Trading in a synth for a guitar (and a record label)
By the time a musician is able to live off of their music, most savor the opportunity for all of its worth. Ayad Al Adhamy, formerly the synth player of Passion Pit, chose a different path. Instead of sticking with the act whose sophomore album hit #4 on the Billboard charts, he cashed in last year and began a rock band and record label, Black Bell Records. Locally Amped caught up with Al Adhamy (and his band Team Spirit) earlier this month — whose lackadaisical spirit makes it surprising that he’s so successful — before a tour homecoming show at Mercury Lounge in New York.
Metro: So, I was just listening to your new self-titled album stream on Brooklyn Vegan. Some people like it, but you definitely have some haters.
Ayad Al Adhamy: Haha, yeah. That’s how you know that you’ve made it.
Metro: Yeah, I guess so. How has the tour been?
A.A.: It was great… Well, [guitarist] Cosmo [DiGiolio] almost got mauled by a bison at Yellowstone [National Park]. Apparently you’re not supposed to go closer than five meters to them.
Metro: Makes sense. I know that you’re probably bored talking about your time in Passion Pit, but let’s chat about that for a bit. Why did you leave?
A.A.: Well, after we got signed by VICE Records, it was pretty obvious to not be in two bands. I wasn’t born to play keys… I’ve always been a [guitar] ‘shred-dy’ guy. Sometimes you have to do your own thing. I never regretted it.
Metro: Well, you definitely began a guitar rock band at the right time with bands like Parquet Courts, FIDLAR and Merchandise quickly developing. Any thoughts on why garage rock has picked up recently?
A.A.: That’s the cycle of life in music. [People] assimilate and hate what [genre] came before it. Guitar rock is the natural progression of bands in 2013.
Metro: Things have definitely picked up pretty quickly for you guys. I initially caught you guys last October at a bar in Chinatown during CMJ, and then I saw you open for Japandroids in March at SXSW. And, you recently signed to VICE (part of Warner Music Group). Any worries of selling out?
A.A.: I don’t think ‘selling out’ exists anymore. Sure, we sold out of t-shirts and CDs. VICE makes us more of a band, while Warner is more doing the marketing. What’s really important is finding people who like the music and that’s what touring is for.
Metro: Things that you surely know about, as you also began a label of your own. How does that work?
A.A.: We put out records by other Brooklyn bands and create content, like videos. I run A&R, finding bands. We work with a label services team (ILG/ADA) and a radio team.
Metro: Sounds pretty awesome. What’s coming next for Team Spirit?
A.A.: Six tracks of the upcoming record are completed. In the next month or so, we’ll have an LP finished. We finished up a cartoon series for our EP, so smoke a J and watch.
The fourth (of five) cartoon music videos, “Teenage Love,” was released earlier this week. Watch it below and stay tuned for more information on their debut album.