That Championship Season • Breaking Records & Carving New Inroads with ADABOY!

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    icon May 16, 2024
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The first thing I noticed about ADABOY! at this year’s 38th Annual REVIEW Music Awards was founder Mike Richards’ gold shoes, which was entirely fitting considering the amount of growth this award-winning band has gone through over this past breakthrough year, not only in terms of popularity but also critical acclaim, which has been exponential.

Apart from being the first band in the 38-year history of the REVIEW Music Awards to win ‘Best Variety Band’, ‘Best Original Band’, ‘Best Rock Band, and ‘Best Alternative Band’, their first single release Time (Voices Run) they recorded down in Nashville last year with Grammy Award winning engineer Joe Baldridge also nailed several top honors, which is an amazing feat for a group who’s sixth and current incarnation is barely two-years old.

‘Majestic’ is the word I would use to best describe the breadth of dynamics in their music and depth of harmony and compassion in their vocal sensibilities. And because they are genuine, their performances are electrifying.   ADABOY! is a group who has overcome much, standing together to release carefully crafted original music. The end result in a group who have cultivated a powerful sound that allows the listener to feel any weight being lifted. But more importantly, they are creating forward thinking, growth mindset music, colored by the textures of past eras with a heartfelt foundation.

Less than a week after their big wins I had the pleasure of sitting down with the group to talk about all these things and more, so pay close attention, because there’s a lot of solid wisdom and a few good chuckles to be found in these exchanges that follow.

REVIEW: Okay, guys.  Apart from all the wins at this years’ Awards Celebration, you’ve had some amazing musical breakthroughs since we last sat down to chat, so I’d like to start by asking what are the factors you attribute to all this success?

Joe Balbaugh:  Trusting one another.  Each of us have schedules in this band and different things going on in our lives, so if one person says they’ll do something that requires attention, we count on them to meet that deadline.  But we’re also all human and have time management conflicts for different reasons, so if a task hasn’t been completed, someone else in the band will pick up the responsibility because we all share it. One person can’t do everything in a group, so the most important element that holds us all together and makes us stronger is trust.

REVIEW: How has your award-winning single been clocking?

Mike RIchards: As of today we found Time (Voices Run)  is getting played in Rome, which is way cool!

REVIEW: Have you been recording down in Nashville with your same Grammy Award winning producer Joe Baldridge and the Castle production team?

Mike: We’ve been down there two other times and have about seven or eight songs recorded, so we’re about half way through the album Time (Voices Run) is the only one we’ve released, but the release party for the next one will be on June 1st at The Vault. Then the third single we’ll release probably as early as August.

Vince Modern: Through talking with friends of ours we also found some Chicago studios, plus Tempermille Studio in Detroit, along with Pearl Sound Studio, so we don’t have to travel all the way to Nashville, but we do like the process and love the people down there. It’s been a pleasure working with Mr. Joe Baldridge and it’s good to maintain our Nashville presence and invite people to the studio.

REVIEW: So what do you attribute to the strong response from the public at large regarding the numerous honors you received this year?

Joe:  With regards to the Best Alternative and Best Variety Band awards, when we put our show together we always ask how can we keep everybody in a room from start to finish. Apart from our originals, we try to avoid pigeonholing ourselves to any one style or form of music, so might throw  in a little Country, a little Classic Rock, some ‘80s hits, a little Motown.

Mike: One of the weirdest songs we’re doing is Thunder Island, and people love it! But when it comes to our original stuff, we don’t think - let’s write a reggae song, or a rock song, or a country song, but try to allow the nature and sentiment of the song to determine the style of music its built around.

Steve Bennett: I can’t speak to that because I’m just a drummer, but I think its deeper or more spiritual for us. These things choose themselves, and I’m not getting into summoning demons here, but different spirits that songs are written in put the song together for you and it’s like we’re just coloring the pages and figuring out what page we want to color. It’s really that simple.

Vince: There are some difficulties that come along the road in terms of trials and tribulations, but our band is about overcoming all those things, so that’s not a problem. I think one of the reasons we’re so tight as a band goes back to the trust thing. There’s no worry on stage. Each person does their job and what they’re asked to do.

Joe: We’re all human and playing errors will happen on stage. We’ve all been in that situation and it’s not a fun feeling, but if you can’t be hard on yourself you can’t be hard on other people, which is the way I approach it. Treat others the same way you would treat yourself.

REVIEW: Collectively, what are your goals for the upcoming year?

Mike: Our next single Man I Am is set to drop at a special Release Party we’re throwing at The Vault on June 1st with William Patrick & The Smoke and Euclid Motel. It’s a fundraiser for Saginaw County Animal Care with 25% of the $10.00 admission being donated there. We’re trying to generate money for them - its where I got my dog, so it makes sense. Then in late August we’ll be releasing our next single, New Strings, which we played at the Music Awards. Most of the songs we play live are the new ones, because if you listen to the 2019 album and what we’re playing now, it’s hard to go back.

Back in 2019 you could tell our songwriting process was fresh because we had just come together, but at the same time a lot of those songs were great so we are spending some time refurbishing them. We went into Andy Reed’ Studio with just the three of us and Jake and spent three months rehearsing in Frankenmuth and put that entire album together in Andy Dalton’s Studio in Frankenmuth, letting the songs marinate. It’s the same place Greta Van Fleet used to rehearse.

REVIEW: So much has happened over the 2-years this latest incarnation of the band took form, but over the past year what’s the most memorable thing that happened to you in term of being a high-point?

Joe: It would have to be July 25th of last year when we did our showcase for PCG Universal and Bernard Porter down in Nashville last year with Jennifer McGill and Britton Cameron. This was a three day event and the third day we met Pam Tillis. It was her birthday the day before and she was scheduled to do a TV interview at 1 PM, which was right when we were doing our showcase for all the record executives.  

Bernard asked Pam if she would listen to us and she phoned the station and told them she was going to be a little late, so we played a couple songs for her and asked what she thought and she looked at us and said, “Ya’all sing like Alabama and look like ZZ Top. In my book that’s a winning combination!” 

Mike: That was really a highpoint. She was an hour late for her interview just to listen to us, and it felt like we were in the thick of the music industry - that was definitely a peak. All these famous industry people were asking me to describe the band on stage in front of all these people striving for the same thing as we were, and our trip has been such an emotional one putting ourselves out in places we’ve never been, and I got real emotional on stage, given the six different line-ups of this group I’ve been through.

Joe has always been in and out of the picture, but finally we’ve been able to make it work and I got so emotional describing these men I get to play with every night that I kinda broke down; but Bernard saved me by saying, ‘You sing like brothers and you answered my question because I see it’s special and emotional for you.”  And he was right, because it definitely was.”

Vince: That was also an amazing experience because we got to watch all these other artists perform and get critiqued by the pros on everything from chord arrangements and presentation to note selection. They do this conference every year but you need to be invited to attend. They set up our showcase on the third  and final day.

It was funny, because we were taking this all in and looking at what this panel would be critiquing us about when it came time for us to perform, but all they could say is how much they loved our performance and to keep doing what we’re doing. 

I was waiting for what Britton would have to say, because he’s been on tour half his life and I thought if anybody is gonna tear us apart it will be that guy; but he didn’t have a bad word to say. All he did was compliment us on our equipment and said, “Seeing you guys takes me back to the best of my life touring with my band.”

REVIEW: Okay guys, final question - what was your reaction to being nominated in 15 categories and walking away with nine trophies this year?

Joe: Getting nominated for that many honors was awesome to begin with, but then winning nine of those trophies was overwhelming. I was prepared to applaud for whomever won, but it seemed like every time I turned around I was getting called up to the stage again.

Mike: I thought it was great that we tied with Kush Robinson for Best Rock Band. In fact, we’ve talked about throwing a show together. I love those guys.  They’re taking it back in a good way. But honestly, after going up to the stage so many times I ran out of things to say!

As for the summer, we want to play as much as possible and have some really awesome shows in Saginaw coming up. We’re opening for the AC/DC Tribute show in Ludington and getting over to the West side of the state more, plus we’re opening for the Billy Joel Tribute band at Friday Night Live in Morley Plaza this summer, and doing a Country Rock Music Fest in Jackson along with the Burton Rock & Blues Festival, so it’s definitely going to be a busy summer.

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