- 19 February, 2017
Returning for a second year to the Dulwich Festival, following a sell-out performance in 2015, Adam is one of the country’s finest singer-songwriters.
Best known as the lead singer of the British-blues rock band, The Mustangs, Adam started playing professionally at 15 and has played in the UK, Europe and the USA.Since releasing his second solo album, ‘Rainbird’, in 2016 he has forged an impressive solo career.
Adam will be playing songs from his solo canon, as well as Mustangs material, including from their latest album ‘Just Passing Through’, released on 7th April 2017. A much-anticipated performance at Belair House, we asked Adam about his musical background and his musical influences.
How did you get into music and start performing?
My mother was a professional folk singer so there was always music in the house. She’d play guitar and sing when people came round for dinner and I would watch and listen. When I was 7 I became obsessed with the Beatles and did the usual playing in front of a mirror with a tennis racket and all that. So once the music bug had bitten me that was it, it was all I wanted to do. I formed many bands over the next few years and did my first semi-pro gig in Hammersmith when I was 15. That band was called the Zombie Rockers and I’m afraid not many of the band names since then have been much better.
You are best known as the lead singer of The Mustangs. How did you get together as a group?
I got up and sang with a bunch of guys at an open mic night in a village in Hampshire in 2001. We blasted through some Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker – classic blues stuff – we kind of took over the evening but we went down a storm. The landlord asked us all back the next week, and the next….and that became the genesis of the Mustangs. If you would have told me we’d still be playing 16 years later I would never have believed it for a second.
The Mustangs have been very successful on the Blues circuit. Is blues music your biggest influence?
It’s one of my biggest influences. I love a wide range of music – rock, blues, folk, pop – and I like to think my songs bring all of those styles together. I grew up in the States and in those days you could still hear blues and rock’n’roll on the mainstream radio…I love the immediacy and passion of the blues, it’s a blank canvas and you can really imprint your personality on it if you are doing it right. But having grown up a Beatles fan I love melody and craft as well, so in many ways my music is a bit of everything. But I don’t really think about styles when I’m writing.
What have been your most significant musical influences?
As a songwriter, the Beatles, Dylan, Neil Young, Richard Thompson, Muddy Waters….as a guitarist… Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Mick Ronson, Lindsey Buckingham……but I love John Barry’s work and much of Leonard Bernstein’s melodies…so to me they are all significant as at some point they have made a clear mark on a song or two. I hope their lawyers aren’t reading this.
You are also forging an impressive solo career and released your second album ‘Rainbird’ last year. How does working solo compare to working with The Mustangs?
Well, when I work on the solo stuff I am very much in my own world, taking care of everything, and that’s fun to do when I have a vision for a song or album I don’t want to compromise……with the Mustangs, many of the songs are collaborations… Ben may have a riff we work on, or Derek may have a lyric, and I take them and help build a song around them. It’s fun to collaborate as it takes you down new paths you otherwise might not have gone down. Of course, it’s also fun to be with the guys and travel with them. They’re a good bunch, really. Playing solo can be a little insular at times.
As a singer/songwriter you write your own solo material. Tell us about your process of writing songs.
There are no rules to writing songs. If your antenna is up, and you are in the mood, the inspiration can come from anywhere – a billboard, a line from a documentary, a photo, a train station announcement…(all of which have worked for me) whether it’s lyrical or melodic, you just have to be receptive to the moment and then run home as fast as you can and finish the song – like Charlie in Willy Wonka with his golden ticket! In fact, that moment of inspiration is a bit like getting a golden ticket. Sometimes it’s a guitar riff, a lyric, a phrase, a song title, a melody in your head. Often ideas come to me late at night. That seems to be my most creative time for songwriting.
The Mustangs are also back with a new album, ‘Just Passing Through’. How did this album come about and what are the band’s future plans?
Ah, well…I went down to have a writing day with Derek and he had written these two beautiful short lyrics – almost poems….and within a minute of reading them I knew they would bookend the album and it would be a concept album. Now, that may turn some people off, but it’s not a prog rock album! But they are very touching, affecting songs that start and end the album, which became a metaphorical train journey through life, love, faith, mortality…it’s a very grown up record, it’s intelligent, and I think, very moving, but it also has some killer hooks and riffs in there! Haha, it’s one we’re very proud of and we hope people enjoy the journey as much as we do. But I doubt it, no one likes the Mustangs as much as the Mustangs do!
When is the album out and where can people find out more about you?
The album is out on April 7th on Trapeze Music, and will be available on iTunes, HMV, Amazon – all the usual places. People can keep up with the band at www.themustangs.co.uk or TheMustangsUK on Facebook….my solo site is at www.adamnorsworthy.co.uk
Will there be another solo album?
Yes, I have it written and ready to go, but for now it’s all about the Mustangs record. It may see the light of day at the end of the year, maybe the start of next. But for now I think one album from me at a time is quite enough for everyone to stomach.