A couple of months ago Adam Reid & The In-Betweens dropped their third album, Puncutation Marks, and with it came growth, novel ideas and more that Adam was so kind to discuss with me at length and since we have a lot to get to – I will not hold you hostage here any longer. Let’s get to what the main man had to say…
Kendra: Punctuation Marks is your third EP, what personal growth have you noticed between where you started and where you are today in terms of songwriting and song execution?
Adam Reid: One thing I have noticed is that in recent years I’ve grown more comfortable with allowing a gap to exist between how the songs sound on the recordings versus how they sound live. We often perform live as only a two or three piece band. On my earlier releases I felt like I had to write the instrumentation of each song in a way that we could more or less replicate when playing shows. Over the years, I have come to accept that the recordings and the live performances should be able to take their own separate forms. This realization has not only given me a greater degree of freedom in my experimentation during the recording process, but has also allowed me to continually reimagine how the songs will sound live based on who is playing with me at the time.
Kendra: As someone who spends hours a day writing, I love the title of the record but thinking back – I hated learning the ins and outs of grammar. With that, what was your worst subject growing up?
Adam: Without a doubt, math was my least favorite subject. In fact, Algebra II was one of the only classes that I actually failed in high school (the other being Chemistry). I remember feeling absolutely overwhelmed with the material within the first month or two of the class. Furthermore, as a seventeen year old I could hardly be bothered to care about my grades, and was far less concerned with applying to colleges than touring with the hardcore band I played in at the time. Naturally, the hardcore band broke up not long after I graduated, I eventually started writing my own music in an entirely different genre, and to this day I still lack any understanding of advanced algebra.
Kendra: Being that it’s Library Week sometime this month – what book would Punctuation Marks be a perfect fit for if novels had soundtracks?
Adam: This is probably the most difficult question I’ve ever had to answer. I am positive that there are plenty of novels that touch on similar themes as this record. Unfortunately, I currently have no idea what they are. I did, however, read an essay recently by Bertrand Russell entitled “In Praise of Idleness.” The essay critiques the idea that happiness and virtue are found in hard work, and examines some of the issues that I was dealing with when I wrote this album. For instance, the song “So Much More” was written as a way to cope with the exhaustion and monotony I’ve experienced working full-time. Russell’s essay also speaks to this issue, explaining that in our current society the limited free time we are allotted must primarily be used to recover from the exhaustion of working life. As a result, many of us have shifted from an active participation to a passive one when choosing our leisure activities. For example, we might watch sports instead of play them, or listen to the radio instead of learning an instrument. I think that this is a particularly challenging reality for musicians like myself who earn a living outside of the music industry only to find themselves lacking the energy they need to actively engage in creative projects in their free time. Of course, Russell’s essay is far more thoughtful than any of my songs, but I would be very excited to pair my music with an essay like this which examines the frustrations of working life to argue for the construction of a more just future.
Kendra: Now onto not-so-perfect. We also do a lot of spring cleaning this time of year, and you just so happen to have a song by the same name. Is there one song you can’t stand so much that you’d toss it in the trash and be done with it?
Adam: Absolutely. I have yet to start hating any of the songs on the new album, but usually the older a song gets the more I start to dislike it. In fact, I essentially scrapped my entire first album a few years after I released it. It consisted mostly of sappy songs about relationships, and just thinking about the lyrics now makes me cringe. The most unfortunate part of scrapping the album was that a good friend did this really beautiful album art for it, but it got to a point where I couldn’t stand any of the songs enough to even just give it away for free. I still have a few copies of it hidden deep in a closet collecting dust.
Kendra: Okay so you’re down in Florida and every other day we get the absolute worst and grossest stories from down that way. First off, what’s in the water there and secondly – have you ever thought of packing up and heading to either New York or LA for your music?
Adam: Florida is definitely a bizarre place. I think everyone in the country is familiar by this point with the various “Florida Man” news stories. Even worse, the current governor Rick Scott is essentially a Lord Voldemort doppelganger who seems hellbent on destroying the state through a series of neoliberal policies. However, there is another side of Florida that most people never get to see. Tallahassee, for example, has an incredibly vibrant and diverse DIY music community. There are a lot of really wonderful people working hard to make a music scene that is inclusive and welcoming, and as a result, you get people from a variety of backgrounds playing different genres of music and collaborating with one another.
As a musician, it was a truly amazing place to grow up. With that being said, we did recently relocate to Western Massachusetts, which has also been a really positive experience so far. The music community here has been incredibly supportive to us, and there are so many talented people constantly starting really inspiring projects in this area. It is also a wonderful hub for touring musicians because so many places, including New York, are a short drive from here. In this sense, we are able to enjoy some of the benefits of bigger cities while still living in a small town surrounded by mountains and rivers.
Kendra: Even if you’re not thinking about moving, are you thinking about or planning any shows soon?
Adam: We are very excited to be playing at the Flywheel, a really wonderful community-run space in Easthampton, MA on April 23. We are also planning on doing some short weekend tours this summer around the Northeast.
Kendra: If you had to make a mixtape that is “So Much More” than people give it credit for, what five songs would have to be on it?
Adam: There are so many bands that deserve more credit than they are given, simply because so few people know of them yet. This is a list of songs written by some of our hardest working friends that we think everyone should know about.