Photo Credit: Anna Powell Teeter
More time has passed for Mike Adams At His Honest Weight between his upcoming release, There Is No Feeling Better, and his last but it was all for good reason. We sat down with Mike Adams to talk about new music, holding onto hope, and despite the world possibly being a “writhing heap on a fireball” in the future – what that holds for him.
Kendra: This time around you took a couple of years to really get There is No Better Feeling made. Was that due to past experiences where you felt like you may’ve rushed through the process?
Mike Adams: Not really. I’ve had the great luxury over the years of making albums on my own terms and at my own pace. The main reason this one took a little longer is because I wanted to try something different.
On albums past, I typically record everything at home by myself, in my spare time, then hand it over to Adam Jessup who can take his sweet time mixing and perfecting all the sounds. It’s very efficient that way, but I’ve made three and a half albums like that and was just getting a little bored in that process.
Also, my friends who play in the live version of this band are really incredible people and artists in their own right. In an effort to document us as a team, I decided to get all those guys involved this time around. We really mixed it all up and rearranged our lineup (our guitar player on drums, bass player on guitar, me on bass…that kind of thing) just as a fun creative-challenge and to keep it exciting. Most of the time and energy was spent on planning things out and trying to align everyone’s’ busy schedules. The actual recording and making of the album went very smoothly and was a ton of fun. Once we were finished recording, Adam had less time than ever to mix the album. We inverted our entire approach. Oh, also, my daughter was born while we were making this record.
Kendra: Perhaps one of the most relatable songs today is “Pressing Mesh” as it deals with what I think 99% of us are feeling, that idea of holding onto even the tiniest bit of hope during a full-blown shit storm. Was that motivated by personal experience or America’s continuous spiral?
Mike Adams: You got it. This is one of the most overtly broad political songs I’ve ever written. I hope it’s still poetic enough to leave room for some interpretation, but I’m basically singing here about trying to figure out where I stand. I feel pushed to find a moral center lately, and I need something basic and trustworthy to build my thoughts on, especially regarding the media, climate, racism, sexism, parenting, being a good neighbor, etc.
It feels like a big mess of tangled wires most of the time, and I really want to figure out which ones I can cut and which ones I can start tugging at to get the knots out and clean it up a bit. It’s an exciting time, culturally, because I think a lot of peoples’ hearts and minds are being kickstarted in a way that I have never really experienced before. It is also scary because a lot of us in the margins are susceptible to harm in the chaos of trying to figure this stuff out. It’s a balancing act, but this song is a resolution to get to work!
Kendra: Essentially you dug deep and asked yourself some of the most essential questions while writing and recording this album. Would you say it was better than therapy in a way?
Mike Adams: I don’t know about “better,” but for me, it definitely serves as self-medication. I vaguely remember reading a Johnny Cash quote someplace where he equated his songwriting to prayer. And there’s also the famous Brian Wilson quote about “Smile,” intending for it to be a “teenage symphony to god.”
I relate to those lofty ideas of using music to communicate with something bigger than, and hopefully outside of, myself. It does feel like therapy, or prayer, or meditation, in that regard, although I’m certain I could benefit from some clinical talk-therapy as well, ha!
Kendra: Of all the songs on the record, which do you feel you’ll still have all the feels for when playing it live in 10, 20 years time?
Mike Adams: Assuming we’re not gnashing our teeth in a writhing heap on a fireball in 10-20 years, I think “Wonderful To Love” might have some staying power for me, personally. It took a really long time to get that song right where it ought to be, and I couldn’t let it go. Just kept working on it, so I reckon that means it touches something deep in my brain that I won’t shake anytime soon.
Also, in 10-20 years we should have self-driving cars. You know how a lot of artists are doing these Living Room Tours now? I hope I can be the first guy to do Van Tours where I just get people to sit in my van with me while it drives us around their town and I do the whole show in there. Then I could do an entire tour without ever having to step outside the van; which is the best part of being on tour, anyway. Being in the van. It rules and is not boring, uncomfortable, torture at all.
Kendra: Over the years I’ve talked to musicians from all over the country and world, and you may be the first repping Indiana. What’s the music scene like where you’re at?
Mike Adams: I’ve lived in Indiana my whole life, I love it here. I moved from a small cornfield up north to Bloomington, where I live now, in large part because of its reputation as a music and art town. The scene in this small town is strange and constantly in a state of flux. It’s mostly powered by the university and its high turnover.
But, it’s deep and wide and has endured for a long time. My friend Bethany just started a thread on Facebook this week asking people who their “all-time favorite” Bloomington band is/was. It’s an exciting thread to read, and there are very few repeat answers. It’s an easy and fun place to live and be creative if you want to be. It often feels like a year-round summer camp to me. Indianapolis has a lot of great, creative activity going on, too, and it’s just a few minutes up the road.
Kendra: Podcasts are the absolute norm right now. What’s the story behind Tan Van Tour Talk?
Mike Adams: I really love the idea that ANYthing can be a podcast. It’s the Wild West out here! No rules. It’s bonkers and weird and exciting. We started Tan Van Tour Talk as a goof on that notion, kind of. Like, what would an hour-long ambient recording of the Tour Van be like? Insightful? Torture? Too revealing and mystery killing? Like nothing at all? It’s devolved from that genesis and has basically become a talk-show, but I’ve grown to love it a lot. It’s a very fun way to pass the time. It is a really cool way of documenting our travels and our shared experiences. Like an audio tour diary. Now, does that mean it’s valuable to anyone else besides us? I have no idea! But we make it publicly available because we are desperate for attention.
Kendra: Can you let the people know what you have going on in the foreseeable future? Touring perhaps?
Mike Adams: We’re working out some tour dates right now for the fall. Hopefully, by September you’ll be seeing and hearing a lot more live activity from us. We’re back into those scheduling weeds again, but we’re excited to play and to spend some more time together.