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Er ist einer der nettesten und authentischsten Typen, die man in der Szene antrifft: S.A. Adams aus New York. Seit mehr als 30 Jahren ist er Teil der New Yorker Szene und hat in dieser Zeit auch mit einigen Musikern gespielt, die später "Promis" werden sollten. Auch wenn dies S.A. Adams bislang versagt geblieben ist, hat er nie aufgehört, mit seiner ganzen Leidenschaft Musik zu machen.
Daß er zudem einen leichten schrägen Humor besitzt, beweist seine Lebensgeschichte, die er nun mit uns teilen will. Da dieser Wortwitz bei einer Übersetzung leider verlorengegangen wäre und das originalgetreue Bild verzerrt worden wäre, haben wir uns entschlossen, den Text im Original zu belassen, und präsentieren erstmals eine Story auf Englisch.
Taucht nun ab in die Tiefen der New Yorker Szene für eine ausgiebige Story, durch die uns S.A. Adams eloquent und gewitzt führen wird. Viel Spaß!
Roots, bloody damn roots - the beginning of it all
Rock stars. There are a lot of 'em. For the most part, the usual rock star is a self absorbed exhibitionist whose deep need for approval, validation and acceptance drives them to perform, using the latest fad and/or fashion and a little bit of talent to get themselves the spotlight as a means to those ends. Which explains why S.A. Adams isn't a rock star.
Had I not found and fell in love with rock and roll at the tender age of 5 years old, maybe I would have went in a different direction, looking for fame instead of continually looking to pen the perfect song. It all started when my dear departed dad gave me his transistor radio for me to listen to as I would play in a sandbox with my Tonka dump truck. Upon finding WABC radio, I was hooked. I could not stop listening to all this great music. However, hearing the song ›Mississippi Queen‹ something hit me like a ton of bricks. This was it for me - the sound, the power, the distortion; this was perfection. When I moved to Port Jefferson Station, I found rock and roll on TV. Saw T-REX promos and again was jarred. Heard ›Ballroom Blitz‹ by SWEET, heard ›Hocus Pocus‹ by FOCUS, ›Please Don't Worry‹ by GRAND FUNK RAILROAD, and by this time the light goes on in my head that I MUST play the guitar. To make sure this wasn't a passing fad, my parents made me take Piano lessons to see if I was musically inclined. My teacher, Jeffery Marcus tried to teach me to read music, but I always asked him to play the song first. It would take him eight months or so to realize that I wasn't reading the sheet music as much as I was playing what I heard him play. After a few years of this, I kept at my parents for the guitar and on my ninth birthday it finally came.
It was a cheap Kay electric guitar which was connected to a small Ampeg Jet amp that my mom used to sing out of when she briefly singing in a club band. On day one, I tuned it to an open chord and in a few days started playing the blues after messing about the fret board. This period was quickly squashed by my first guitar teacher who would re-tune the guitar to teach me the Mel Bay method. While I would go along with this, I would still re-tune my guitar at home to play this open tuning blues stuff I had started myself on.
My mom would send me to various teachers until she found Michael Cooper. This vegetarian hippie type would teach me bar chords, enhanced lead guitar scales (sort of like my self taught blues stuff) and gave me the ammunition to learn by ear the rock of the day - DEEP PURPLE being the band of choice. Michael would teach me for sometimes three hours for the price of an hour lesson. I was also introduced to multi-track recording as Mike was working on his demo tape for his band. Having thought people just played and made a tape, this insight would prove to be invaluable in the next couple of years. So between music teachers classical pianist Jeffery Marcus and Hippie/Rock Guru Michael Cooper, I was off and running armed with this raw tools I needed to get me to the next level.
During the later grades of elementary school, there were many kids who were talking all about this band called KISS. Heard 'em, liked em, found it easy to learn and play. (Teenage girls were amazed when I could play along to the records including Ace's ›Shock Me‹ solo.) However, upon hearing ›Back In the Saddle‹ at a diner, AEROSMITH became the band to learn. Picked up »Rocks« and »Toys In The Attic« and made it a point to learn everything I could from those albums; in fact, AEROSMITH was so inspiring, it sparked the creative juices inside of me, and I began writing these toons that seemed to gestate inside my head. Became less and less social and more and more guitar driven.
And then I heard »Wang Dang Sweet Poontang« on the radio. Never heared such insane guitar shredding, and then it was off to get Ted Nugent's »Cat Scratch Fever«. This was the final missing piece of the puzzle - like an updated ›Mississippi Queen‹, even more ferocious. Nugent's soloing and song arrangements would be a guide to my pre-pubecent song writing, with a side helping of AEROSMITH, spiced with a little KISS in there. Seeing most of my heroes in 1978 live would help solidify their influence in my mind. However, being dragged to QUEEN by of all people, Rick Rubin who we all know as a producer nowadays and who I had been jamming with at the time (and was creaming over this band he just heard called AC/DC) would open my mind to a whole different approach (semi-progressive) to Rock'n'Roll.
Then comes ›Eruption/You Really Got Me‹ by VAN HALEN. My music had to get heavier - VAN HALEN would make KISS, Nugent & AEROSMITH seem light by comparison. To learn this stuff took about six grueling months, but it made my own music get heavier & faster and it was a novelty to have a 14 year old who could play »Eruption« in your band. And this was the beginnings of INNER SANCTUM.
Deep inside the Inner Sanctum: 1980-1983
About a year and a half before INNER SANCTUM, there were a slew of what could be called the three week band thing, where your humble host would get together with a few neighborhood kids and put together a band which would fizzle in a few weeks, due to the mindset that we'd get a band together, and then get famous, without anyone thinking of the steps in the middle. First glimpses of this would be in 1978, where myself, this drummer Marc Green (something... can't remember his last name for sure), this guitarist Carlos (who lent his guitar to ALIEN bassist Mike Bruno - a guitar never to be seen again) and a few rotating bassists who's names I forget, and a keyboardist named Rick Rubin, who I've been jammin with before, put together this "band" called DEMON. We lasted for one show at Long Beach High School doing Ted Nugent's ›Free-For-All‹. DEMON split shortly after and I went a few towns over and formed 714 (named after the infamous Rorer Quaalude) doing covers of LYNYRD SKYNRD, LED ZEPPELIN, CREAM, etc... While in this rag-tag team, I meet Ricky Pendergast whose doing a jam down the block from me with a young kid Mike Bauer (who later would be in this band INTRUDER with Mike Portnoy). Ricky Pendergast and I see eye-to-eye on AC/DC and Ted Nugent, and the nucleus of INNER SANCTUM gets formed.
Again, 714 does one show and disbands. Ricky Pendergast and I meet up with drummer Mike Ragone, and we start out doing playing the usual BLACK SABBATH, AC/DC stuff. Mike introduces us to a "singing" friend of his named Eric Handler (who sounds like a cross between Bon Scott and VOIVOD's Snake). However Eric's voice, while in key doesn't sound like any other singer out there. We start writing songs with the intention of being the New York JUDAS PRIEST (who I've been pelting all my friends with since 1978, ramming »Sin After Sin« down the ears of anyone who'd listen). Ricky Pendergast's brother Micky introduces us to Jim O'Connor, who becomes our bassist. We spent the summer of 1980 refining our songs getting ready to do a demo.
On December 6th to 7th we went in and recorded ›Jailbait‹ (sounding much like ›You Don't Have To Be Old To Be Wise‹), ›Just Like The Rest‹ ("Beyond The Victim Of Changes" with a riff to be used on METALLICAs ›Fade To Black‹/›Unforgiven‹) and ›Dream Maker‹ (a perfect mix of ›Starbreaker‹ and ›Green Manalishi‹). We play out a lot over the next three months, sacking Handler as his cocaine use became too much for anyone in the band to deal with. I'd take over vocals for 1982, and hand over the vocal chores to Rick's brother Micky after a 20+ song recording session in November of 1982.
During this time, our new originals began to develop a more "progressive" approach, with different time changes in a lot of the songs. We abandoned the idea of getting on the radio and went head-first into our metal mayhem. INNER SANCTUM was best described as JUDAS PRIEST with some IRON MAIDEN sensibilities with a singer who wanted to be Ozzy Osbourne. However, O'Connor would leave at the end of 1983 for a career in the USAF, introducing "Broadway" Joe Morris, who would not only be the band's new bassist, but a coke dealer for three of the remaining four band members. In hindsight, this was the beginning of the end of INNER SANCTUM.
Since 1982, I had also been writing songs which were more of a punk-metal type of feel. I tried to show few to the SANCTUM guys, but it was way too fast and out of control for them, especially drummer Mike Ragone, who had a severe aversion to playing fast. I tried to put a side band together called CYANIDE with Jan Schwartz, a drummer from 714 in 1982. In early 1983 I did some recordings with future members of BATTLE BRATT (Rob Dexter) and DIAMOND (Jeff Goldstein), but that project never had a name, and then at the end of the year I put together RHINO, which was to be the "outline" for my upcoming band THE FURY.
Stepping out of the Inner Sanctum: 1984-1985
What made RHINO different from all the other "side project" stuff was, that it was the first time outside of INNER SANCTUM that other music I had written was been played live - this was a lot more serious than the small jamming/recording I was doing throughout 1983. On 19th of November 1983 RHINO had it's one and only gig at the John A. Anderson Recreation Center playing a seven song set of music I put together as a diversion from SANCTUM. Featuring my brother Eric and drummer Gordon Tolchin, we went into this gig with the purpose to decimate our audience. Unlike SANCTUM which was a MAIDEN/PRIEST influence, my new solo stuff stemmed from a huge influence of MOTÖRHEAD/RAVEN/SAXON with tinges of VAN HALEN, DIO/SABBATH and AC/DC. This gig, with the positive audience reaction that I rarely saw during with my time in SANCTUM, got me thinking about a life without SANCTUM more seriously. And this would be made easier as, right after SANCTUM's last show of the year in December, bassist Jim O'Connor would announce to everyone that he's leaving the band to pursue a career in the United States Air Force. Yowza.
After a month or two of auditions, INNER SANCTUM recruited "Broadway" Joe Morris as the new bassist shortly after Jim's departure. The "buddy-buddy" behavior of the rest of the band would reveal itself to be a mini-den of cocaine activity with Joe being everyone else's supplier. In it's past, the rest of the INNER SANCTUM dabbled with minor drug use, but with Joe in the picture cocaine became abundant and became a lifestyle for drummer Mike Ragone as well as Mick and Rick Pendergast. Not at all happy with this, I re-focused myself on the RHINO thing, doing a 7 song demo with Ragone, as drummer Tolchin left for college. Upon reviewing the demo, it sounded a little to slow-paced (especially compared to some of the new bands like METALLICA, SLAYER and this new demo I just heard from this band EXODUS) so I kept writing and demoing ideas with a synsonics drum machine. Early tracks like ›Fate‹ and ›Mannequin Boys‹ came about from these sessions.
What I remember about INNER SANCTUM circa 1984 was a handful silly little bar gigs became an excuse for four out of five "musicians" and their girlfriends to stuff expensive white powder up their collective noses. We had become regulars at this hole in the wall called "February's", where we would regularly do gigs with this other Long Beach local band called RISING POWER. Their drummer Mike Portnoy had been in a band with my brother Eric called INTRUDER. (Prior to getting together with RHINO, I had done a few jams with my brother and Portnoy. I kept the 17 year old Portnoy in the back of my mind as a possible future drummer as we did a kick-ass jam of MOTÖRHEAD's ›Stay Clean‹. I felt Mike was a bit young for us at the time, but we all kept our eyes on "the kid".) Aside from doing these bar gigs, INNER SANCTUM had been trying to demo music, but with most of the band hindered by cocaine and pot, the recordings turned out to be useless. If anything could be said about 1984, it would be, that it was the year I seriously started looking elsewhere from SANCTUM.
In fact, in late 1984 I became (very temporarily) the guitarist for this punk-metal crossover band called K.G.B. The cross between G.B.H. and VENOM was a welcome diversion - like RHINO a year earlier - away from INNER SANCTUM, both musically and personally. Two elements would be taken from this short lived experience: First of all Desmond Horn's use of an overdriven bass guitar brought a power into this three piece I had not experienced first hand. (Seeing MOTÖRHEAD was one thing. Having at your back in a band was a whole different "animal".) The full-tilt mayhem was another element that would be taken and fused into my DNA - uncertainty brings chaos, and chaos brings freedom. Towards the end of 1984, I found myself with a growing catalog of music rooted in this style and no new songs written for INNER SANCTUM.
(Note: A few years later Desmond would form the progressive ambient metal band KING OF KINGS, who would have a brief career on GEFFEN RECORDS. Well worth checking out if you got an open mind. What's with all these musicians I create with moving to the progressive metal world? Ha, ha...)
A year of changes & the beginning of the corrosion: 1985-1986
Making music outside of INNER SANCTUM was met with a mixed blessing. On one hand, it was refreshing to be creative with other people; on the other I didn't see how badly drugs were undermining the band. Right after the new year, the frontline of INNER SANCTUM began to discuss the firing of the drummer, as Ragone's playing was suffering the most from drug use. Still, with "Broadway Joe" in the band, the drug element would not go away.
With INNER SANCTUM "flaking" out on many practices, myself and Desmond Horn got together to write new music, as K.G.B. fizzled out, but our passion for punk-metal mayhem continued. We put together this quick band called THE SKIN for a gig, doing a flurry of remakes including the DEAD BOYS ›Sonic Reducer‹, a MOTÖRHEAD-ish version of Cyndi Lauper's ›Strut‹ (which would serve as a blueprint for THE FURY's ›The Institution‹) and some other odd covers. Again, the format was a straight 3-piece in the MOTÖRHEAD/VENOM mold and sound, and we went in for the kill. Very happy doing this kind of band, very unhappy when I would meet up with the SANCTUM crew. My spirit had left the band at this point, but in the interest of the time invested, I continued with SANCTUM.
I should have left INNER SANCTUM earlier, but the element of the band being a "family" was a little more than just wordplay. Since 1980, I was dating Mick and Rick's cousin Gail, who lived next door to the brothers Pendergast. As Gail was part of the "girls of the band" entourage, she also gotten caught up in it's cocaine lifestyle. Having no interest in sticking powder up my nose, her lifestyle clashed with the chemical-free/full mayhem metal world I'd chosen for myself. In early '85 we were not getting along and on the day after her 18th birthday, we split and went our separate ways.
This affects INNER SANCTUM in an adverse way and begins to tear the band from the inside. Like trying to put a patch over a severed limb, we decide to let Mike Ragone go, and being auditioning new drummers. Having heard neighborhood skinsman Mike Portnoy play ›Vicious Cycles‹ with my brother, I suggest we give him a shot. He blows the whole band away and we play our first gig with him a few days after that on May 31st, 1985 at this shit-hole of a club called "Heckle & Jeckles".
And literally a day or two later I get a call from fanzine "guru" Bob Muldowney saying he wants to put together this sick band-project called MANGLED CLIT for a demo. He needs musicians and someone to write music to what I discover to be the sickest set of lyrics ever. Not wanting to audition more drummers, I throw the idea into Portnoy's lap, and he dives in "head first". I write eleven songs (nine were used), and Mike and I do our first recording on June 30th, 1985 at his garage at 86 (?) Farrell St. in Long Beach. The tracks were then transferred and multi-tracking was finished at "Keywall Studios" in Bayshore. The cassette album was called »Desade Was A Feminist« and a contract would be offered by COMBAT RECORDS a few weeks before Christmas; more on that later.
Muldowney also asked about the shows he wasn't able to get to, the most recent one being when TANK had played at "L'Amours" in Queens. "Wanna jot down a few lines for KICK-ASS?" says Bob. How could I refuse? My review for the show in the KICK-ASS issue 31 marks my debut as a "Rock journalist". I'm laughing at the idea myself.
To try to save (or in a better word, "salvage") INNER SANCTUM, I suggested we do an album the same way I recorded MANGLED CLIT. Portnoy says of that July 28th, 1985 session "one of the guitar players came over to my garage, set up about four microphones and plugged two of us directly into a boom box!" As a matter of fact, all five sessions I recorded with Mike were done that way. While Mike states "during the summer of 1985, some friends of mine in a local band called INNER SANCTUM lost their drummer and asked me to temporarily help them out", we believed he accepted the position of drummer to the point we stopped looking for anyone else.
And since "what we thought" was our "permanent" drummer was getting himself ready for school, myself and Desmond Horn put together THE GRAVE TULIPS during the late summer of '85 - this punk 70's rock mix of songs we were writing to see where things could go. As time would tell, it went nowhere except for a few demo tapes. We did a kick-ass version of Bowie's ›Cracked Actor‹ with the exception of a crappy lead singer called John Fury. (Hint, hint...)
With Mike off at the "Berklee College Of Music", the rest of the band began laying tracks down at "Keywall" studios. During the sessions we found out that "Broadway Joe" was incapable of doing a decent recording, and finally the bands coke dealer was out for good. As all of us in SANCTUM thought Portnoy was in, we got my brother Eric for bass, as they worked out so well in their INTRUDER days.
As the INNER SANCTUM album is getting mixed, Bob tells me that MANGLED CLIT just got offered a recording contract with COMBAT RECORDS and we'll be receiving the paperwork before the end of the year. I called Mike at "Berklee" and let him know the news and suggested we do some more recordings in the case of a multi-album deal. Mike agrees we make recording arrangements upon his return.
Before Mike returned, I got a call from SANCTUM's old singer Eric Handler who wanted to try to get a demo recorded. Eric offered some cash for recording expenses and in early November I drafted Island Park's young drum wiz Brian Geltner to record eight tracks. Literally a few days after we started, Handler dissapeared, but I finished the unreleased album tracking everything myself. This ends up being my first solo album, although it never gets released, and quite frankly really should never be upon listening to my old vocals! (Eleven years later in 1996, Brian makes his major label debut with the band HUNK. Quite oddly like Desmond Horn's KING OF KINGS, HUNK also signs with GEFFEN RECORDS. Geltner's still active with experimental rock bands like JOHNNY SOCIETY, THE HAND and the oddly named DR.SNITCH. Definitely worth a few listens.)
Come December of 1985 Mike's back home and we get to work on a 28 song catalog of material I put together during his "schooling at Berklee". There are eight new songs for INNER SANCTUM (which have never been properly released) and the rest for MANGLED CLIT. A week before recording, we check out MOTÖRHEAD, S.O.D. and Wendy O. Williams at the "Ritz" (reviewed in KICK-ASS #32) - this was all the inspiration we needed to "head" bang these MANGLED tunes out. I had also dropped off a copy of the COMBAT recording contract for Mike to look over. (In a nutshell, the 7 album work-for-hire contract would guarantee only 5000 dollar per album, and in-turn, COMBAT RECORDS would own everything the band did, including the songs themselves.)
We began recording at this apartment building that was owned by his step-father. We took the third floor right about this elderly woman who was not only subjected to the barrage from Mike and myself, but another bunch of musicians who Mike said were some jam friends from school. This constant barrage of music took a toll on this woman named "Birdie" who constantly interupted our sessions to complain about the "banging" over her head. (Poor woman!) We rehearsed and recorded all 28 tracks in one or two takes on December 28th, 1985, January 5th, 1986 and January 11th, 1986. Photographer Ian Brand came by after the sessions to take some pics, which ended up being the second to last photo session SANCTUM would take. After the photo session, the entire band pooled our money together to get the album I had been mixing pressed up at a local pressing plant.
On January 12th, 1986, I had informed Mike that I was NOT signing the contract. Had we signed that 72 page "excrement cleaner", we would have been tied up with MANGLED CLIT until 1993, and there didn't seem to be any benefit in doing so. Mike, who really wanted to sign the contract, was livid with my decision, as he unknowingly thought it was his only chance to get a deal. For the little money that COMBAT was offering, it wasn't worth having our names tied to a band called MANGLED CLIT for seven years. And had we signed it, we couldn't continue with INNER SANCTUM or anything else that we decided to do in the future.
On January 15th, INNER SANCTUM got together for a band practice before Mike would head back to school. After band practice Mike told Ricky that he as leaving the band as "It's Adam's band and I want to do other things." Upon hearing this from Rick, I called up Mike and remember saying "Mike, we're putting out an album - do you feel you're doing the right thing?" The proverbial middle finger of fate would prove his decision - which he seemed to have already made in his heart before we recorded a single note that winter - to be the right one for him.
The spring release of the only official INNER SANCTUM album, »12 a.m.«, was an odd event indeed. We were offered a three song gig for 200 dollar at Manhattans "Danceteria" with KING OF KINGS on May 16th, 1986, to which Mike agreed to be his final gig with the band. And all I remember was getting sick on bad backstage food, cranberry juice and rancid poontang from this local girl Desmond Horn introduced me to. Right as the curtain is going up, what ever was in my stomach came flying out on the stage and we all spent the rest of the set trying to avoid this puddle of puke seeping into the stage's carpet. However when the lights went dim, some slippage occurred and my heart still goes out to anyone who ended up covered in the waves of reguritation that made it over the edge of the stage.
From this point, INNER SANCTUM's constantly changing drummers becomes another thorn in the band's side. We acquire drummer Glen Moss (who oddly looks alot like Portnoy) who stays with the band throughout 1986. We perform locally across the tri-state area, New York-Newark-Bridgeport, promoting »12 a.m.«, and we also try to record the INNER SANCTUM songs I had originally recorded with Mike. Glen's interjection of funky jazz rhythms into the catalog doesn't mesh with the more headbanging metal we're trying to create and we let him go at the end of 1986.
"Another year, another drummer" becomes a bit of an inside joke. From here, INNER SANCTUM can't even keep a drummer for a year, and makes little if any progress.
Endings & Beginnings: 1986-1988
During the winter of 1986 my brother Eric had met with a videographer named Kathy Drayer and shortly thereafter introduced us. Kathy had been videotaping bands for quite a while, and began put some INNER SANCTUM work to videotape. Kathy would introduce me to her boyfriend Mike Favata who was playing drums for a band called THOR. (Videos of THOR ran locally on both "The Uncle Floyd Show" and U68's band promo video program.) Mike would end up being my "Morpheus", showing me "the Matrix" - the world behind the music and what makes it work. In addition to THOR, Mike had been managing a band called JETT BLAKK. He had been able to get the band serious consideration from ELEKTRA's A&R man Michael Alago, gigs with MOTÖRHEAD, and to a small level of fame in a relatively short time. If anyone's opinions was worth listening to, it was Favata's.
Mike didn't feel that INNER SANCTUM's »12 a.m.« would go farther than a cult band. "Too many time changes and the songs were too long", says Mike. "Shorten them up, make 'em to the point and the music will be stronger." Mike also clued me into the minds of the A&R people. "They don't care about how good the music is, they just want to sell records. Always ask the question to yourself: Why should à label sign you?" Noticing that all through my musical life it had been "Do It Yourself", Mike and I discuss a strategy for self promotion first, make some proper sales, and then present the proof to the major labels he's contacted with. (This was the second surprise of the night; the first one being Mike introducing Lemmy to a freaked out self right after their 11/21/86 "L'Amour's East" gig. I managed to eek out about 15 words the first time we met.)
In looking back at the past couple of years and realizing the SANCTUM-less music I did (THE SKIN in 1985, RHINO in 1983, CYANIDE in 1980/'81) would be perfect to present to Favata, I began to look for musicians who could form a new band.
Right at the beginning of the year 1987 I made an investment in a VESTAX 4-track cassette recorder. Feeling that if I couldn't find a complete band, a demo would get done myself. I began jamming around Long Island with other drummers to see if anyone could fit the bill. Ironically, discovering that lead vocalist Pete Kronin from the band KRONIN (these guys were doing Prog-Metal like DREAM THEATER before DREAM THEATER) was also a decent drummer who could play fast punk-metal stuff. We spent the first half of 1987 rehearsing this material, and subsequently tracking during the early summer at "Speed Of Sound" studios in West Hempstead. 20 demos were sent out using the moniker D.U.C.K.. However, since there were no gigs, it wasn't an official name.
Favata like the demo, but didn't feel it was ready to present and suggested that I do one or two more demos with a complete band before brining this to a record label.
Meanwhile, INNER SANCTUM found a new drummer in Louie Catalanatto. Instead of going straight to gigs, we put together a batch of original songs with the intent of making an EP or at least a 7" single. »The Will To Win« demo (which would serve as bonus tracks on the 1993 CD re-release of »12 a.m.«) would re-introduce me to Peter Kuperschmidt, who had built a new studio called "StudioWorks". Peter needed some help at this location, and instead of cash, he offered up free studio time as payment.
Most of INNER SANCTUM's gigs of 1987 were now local. High schools, some local outdoor shows, and the ever constant "February's" in Elmont. With the exception of a gig at "Sundance" (where all the bigger metal bands were playing) INNER SANCTUM couldn't progress past »The Will To Win« demo. With a new fiance, and a job offer to do sanitation, Louie would exit in the fall of '87.
With this free time, I went back in "Speed Of Sound" studios to do more recording with Pete Kronin. We cut a 9 song project, taking two of the songs for a first officially released demo. The demo was called »D.U.C.K.« and featured the tracks ›Mannequin Boys‹ and ›Fate‹ (both performed at 2002's »Bang Your Head!!!« festival). Armed with this new demo, Favata had suggested that I put together band, so I could start showcasing for labels. (This shortly after my roadie gig for THOR's two-day 1987 tour of America. For the first time, I would see a side of Rock n' Roll most never get to see - the dying of band that "made it".)
Lastly, towards the end of 1987, I had also began writing for GOODTIMES magazine. Mag editor Kevin Zimmerman was impressed with my work in KICK-ASS enough to give me a shot doing some live local reviews with the promise of major shows and record reviews in the future if things worked out well. Within two months I was reviewing almost every band that came through "the hallowed halls of Sundance". I had also begun spending time with a lot of these bands offstage, and much like how Favata lifted the veil for me earlier that year, I began to see what the world of a touring band was like, and it's not that all appealing or glamourous. I ended up taking the editor's position the following year for six months, meeting lots of publicists, and getting so much backstage access it was as if I was "rock star" without having a record deal. The rabbit hole just kept getting deeper. And truthfully, the idea of being "A Rock Star" became pretty unappealing.
It's strange that 1988, the last official year of INNER SANCTUM, could have been the year it all happened for the band. We started by introducing our new drummer Mike Mule, starting out with the debut on New York City's "Citirock" show. Aside from our local haunt "February's", we began hitting other clubs, including scoring an opening show for OVERKILL and HADES on July 15th, 1988. (Note: Rick's attention to a blow job he got from this local groupie named Mary ended up with a theft of his prized BC Rich strat.) Mike Mule would announce his departure a few days later (he wanted to play more LED ZEPPELIN type rock) and enter a drummer named Johnny or Joey Dee. (That's about all that I can remember, and I don't think it was the Doro/Britney Fox guy.) I don't remember how we got him, I don't remember the auditon, but I remembered he lasted for just two gigs in one day. We did an early show at "February's", then headed out to the east end of Long Island to close a local festival in front of 5000 metal maniacs. This show and the OVERKILL/HADES gig were the biggest ones that SANCTUM had ever played, and we all felt at the time, that perhaps our hard work was paying off.
To replace this mystery man of a drummer we had, we took the advice of Peter Kupershmid and enlisted Long Beach skinsman Roy "Jason" Maxwell. Roy has the distinction of owning trademarking the band name LEGACY, which forced the San Francisco band LEGACY to change their name to TESTAMENT. Ironic fact: Their drummer Louie Clemente lives (or lived) a couple of blocks away from Roy.
Anyway, SANCTUM went into "StudioWorks" for what turned out to be the band's final recording tracking ›W.S.I.T.F.‹ (re-recorded from the Catalanotto demo) and ›Gypsy‹, a track written about nationally syndicated rock journalist, who I had a brief spring tryst with. Rick and Mick wanted to try Roy as a permanent drummer, although I wasn't sure about Roy's team commitment. During what ended up being our final official show (at "February's" no less) Roy told all of us during his drum solo he was going to set his sticks on fire, then chop up his drums with an axe wearing a "Jason" hockey mask, à la "Friday the 13th." Well his sticks stayed on fire for about three seconds, smoked for about five seconds more. He came on stage with a crappy kick drum in addition to his regular kit and proceeded to take two hits of it with an axe. And what did we get for this embarassing "showstopping experience?" Well, club owner Gasper said "if you keep Roy in the band you can't perform here anymore." Now to get banned from this hole of all holes was an accomplishment. Having this element of instability and embarrassment in addition to the band's drug problems were intolerable and Roy was given his walking papers.
At this point I was sick of having to be the pointman of INNER SANCTUM, trying to keep the band together, getting the gigs and auditioning these drummers who weren't working out. I told Rick and Mick to please look for another drummer as my work schedule between GOODTIMES magazine and engineering at "StudioWorks" didn't give me the flexibility to find a new skinsman.
During the fall of 1988 I acquired a ROLAND TR-626 drum machine basically to make demos to present to drummers, finding myself demoing that same three piece MOTÖRHEAD-esque music that felt so natural to do. Using the SSL room at "StudioWorks", I finished up a 6 song demo in November, and found two musicians who wanted to be part of this punk-metal mayhem - drummer Marc DelCiello and bassist John Alman, who would later front the band WINTER. This new band thing would be called THE FURY, representing the feeling I had with everything around me. Within a few days us laying claim to this band, we already had bookings into 1989.
However, "Sundance" club owner Frank Cariola (Frank Cary for all those with a good history of 60's Rock n Roll) offered INNER SANCTUM a gig with ANVIL towards the end of 1988. I contact the Rick and Mick who say they are working with a drummer who's name I still don't know to this day. To get a press pic to Frank, Marc sits in during the band's last photo session, and we agree to do the show and get some shirts done. Well, t-shirts need money and the rest of the band needs to cough up the bucks, no to mention enough time to get the shirts finished. So a call goes to the Pendergast brothers, no answer. Call up ex-girlfriend Gail; she's away from home for a few days. As the ANVIL show's date comes up, not only isn't there any t-shirts done, there's been no practice, as there's been no band. A call goes to Frank and he pushes the ANVIL date to another band as I convince him to let us open for MANOWAR in March of the following year. So right after Christmas a call comes from Rick saying "I guess we forgot to give you money for t-shirts, huh?" In asking just where in the fuck he was he informs me that him, Mick, Gail and their friends went up to Rhode Island for a few weeks with "an eight ball" of Cocaine to have a "vacation". The last few days of 1988 is spent duplicating cassettes of four of the six songs I had recorded the month before; holding nothing but contempt for a band I had just given the last eight years of my life to. Goodbye INNER SANCTUM. Time for the world to see THE FURY.
THE FURYous years: 1989-1993
I had the musical influences all wrapped up. However, one last influence would remain. I had been seeing MANOWAR on their regular NY jaunts since 1983. Always dug the band and would have to say even a fan from the early days. However, nothing could prepare me for MANOWAR, circa December 1987. I have never seen a band be so loud, yet sound so good - the most crystal clear audio ever. So blown away I ended up doing a concert review of the band for GOODTIMES even though I wasn't on assignment. A few months I get a call from Joey DeMaio with the words "Prepare to get your balls blown off again. We're coming back in March with MOTÖRHEAD, brother!"
So this long-ass weekend comes and I end up spending soundcheck and gig with the band. After MOTÖRHEAD's soundcheck, MANOWAR gets their gear up, checks and kills - literally. They want to know what I think of this song they're going to record on their next album and kick out an early version of ›Hail & Kill‹. After two more tracks the rest of the band goes for dinner, but Joey stays around to fine-tune the PA. Never seeing artist do this before, I realize that DeMaio is seriously concerned about what the audience is getting. After this he brings me onstage to take a look at "the weaponry" (including the Vince Gutman designed drum system) and it's incredibly high-tech compared to what MOTÖRHEAD is running with. MANOWAR is an arena production with arena aspirations playing clubs. How I would conduct myself from the show, to the transportation, to the scheduling would forever (to this day) emulate everything I would learn from Joey this weekend.
THE FURY - Mk. I: January 1989-April 1989
When my vision of THE FURY took shape in late 1988, it fleshed out the punk-metal mayhem and emulating the way MANOWAR would do their shows. Del, Alman and I first took the stage on January 28th, 1989 in Staten Island. Did a quick show at "February's" in February, and then for our third show we landed the opening slot for MANOWAR at "Sundance" on March 10th - almost exactly a year to the day Joey showed me the way a band should "really be ran". Both DelCiello and Alman didn't seem too happy with the metal scene and we ended up doing our last show the next month at "February's". Del went with this theatrical punk band COMA, and John joined Stephan Flam and put together the sludge-doom-death WINTER.
THE FURY - Mk. II: April 1989-Summer 1991
During this time, one of my bass students Wil Handley had been around us videotaping almost everything THE FURY was doing. We released a short film, "Reflections Of Unwasted Time" at the beginning of May of '89. And speaking of May, it was sprung on me that, based on the reaction and the people we brought to the MANOWAR show in March, would be opening for METAL CHURCH on the 13th.
Having to get a band fast, I drafted Wil into the bass role upon the advice of girlfriend "Priestess Ilona" and re-connected with John Sumner, who auditioned for INNER SANCTUM some time back, and was jamming with a few bands at "StudioWorks". The METAL CHURCH gig was amazing and after the METAL CHURCH gig we gigged relentlessly playing everywhere and anywhere we could. Most were dive bars and school auditoriums (which sounded kick ass-big and boomy), plus the "Sundance" gig when one came up. (We ended 1989 opening up for MANOWAR on November 10th again.) During all of this we kept the video and audio gear rolling and right before our opening slot for OVERKILL in June of '90 we released the »Live« demo, sending it out to at least 500 fanzines and radio stations around the world. We also did a couple of "friends" only tapes: »Warsongs« - a collection of MANOWAR covers, and »Covering Our Asses« which included an eclectic mix of tracks from Eddie Cochran, Jimi Hendrix and MOTÖRHEAD.
The »Live‹ demo caught the attention of Steve Downe and Peter Canton - two import/export folks who had been doing business with my father's hobby shop in Valley Stream, NY. They felt that they could market THE FURY and get records sold. We began recording and presenting material, four songs of which turned out to be my second vinyl release - the »A Dozen Thorns« EP/Poster Pack. A debut of sorts for both parites, the first release from THE FURY on the newly formed NIR AMERICA RECORDS. Released in the early winter of 1991, we shot our first video for the song ›Masquerade‹. The EP sold extremely well for a mailorder only release. The disc had also been shipped to SEMAPHORE RECORDS in Holland for distribution, but we never got a sales statement from them at all.
This success of »A Dozen Thorns« gave Downe and Canton the incentive to move to the next logical step: an album. Instead of gigging, THE FURY went into pre-production on what would be the band's debut album, »Sex«. However, during this time, personal problems would plague the band.
Sumner just had a baby son and wouldn't be making a lot of his sessions. Worse than that, Wil began to show signs of wear and tear, things basically fell apart for Wil personally when he was arrested in upstate NY for DUI, driving under the influence, and speeding. After court and lawyer fees, all of his money had dried up and he fell deeper into an a depression that had been swirling around him for the last year or so. We managed to get a demo recording of »Sex« completed despite all these problems, but that would turn out to be the end of this line-up as both Wil and John succumbing to personal issues.
THE FURY - Mk. III: Fall 1991-July 1993
Working in "StudioWorks" was a mixed blessing. The pay sucked, but I was able to spend a lot of time with different bands at early stages in their careers (PRO-PAIN being one of 'em) and I met up with a lot of musicians. Two in particular, drummer Rocky Quitoriano and bassist Harry Rawlings were two folks that I had lots of conversations and "good vibes" with. When John and Wil fell out of the picture both Rocky and Harry were two guys on the audition list. After having them learn some material separately, I organized a rehearsal that September to test this new line-up, not wanting to rush into a situation that would quickly burn itself out. It turned out so good we kept up a "furious" rehearsal space. On November 9th, 1991, we did our first recording (basically live to 4-track) which included nine KISS songs (the Kiss My Ass section), two AEROSMITH songs, some DEEP PURPLE, Ted Nugent and a nice allotment of FURY songs. To end 1991 (and test the band's stamina), we did a short "holiday" tour of the New York/New Jersey area from December 26th to 30th playing these shows:
Friday, Dec. 27th - "Crazy Country Club" - Brooklyn, NY
Saturday, Dec. 28th - "Cartert Hill Bowl" - Carteret, NJ
Sunday, Dec. 29th - "February's" - Elmont, NY
Monday, Dec. 30th - "Expos" - Manhattan, NY
To kick in the New Year, we returned to Manhattan later that week to perform live on the "Citi-Rock" TV show on January 4th, 1992.
Having put Rocky and Harry through their paces, we went in to finally track the »Sex« album in March. There were rumours that "StudioWorks" might be shut down, so we had to get this album finished fast. Between sessions, we'd be playing the spot gigs here and there, including doing two shows in one night across two states (10pm show in Rhode Island, 2am show in New York). We finished the »Sex« album in May, just in time for Portnoy and myself to let each other check out our new albums, »Images & Words« being the other new one just getting released.
»Sex« ended up getting released in September, and we did a whole slew of local shows to promote it. NIR was having trouble securing distribution and as a result, no proper tour took place that THE FURY was promised. I proactively took the album to the shows and after selling out the initial pressing from the back of my van the campaign was put aside. Still signed to one more album, we went in with a purpose to get out of this contract and get THE FURY working again.
We were booked in "StudioWorks" for November to begin recording, but literally the day we were due to load in, Mike Epstein closed the studio without warning, leaving me without a studio and a job. Needing both, I first got work for a high-priced shoe importer, then I set up a "very old school" 15 inch per second reel-to-reel 4-track studio (if it was good enough for SABBATH & ZEPPELIN...) in the basement of "February's", the room I had been performing at for the last ten years. As we began collaborating on new material, Harry's newfound influence of the band HELMET began creeping in and there-in began a musical split in the band. Harry's noisy, syncopated and downright unmusical "songs", and the more straight-up metal coming from your's truly. During our downtime, Harry learned drums, and I began demoing my material alone as Downe and Canton from THE D&C GROUP wanted to hear something; THE D&C GROUP was originally a publicity company, that added a side label, which helped with booking. And Rocky just kept getting depressed about the stagnation of the »Sex« album and his crumbling relationship with his girlfriend.
As we entered 1993, we continued to write, track, rehearse, write, track. Things were at least progressing, however the catalog of material was uneven to say the least. However, as the spring came, I had discovered that Harry was using our studio to play "his" material with other people - and he was playing the drums, no less. Presenting this problem to D&C, they suggested releasing the demos that I had been putting together. Not wanting to put together yet another line-up of THE FURY, I had urged Rocky and Harry to get their shit together and make this new album happen.
Lasting for two more months until June of 1993 when our lease on the studio ran out, I set up the recording gear in my basement apartment in Valley Stream hoping we could capture the remaining songs we had been working on. However, Harry would move in and on with his new band (yeah, the guys he kept jamming with), and Rocky would tell me that he needed a break as this whole ordeal burnt him out.
Reconsidering D&C's proposal about my demos, there was a quick meeting with them regarding the fulfillment of THE FURY's contract. If the set of music I had demoed could get remixed, they would put it out and my contract would be completed. In turn, I had demanded that they don't use THE FURY's name as no one else from the band was on the recording - calling this THE FURY without a band would be an outright lie. After a few days they agreed to release it as an S.A. Adams' solo album called »Exiled On Green St.« - a play on words about the Valley Stream basement apartment on Green St. where I was living (in exile from a band, a recording studio, etc...) at the time.
It wasn't the plan to become a "solo artist" - it was just to finish out a contract. However fate would step in and look at that differently.
S.A. Adams is "born": 1993
When »Exiled On Green St.« came out in October of 1993, I figured it would generate some interest and then THE FURY would get back together and get back the momentum we had lost since the »Sex« album. However THE D&C GROUP wanted to make as much money as they could. Securing a distribution deal at NY's "Dutch East India" trading, they sent out over 1000 promo tapes and CDs to get this CD as much press and radio as possible. Getting hundreds of reviews, interviews and radio play, we attracted the attention of a Luxembourg label called ROCK THE NATIONS who showed an keen (albiet unhealthy) interest in this ball of momentum called S.A. Adams.
However, there was no touring band yet. In January of 1994, I was introduced to bassist Bill Janusz through a mutual friend, and literally a few days later, Rocky gave a call upon hearing that I had released a solo CD. He apologized for "bailing out", and promised to stay with this "new S.A. Adams thing" forever. Uh, yeah...
With a full band in tow, we started performing everywhere and anywhere we which would have us. Frank Cariola, who had the "Sundance", opened up a new room called "The Roxy Music Hall", which we began to appear at regularly, in addition to the usual dumps that we trolled though across NY. This, and the push of local radio such as WBAB, WCWP and WHPC, really helped sell out the initial pressing of »Exiled On Green St.«.
With a sold out pressing, and continuing momentum, we were quickly offered a Pressing and Distribution deal with ROCK THE NATIONS, and went into the studio to record our next album, »Redemption«. We demoed the album at "Dare Studios" Deep Park, NY location (Where John Myung had worked briefly) and started the re-recording at "Nino Studios" in Baldwin, NY. Finishing the drums in seven hours (load-in, recording, etc...) over a two day period, we moved recording back to my Green St. basement apartment. I reconnected with Bob Shuster (who had engineered the original INNER SANCTUM demo back in 1980), who took the recordings and mixed it in his studio two miles away.
Almost immediately after we got the material to ROCK THE NATIONS we began having problems with the label. We were never told what the release date was, getting our batch of 25 CDs was like pulling teeth, the touring we were promised never materialized, and the only major show we played to promote the album was a gig with RAVEN and ANVIL at the "Roxy Music Hall" on January 15th, 1995. Our contract had stipulated that sales statements would come to us every three months; once the summer came and there were no sales statements we knew this deal was a rip-off. I've been told that roughly 8,000 to 12,000 CDs were pressed and sold. Having proof of these numbers would have been a help in finding another deal.
The failure of »Redemption« hit Rocky pretty hard and he began to disappear for weeks on end, missing practices, showcases and the like. We did manage to shoot two videos (›Rats‹ and ›Back‹) to air on various cable stations across the world, but everything basically came to a grinding halt.
During the video shoot, Rocky met a camera girl named Debbie Rocco. Within a few days they started to get intimate and shortly after, Debbie informed Rocky that she was pregnant. Instead of moving on with his life and paying child support, Rocky agreed to marry this woman he didn't love, and after moving in with her realized he didn't even like her. Wanting to get away from her as much as possible we began doing demos for another album at the beginning of 1996 right after he formally married her. We managed to get twelve songs demoed and I began to make arrangements to do a complete album with Bob Shuster. However, right after Rocky's son was born, he made it clear that he had to take the role of father and provider to family and couldn't make the sessions I had booked with Bob.
Taking the tracks I had recorded to Bob to mix, I had hoped he would be able to produce them to album quality. While not the greatest recording ever produced, it was good enough that the NIR guys felt they could do with this what they did with the »Exiled On Green St.« album and decided to release it. They felt lighting could strike twice, and in early 1998, »Signs Of A Time«, the third S.A. Adams album was released.
Not only did ROCK THE NATIONS ass-fuck their bands with no lube, they also fucked over almost every magazine they did business with, not paying magazines thousands of dollars in ad revenue. When »Signs Of A Time« found itself on the editor's desks of all these mags that ROCK THE NATIONS ripped off, most of the people could only remember that S.A. Adams was a ROCK THE NATIONS band, and any possibility of positive press was hopeless. The best thing about the album was watching a few metal maniacs bang their heads silly to it when it was played over the PA at the "Stephan Hartmann Halle" in Tübigen at the third "Bang Your Head!!!". I came back from my virgin trip to Germany renewed with a sense to show these metal maniacs I spent the past few days with the true essense of real NY steet and sewer metal that is S.A. Adams.
Wanting to wrap up the 90's on a high note, I held a band meeting and discussed with Rocky and Bill that we would be demoing a new album for release in 2000 and releasing a live album for 1999. We hit the local live trail right after armed with a multi-track recorder to tape each show we played. To alleviate the pressure, we first started recording our soundchecks to insure things would sound okay before we made the investment in hiring another company to record us. On the off-shows we began demoing new songs; the first batch being ›Stalker‹, ›Chains That Bind‹ and ›Reborn‹. During one of our live shows we met up with Heavy Metal Geoff and Tom from the band IRON RAINBOW who were putting together a compilation called »Metal Injection« and agreed to take the ›Reborn‹ demo track and add it onto the compilation. We now had a 1998 release - cool.
However, on the band front, things went from bad to worse with Rocky's marriage to Debbie getting horrific with each passing day. Rocky wouldn't be able to play due to exhaustion as Debbie would be keeping Rocky up at night yelling at him and not letting him sleep. Between the verbal abuse and the sleep deprivation, Rocky was unable to function and needed time to separate from Debbie, find another place and recover from what was a literal torture. The live album project came to a grinding halt, as we cancelled all the rest of the shows thoughout 1998/'99, We managed to cull together tracks from various soundchecks to present to the Steve Downe (taking over NIR when Peter Canton left) to get some feedback on these tracks and discuss a new drummer. Steve was more excited about the new material we were working on and gave us a small budget to start the »Stovepipe« album.
Having a quick conversation with the ever emotionally unstable Rocky, he concluded he wanted to continue on playing drums, but the Streß of his new kid and his impending divorce from Debbie was killing him and killing his free time, so he had to track this album quick.
Rocky recorded the drums for »Stovepipe« three times in three different sessions: once at Long Beach's "The Jam Factory", the second time at his house, and finally we rented out "Lyric Studios" in Garden City to track his drums in a matter of six hours. During these sessions, I had met producer Jeff Glicksman who had opened up a room in Deer Park and had offered to mix the new album if we record it to his specs. After getting all our tracks finished we went back to his studio to find he had disappeared, leaving us to mix the album on our own. Nice.
»Stovepipe« was finally finished right at the end of 1999. Rocky would also be finished as well, citing the Streß in his personal life taking too much of a toll on him personally. When Bill heard of this, he laughed, calling Rocky "a drama queen who won't take control of his life." All this and »Stovepipe« hadn't even been released yet. What a way to end a decade.
S.A. Adams: The New Millennium
While recording »Stovepipe« I had been working at a "smut factory" doing all sorts of adult fetish magazines. As people came and went, we got a new production artist who I initially ran into when he played drums for a band at "StudioWorks" back in 1990/'91. This skinsman Josh Thomas was looking for someone to bang out some cover songs and with Rocky falling apart, playing old BLACK SABBATH and 70's JUDAS PRIEST goodies (like ›Exciter‹ and ›White Heat‹) was a much needed break from the world of S.A. Adams.
As he's watching the "Rocky" drama unfold, Josh made the suggestion about being an auxiliary drummer in the case Rocky couldn't make gigs. By the third time we met up to make noise, we were working on à large amount of the catalog "just in case". And for most of 2000, Josh quickly got up to speed and learned some songs that even Rocky forgot. And as I found myself making music with Josh, Rocky all but disappeared, »Stovepipe« began to gain momentum (thanks to the really hard work of the crew at HARDWARE and TRUE MUSIC) and got a distro deal with POINT MUSIC. All of this seemed to peak as we got invited to perform at 2002's "Bang Your Head!!!" festival. Was kinda surprised at the invitation too, as though the years I made a minor pain in the ass of myself - misplacing passes, looking for meal tickets, the usual S.A. stuff. It was very flattering, though, because the entire staff at BYH and HEAVY-Mag have always made Swabia feel like a home away from home. There's lots of bands that in my opinion deserve that spot more than S.A. (like RAVEN, who got the stage there in 2006), so it was indeed a humbling experience.
To tell the whole story of BYH would take more space here than is allowed, but the short version is it was just as good as sex, but without the mess. To commemorate the S.A. catalog, the song set was set to include at least one track from every release from beginning of THE FURY's days (›Fate‹) on up to the »Stovepipe« album (›Be Your Man‹, ›Chains That Bind‹, ›Stalker‹). We opened Saturday to "wake up the whole town of Balingen", and basically not only had the time of our lives, but one of the best shows we had every done. I had always felt this was the forum for the music of S.A. (big stage, big sound, big smiles) and this day was a vindication of all the work I had done since the first of this new style of recordings I began with Portnoy, 17 years ago to the day that weekend.
Later that night, I passed the demo of the »Mutated« album along to the HARDWARE man and we got to work almost immediately once we got back to the states. Settling on a January 2004 release, we started to rehearse some of the tracks, although not all the songs were ready. In the late spring of 2003, we set up what would be the first version recording of the album. Josh didn't like the drum kit and as it was his first session, was not comfortable with his performance, and the recording sounded like it. Now we are in the middle of the summer and still, no drum tracks are ready. Come September, we finally got a re-recording of the drums and were able to continue tracking into October. However, the album should have been in the hands of the label by this time so the reviewers could have the time to enjoy the music into the holiday. The guitar, vocals and bass would be recorded at a breakneck pace so mixing could commence in November, and the pressing could be completed before Christmas. And to top it off, Josh had been working hard on a CD cover that nobody liked. Instead of working with everyone involved in putting together the best artwork we could, Josh distanced himself and began to get increasingly difficult to do any work with. It was so down to the wire to get a cover and finish the printed materials, I went out and shot the basic cover shots myself and spent two days & nights without sleep finishing the project so I could slip the project into the printer's overnight spot in their schedule.
The release of »Mutated« also came at a difficult time where labels started to see the symptoms of a sickening music business model. CD sales worldwide started to fall, inventories failed to move, and the record industry began to see that it wasn't on everyone's mind anymore. Music was just not that important to more people. Being that S.A. Adams was not a household name and the release and promotion of »Mutated« was fucked from the start, it became another album released instead of the breakthrough so many people told me it would be.
We did everything we could, and 2005 rolled up on us without a warning. We shot videos (including a pro-shot for ›Back To You‹), had the music in a film called "God-Dog", did our own ads in Heavy, oder was!? magazine through trades, (Huge thanks, guys!) but to this day I don't even know how many CDs were sold or if they even were available in stores. As »Mutated« stalled, Josh took a "leave of absence" and we recruited 23 year old Dom Barranco to fill the drum seat for a few shows that summer.
When we played "Bang Your Head!!!" back in 2002, we did a short signing session and a lot of people had began to ask me about the recordings I did with Portnoy back in the 80's. In the summer of 2005 during the 10th anniversary of "Bang Your Head!!!" were I gave away on the guitars used on »Mutated«, our publicist & label guy at HARDWARE brought up with idea of a release of this material. Portnoy was cool with the idea, and the »Unearthed« album project began shortly after the promotion for »Mutated« was finished. (A very rough mix of ›Too Far Gone‹ from those Portnoy sessions appeared HEAVY Magazine's "Metal Crusade" compilation at the end of 2006.)
These tapes hadn't seen the light of day since 1992 during the original cassette tape transfer to 8-track reel-to-reel. Only 15 of the tracks were salvageable, and it took elf months into 2007 to get it into a condition that was mixable. However, getting a deal for this proved to be impossible as label's weren't signing anything, let alone a 20+ year old recording, even though it began to sound as good as »British Steel«.
Aside from the »Unearthed« project, I had been trying to get a recording of new S.A. Adams material as well. A trip back to Germany was booked for BYH 2007 where I had planned to present both new S.A. material, and the final mix of the »Unearthed« album. Our rehearsal room had been professionally mic'd so Josh could record without the "red light pressure", the songs were rehearsed and rough demoed, but when it came time to record, Josh just didn't show up to his sessions. Having no more available time, I recorded an 8 song demo in May just to have some new music to bring to Germany. The discs were distributed to a few people, but as the world was heading into financial recession and for the seventh year in a row CD sales plummeted for the sixth time year after year, the demo simple served as a notice that "Adams is still here, like the proverbial cockroach".
Coming home to New York, it was time to make some changes. I asked Dom to take a full time position as Josh couldn't get anything done, and we immediately went into recording some of the new music that was written for the past three years. Once we got that 9 song demo finished, we started to look forward to 2009, which would mark the 20th anniversary that S.A. Adams' ugly face was first unleashed on an unsuspecting public. Putting together a 20 song set, and booking a series of tri-state shows in November, we had also enlisted a video and audio recording company to film this musical retrospective with the intention of releasing a CD/DVD-combo to celebrate this once in a lifetime occurrence. Bill, Dom & I would wrap up the decade with something old (»Unearthed«), something new (the untitled new album), and something yet to be done - a full length live project. Things were looking right for a change - but like all plans of mice and men, fate had a different idea for me.
Right before the shows around Halloween 2008, I was struck with a huge headache that didn't go away. Within a week, it felt like a spike was being shoved into my head - I never felt anything like this before. Knowing something was wrong I went to the doctor and pleaded to help me out. His initial diagnosis was "sinusitis" and he said take Tylenol or another anti-inflammatory if the headache doesn't go away, come back after the weekend. In heading back that Monday (the headache only got worse), I collapsed in the doctor's office and was rushed to the hospital, where a "cat-scan" revealed I was having a brain aneurysm and was at a "severe level-3 brain bleed." (To gauge this, level 0 is a minor drip, level 4 usual is marked by a coma, and at level 5 death comes calling.) Being rushed off to North Shore University Hospital for emergency surgery, I do remember having the doctors ask me if I was allergic to anything. I commented "dying", and thought to myself, "these shows in November are going to have to be postponed."
I woke up on November 5th, with the feeling I got into a huge fight and lost. My sore head was bandaged up with stitches and staples and there was a drain coming out of my head filled with blood. However, I was sentient, could think, and still had my memories. The surgeons (David Chalif and Avi Setton) couldn't believe I had pulled through - I was expected to at least have major brain damage with an extended recovery, if I was to recover at all. Determined to quickly get the fuck out of the hospital, I began walking around the floor as soon as I had strength. I wanted the tubes out of me (as I really looked like the »Redemption« CD cover), and yearned to get a guitar back in my hand. In my convalescence, I wrote two new songs, ›End Of Days‹ - revisiting the politicians intentions as America's economy continued to "slide south", and ›Scarred‹, a personal documentation of 2008. Not only a "celebration" of my new 60+ stitches, but a look at the scars no one can see - the fresh emotional incisions made by the death of so many loved ones taken in this year alone.
However, being able to record these new songs would have to wait. I couldn't barely play ›Cat Scratch Fever‹ when I got home. The doctors said I had a minor stroke, which reduced the function of my left hand's pinky and ring finger. Coming through the aneurysm, I looked at this as a minor inconvenience and spent the first three months of 2009 finding a work around the problem. Around May, I set out to record these two new songs and re-record the other eight as a means of physical therapy. Without a studio and without a full band (Dom felt he would have a better chance of "making it" with these other "projects" that came his way), I went back to the method I had used way back on the »Exiled On Green St.« album. It took only three weeks to get the drums done, but then took the whole summer to get the guitar tracks done. However, by the time September came, my playing was at a level where I could play live again, even though it was not where it used to be. And by the end of the decade, I had an album ready - when the world will hear it is still another question.
And to wrap up 2009, we rescheduled the shows we had missed. However, that would have to wait until the next decade. This time, Bill would find himself in surgery having ripped up his tendons in his leg. So bad, they came off his knee. And in December, as he began physical therapy, he had to have a second surgery as he re-injured himself again. At this point, Bill's been recovering and can move his leg 20º at this point. He says he should be mobile by March and maybe this time we'll reschedule these shows we missed.
With all this bad news in the past decade, this new decade at least brought some good. We have a contract in negotiations for »Unearthed«, so finally that should see the light of day. The tests we recorded for the live album are in considerations for release and the new album done in 2009 has been seriously looked at by à label every true metal fan has heard of.
Where does this leave S.A. Adams? Hoping that the next few years will see all the material I've ever recorded released in some form. A few more new albums, and once I feel that I've said everything I can musically and artistically say, a final curtain call to honor the musical legacy I leave. I never want to have to put out music because it's a job. It's never been a job, and the lack of commercial success has ironically insured that it's been only à labor of love. The day that ceases to happen is the last day you'll hear anything from me.
I appreciate everyone who's read down this far to share in my story. A huge thanks to Stefan for his patience in this "project". Anyone who really believes metal knows that it's at all costs, and it will take my bones being turned into ash before I let go off my metal.
Na? Zu viel versprochen? Keineswegs! S.A. Adams ist einfach eine echte "Charakterfresse", wie man sie in der heutigen Szene wahrlich nur noch selten findet.
Wer sich etwas ausgiebiger mit S.A. Adams und seiner Musik beschäftigen will, findet auf seiner Homepage Songs und Videos zum kostenlosen Download:
Außerdem hat S.A. mit seiner aktuellen Mannschaft, dem neuen Bassisten "White Trash" Lou Pantelari sowie Drummer Dom Barranco, eine neue Kurzscheibe namens »Born To Lose, Out To Lunch ... The Happy Birthday Lemmy EP« eingespielt, die er just via Homepage zum kostenlosen Download freigegeben hat und die Ihr hier kostenlos runterladen könnt:
Die EP enthält die Songs ›The Ace Of Spades On An Overkill Tip (Spiced With A Hammer)‹, ›We're Our Own Road Crew‹, ›Iron Horse‹ sowie das BLACK FLAG-Cover ›Thirsty & Miserable‹, das Lemmy schon mal vor ein paar Jahren mit MOTHER SUPERIOR nachgespielt hatte.
Die EP wird maximal bis zum 24. März 2012, dem 33. Jahrestag der Veröffentlichung des MOTÖRHEAD-Albums »Overkill«, erhältlich sein - und sofern irgendein Rechteinhaber vorher rot sieht, dann könnte der Download auch schon früher wieder verschwinden. Ergo: Zugreifen bevor es der Staatsanwalt tut!
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