Sit Down with Adam Remnant
Lifelong Ohio resident Adam Remnant has been playing music in bands since he was in high school. He's become an integral part of the local music scene, and loves other local artists as much as they love him. Get to know Adam a bit better through our little sit-down, below:
HTN: So everybody knows you. I know when I got here this morning, you were helping out with the AMP (Afterschool Music Program) performance. You’re one of the teachers for that.
HTN: How long have you been doing that?
Adam: I’ve been doing that (teaching at the AMP) for about, I think this is year 4 that I’ve been involved. I think somebody at Stuart’s Opera House just came up with the idea of an after-school music program where students could come and maybe learn how to play together in bands. I guess if you imagined the movie “School of Rock”, sort of…and they (Stuart’s) just had the instruments-the drums that basses and keyboards, and a little P.A. …
**Side note: There are also some cool programs like this throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley. Athens Rock Camp for Girls, and High Schools That Rock are just two other examples of great school-age music programs kids can get involved in.
It’s amazing how with just a very small amount of ability, you can play together. Sometimes I give guitar lessons, too. Usually in a half-hour lesson with someone who’s never played guitar before…before you leave, you’ll be able to play White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army (sounds out the notes). You’ll be able to do that.
HTN: You could have a whole orchestra of kids playing that.
Adam: Yeah! And what I can do is get a student going “Boom-sh boom-sh” (on drums), and then have somebody playing the guitar part and the bass part, and then the next thing you know, you have a band. And if you’ve got somebody that can sing, you have a (full) song, ya know?
HTN: I think it’s awesome, because not everybody finds a home in the sports world (for instance), and to me, working with band mates has similar team-building components…
Adam: Yeah, I felt growing up that I did not really participate in official extra-curricular activities. I didn’t have anything to put on my high school resume when I graduated. I wasn’t involved in any sports or after-school activities because I wanted to play rock and roll music. I took guitar lessons…and I was kinda shy, too. So it was hard to get a band started. It took me until my junior year of high school to have a band. Had there been some kind of vehicle (for me) growing up like what Stuart’s is doing, I might have started (playing in a band) in middle school. I would have had such a head start on the whole thing. And to have somebody like our instructors to just sort of give sound advice-everybody that’s in the program is a musician themselves as is performing regularly. So we can talk to them (the students) about things like: “It’s not just about playing an instrument, and playing in a band. It’s also about making sure you check your amp volume”, things like that-just basics.
HTN: I saw one of the bands had a challenge this morning (at Nelsonville). The patience you had to remind them during their performance…
Adam: Sometimes I’m not so patient. (laughs) Sometimes they’ll turn the amp on…and I’ll be like “Why is it making that noise?” And if they don’t know, I tell them they need to figure it out, quick.
HTN: Well I mean, they have to figure it out quick when they’re performing.
HTN: I was really impressed with the quality of the music, the performances in the program, this morning.
Adam: A lot of it is the students themselves. They’ve come with some talents they’ve acquired outside of the program. We kind of give them a vehicle. And some of them have little musical ability (coming in), and this program gives them the ability to figure out what music means to them, and what role music can play for them.
HTN: How long have you been in this area (Athens/Nelsonville)?
Adam: I moved to Athens, Ohio in 1999. I started college at OU (Ohio University), and I just never left.
Where are you from?
HTN: We’re based in Parkersburg (WV).
Adam: I thought you were in West Virginia. Where we are (Nelsonville area), it’s kinda like our own little West Virginia…we don’t really fit with the rest of the state (of Ohio).
…My old band…do you know William Matheny from Morgantown? He just put out a record on Misra Records. Really good record. He’s touring a ton, right now. He played in my old band Southeast Engine. There’s a lot of band camaraderie there. There’s a lot of musical camaraderie between the regions (Ohio and West Virginia).
HTN: Yes! So when you mentioned William (Matheny), you mentioned he’s really active, he’s touring a lot. I know you have a family. I do too. I know it can be a different way of living. How are you “doing that”…balancing music, family, all of it?
Adam: It is difficult. When I put out this last EP, I did a lot of weekends. And I just set it up where it was going to be something manageable for our family. I think it was like, every third weekend I’m gonna play shows. So it still felt like I was home all the time. Sometimes they were like 3 or 4 days weekends, so I could go on a bigger (tour) route. And I think I did that for 4 or 5 months. That was just a self-released EP. Now I’m working on a full-length album. So I’m kind of gauging how I’m gonna go about that. It just depends on what sorts of opportunities present themselves. I don’t know if I’ll be booking shows myself, or if it will be different than with the EP. If I’m working with a label, and have people working with me, then it might be different.
HTN: So this is your first full-length that’s coming out?
Adam: Yeah, I should say with my former band, I wrote and sang all the songs in that band. We had multiple albums. This is my first solo album, though. I put out the EP last summer, and the full-length album is really close to being done. My goal is to have is mastered by the end of summer. It’ll probably come out in 2018.
HTN: So do you think the music on your full length album is different from the music on your EP?
Adam: The EP was made in conjunction with the full-length. But doing the EP was kind of an afterthought. I was working on the full length album, and I was unsure about how I wanted to go about releasing it. But I knew I wanted to go start playing shows. "What if I took a couple of songs that were going to go on the album?" And then I took a couple more…and I made a 6 song EP. The EP has a theme-it’s about adulthood and the responsibilities of adulthood, and maybe what our expectations are, vs. our realities. The full-length is kind of about that, too…but it’s also got a geographical theme going. It has to do with living in Ohio…kinda living in “flyover country”. As you get older, you might find yourself asking “What if we’d moved to California?” “What other things, opportunities might have happened?”. Part of it is about reconciling with staying in Ohio.
HTN: So you’ve been in Ohio, in parts of Ohio, your entire life.
Adam: Yeah, I grew up in Dayton, Ohio. Ohio is my stomping grounds. It’s what I know.
HTN: It’s cool. You definitely don’t have to approach this as if it’s someone else’s story that you’re sharing.
My question I ask for every musician interview: If someone were to hear your music for the first time, if they were to come to a show…what would you hope they would tell their friends?
Adam: I think, as a musician, I watch a lot of bands. Every band has different strengths. And I watch bands and see their strengths that are not our strengths. Like, “This band is great for dancing”. I don’t think our band is great for dancing. I think sometimes people sway, or there are a few rockers (songs) on the set. But our strength, I think, is the songs. So I think for myself, it just comes down to…everything revolves around the song. I just try to write a good song that stands on its own. If I just sat down at a piano or a guitar, I could play that song and it would work.
I would hope they would come away thinking “These are great songs”, and “They’re a great band”. Really, that simple. We put a lot of stock in the arrangements, like, I love Bob Dylan, but I also love the Beatles. And I think one of the strengths of the Beatles was their ability to arrange their songs in really effective ways. They weren’t necessarily as good of songwriters as Bob Dylan, but they were great arrangers. They could arrange their songs in ways that would just feel huge. That was just four people playing. It sounded like studio trickery, but when you break it down, it was just four instruments.
HTN: Last question…your friend just stopped in here, and he was talking about happiness…what makes you happy?
Adam: (Laughs)…Really, the thing that makes me happy is really “getting into it”. When you sit down to write, or you work on a song, or you sit down and practice, there’s this feeling of “let’s get all this stuff down”. It’s almost arduous. You kind of drag your feet. But for me, the moments when time flies and I forget about where I am, and I forget about where to be…it’s just like, pure joy.
Check out Adam Remnant's latest music, here.