INTERVIEW WITH ADAM HAMILTON

INTERVIEW WITH ADAM HAMILTON

MELODY LANE conducted a fantastic interview with Los Angeles-based music producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Adam Hamilton!
In addition to having produced albums for several famous artists and having worked extensively as a songwriter and producer of music for television and film, ADAM is known for his long militancy in the legendary street rockers L.A.GUNS, of which he was bassist for many years. and with whom he returned as studio drummer for the last two albums. ADAM told us many very interesting anecdotes about his immense career: from meeting C.C.DEVILLE, the colorful guitarist of POISON, to forming the glam band JOEY C. JONES AND THE GLORY HOUNDS, from helping NIKKI SIXX and TRACII GUNS put together THE BRIDES OF DESTRUCTION to the studio projects BLACKBIRD ANGELS and SUNBOMB, which, in addition to longtime touring partner TRACII GUNS, feature such talented musicians as bassist/singer TODD KERNS (SLASH, HEROES & MONSTERS) and the legendary MICHAEL SWEET singer and founder of STRYPER.
Sit back and buckle up, you are about to experience an unmissable journey into the world of Rock!!!
 
MELODY LANE: First of all, I would like to start this interview by taking away a curiosity...In 2001 you became the bassist of L.A.GUNS. How did you get the job? How did you get in touch with the band?  
ADAM HAMILTON: Well…I got the job because I was friends with their old bass player named MUDDY STARDUST; he's an old friend of mine; when he went to play with GILBY CLARKE from GUNS N’ ROSES, he called me and told me if I could be interested in replacing him as the bass player in L.A.GUNS: he's the one who put me in touch with the guys in L.A.GUNS...
 
MELODY LANE: And for years you were the bass player of L.A.GUNS, until about 2007, when you left the band... we find you today as the studio drummer of L.A.GUNS and it's already the second album you record with the band... What can you tell us about it...? How has your collaboration with TRACII GUNS and PHIL LEWIS developed and evolved over the years?
ADAM HAMILTON:  Well, actually, I almost never stopped working with them. When the band recorded HOLLYWOOD FOREVER, they asked me to contribute to the record, and I wrote 3 songs for that record ... even though I wasn't in the band, I continued to work with them ... and then in 2018 they called me and I played rhythm guitar with them for the European tour of the album THE MISSING PEACE, I played guitar for a month and then when we came home, and the pandemic hit, TRACII called me and said he wanted to make a new record and he wanted me to play drums on it... and so I ended up playing on CHECKERED PAST... Since Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis got back to making music together the only record I haven't worked on is THE MISSING PEACE: I didn't anything to do with that; but even on their first reunion album THE DEVIL YOU KNOW, PHIL LEWIS did the vocals and recorded the vocal tracks here in my studio.
 
MELODY LANE: Can you tell us, more or less, how your collaboration works, what is your working method like when you write, record and prepare a new album?
ADAM HAMILTON:  This is what happens for most of the songs: TRACII sends me some files with song ideas that he composes with the guitar and he adds a drum demo that he does on the computer and he sends me everything, so that I can more or less hear what he hears, his basic idea... then I work on these ideas and inputs and develop them in my own way and according to my own style and then I send them back to him and then it becomes a constructive and creative confrontation until the songs take their final form...and then PHIL LEWIS and MITCH DAVIS work on the lyrics...Mitch he's a really really good lyrics -writer.
Of course, there are exceptions as well, sometimes things went differently; for example, during the making of CHECKERED PAST, I sent TRACII and the guys the music for the song "IT'S OVER NOW" and they put the words to it and completed the arrangement... and then as in the case of the track “YOU BETRAY”, the first track on BLACK DIAMONDS, I had ideas for some drum tracks and verses that I thought were interesting, so I sent them to TRACII who processed them and wrote the music; in short I sent the drum tracks before the music was written... it was kind of a reverse process. On that track I played in the style of John Bonham, I wanted it to really sound like LED ZEPPELIN... and TRACII put a kind of Jimmy Page heavy riff on it. We tried to be an iron dark version of Led Zeppelin on that track....You know...When L.A.GUNS were young, in Hollywood, when they made their first record, they were listening to WASP and all this 80s metal and Sleazy Metal... Now we're older guys, we're all more into blues and Zeppelin and stuff like that and that's what influences our sounds and what we like most now...
 
MELODY LANE: Speaking of your style, as a drummer you are very eclectic, you can play naturally in albums of different bands while remaining original and distinctive... I'm thinking of SUNBOMB, L.A.GUNS or BLACKBIRD ANGELS... What can you tell us about that? And who were the drummers who influenced you the most in your musical education?
ADAM HAMILTON:  When I was young PETER CRISS from KISS was my number one ... and then I started listening to BUDDY RICH, the jazz drummer, and he blew my mind ... then I started listening to FLEETWOOD MAC ... and the EAGLES ... and all these bands had really fanzy drums and they had great songs and then when I got older I started listening to TOMMY ALDRIGDE and TERRY BOZZIO really crazy and fanzy, and I really love all these drummers,  and if you take all these drummers and mix them into a big soup then you get what I do: I've tried to develop and expand my playing by enclosing something from all of them...but I definitely always try to play what's most appropriate for the album I'm working on...
 
MELODY LANE: Is there a chance that you will participate in some live dates of the next L.A.GUNS Tour or that you will return to play live in the near future?
ADAM HAMILTON:  Well… you know…I just stopped being a touring musicians in these days...I am a studio guy...I had said I was really only gonna play with L.A.GUNS for a few years but I stayed a lot longer than I thought; and then I started getting into production, getting all these albums and music for film and tv...but I just couldn't do that while I was on tour and I just wanted to do more of that and so I had to make a decision...so I felt like  it was time to make something different: that was why I decided to spending more time working in the studio and working on other projects...
 
MELODY LANE: Do you kind of miss the live activity, playing live and touring?
ADAM HAMILTON:  I started to miss it in 2018 around when L.A.GUNS called me back to go back on tour and play rhythm guitar with them, it was perfect timing.  I really enjoyed myself with them during that time but towards the end I felt like I didn't miss it so much anymore... You know... Right now I'm 54 years old... I need to stay at home, I want to be present and take care of my family and I deeply love working in the studio... and the good news for me is that my studio is in my house so I can do all of that together and I don't have to go out of town.
 
MELODY LANE: Let's take a step back into the past... I read some time ago on the web that when TRACII GUNS left L.A.GUNS to form BRIDES OF DESTRUCTION with NIKKI SIXX, you initially followed him and were part of the band in the early stages, but then you didn't join  BRIDES and instead continued for another few years playing bass in L.A.GUNS... can you tell me what really happened during that certainly not easy period for the band?  
ADAM HAMILTON:  At that time L.A.GUNS, with TRACII, had done the MAN ON THE MOON record and went on tour, and then we did the WAKING THE DEAD record and went on tour... and at the end of that tour cycle TRACII was a little tired and he was ready to do something else. He started talking to NIKKI SIXX about starting a new band…you know… at that time, when WAKING THE DEAD came out, even though a lot of people loved it, the 80s bands in America were having a hard time, it was not a good time to be in an 80s band; we were playing almost always as an opening band or support band and TRACII was tired of that, so he tried to do something with NIKKI SIXX to raise the bar. When we came off the WAKING THE DEAD tour in December, we had no work, nothing was happening... and that's when TRACII got together with NIKKI SIXX and started putting together the BRIDES OF DESTRUCTION. TRACII called me and invited me to help him look for a singer and make a demo for his new project... And at one point he told me that I could stay in the band... And I didn't say no, I wanted to see how things were going.
So I helped them find the singer who turned out to be my hairdresser whose name is LONDON LEGRAND...LONDON had sung for a GEORGE LYNCH's project, I knew he could sing, I knew he looked cool and it worked…And so little by little we started the band and started rehearsing, but right around that time I got a call from STEVE RILEY (RIP) who told me that L.A.GUNS were ready to go on tour in Europe for a month, with KERI KELLI from SLASH's SNAKEPIT and BRENT MUSCAT from FASTER PUSSYCAT as guitarists... and you know I had never been to Europe before! So I told TRACII that I couldn't give up because it was too advantageous and fun an opportunity for me... and TRACII didn't object at all, in fact he urged me to go. And so I continued working with L.A. GUNS who started to get busy again with new work opportunities... We also recorded a live DVD during that tour, it's called CAUGHT IN THE ACT and it was filmed in Pennington, England.
So I never really joined the BRIDES OF DESTRUCTION as the fourth member, I just kind played and jammed with them for a little bit...

MELODY LANE: You mentioned the album WAKING THE DEAD, you know that as a big fan of L.A.GUNS I believe that the artwork of that album is one of the best ever by L.A.GUNS...while instead, again in my humble opinion, I believe that the covers of the latest albums are a little too repetitive and almost the same...
ADAM HAMILTON: well I quite agree with you, I think that TRACII and PHIL always want the brand, the logo of the band to be there...but, I don't know, I also think that maybe the covers of the last two albums are a little too similar...Regarding WAKING THE DEAD I agree with you, it's a beautiful, fantastic artwork, it was created by the great graphic artist MAXINE MILLER.
MELODY LANE: Talking instead about the beginnings of your career, can you tell us something about your meeting with C.C.DEVILLE, the legendary guitarist of POISON and your experience in his solo band?
ADAM HAMILTON: I was living in Austin, Texas, in the '90s, Poison was touring and they were in town for their FLESH & BLOOD tour. C.C.DEVILLE and a couple of girls were walking around downtown, going into the bars and listening to the bands in the various venues, and he casually walked into the bar where I was playing, and I saw him.... So I introduced myself and invited him to hear my band that was going to play upstairs shortly.... He came to hear us and even came on stage to play with us. So we got to know each other and became friends. Then, after some time, he confided in me that he was thinking of leaving Poison and wanted me to be his drummer for his new band.... Of course I replied, "Tell me when - I'm in!".
And so I moved with CC, he lived in Hollywood...he was the one who gave me my big break!
 
MELODY LANE: And what didn't work? Why didn't the band take off and you couldn't release anything?
ADAM HAMILTON: C.C.DEVILLE was doing a lot of drugs at the time...a lot of cocaine...and we were not where he was, we weren't partying as hard as he. After a few months he was getting very scary, he was getting dangerous and he was gonna die if he kept on doing what he was doing, and living in that way, so I decided to leave. I loved him and  I really hoped  him could get healthy and clean but I coudn't live like that anymore... It was all just too crazy.
So I left the band and soon after also the other guys in the band left, and so we found the JOEY C. JONES AND THE GLORY HOUNDS...
 
MELODY LANE: I've always loved the GLORY HOUNDS record, for me it's a little glam gem that should be re-evaluated. There's a song written by C.C.DEVILLE himself and if I'm not mistaken another song was written by none other than CHEAP TRICK... Is that right?
ADAM HAMILTON: Yes… Our singer JOEY C. JONES, who had also been in CC DEVILLE's band with me, had met the CHEAP TRICK guys in a club under similar circumstances as I had met CC DEVILLE. ZANDSER and NIELSEN wrote the song "Wait All Night" and gave it to JOEY because they wanted to help him in some way... C.C.DEVILLE, on the other hand, had written the song "BROADWAY." The album was good but it still wasn't easy for us, because it was the 1990s and the album didn't have the success we hoped for, because Grunge had exploded at that time and nobody paid attention to the 80s bands anymore... It took more or less ten years before people started to appreciate 80s bands and artists again...
 
MELODY LANE: Staying on the theme of 80s bands, a few years later you collaborated again with C.C.DEVILLE on the occasion of POISON'D, the POISON cover album. How did that collaboration come about?
ADAM HAMILTON: Well… I hadn't heard from him in a long time and called him to see how he was doing. We ended up having a nice conversation and he told me they were going into the studio the next week for their cover album.  C.C.DEVILLE  called me back after a few days and I went into the studio to help them a little bit and worked with them for a couple of weeks. I did some background vocals, some hand clapping and helped get the sounds...In short I helped with whatever they needed to do.
 
MELODY LANE: Based on your experiences, what are your thoughts on the "musician" C.C. DEVILLE? Is there anything you can tell us that maybe we fans don't have a chance to grasp?
ADAM HAMILTON: Well... what I can say is that C.C.DEVILLE' is a very talented guitarist. He was always trying to do better and better and better. He always wanted to show his talent, he always wanted to show that he could play great, especially to disprove all those people who criticized Glam bands by saying that they were not good musicians and that they only thought about looks and makeup and all that superficial stuff.
 
MELODY LANE: Considering your long career and the large number of musicians you've worked with, obviously to list them all would be impossible...Is there anyone you haven't had a chance to work with that you'd like to write music with, or play or produce?...I mean, is there an artist on your wish list that you'd like to work with?
ADAM HAMILTON:  Well…actually I always used to say I would like to make a record and write with STEVIE NIX of FLEETWOOD MAC, she was the only one I didn't get a chance to work with but I would have loved to work with. Other than that, I can tell you that. by now, I don't have a bucket list of people to work with. I've taken a lot of satisfaction, I've worked with a lot of great artists from SHERYL CROW to L.A. GUNS, from DOKKEN to POISON, from RATT to STEVE STEVENS and MISSING PERSONS and lots of other so...so I can say that's okay...I'm very satisfied...
 
MELODY LANE: Of course, it's too complicated to explain in a few words, but can you try to tell us what kind of producer you are?... What's your way of working in the studio...?
ADAM HAMILTON:  Well… you know...it's not like there's a set pattern. I do whatever the band needs me to do. If they want me to help them write the songs, I do it; if they want me to just work on the sounds, I do it. Sometimes I give advice on the songs, for example if a chorus can work better or be more powerful I suggest working on it some more.... let's say that I try to challenge them to see if they can come up with something better for the song and improve the writing...
 
MELODY LANE: Adam, we're at the end of this interview, before we wrap up…what can you tell us about your future plans? Will we soon see new collaborations with TRACII GUNS and new albums where you will still play drums?
ADAM HAMILTON: Well... yes... we have a second SUNBOMB album that is just finished, it is ready and it will be released probably next year. As for BLACKBIRD ANGELS, we haven't started the second album yet, I hope very much that we will… but I think first work will be started on a new L.A.GUNS album...
 
MELODY LANE: Do you think that both SUNBOMB and BLACKBIRD ANGELS will remain studio projects or will there be some live date, maybe a one-off dates?
ADAM HAMILTON: We made the BLACKBIRD ANGELS record and it turned out really good and we really liked doing it. The same was with SUNBOMB but, from what I can tell you,  we never started SUNBOMB to go out and tour, it was just records...and now it's the same with BLACKBIRD ANGELS. Hopefully they 'll make us do another record but we won't tour...just records...
 
MELODY LANE: Adam thank you for your time you have been most kind...a message from you to MELODY LANE readers
ADAM HAMILTON:  Thank you it was a pleasure and thanks for the support! Ciao Italia!

 

ARTICLE BY: MIKE MATTY