45 Revolutions Per Minute: The 45 Adapters Interview

Though we’ve never actually met (many times been at the same shows, but never actually hung out) I’ve long thought Gerrard of Bottom of the Barrel and 45 Adapters fame one of the most interesting people in the scene. Whether it be putting effort into his band, the scene, fanzines or his internet presence, he’s always had a unique and informed take on a variety of subjects. When I heard he had formed a new band, 45 Adapters, I was eager to check them out. The results ran the gamut like the man himself; from Sonics style garage to hard R&B to Oi! Oi!, I’m really diggin’ what I hear from this group.


I was then very pleased to hear they would be putting in a set at PLAY IT LOUD!, hands down the finest gathering of the year.


In conjunction with the PLAY IT LOUD! interview series, I’m psyched to step aside and let Gerrard take the floor in an interview I’m proud to post.


(Dig that Top Ten List, my son!)



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SATURDAY NIGHT: Not to get too fanboy from the get go, but the first time I heard 45 AD recordings pop up on MySpace, I was on board. I really dug the….not lo-fi style, but for lack of a better word, that will have to do. I really like(d) the amalgam of influences which seem to be meeting up here. From stuff like The Sonics and garage-y stuff, to bits and pieces of Small Faces/hard R&B to punk and Oi!


GERRARD: You know what, there’s nothing wrong with having enthusiasm for the stuff you like! Everybody is so “too cool for school” now-a-days and that’s really just a copout. I’m glad to hear that people get where we’re coming from and you’ve hit it directly on the head. I worry sometimes that people just want to hear things they are comfortable with, things that fit into a nice little neatly labeled box. We’re not nearly that clean and orderly about our sound. We all listen to so much music that inevitably all kinds of influences work their way into the music we make. I mean, we have lots of love songs so right off the bat a whole lot of people are just not going to be into what we do. That’s cool, too.


SATURDAY: Gerrard, did the band start with you and you alone and then you took it to the streets and recruited shared visionaries? Can you explain the process of how 45 A’s came to be?


GERRARD: I stopped writing songs down for years, but I never stopped writing them. I walk around all day making up songs like little kids do, you know? A few years ago I started recording those tunes on my little computer setup under the name “Pickabar” and I still do that. That’s really fun because I get inspired, work on a tune for a few days and then just throw it on the internet. I highly recommend doing that; it’s a lot of fun. Just not as much fun as being in a real band.


A couple of years ago I was talking to Phil at a reggae night about starting up a real band again and he introduced me to Julio. He was looking to start something too, so we decided to combine forces. My other friend Lucas recommended Pat for drums. I immediately remembered seeing him dancing up a storm at a Melodians gig and I knew he’d be a perfect fit. I met Craig through Phil too…and Lucas new Dave from Arizona.  Now that I think about it we owe our whole band existence to SPQR. I’ve got to remember to buy those guys a round!


SATURDAY: Who are the current members of the group? Have they been in other bands as well? What do the resumes look like?

Is it difficult to go from one man recordings to using an entire band?


GERRARD: Craig is our bassist and was the original bassist of The Traditionals from Pittsburgh. Dave a/k/a Knighthawk is our guitarist and was in the Fatskins for a brief moment at the beginning. Pat is our drummer and was playing in bars before he had facial hair. Julio had some real life stuff to handle, so he’s not a performing member anymore. He’s going to be running our web stuff and doing other behind the scenes stuff. I sing and play guitar and I had a band in high school called BOTB.


The original Pickabar versions of the songs are usually pretty fleshed out, but bringing them to the band practice room takes them to a whole different level. We’ve got a really mean rhythm section and they do a lot to help me polish the feel and arrangements of the songs. Whenever the other guys in the band make up a cool part for one of the songs I just nod my head and pretend that that’s what I was thinking the whole time.


SATURDAY: Taken from your MySpace: “45AD is four friends who dress well, listen to good music, drink licentiously and dance when the mood strikes.” Let’s break it down for the masses: 1. What constitutes dressing well. 2. Gimmie 5 or so examples of what is currently labelled good music. in the 45AD camp 3. Drinking is self-explanatory and 4. Who is the best dancer in the band? The people wanna know!


GERRARD: Everyone has their own style; there are no rules as long as you feel that you’re looking sharp. My general retirement uniform is still Sherman shirt, clean jeans and Sambas. At the soul night it was Bennies, tapered slacks and loafers. You can’t go wrong with the classics. I’ve never understood the whole dressing like you want to be in the army or in a rap group or running with the Hells thing. Nothing against anyone who digs it, but it’s just not my bag. That said I can rock my Biggie t-shirt and cut-off camos and still look like a million bucks.


You know, I saw an old friend Terror when we played with HCS in New Jersey about a month ago. He busted my chops because I was wearing a fresh Bennie. He reminded me that I used to always argue that real skins bought their shirts at Sears for 20 bucks instead of mail order for 40 bucks. Of course, I was pretty broke when I said that. As soon as I had some money in my pocket I was investing in Shermans and Freds. Typical Gerrard hypocrisy!


Now they have stores in the city and the addiction worsens. Actually, they have a Fred Perry store, a Ben Sherman store and an Addidas store within a few blocks. It’s almost not fair.


Hard to list just five, but here are some tunes on heavy rotation right now:


1. Larry Williams – “Slow Down”


2. Life’s Blood – “Never Make A Change”


3. Roy Shirley – “See Through Craze”


4. The Rebels – “This Isn’t Freedom”


5. The Clues – “No Vacancies”


You know what, I can’t do just five:


6. The Equals – “My Life Ain’t Easy”


7. The Clan – “Copycats”


8. Death – “Keep on Knocking”


9. The Rivals – “Rose Of England”


10. Oxblood – “We’re Always Right”


Sorry, mix-tape addict!


As for the dancing, I don’t want to start any intra-band fighting, but everyone knows that I’m deadly with a pair of loafers, decent tunes and some young ladies around for inspiration. I’m undefeated and looking for challengers. DTAWDD!

45a1


SATURDAY: If the members all share a common trait, from the outside, it seems like you all have pretty decent backgrounds in the punk/oi! scene. Is that a fair assessment? I’ve always been told that certain people “outgrow” playing punk/oi! in that it’s not always “fun” to play, so people progress and move on. What that a consideration in the 45 AD style, as you guys definitely tip the cap to said scenes, but also branch out, or is it more just “we play what we like” and if what you like falls under style X, Y and Z you will play all three?


GERRARD: That’s definitely a fair assessment, that’s mainly where our roots come from. Oi!, reggae and soul are our common base. That said, we started out with the goal of playing R&B/pub rock/glam type music. I started playing songs for my friends and they would always say, “oh you’re playing Oi!”, so I guess that influence just comes out naturally. The next song I write may be in a Jook mode, a Stax style R&B tune or even a Hardcore song. Our influences inevitably come out, but they are inspiration and not a set of rules about what we’ll play.


For a lot of people Oi! is a rulebook; gruff vocals about one of the prescribed topics, one of two basic drumbeats, mid-tempo pace, etc. Of course, that kind of definition falls apart when you try to apply it to the original bands, doesn’t it? I mean, they had poetry on the original Oi! comps. It was that sort of an eclectic scene. If Cock Sparrer came out today playing “I Need A Witness” there are lots of people that would never give them a chance.


Don’t get me wrong, “Oi! Oi! Bootboy Let’s Get Drunk” stuff can be fun as hell, but it shouldn’t be the only thing in a well balanced musical diet. It’s like only eating breakfast cereal or something. I’ve always dug the bands, like a lot of the French bands, which are willing to stretch out and embrace outside influences.


SATURDAY: Tell me about the obsession with the Mets, and how you guys went about writing the tribute tunes to them.

I understand it’s got some radio airplay? As a diehard Cubs fan, I’ve got much disdain for the Mets thanks to the ’69 season, but can appreciate the passion of a true fan!


GERRARD: I’m just a baseball fanatic. The Mets play 162 games a year and I usually watch at least 155 of those. That’s what I do. Drink a beer, strum the guitar and watch the Mets game. It’s never even been a choice for me, you know? My family has always been a hardcore Mets family and if I ever have children they’ll be Mets fans too. That’s just something we share that lets us express our pride in our city and our history. People from other areas don’t always get it, but in NYC it’s always been about which baseball team you support. My grandmother would have disowned me if I’d turned out as the type of person who would root for the Yankees.


It’s funny, I know the cool scene thing is to be into soccer and lots of my friends are. I dig futbol, don’t get me wrong. I’ve even got some West Ham kit, being a total Cockney Rejects devotee. I just don’t have the kind of roots in it that I have in baseball. You know, a real West Ham fan might have had ancestors that rooted for the original Thames Ironwork team. They might work near Upton Park, or do their shopping nearby. That’s not my life experience.


Whenever Craig and I get drunk enough we start singing the Mets theme song “Meet The Mets”. I was trying to figure the tune out on guitar one day and it wasn’t happening. I was getting really frustrated with my lack of musical ability and then suddenly a whole song popped out of my head. It hasn’t gotten any radio play, but some of the Mets blogs covered it and we got a lot of great feedback. It was awesome getting exposure to people who might otherwise never have listened to a punk band, you know? We play for everyone.


SATURDAY: Speaking of seeing bands on MySpace and the like, Gerrard, you’ve been active on the web for some time now. I remember checking your website back in the Bottom of the Barrel days and thinking it was one of the only eloquent websites out there covering Oi!/punk. What do you think of the ‘Net these days as far as the scene is concerned? It seems to have bred alot of internet warriors, and shit-talking, but at the same time, it has allowed for people who are separated by miles, keep in touch and really germinate friendships. What’s your take on the whole phenom; the good and the bad?


GERRARD: Thanks, I appreciate that. That BOTB website led to lots of great opportunities for me and to some friendships that I’ve maintained to this day (cheers Jarl!). Now it seems like there are hundreds if not thousands of sites that focus on the Oi!/punk scene, but at that point there were probably five. The world has changed! I have to say, sometimes I read some of my old articles and I have to cringe. I was a bit high on my opinions, wasn’t I? The unblinking certainty of youth, I guess. Someone once told me that the site made them feel ok to be into Oi! with out having to pretend to be dumb. That was a pretty nice compliment.


It’s funny, I distinctly remember people making fun of me for putting up that BOTB web site back in the day. At least one of the people who used to say “that ain’t skinhead” is now working in networking!


Like any other tool, the internet has its downsides and it can be used by small minded people to annoy and harass other people. That’s just life. The same fire that you use to heat your food can be used by idiots to burn down your house. At the same time, the positive benefits more than outweigh the negatives.


When I was a kid, learning about anything other than the stuff that large media corporations want to force feed us was pretty difficult. Communicating with people in other countries took writing letters that might not arrive at their destination for weeks. By the time you got a reply you might not even remember what you’d written in the first place! Now I can jot down an email to anybody in the world in five minutes. Most of my early exposure to good music was from third or fourth generation hissy cassettes. Now I can download a decent copy of almost anything I want to hear in a few minutes. People say, oh well it’s too easy for kids now, but that’s nonsense. I think it’s great that any kid from Podunk who is willing to make the effort to explore has a chance to. It used to be all so dependent on who you knew and where you lived. I’m an information junkie, so the internet is the best thing that ever happened to me.


Of course, there are the flame wars and that type of silliness, but that’s not really an issue if you don’t let yourself get involved in it. I actually signed up for a certain online message board without mentioning my real name and within a few days I was getting attacked by people. Someone from NYC also physically threatened me. Over the internet. It’s all very sad, isn’t it? I mean, we’re in the same city and I’m at every show or DJ gig. The old Gerrard would have been indignant and would have posted lots of citations and URLs to back up my points. Maybe an invitation to that certain internet gangster to meet me in the real world. The new Gerrard was smart enough to stop reading the site and go to the beach. No one who is really hard threatens people over the internet.


SATURDAY: I am a semi-collector of vinyl myself. I know you share the hobby. How serious is your collection these days? What are you searching out? Any Holy Grails that you’re searching for as we talk? (I love talking record collecting…)


GERRARD: Non-collectors would probably consider my collection serious. Unfortunately, half of the people I hang out with are DJs with amazing collections, so I’m not going to make that kind of statement here! I will say that if you come over for a drink, I’ve got the music handled.


I mainly collect cheap records, to be honest with you. I’ll pick up a record on the street or at a second hand shop for a few bucks and just give it a chance. Until eBay came around I mostly listened to the really good stuff on tapes that I got from other people. Then I went a little crazy buying all of my favorites! That’s right, typical eBay poser. I’ve got some good bootboy stuff, lots of reggae, some Chess blues and I’m even getting a bit more soul stuff lately.


I’d really like a copy of Hot Rod Allstars “Moonhop In London/Moondust” on Torpedo, but it’s out of my price range. Rudy Mills “John Jones” on Bigshot. The Equals “I Can See But You Don’t Know” with the cover. I just got Pioneers “Reggae Fever”, which is kind of the reggae anthem in NYC.


SATURDAY: What about your DJ-ing gigs? What is the set-list like when you’re out around the city DJ-ing?


pat

GERRARD: I’m not a real DJ, I just have friend who’ll let me do guest slots. I’m always looking for opportunities to make people listen to my music! I spin uptown in Manhattan with Legio SPQR semi-regularly and with Milo downtown once in a while. The downtown gig is punk, rock and roll stuff like Rose Tattoo, power pop, that type of guitar driven music. With SPQR we spin early reggae, rocksteady, soul and more dance oriented stuff. I don’t mean to brag, but we’ve got crates. We had the folks from Aggro & Smart France in town a few months back and it was hit after hit for 6+ hours.


SATURDAY: What has 45AD’s experience been like so far as far as playing out live? Best and worst gigs?


GERRARD: We’re still getting our live act really together, but it’s been a whole lot of fun already. We’re really improving with every show we play. We’ve performed at hardcore shows, scooter rallies and even rockabilly shows. We try to operate by the Wretched Ones credo, “play where they let us and drink as much as we can.” It’s been great seeing the responses from all kinds of crowds.


The best and worst gigs were probably the same one. We played with Hub City Stompers (the only ska band I like) at Court Tavern and we were really on our game. The sound was great and I really had fun playing. I was especially pleased because two members of BOTB, Kevin and James, were there. I have a lot of respect for their opinions when it comes to music and they were both into our sound. That show was also our worst gig, because the crowd was not having it! Maybe if they hear us a few more times they’ll get what we’re about. Our recording of “Tiny Bites” from that gig is up on our Myspace page. I cut if off, but in the original recording you can hear that the only person clapping after the song is my girlfriend.


SATURDAY: How is NYC in general these days for shows/gigs/happenings? Any up and coming bands we should know about?


GERRARD: There always seems to be something going on DJ wise, but there aren’t as many cool gigs as there used to be. I go out to see a lot of random bands to be honest, just because I really love live music. One of the few bad things about NYC is that the subculture scene is so big that it’s really fractured. There are so many things going on that everyone kind of keeps to their own little niche. Every time a really big band plays, people come out of the woodworks. If even half of those people made the effort to come out once in a while for a smaller gig or even just to hangout, things would be much better. Jersey seems to have much more of that type of spirit.


I’m not judging anybody; I went through the sit at home on the couch thing for a few years. I’m just saying, come out. I’ll get the first round!


As for bands, I’m psyched to see Ten Pints In for the first time. They’re a good rock and roll band from Long Island. My friend Carlos is in a punk band called Destitute NJ and that whole band is full of great musicians.


SATURDAY: What kind of recordings can we expect in the future? Have you guys chosen any labels to work with (and here I should plug my own label, Rock’n’Roll Disgrace, as we’d dig putting out something by 45AD’s!)


GERRARD: We just recorded for a split with a Mod band called Radio Crimes on May Cause Dizziness Records. We’re also going to be releasing our debut 45 on Longshot Music in the future. That’s actually at the mastering house as we speak. I really dig Aires & Graces and Marching Orders who are also on Longshot, so I’m psyched to have that opportunity. We’re looking to get on some compilations as well. We’ve got a bunch of other tunes ready to record and even more pickabar tunes in the vault. Labels, please do get in touch! We’d love to work with you Sean.


SATURDAY: I’m psyched to see you guys at PLAY IT LOUD! Are you guys looking forward to this? What bands are you looking forward to checking out?


GERRARD: We’re really looking forward to this gig as our first real chance to get our name known to people outside of New York. Getting to be on a bill that’s full of top rate bands and not just every band the organizers could find is really the best part, you know? We’re playing back to back with Pressure 28 and Aires & Graces Friday and Saturday, so it’s going to be an awesome weekend. I’m looking forward to hearing Hammer & The Nails do “Legislation, Not Rehabilitation” live. There’s also some history punk band that I’ve heard is pretty good. We’ll see.


SATURDAY: Anything you’d like to add, feel free! Thank you’s or anything?


GERRARD: If I thank anyone, I’ll forget someone else. So I’ll just say, DTAWDD!

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9 Responses to “45 Revolutions Per Minute: The 45 Adapters Interview”

  1. Quality interview sir. Great questions, greater answers.

  2. The Ejected aren’t Oi!?!? WTF??

  3. great interview

  4. I love the Ejected. I also love whiskey and talking. Dangerous combination!

  5. […] a new 45AD interview for those of you who don’t get enough of my ramblings here in […]

  6. The Ejected are okay…

  7. Billy Shears Says:

    I’d say better than 80% of active oi!/punk bands out there today, if not more….

  8. Cheers to you too, Gerrard!

  9. […] tidbit, I actually called out other bands for using lyrics like “let’s get drunk”. I wrote this song before we did that interview, so I’m totally a […]

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