Sunday, April 3, 2016

H2O interview with Adam Blake

by marcs77

One of the more melodic “pop” oriented and mentally positive driven bands in the NYC hardcore punk scene released a new album last October the 9th 2015 via Bridge9 records, the label they have been on since closing their short-lived major label stint with MCA, and that put out their successful, heads turning, hearts filling, minds empowering 2008's record “Nothing To Prove”. This band, formed by Sick Of It All's roadie Tod Morse, named themselves H2O back in 1994 and, working their arses off to record music, play shows and relentlessly touring the corners of the world, made it to become a household name in the New York city's boroughs and among the global hardcore-punk scene. Thanks too to the attitude they took; the PMA (positive mental attitude).
2015 was drawing to a close and we did email a few questions to Adam, formerly on bass but currently guitarist for H2O, about “Use Your Voice” (their latest disc), NYC punk hardcore (the scene and the book), growing as a musician and love songs...

gan: You guys have a new album out 6 years after a really well received record like “Nothing To Prove”. Over this lapse of time you did have a cover album out in 2011, tons of touring and recently some important changes within the band with Todd Morse leaving and you taking up the songwriting duties that for many years were in the hands of Todd. How do you personally feel like about this new role of yours in band and how the album came out? Are you and your buddies satisfied with it?

I was stoked to get to contribute more to this record...Both Todd and Rusty have done so much of the writing in the past, that I was really glad to step up to the plate. I did write some music for songs on Nothing To Prove, but this was the first time I wrote so much for a record. Next time, I hope Rusty and I can collaborate more as I really like the stuff he wrote for the record as well. As a band, we're really happy with the way it turned out, we definitely wanted to capture the live energy as much as possible, and I think taking so long between records really made us excited to lay down some new music and I think that comes across in the enthusiasm of the songs.

gan: Talking with Rusty during an interview I did last year he was mentioning that you, also as guitar player, are always down learning, trying blues, trying rock stuff and trying different new things. How did you get into taking up an instrument and learning to play it in the very first place?

I think it's important, as a musician, to constantly be working your craft and expanding your horizons. I have been playing bass for a long time, and as a bass player, I have always enjoyed playing diverse kinds of music...motown, hip hop bass, disco, hard rock...its all fun and all educational. I guess, as someone who took up guitar, more as something fun and something to write with, that kind of open minded attitude to different learning styles fit right in. I learned guitar when I was in my previous band, Shelter, so I started with hardcore and kind of grew out from there. Music is an endless journey with endless paths you can take, so why be limited with just one.

gan: You guys are from NYC and grew up in this city and its scene. How NYHC influenced you as musicians and, if it is the case, as the individuals you are today 21 years since H2O formed?

Obviously, NYHC is a huge influence on much personally, as sonically. We grew up as a band playing with and being inspired by all the greats of NYHC. I hate to sound like an old guy ranting about the past...but when all the old clubs were open, Coney Island High, Tramps, The Continental and, of course, CBGB, there really was some magic in the air. You could go out any night and see friends from other bands and hang out. Great times and fond memories that will last forever.

gan: Did you read the book “NYHC-New York Hardcore 1980–1990” by Tony Rettman? For a foreigner like myself I think it managed to offer a pretty good insight on who made up the scene and what it's been about over the decades covered in the book. What are some of your thoughts on this book? Any bands, characters, events that have been left out when it was rightfully to have these included?

I did not read the book...but I'm sure it has some great stories in it.

gan: I think the pop-rockish “True Romance” represents H2O being as very good at dishing out a pop song as they are when they deliver more straight forward punk hardcore with lot of melody hooks they're known for. How did this one came up? With a song like this and “Popage” you're likely to stir up the bullshitting that came along the release of the video clip for “What Happened?”. I love this side of you guys.

True Romance is a funny story...when we first sent the music to Toby to listen to, I actually didn't send it to him as I thought it had almost a too melancholy feel for a band like us, but I had sent it to our producer Chad. So when Chad sent back his notes on the songs, he mentioned True Romance and said he liked it. Toby asked to hear it, and he really liked it too so it got saved and put on the record. Toby wanted to write another love song, which is kind of tradition for us and our records, and this one was a perfect fit for what he had in mind.

gan: I also find very eye catching the cover artwork who came up with the idea and made it happen graphically?

I think Chad had a general idea and then Toby and Michael Rappaport and Antonio Ballatorre kind of ran with it and made something awesome!

gan: 2015 is drawing to a close. What are some of your favourite records of the years?

Some records I have been loving lately are records made by friends...I am in love with the World Be Free really captures a style of hardcore that is very close to my heart. Also, I really like Chaka from Burns solo project, Ghost Decibels...its electronic based and if I had to compare it to anything...maybe, I would say later era Faith No More (pre break up), when they kind of got a little more mellow and electronic influenced. Really good stuff.
As far as bands I'm not friends with (yet..)...I've been listening to a ton of Thievery Corporation lately and I really like that kind of global mish mash of styles.

gan: Adam, thanks a lot for taking some time out to answers our questions. Do you wanna add something?

Just that I'm sorry I didn't get this to you sooner and that hopefully we'll be back in Italy soon. So many of the people and things that make me most happy are from Italy...Pasta, Pizza, Gelato, Espresso, Scorsese, DeNiro...I can't wait to get back there!

Watch the music video for the track "Skate!" feat. professional skateboarding legend Steve Caballero and Rob Mertz

And for those more into love and romance check out the friends, family and fans photo submissions video for the song "True Romance"

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