FlashWounds Interview: A.D.D. ~ Rockin’ to the Core
There has been a lot of talk claiming that “Rock is dead,” a new mantra that took off after Kiss’s Gene Simmons made the controversial declaration. I strongly disagree. Granted, the heydays of many of the great rock bands from our youth have passed, a very natural occurrence in the music industry, but there are those who are still going strong and never stopped, those who have made a comeback, those who are staging their final tour. No-one will ever be able to replace them ~ each was and is one-of-a-kind, holding its own special place in our lives and in music history itself. Sure, the bands who shaped our taste in music, changed society, broke through taboos, and showed generations of musicians who followed what the rock n roll spirit truly meant may be easing out of the limelight, but they’re not killing the entire rock genre by doing so ~ they’re simply passing the torch that’s lit with the fire passed to them by the rock n roll greats who were their idols.
So before you come to that final conclusion and write rock n roll off as belonging ~ or even already being ~ six feet under, ask yourself… “What am I looking for? A new and original sound and style that’s also somehow familiar? Authentic, relative, from-the-gut lyrics? A mixture of angst, rebellion, passion, hope, sex, sweat, and an invitation to take a walk on the wild side?” Maybe music that ignites the fire in all of us like nothing else can and rocks our inner core?
If that’s the kind of music that speaks to you, you’re in luck, because you’ll get that and much, much more from A.D.D., one of this year’s most promising up and comers (see our previous coverage here). With their hard rockin’, spirited instrumentation and a powerful ~ and equally spirited ~ front woman, A.D.D.~ Margaret Young, aka Matilda Moon, vocals, Dave Adams, guitar, Jeremy Sparta, guitar/vocals, Jason Delismon, drums ~ will be charging out of Chicago like a team of bulls and bringing along their very much alive, attitude-and-good-times original rock n roll to a city near you; now signed to Pavement Entertainment, the band released their sophomore album Core on March 24, then headed out on tour in support of the album soon after. And just a word to the wise, get out and see them live now because A) they do a night of rock right and B) it’s not going to be long, I predict, ‘til getting tickets to an A.D.D. show isn’t going to be all that easy.
Recently, I spoke with guitarist and vocalist Jeremy Sparta about the new album, upcoming tour, what it feels like to have all their hard work pay off, and transitions that come along with the journey that got them where they are now and with everything that they’re currently experiencing.
First off, how long has A.D.D. been around?
A.D.D. has been around for roughly 12 years. We call ourselves the “core four” ~ that being Margie, Dave, Jason and myself for about 10 years. We recently picked up a new bass player.
Is that the reason behind the album title Core?
It is the exact reason for the title of the album. The four of us have been the ones who have stuck through this through thick and thin. We consider ourselves the core ~ the whole thing. There’s a little more deeper meaning than that, but [that is] the overall one. It was kind of… just us bonding with each other saying “Hey, it would’ve been easier to quit.”
Tell us about the band’s name. I’m sure you’ve been asked dozens of times, but does it represent something?
It does. A.D.D. stands for Analog Digital Disorder. Basically if you listen to the CD, and we knew it from the start, we’ve got a lot of new sounds but at the same time a lot of our influences are from stuff we grew up listening to. So it’s a little bit of new and a little bit of old mixed in and kind of makes the A.D.D. sound. And that’s where the analog digital part came from.
What is the band, as a whole, looking forward to the most as a result of this latest release?
Basically, since we’re going through a label for the first time with one of our releases [Pavement Entertainment out of Chicago], it’s really kind of getting it out to more people than what we’ve been able to do on our own up to this point. We’ve had a pretty good run doing things on our own but it’s pretty exciting now to have the label behind us and just to be able to reach a bigger audience and start doing a lot more tour dates this summer. We’ve done a lot through the mid-west during the existence of the band and look forward to expanding that further.
When I first sat down to listen to the album, I was under the impression the band was solely female-fronted. But you take on leads on a couple of the tracks, too. How does having two vocalists who alternate leads contribute to the creativity and diversity of the band’s songwriting?
Up until this point, I primarily just did harmonies with Margie. But most of the songs, like on our previous releases, 65-70% of the time we’re doing harmonies. So with the new album Core, it was no holds barred. Everybody contributed to writing. Singing wise, there’s a couple songs that you just alluded to that I sing leads on. They are ones that I wrote. It’s a big growth to the band if [nothing] else.
Some of our biggest influences… obviously Alice in Chains [is] one…when you listen [them], you sometimes don’t know which one is singing, Layne or Jerry. I was a big fan of The Beatles so you have McCartney and Lennon. And by no means am I comparing ourselves to them, because those guys are gods in my book. But at the same time, it’s a growth that’s just gotten bigger and bigger as the band has gone on. I think that with Core we’ve kind of reached our peak almost. Not to say we will stop going, but it’s pretty exciting where everything ended up.
As for the songs that feature you on lead vocals, will you perform them live?
Yeah, actually we have done “So Much” a couple of times. It’ll end up becoming a regular. “Was My Life” is one that has only been played acoustically by myself. There was a show I started off playing it by myself and Margie walked on stage when the choruses came up and did the harmonies with me. At this point, we haven’t played it as a full band, but yes, both of those songs will definitely be a part of the show.
When we did the first album, some of those songs were a few years old at that point and it was our first time going in to record a full length. There was an EP that was available prior to that, which was actually before I was in the band and before Jason, our drummer, was in the band. So it was a different group of people, a different scenario going in. We were working with Tadpole, whom we had never worked with before, and he became like the 6th member of the band. He was kind of an outside guy who wasn’t afraid to tell us when we were good and he definitely wasn’t afraid to tell us, “Well, I didn’t hate it.”
But going in to do Core, we recorded with Chris Wisco and we had worked with him previously. Tadpole (Disturbed, 3 Doors Down, Staind) mixed it. It was a lot more comfortable. We’ve been together for a while. We’ve been in the studio a couple times together now with these same producers, so everybody really knew what to expect from each other. We kind of look at Wisco and at Tadpole as the sixth and seventh members. Anything they say is just as important as what [we] would say to each other. I think that’s where the difference was. There was a real big comfort zone going into this one.
Typically, a band’s first album introduces them and then the sophomore album establishes them. Do you sense that Core will establish A.D.D. and bring in more fans?
Yeah, I do think it will establish us. I mean we’ve already got a pretty decent core group of ~ there’s that word core again ~ fans and people who are interested in us, and like I said before, now [we have the benefit of] having the label behind us and being able to reach out to a bigger audience. And the songs, not to say anything against the previous album ~ [it had] great songs ~ but we’re kind of in a different place now. Writing wise, everyone’s influences went into this. With the first album, there were only 2 or 3 of us that were the main songwriters, whereas this time, everybody really had a say. We’ve got one song that our drummer Jason wrote the majority of. I really think Core is going to hit people a little bit harder than the last one did.
“I Regret” is the first single from the album. With several tracks on this album that I think could’ve been strong contenders for the first single slot, was it difficult to make that final decision?
It kind of was. Obviously, we love every one of the songs we put on there. That was the one thing. I’ve always been one of those guys that there are very few albums you have that you really enjoy listening to from start to finish. You may listen to the first 4 tracks and skip number 5. We really made the album that, in my mind, I would want to listen to from start to finish. There are not a lot of those out there anymore. People are just trying to write singles. So, it was difficult in that aspect. But, we did kind of know we wanted to come out with something that really represented the band, something a little heavier and obviously there’s still the melodic hook to the chorus. It really came down to two songs and that was the one that ended up winning out.
Watch the video for “I Regret” here!
There are ten tracks on CORE, one of which is a cover of Sevendust’s “Black.” What prompted the band to cover that particular song?
We have been huge fans of Sevendust since those guys came out and we’ve been fortunate enough to have played a couple of shows with them. It was a song that we always loved and we were playing it out live. The crowd’s reaction as soon as we go into it was always like… “Oh my god! Well first of all, it’s cool you’re doing a Sevendust song. But second of all, you’ve got a female vocalist who can hold her own while doing something of that nature.” So, basically, we knew we wanted to put it on the CD at that point. We’re really proud of it.
We mentioned the upcoming tour. What’s the band’s overall energy and excitement level knowing you will be expanding into new territories?
Oh, we’re extremely excited about it! We’ve already hit some markets that we have not played before and doing that before the CD was even released. We’ve got some really good shows that we already know of coming up over the summer, [plus] getting on some festivals and stuff with a lot of bigger national bands. We’ve opened for a lot of them before. It’s always good to know we’re going to be crossing paths and sharing stages with these bigger dogs and people that we look up to again. It’s going to be a fun summer!
How does it feel to see the band’s dedication and hard work paying off?
Ah! Refreshing [chuckling]!! It’s refreshing but at the same time, it’s a stepping stone. The way the music business is now, you can never rest on past laurels. Have you ever really, truly made it? Someone always wants what you have. You’re always going to want what someone else has. You have to keep pushing it and, in our case, have fun doing it.
If each member were given the opportunity to choose one city to play on tour, which one would you choose ~ and why?
We’ve never, up to this point, played out on the west coast. We’ve been out there for business type stuff, but we never actually played out there. So I would probably say Los Angeles.
We wish A.D.D. all the best (and congratulate them not only on the new album, but also for being chosen as a Coldcock Whiskey Featured Artist!) and hope Los Angeles will in fact be one of the band’s upcoming tour stops. In the meantime, their new album CORE (mastered by Grammy Award winner Trevor Sadler) is out via Pavement Entertainment and based both on having listened to it many times and by the crowd’s reaction to A.D.D. performing live (a double bonus) at their CD release show at Mojoes in Joliet, IL on March 27, I’d highly recommend that you get yourself a copy via iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Pavement, or Best Buy (find the link to all here) and get out to see them live if you can ~ this is one band that holds nothing back and absolutely explodes on stage!
Upcoming Shows (for tickets/to RSVP, click here.)
Apr. 11 ~ Freakster’s Roadhouse, Pontiac, IL
Apr 23 ~ Nevin’s, Plainfield, IL
Apr 24 ~ On The Rox w/ Wayland, Jacksonville, IL
May 07 ~ Mojoes w/ Black Stone Cherry, Joliet, IL
May 10 ~ High Noon Saloon w/ Y & T, Madison, WI
July 16- 19 ~ Rock Fest, Cadott, WI
Special thanks to Shauna O’Donnell