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Adam Krier of AM Taxi

August 5, 2010 by  
Filed under Interviews

It’s old-school punk meets modern pop on Chicago-native AM Taxi’s debut CD, We Don’t Stand A Chance. Despite the self-deprecating album title, AM Taxi (Adam Krier on vocals and guitar, Jason Schultejann on bass, Chris Smith on drums, John Schmitt on guitar and Luke Schmitt on keyboards) has been enjoying a run on the Skull Candy stage of this year’s steamy Vans Warped Tour. 

Somewhere between the daily performances, autograph signings, meet & greets, charity bowling events, interviews, a rooftop performance in New York on their “day off,” and trying to keep their bus operational, frontman Adam Krier sat down with TWRY to talk about the album, the tour, the video shoot for their single, “Fed Up,” and his master plan to incite sibling rivalry between his bandmates for amusement!

Interviewed by: Jinx

Let’s start with the basics here for everyone: who are you, what do you do, and how did you get started in music?
I’m Adam, I play the guitar and sing for AM Taxi. I got started playing music when I was a kid just playing around on the piano and the guitar at our house.  I use to go through my parents’ records, listening rock and roll.

Your debut album, We Don’t Stand A Chance, was released on June 8…it’s got this raw, old-school feel to it, and I hear the actual process you used to record it had a lot to do with that. Could you tell us a little bit about how the album came together?
We worked with Mike McCarthy, a producer in Austin, and the way we recorded was with everybody playing live; everyone together. It’s recorded on a tape machine instead of a computer, and that’s the way they did records for a long, long time. They don’t really do it that much anymore, unfortunately, but we were really excited to make our record that way.

I’ve witnessed a lot of artists beginning to take their recording processes back to the bare roots like that recently, and it’s been said that everything comes in cycles… Do you feel that the technological advances of things like autotune and other vocal alteration are finally starting to cycle themselves out of the music industry to make way for a more organic sound or process again?
We can only hope! They say that vinyl is coming back around, too. That would be amazing!

What do you feel is missing from music today?
Real emotion, I guess. Everything is released so perfect and it’s all very sterile, you know? When we recorded, we made mistakes, and we left those mistakes in there because it was real. I mean, basically When you’re playing live, you’re playing really hard, really loud, and there’s gonna be some mistakes. That’s the reality of it.

I’ve heard you write about things that happen to you or your friends in real life, and this becomes the basis of a lot of your songs. Can I throw some titles out and you give us a little of the story behind the song? Let’s start with “Dead Street”?
That song and “Fed Up,” for example, and maybe a couple other songs on the record were based on the years I spent on the road traveling with different bands and meeting all these people everywhere. And it wasn’t always at shows. A lot of it was, but sometimes it would just be someone at a hotel bar or an airport bar or a waitress at a diner and it was just really shocking to me how many people–especially sometimes younger people–were really trying to get out of their hometown and just hoping that there was something else out there and trying to get out. And that’s just sort of my rendition of that.

What about “Shake, Rattle, and Stall?”
“Shake” is about several stories: one a bartender friend told me in the Twin Cities, another was a trip on the road years ago, and yet another was about awhile back around Chicago when I was in high school. It’s basically saying, “no matter where you go or when it is, there are certain things that don’t change.”

“Tanner Boyle vs the 7th Grade?”
The title of that is a reference to the 19–what was it, 76?–film “Bad News Bears.” And then it’s sort of a song about me and my friends (we’re mostly in our twenties and..um..older..) trying to figure out what it is that we’re supposed to do. What our purpose is and what we’re supposed to be up to and why haven’t we done that yet?

Now, “Fed Up” is one of your first singles, and the video for it was shot entirely in your hometown of Chicago with your friends and fans as your “extras,” correct? Was this the band’s idea, or was it a treatment brought in by the director?
Yeah, that’s true. We used a treatment by the director, Nathan Cox. We went through like fifteen different directors that sent in really fantastic treatments, some of them were really great but for the most part they were all like, “let’s shoot in New York City and do sort of this glamorous thing,” or, “let’s shoot in L.A…let’s do it in Hollywood…let’s shoot in California…” And Nathan’s from L.A., but he’s like, “No, I want to shoot you guys in your real environment,” you know? “Let’s shoot in Chicago, shoot where you guys hang out. And let’s use people that you know, let’s use real people, let’s not use actors.” And so of course we liked that idea the most, and at that point we got on the phone and began to collaborate and gather locations and extras. And basically I’d just  text him a photograph of all these places where we hang out. The drive-in theater in West Chicago, different bars around the area and they found a couple places on their own, too.  And then we sent them pictures of all our friends and some of our fans who were interested in being in the video, and they basically went through and picked out who they wanted to work with and it ended up being a really fun two days! And when I watch the video now, it seems very real to me because of the real places that we go and the people that we hang out with.

Watch the making of the “Fed Up” video:

You’re currently on the road as part of Warped Tour 2010. I heard you were the first band actually booked for the entire tour BEFORE you had a CD out, is that true?
I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I’ve heard that as well! I think that’s the case, or..it could be. We’re definitely one of the first. Basically it was the scenario of we knew people who knew people, and they got the demos out into the right hands and said, you know, “we really believe in them.” And they–the organizers–did, too, and they committed to having us do the whole tour, which we’re thrilled about!

You’re a little over halfway done with the tour…this is usually when the “rookie” bands are starting to really feel the toll of this tour and their previous excitement is starting to die off. How are you guys holding up out there, especially with the heat this year?
It’s been great, actually. We’re still a relatively new band just trying to get our name out there so to be able to play every day for people all over the place, and places that we’ve never even been to before, and people actually know all the words and sing along – it’s great. My thing is it’s really hot, and it’s really long days, and you don’t find out when you’re playing until the morning of, and sometimes you’re not ready, and it’s hot and sometimes it rains, but the fans really make it all worthwhile.

What’s the best & worst thing about Warped Tour?
Well, the best thing is the people that go to a concert like Warped aren’t the people who go to a show just to see one band. I mean, there are some people like that, but for the most part, it’s a whole lot of people who’ve come out specifically to discover new music and discover new bands. It’s not like when you’re in a club and those first bands come on, but they just want the headliner. They’re basically here to hear new stuff, to check out new stuff, and that’s great. The worst thing would have to be that unfortunately, it is a long, hot day. And sometimes it’s hard to make or get food because you’re playing and signing and talking to people all day.

You’ve only got about a 30 minute set each day. Do you play the same set in every city, or how do you decide which songs will make the cut for that day’s set list?
We pretty much play the same thing now. For the first couple weeks, we tried different things, and here in the last few weeks we’ve found a set that we’re pretty comfortable with and it seems to work. Every day is different, and depending on where the stage is set up in proportion to some of the bigger stages, and also like, depending on what time you’re going on.  Maybe you’re going on against Alkaline Trio or Every Time I Die or one of the bigger bands. It’s really interesting to see, we’ve been in that situation where we’re playing this really great set, but then halfway through, like half the crowd wanders off or something, and we’re like, “Oh, I guess they didn’t like us…” But then we look at the schedule and, “Oh. Motion City Soundtrack is starting. Okay.” (laughs) Nobody’s got the same time every day, so you just kind of have to roll with the punches and hope you get heard.

What song is the most rewarding for you to play live?
I’d probably say, “Mistake” and “Fed Up” are a little bit more well-known, which is great. And then we do this Rolling Stones cover called, “Paint It Black,” which is pretty cool too, because someone who’s maybe never heard us before, at least that’s maybe a familiar melody. Those ones usually get the best reaction.

Chicago has one of the most thriving, diverse music scenes in the country right now. What are the rewards and challenges that come with that?
It’s a very ecclectic city all across the board, so it’s exciting to live there with so much music and so many different styles. Chicago’s got house music, punk rock, and blues all on the same block, you know? But I guess some of the challenges would be..in an environment like that, it’s a bit harder to rise above so much, it’s harder to stand out and really get heard.

You’re playing the first night of the ThroughThePain benefit for Chicago-based Madina Lake bassist Matthew Leone…first of all, he’s a dear friend of mine, so THANK YOU so much for donating your time and talents to his cause! Secondly, though, how did you get involved with the benefit, and what does it mean to you to be a part of something like this?
We’ve known those boys for a very long time, and we heard about the news on the road. It’s a pretty devastating kinda thing to hear.  Ryan Manno, who we know from JBTV, reached out and said “anyone who’s interested, send me an email back.” And we emailed right away and said, “we’ll be on the road til August 20th. Name the place and we’ll be there.” We’re all friends and we need to stick together and it’s really nice to see all these bands working together for this cause. And I think it says something about human beings, that everyone’s getting together on this. We’re proud to be a part of it.

Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
There’s a lot of them, and they’re all over the place! We like The Clash, The Replacements, Bruce Springsteen, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, The Ramones and then the whole British invasion, 60s American garage rock, like I said, all over the place.

What’s next for AM Taxi?
Well, after Warped Tour and the benefit show, we hit the road again! We’re doing a small tour in September, and then we’re hoping to do maybe a small club tour in October, November, maybe early December? At this point we’re still kind of a small band that not a lot of people have heard of yet and we need to spread the word and get our name out there, you know?

Definitely! Alright, now it’s time for some off-the-wall questions to make this a little more fun. What’s one thing you absolutely cannot go on tour without–and you can’t say, “the van,” “gear,” or anything obvious like that?
I would say a toothbrush but we haven’t been the cleanest band on this tour! (laughs) I don’t think I could travel without some sort of music soundtrack, whether it’s iPOD or CD or some kind of music device like that.

On the contrary, what’s one thing you’re always forgetting/leaving behind in venues/hotel rooms on tour?
We’re always leaving clothes behind. Sometimes cell phones get left behind. Jason loses his keys occasionally. I’ve left my phone behind.., wallets–that always sucks! Yeah, the important things, we tend to leave behind.
Describe each of your bandmates in three words or less.
Okay, Luke is a…chocolate..connossieur…tambourinist!
Chris is..Hamburgler..clown..uh, metronome?
John is..loud..relentless, and blazed.
And Jason is..solid..thirsty, and……..sleepy!

If you had to be handcuffed to one of your bandmates for a full 48 hours, who would you choose to be handcuffed to and why?
I’d..uh..I wouldn’t do that! Here’s what I would do, though! We have two brothers in our band: John and Luke. And I would have THEM handcuffed together, because that’s the most entertaining thing sometimes in the band is to instigate a fight between the two of them! First of all, it’s very easy to do! You just pick any subject, and then get them all riled up. I think if they were handcuffed together for two days it would be pretty entertaining for all of us to watch.

Favorite curse word?
(Matter-of-factly) Motherfucker. Yeah.

What would you be doing with your life right now if you weren’t a musician?
Busboy? I dunno, probably nothing, I’m not good at anything!

Famous last words?
Don’t eat yellow snow! Be kind, rewind… annnd..listen to AM Taxi at www.amtaximusic.com!

##

AM Taxi is everywhere on the net!

Official Website
Facebook
MySpace

Twitter

UPCOMING TOUR DATES:

8.5.10 — Calgary, Canada
8.7.10 — Salt Lake City, UT
8.8.10 — Denver, CO
8.10.10 — Chula Vista, CA
8.11.10 — Pomona, CA
8.12.10 — Whearland, CA
8.13.10 — Nampa, ID
8.14.10 — George, WA
8.15.10 — Hillsboro, OR
8.21.10 — Chicago, IL (ThroughThePain.org benefit for Matthew Leone)
9.16.10 — Mesa, AZ
9.17.10 — Tucson, AZ
9.18.10 — Tempe, AZ
9.20.10 — Dallas, TX
9.22.10 — St. Louis, MO
9.23.10 — Milwaukee, WI

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