Interview: Adam Ficek

A man of many musical talents, Adam Ficek, recently floored the crowd at Barsonic with his blend of high energy mashups and reedits with a sweet indie feel. We caught up with the former Babyshambles drummer to chat about music, the state of the music industry and his craziest fan story.

You’ve played for a lot of bands and have a lot of projects going on right now, can you introduce yourself to Malaysia and give us a bit of what you’re about?

My name is Adam Ficek and I hit things once or twice in Babyshambles, do a lot of DJing, do a lot of remixing, and I do my solo thing called Roses Kings Castles and thats about what I do really, just takes up all my time.

No cats, no kids?

I’ve got a kid, I’m a father as well so juggling those things is a chore but.

RKC just released an album, how’s the response been so far?

It’s been really good actually. I just got a really good review which I’m really happy for because generally in the UK you have to pay a lot for the press to get good reviews, that’s how it works in the UK. We haven’t got much, basically its just us sending it to people and when you do that, people generally ignore it cause there is no one scratching their backs or radio producers giving them the records of what they should be playing. We go a really good review, it was quite inspiring really, because you think you’re running up a really steep hill and getting nowhere and then something like that comes and makes it all worthwhile. So it’s gone well. Haven’t sold a million yet, but it’s a slow build. Currently working on my third album which will be out next summer.

So is the next album a Rose Kings Castles release or solo release?

Its always released as RKC but I might do a solo tour because there is no band about. The band is just to tour the album. When the songs are written, I play all the instruments so on the album it’s a full band but I play it all. So it’s difficult for me to play it live like that cause I’m not an octopus.

Bit of a control freak then?

Yeah I am. I’ve been in so many bands and you get to a point and think well ‘I’ve got a good feel for the drums and an idea for the bass and a guitar part’. I’ve done at least 10 commercial/15 albums. It’s nice to working a band framework but its nice to go, I’ve got my own studio as well, and you can work through the demos and I can put my own bass and that on and make it feel like I want it to feel.

I get musicians in after to help out but generally I enjoy doing that. Its a lot of pressure but it’s good.

So you started your career off in drumming and then moved to master a wide variety of instruments, what is your background in music and how did you learn?

I bought a keyboard when I was about 12 years old and it had a lot of little bright lights on it and I’ve always been around a lot of record collections but no one was really a musician in the family. I used to just pick out melodies and I was just really enjoying it. I just really loved it.

From then there was a guitar laying around, so I played a bit of that and then onto the drums. But I was always through my own, I was never really pushed into it, which really helps. I think if someone pushes you into it to learn your scales, but everything was driven by me. I then went onto to college to study it, managed to scrape in since I had no formal qualifications for college. It just grew from there. Even now I really enjoy learning new things.

How was it releasing an album from an indie label as opposed to a major label?

They haven’t got the weight. At Virgin, they can press a button and your album goes everywhere, people review it and put it out on the radio.

So lets say there’s an equally good album, one’s on an indie label, one on a major label, do you think the one on a major label will do better?

Without a doubt, I know some fantastic albums that people aren’t even aware of and you’ll never hear of.

Can you name a few?

Well there’s my friends, ‘Come Gather Round Us’, that’s an amazing band on an amazing label. The album by the White Spot released on High Society, which I give to a lot of Babyshambles fans now and they go “Wow this is amazing, why haven’t I heard it?” because its not in your face and that’s what happens with commercial music.

Do you think that’s changing at all with music blogs and the way music is being distributed now?

It’s changing slightly. I mean I like to think it is. But there is so many music blogs out there and what really annoys me is that they haven’t got the balls to, all they do is follow what NME writes, it’s bullshit. Whats the point of having a blog if your not going to have any independent critique on it at all. And i know these blog people, I’ve just stopped following after awhile when its just the same thing as the major, it’s just following the trends, it’s irrelevant, you might as well not be bothering.

You recently departed from Babyshambles this year. Can you tell us why and the transition so far?

It’s a bit of a sabbatical really. We kinda fell out over a few things. I’m not really on good terms with the band and I don’t know whats going to happen in the future but there’s a few things that need to be sorted out. The transition was really horrible, I was treated quite unfairly and at the time it hit quite hard. But I had my solo thing, I’ve been in my studio, with the angst I’ve built my studio. It’s nice to be at home. What it did do is, I’ve been in shambles for 5-6 years, I was on this really fast carousel. You get caught, there’s a lot of sharks in the industry and suddenly when you come out of that, you look at people and you think “how many actual quality human beings are there in that environment?” It’s nice to come back to reality and the people are there for you and are your real friends and you realize who the sharks are and the parasites. So it’s kind of nice.

It was horrible and a real dark time. It was a real dark time. I mean suddenly you look around, you’ve got no income, you don’t know what you’re gonna do. People suddenly stop answering the phone. I’m not going to go too far into it but there’s people who associate with that band within 24 hours they’ve gone from being your best mate with their arms around you when you’re drunk to just not speaking to you. And you think man that’s horrible. I’m not that kind of person. I’m not going to friend someone to get something out of it. It just sickened me a bit. I always knew it, until its in your face you don’t realize how fickle and course some people are like in that environment.

This is people within the framework of the industry. Not fans, fans can see through that. I don’t know if I blame them, they’ve been in it for so long and that’s their choice of life and that’s how the industry works. There’s a few good people in there. At the time I was really disappointed but now it’s like well what have I lost, I’ve lost a few kind of snakes so whatever. It was difficult but you just have to put your head down. This album was already to go when I was in Babyshambles.

How did you get into DJing? What made you transition from making beats to matching them?

I  used to love dance music and I wasn’t ever really that good at making it. I always tried to dip my toe in it and even years ago I could never really get my head into it. DJing came from just playing and entertaining really, be it from parties to doing clubs and house clubs. It really kicked off in college i need a way to make some money. Most people would go work in bars but I thought well I might as well be a DJ since its better money and more fun.

What were you playing back in the college days?

I was running 3 or 4 nights. Doing like house, UK garage night, 60s night and pure pop party night. Growing up in a background where my dad worked in jukeboxes and my brothers were really into music as well so I grew up with all these records around me. I’ve worked in record shops as well, so I knew the charts inside out. I’ve always been infatuated with commercial music. Before the days where you could get free music, i had tons of music around me. I had a real hunger for it and that just, you just learn a lot about different styles and what you can get away with. You just learn how to entertain the crowd really.

What equipment do you use for your remixes and reedits? How did you learn?

I’m still learning. I’ve got Abelton logic at home. I’m really into it, I’ve got the same passion for learning about that as I do instruments. It’s just trial and error. I find it really hard cause there’s no set way of doing it. I read a lot, always online trying to get ideas. It’s about tuning your ear to it. I want a quick fix really, but its about keep doing and it a playing it back and it doesn’t quite sounds like what I want it to so you go online.

Ive been doing it for about 2 years. The DJ thing became quite saturated now, because there’s guys in London who go and see what other DJ’s are doing and just rinse the whole playlist and play it out. You need to bring something else to the table now, so I just do a few reedits and stuff.

The London Guns, with the Libertines drummer, how did that come about and what can we expect?

Gary and I have always DJ’d. He’s very similar to me, he’s got a great ear for pop sensibilities. Hes not too cool to play a good hit, a lot of DJs suffers from that. We’ve always DJ’d at similar places and we’ve always bumped into each other. Then we just had these ideas, we’re both drummers, I started to take out some live percussion, and I thought this is great. And we’ve done these special re-edits where there’s a gap in the song for live drumming and we thought well might as well be doing it together.

We tend to just jump in and out. I wanted to be more formal, but it works well this way. It’s bringing and element of performance to DJing.

What’s your craziest fan story so far?

Hmm what can I say and get away with. I once had someone send me a packet of monster munch a week for a whole year.

Anything else?

There’s this really mad girl in America actually that claimed that she had my child. She actually contacted my girlfriend and said ‘look this guy is no good, this baby is his, and he wants his father”. The thing is at that time, I had never been to America. My girlfriend would know that, so it didn’t cause any problems, but that was pretty scary. It got quite abusive and I thought Ive never even met this girl, don’t know what Ive done. So I got in touch with her and was like look i think someone has been over to the states claiming to be me, because I’ve never been there and it was just denial like “yah you have”. So you start going mad thinking “Well have I been to states? But of course I’ve not been.”

So no paternity test?

No, Ive never been to America.

But Americans can go to London…

No, she was crazy. She was from some outback… just no. There’s no way, I’m not that kind of person. So that was pretty freaky, yah.

Adam Ficek played at Barsonic on Dec 6th. For all your Adam Ficek news, head to his official site.