton
Sat 30 Apr: Louisiana, Bristol