Middle of Nowhere – An interview with Adam WarRock (+ Album Review)

By HefferBrew

It’s no secret the HefferBrew gang has an affinity for the counterculture, we always seem to be sucked into the the never ending stream of Nerdery being thrust upon us. Sure, sometimes we revolt, and say “Stop screwing with our childhoods!” But, we also stumble across some contributions that make us proud to be a little odd.

Enter: Adam WarRock.

warrock

 

At the forefront of the rapidly developing Nerd-Core “Sinestrocore” music scene, Adam WarRock is bringing new light to the Hip-Hop community with a fresh take on the serious. Often blending comic inspired messages with real life experiences and pulling from influences like Game of Thrones, X-Men, Human Rights, and the ever evolving state of pop culture – there is never a dull moment on a WarRock record.

Fortunately for us at HefferBrew, we had a chance to talk with Mr. WarRock about, well, everything.

Stay tuned after the Interview for a full review of “Middle of Nowhere” —

 

HefferBrew – When did the inspiration to rap hit you?

Adam WarRock – I was always a pretty big fan of rap, growing up during a pretty golden age and living in Memphis, where there was a pretty thriving rap scene. But it probably wasn’t until I went to college and saw an open mic and a bunch of spoken word artists that I was inspired to start doing it myself. I just started doing open mics, poetry slams, battling people at parties, and eventually moved on to making music independently on a computer with a total lo-fi setup.

HB – The last few years have seen “Nerd” culture explode into the mainstream, how does this make you feel in terms of nerdy being the new “cool” and has the transition benefited you in any way?

AW – I think it’s good for a lot of obvious reasons. Nerd culture has actually helped a lot of people bridge gaps between age groups, social circles, finding this common ground to relate and build community. But at the same time, it worries me that corporations and other people can exploit the appearance of nerd culture, just to make a buck or take advantage of that passion and enthusiasm people have for nerdy things. I think it’s up to people whether they support things that just use nerdy hallmarks to get your attention to sell you coca-cola, and how much they are willing to accept the capitalism and corporatization of nerd culture. There’s always going to be some of that in there (hell, even what I do has to make a buck at some point, too, for me to keep doing it), but there definitely should be a level of respect in there. People should be discerning.

HB – What and or Who were the biggest influences on you, and on your musical style? 

AW – Probably like every other hip hop kid who started rapping in the early 2000s, Atmosphere and Sage Francis were huge influences on me. Also, as for what I do thematically, honestly Jonathan Coulton is probably the biggest influence on me. I heard what he did about geekier subjects, and the kind of emotion he got out of them, and I said to myself, “That’s what I want to do, but with rap.”

HB – Favorite album of all time, hands down – any genre. 

AW – Man, this is not an easy question. Probably Black Star (Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Black Star…) but there’s a lot of others that are nipping at its heels.

HB – Favorite person you have collaborated with so far?

AW – Ha. This is such an unfair question. Honestly, it’s probably Tribe One, my partner in crime who I’ve been working with since my debut. He’s the only rapper I know who pushes me to be better. That, or Rocky O’Reilly, who I first worked with on this new album. Not only was he great to just talk with about life and things, but some of the songs he did for me on this album are my favorite songs of all time. But I can’t say I’ve collaborated with anyone that I didn’t have fun with.

HB – Anyone in the world you want to collaborate with but haven’t had the chance yet?

AW – Honestly, I would love to do a song with Childish Gambino. I have no idea if that’s at all possible, but I think it’d be a good track.

HB – We would love to hear that, Gambino – we’re looking at you. 

HB – Tour Details? What do you like to do to kill time while on the road? Any favorite food Joints you like to pillage? 

AW – I have a lot of one-off events and shows, but Tribe One and I are embarking on a Comic Store Tour in December through the middle of the country to celebrate the release of my album.

– Honestly, I kill time on the road in the most boring ways imaginable. Finding a mall, going to Target. There’s something relaxing about walking around in places that look the same as home. And for food, I try to find a sushi joint once in a while and eat a salad and some fish every few days, to combat the horrors of fast food and gas station hot dogs and donuts.

HB – Mmm. Delicious. We too are fueled by AM-PM and a healthy dose of Caffeine. 

HB – What is your favorite subject matter to write about, and are there any songs of your own that you like more than others? 

AW – Honestly, I seem to like making songs about really screwed up people. Maybe that says something about me as a person. I think I said somewhere online that I’d be happy making Game of Thrones songs for the rest of my career, and “Kingslayer” (about Jaime Lannister) is probably one of my favorite songs I’ve ever done. It’s weird, songs I like aren’t often the ones that blow up. Whereas the ones I think are just throwaways are the ones people really get attached to.

HB – What’s new in “Middle of Nowhere” that sets it apart from your other releases?

AW – I think it’s definitely a lot more “pop” than my other albums, which isn’t to say it’s “mainstream” or whatever. The influences it draws from aren’t JUST hip hop, which the past few releases have been heavily influenced by. It’s also probably a lot more serious and personal than my past albums.

HB – Marvel or DC?

AW – Been a Marvel fan since I first read comics. I’ll always be a Marvel guy first, probably.

HB – What comic series would you say grabbed you and never let go? (or video game?)

AW – X-Men. It’s one of those titles that I’ve held close to me since I was little, and found new resonance as I got older. When you’re young, the X-Men represent this cool group of rebel kids, and as you get older, you realize it’s just a bunch of broken young people who are trying to do something good with their lives. I think it resonates with you as an older person, in a totally different way.

I also was a huge Final Fantasy IV (II in the US) fan. That game always emotionally affected me.

HB – There is a track called JARVIS on M.O.N. and you’ve previously done a lot of Iron Man themes, is it safe to say Iron Man is your superhero of choice? or is there someone else who holds the crown?

AW – I don’t know. I’d say that I was more interested in JARVIS, the computer that controls his suits in the movies than Iron Man himself. But there is something attractive about a billionaire playboy who also is a hero. But I’d say of everyone, I’m probably way more interested in a lot of the characters from X-Men, like Cyclops or Emma Frost.

HB – When writing M.O.N., (or any album) do you retreat to a Batcave type environment or are you more of an open guy who writes as it comes?

AW – I pretty much write as I go. I do a lot of writing out in coffee shops or bookstores, I like being out in public and kind of feeling trapped to write; resolving to stay somewhere until something is done. But a lot of songs come to me as soon as I hear the beat a producer sends to me. Sometimes I get so excited hearing a beat, I have to write something to it as soon as I get it.

HB – What is your best piece of advice for someone trying to break in to the music scene?

AW – The only advice I’d have is to start making stuff, and making it public. There’s this obsession with wanting things to be perfect, creative people are really precious about their art. And it’s really unfortunate, because a big part of growing and learning as a musician is to have that embarrassment and shame of having your stuff judged by others. So just make stuff, and put it out. If it’s good, it will get attention from someone out there. And if it doesn’t, keep making stuff and getting better.

HB – If you had to single out your favorite track on the upcoming M.O.N. – Which would it be and why?

AW – Honestly, it’s probably “Nuclear Family” for obvious personal reasons. When I got the beat from Rocky O’Reilly, we actually had this long email exchange about families and our experiences, and the song kind of became both of us adding things to it. It was really cathartic, I think we collaborated to make a really beautiful song.

HB – When the hell will “Winter” get here? 

AW – It’s coming. It always does.

HB – How is the Comic Shop tour coming along? Any plans to extend it to the West coast also?

AW – Definitely, I plan to do west and east coast in early 2014.

HB – What, if any, causes are close to your heart? (Legalizing It, Ending Bullying, Animal rights – just some examples.) 

AW – I’ve always been pretty vocal about my political stances. I used to work in a pretty political environment, and even worked directly in it, so my progressive/liberal stances are pretty plain. I also definitely am really involved in using geek and nerd culture, or pop culture in general to help younger people be more comfortable socially, with themselves. Whether that means ending bullying, being an LGBT ally, or just helping younger people understand and relate to the world around them in small ways (social anxiety, feeling outcast etc.) that is definitely what I care about the most.

HB – Finally, Where can the world buy your music and show their support? 

AW – You can find everything at adamwarrock.com, or buy my music at adamwarrock.bandcamp.com, and on iTunes and everywhere. Follow me on twitter at @eugewarrock or facebook.com/adamwarrock, that should cover it.

HB – Thank you for taking the time to sit down and kill some free time with us, we can’t wait to catch you in a Comic Shop near Los Angeles sometime soon.

Album Review: “Middle Of Nowhere” – by Adam WarRock

Adam WarRock is back with another blistering Nerd-Core release, “Middle of Nowhere” and as usual he’s pulling no punches. This time around, Adam brings together the vibes of Rock, Hip-Hop, Southern Rap, Comic-Con and real life trials and tribulations, then blends it all together in an Iron Man blender in Rocky O’Reilly’s basement. In short, it’s pretty awesome and features some fantastic production work from the likes of Vince Vandal, Mikal kHill, Dual Core, The aforementioned O’Reilly, and DJ Empirical. Consume it.

For a deeper look, we have a few notes for you below.

Wasting no time with delivery, Middle Of Nowhere opens with a picture perfect intro – a look into the working mans daily life, almost the perfect introspection into a bad “Case of the Mondays.” James Urbaniak’s voice is hauntingly suited for dragging you right in to the album.

“High School Reunion” is the albums second track, but first musical number and basically sets the tone for the entire record to follow. A fast paced, well mixed look into the mind of someone with too much on it. High School Reunion is just the begging of fantastic mixing, in this case done by Vince Vandal, and Adam’s verses and pace throughout are catchy to those who can follow along, and edgy enough for people to give you strange looks at a traffic light.

“B.S.F.X.,” mixed by Rocky O’Reilly… Not a shocking thing here, but this is my favorite song on the album. Not only is Rockys beat a seriously ill “Walk This Way” inspired banger, but the title stands for Batman Sound Effects.  Predictable. I know. Enjoyable, with great verses which is a common theme throughout.

Skip forward in time to land at “J.A.R.V.I.S.” – I laughed pretty hard when I heard this line: “Rappers say they’re making Shaun Carter money, man, they ain’t even making John Carter money” and “I’m half Public Enemy and half Backstreets Back.” Adam takes his haters to school all over this track with Superman boss battles and Ex Steelers Bill Cower sad face bombs. It’s nerdy, but also trollish and hilarious. We always love point out movie flops and John Carter was just awful.

Further along on Middle of Nowhere, a title “Sinestrocore”(Feat. Tribe One) lurks. Apparently we’ve all been trying to classify things wrong, it’s not Nerd-core.. it’s Sinestrocore. Our apologies, and from here on we will adjust our vocabulary accordingly. Tribe One and Adam WarRock team up yet again, but did Tribe One actually have the stand out verse here? We might think so.. Let us know.

WarRock closes out the album with a deeper look within himself and much further down the road from now. Always the kind of artist to put himself in your shoes, or you in his, on tracks like “Puzzles” and “Sticks & Stones” (another great Rocky O’Reilly mix) he continues to blend actual life lessons with hilarious and crushing Sinestrocore verses. Middle of Nowhere is packed with hilarious cracks at almost everything, pays homage to underground and old school hip-hop and features a gaggle of talented artists and producers that all compliment Adam WarRocks delivery.

— Honorable Mention — 

That Kid, Icarus – a speedy track that is easy to digest

Mutant Massacre – a diversion from most of the album, it broods and creeps around on DJ Empirical’s hauntingly triumphant beat.

With 14 tracks to digest, I’m sure you can figure it out.

To learn more about Adam WarRock, be sure to follow him on Twitter @eguewarrock – adamwarrock.com, or facebook.com/adamwarrock

To Pick up “Middle of Nowhere” right now – go here: adamwarrock.com, or  adamwarrock.bandcamp.com, and on iTunes

To Follow any of the artists mentioned in this review, here is a list to make it easy on you:

Vince Vandal on Twitter @Vince Vandal

Rocky O’Reilly On Twitter @Rockyoreilly

Mikal kHill – @khillmatic

Dual Core

DJ Empirical: @djempirical

Tribe One on Facebook

And finally, lonely old @HefferBrew

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