On July 15th 2019 I had the honour of interviewing Adam Hall, a well-known musician from Western Australia, who currently is touring Europe together with his band Adam Hall and the Velvet Playboys. I first met them in August 2018 at the Munich Sessions in Munich.

BN: Hi Adam! You are one of the most well-known musicians in Australia. It's an honour to talk to you.

Adam: "Thank you. It's very nice of you to say that."

BN: At the moment you are on tour.

Do you feel a special connection to Europe?

Adam: "Absolutely. It's one of the best places to play. The audience is very responsive, energetic and attentive even though sometimes they dont understand English, which is the amazing part. It's a privilege for us to be here. Soon we will be travelling through Belgium. It's just definitely something that the audience is used to listening to. Just generally culturally they understand the music world and things like saxophonists playing solo.

In different parts of the world they don't necessarily understand what's actually happening. They understand it's music and something good is happening but mostly they are feeling intimidated. Cause they are like "Wait, do I applaud now or is it later?“ And so you feel like this disconnect and you are not sure how is it going, but in Europe they are all very attentive, appreciative and nothing but gracious.

So it is certainly one of my favourite places to go, if not my most favourite place, I would say."

BN: Lovely! During your time in America you have been working with many famous artists like James Morrison, right?

Adam: "Yes! I got to do some work with the Count Basie Orchestra, the Shirley Horn's band, James Morrison and the Olympics in the year 2000. That shows how old I am."

BN: Oh, it's not about that I think.

It just shows you have lots of life experience and you are really going with the flow, right? You are following your passion.

Adam: "Yeah. We got to open for bands like UB40, Nile Rogers."

BN: Have you always been on the way with Jazz music? Or have you discovered it a little bit later in life? Like have you been first listening to rock'n'roll or something else and then you were like "I like Jazz?“

Adam: "I listen to everything all at once.

I don't ever feel like I need a time to sit and to listen to nothing but Jazz. I was always listening to other things the same time as I was listening to Jazz. And I tended to gravitate towards artists rather than styles of music. I don't think there is a style of Jazz that I would always listen to. I tend to like artists, particular musicians from everywhere, all kind of styles. I don't like everything in Opera, but I do love Placido Domingo.

I don't like everything from the Swing Band Era but I do like for example Count Basie Orchestra. I don't like everything from like Heavy Metal or whatever but I do like Rage Against the Machine. For me its just particular artists that speaks to me. To be honest I actually admire the passion that various musicians play with. And i'ts not like other musicians don't play with passion, but it's more like it's not their highest priority. In some styles of music, the highest priority is to execute a certain thing very well. It has not necessarily to do with much passion. And a lot of people appreciate that stuff and people who are technically very gifted. And they like watching and seeing it happen effortlessly . Whereas my thing is: I dont mind if it is a little bit rough around the edges."

BN: There is perfection in imperfection.

Adam: "Also I'm very much a live musician. My band always sounds better live than it does on the recordings. We just go with the flow. You don't really want to put any limitations on what it can be or what it can't be or be too restricted about anyone's song. Everybody and every situation is different. You can go to a certain place where the audience is a bit quiet, so you adapt your style to make it a bit softer and then again you are the third band on a massive festival and so you just need to hit them really hard, straight away."

BN: Makes sense. Sometimes you also write your own songs, right?

Adam: "Absolutely!"

BN: Do you do it together with the band as well or is it more like a solo-thing?

Adam: "No, it's too difficult to write everything together unless you got a lot of time on your hands. When you write lyrics together, sometimes its hard enough just figuring out what you think. Going through those chords and structures and melodies and try to figure out how exactly you want to put it and how it all fits together. Sometimes it takes a long time to get that clarity just yourself. Like having a writing partner it would be good in the terms of like I got to the part of a certain song and I'd love to get another opinion on that specific song, like what we can do here. But I don't think for me it would really work in that scenario where it's like you are trying to write a song together and its like "What chord next?“ That would be just too confusing. It would be like this and that. The song itself would sound very like a combination of things. It's hard to make it seem like it's all one thought, one process sort of thing. And that's the reason why a lot of song writers say they write their songs in like 20 minutes or whatever. Just because it is just one thought and it just flows down. That is it. Now I find that if you have too many contributions you second guess yourself and then they second guess themselves and then when you are looking at it, it just looks like a mess. That's just always been my way but who knows: I might change my mind in the future."

BN: You have also done some covers like from Beyoncé, a special record with her songs. Was it meant to be like an hommage?

Adam: "Well, that was more of a dare actually. She released an album and I was listenting to it and I thought "Oh, it's a collection of vintage beats that she puts modern sounds to. And everyones like "No“ and I'm like "Yeah“ and they were like "No!“ and i was like "Yeah!“ And I said "I will prove it to you.“ So I started transcribing the songs to show them this comes from a certain beat and that one comes from like a vintage sort of thing or whatever. And sure enough if you strip it down it is actually what the song is. So in a way everything that's old is new again."

BN: Yes, thats true. That leads to the next question: You dive a lot into another era such as the 40's and 50's. Also with the way you dress you bring people on a journey with you and help them to go back in time for a little while.

Adam: "For sure! I have never been a fan of putting on a show and not appearing like you are the band. I don't like the idea that the band comes in like the worst-dressed people. It never sits right with me. I mean other people do it but its not my thing."

BN: It makes a nice impression if you are all dressed very well. It is a matter of respect when you are looking good for the audience. It's a joy watching you on stage.

Adam: "I hope so. I mean it's okay if you are at a jam session and you just wear whatever, but if you are doing an actual concert it also creates a certain atmosphere."

BN: It really suits the atmosphere. Your songs are perfect for that because you are also covering Frank Sinatra and are singing all these beautiful songs. Many people, not only old people but also younger ones love to still listen to that 'cause they think these Oldies are Goldies so-to-say.

Adam: "Yes, exactly."

BN: Often modern music might not be able to captivate your soul in such a way.

Adam: "Also we do a show with material from the Great American Song book and it's funny: as time progresses there are a lot more American songs but there are a lot less great ones. It's funny when you go back to that particular era. In stretches of one year there are just so many great songs written in the same year and there are so many songs to chose from. As time has progressed it's not the same. There are pockets of yes, a couple ones here, a couple of ones there but it is not the same amount of incredible composers all alive at the same time, all writing great songs at the same time. The other interesting thing is: A lot of the great composers never liked their songs changed into Jazz songs. You know Cole Porter was always on the fence about whether he liked his songs being Jazz songs. So many people do cover Jazz albums. Cole himself was never such a big fan of that happening. There are many that just never had the same passion for it. He actually imagined them as show-tunes, as Cabarets songs, not as Jazz songs. But they work, they work very well with Jazz I suppose."

BN: Since you founded the band some years ago, you often changed the constellation a little bit. It seems like some former band members have left the band and some things have changed?

Adam: "Well, it's not because i don't like people. I started the band years ages ago in the year 2003."

BN: So back then you already had the name "Adam and the Velvet Playboys?“

Adam: "Yes, until 2011. We just had the same group of six people for about eight years. So in 2011 the whole thing changed because we started touring a lot more. Or let's say what I wanted to do was to tour a lot more. And I was tired of having arguments with members of the band about "Do you want to come on this tour or you don't want to come." It is much simpler if you find other musicians that are willing to travel and tour."

BN: So you were always six people in the band?

Adam: "Yes, we always liked to have good horn sections. We never wanted it to be just like a rhythm section band. We always wanted it to be like a good horn section band. Three horns is a nice amount of horns, if I play as well with two other horn players. It's an interesting sound. It's more to it than just focussing on guitars or piano players."

BN: What are your future plans? Is there a new album coming up?

Adam: "Yeah. We are going to watch this space on the albums, because I think we just need to figure out what actually happens with all the production. It hasn't really yet been resolved what is going to happen with Spotify and Amazon."

BN: So people can follow you on Spotify?

Adam: "Yeah! So we just need to solve that first before we start producing more albums because we're not sure what is going to happen with the current albums."

BN: How many albums have you released so far?

Adam: "Six, at the moment. The latest one we released was in 2018. So we are probably not due for another until at least next year, maybe later. But we've got a couple of shows that we are really excited about, putting together new songs from the Great American Song Book . Also other musicians are going to collaborate with us: Some guys of the James Brown Band and Buena Vista Social Club. You can follow us on Instagram, Youtube, Facebook and Spotify for the latest updates. Feel free to connect with us anytime and leave some comments. Check out some of the video clips. There is a nice one from Las Vegas and another one from Hong Kong on there and there is one from the Outback. So there you can see the beautiful landscape of Australia and much more."

BN: Perth is quite an isolated place. Does it give you lots of time to focus on music or being creative?

Adam: "Perth is a very difficult place to start a music career."

BN: Were you born in Perth?

Adam: "No, i was born in North Queensland, very far away from Peth. In Perth people are not necessarily as exposed to music that much. So if you make it succesful and you can convert people into listening to your stuff, you are doing very well. Because you are sort of converting people to your type of music. And that's good. If you are going to go travelling from there, everywhere you go is like at least a four or five hours flight. You can much easier reach Bali than Melbourne. If you are leaving your town you actually have to be really good . Its not like in Europe, where you can just go to the neighbouring town and just choose and then spread a little bit further. But in Australia if you want to go, you just go. Thanks so much for having us! It was really nice."

BN: Enjoy the rest of your Europe Tour in Belgium and France! See you soon!

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