Nathan Adamson owns and operates a small recording facility and label: FourReelz Records, and Ferralog Studios in Deep Ellum. What caught our attention was the spotlight feature he does for new artists: "Catch & Release", where they record a band in one day, on all-analog gear, then have a release show the very next night. The studio also has a live stage and bar, for the love of Pete.
Adamson is also a local musician. A multi-instrumentalist, at that. Among the bands he's been seen with are THe BAcksliders. And yes, this is a column about the behind-the-scenes non-performers. But, more often than not we seem to find a musician embedded in the supportive person in the music community we profile....a musician who is so into contributing to the overall community that they've actually put the instruments to the side for a spell to focus on supporting others.
I asked you recently to rave about a new local act that you love. You made me laugh when you told me how they came about.
The Venetian Sailors! Fronted by Robbie Saunders with Aaron Kenneth on guitar and vocals, Shane Keil on upright bass and Nigel Newton on Vibes, keys and percussion. They formed when the owner of the B4 antique store, Sam Thompson, needed a band to play his store's grand opening.
And when I asked about your influences in your youth, you made me laugh again! Not mockingly, but just in a "you never know" kind of way.
Barry Manilow's 1977 LIVE album? It's pretty much what I've based my entire life on.
The first record I fell in love with as a child was a collection of Scott Joplin rags played by Joshua Rifkin.
How did you come up with Catch & Release? It's very thoughtful and innovative. Recording and releasing on one day is also terribly risky, but that makes it exciting and probably very motivating to the artists. Give us a little background on it.
It's something I've wanted to do for a while, but when Leslie Sakal, who works at our studio as an engineer, wanted some of her friends from Santa Fe University to stop in Dallas and play a show, I suggested that they record on Monday and release the album the next day. The Band was Treemotel and the record, called Girls, was named one of the top albums of the year in a Santa Fe music blog. The other three artists that have made C&R records are The Marfalites, Jaisun Williams' Complex Simplicity and the Venetian Sailors. I'm currently finishing a C&R for three singer-songwriters named Billy Bones, Hank Van Hawkins, and Zach Fox. Their five song E.P. is being released at Ferralog on January 31.
Are you getting hit with a lot of submissions for Four Reels? What are you looking for from musicians?
We haven't done a lot of promotion yet. It's pretty much word-of-mouth at this point and of course the Catch and Release shows help to get the name out as well. I'm really only interested in artists who are making art to survive. If you have a cushy day job you are never going to be able to dedicate the amount of time needed to make great music. There are exceptions to this of course, but in my experience the worst thing a musician can do is to get a GOOD job. I have several artists in mind but I can say that the Venetian Sailors will be the first band on our Label. FOURREELZRECORDS works like a co-op, which means that the artists will be owners of the label.
What about school experiences? Any music memories there?
I've always considered traditional schooling as a massive, deliberate waste of time. I did play in the jazz band in junior high and high school but there really wasn't much playing happening because there were three drummers and we had to take turns. It was, nevertheless, the only reason I went to school at all.
I understand you're a big fan of Cricket Taylor's band, The Electromagnetics. I reviewed their new LP last year, I think?
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It was a few years ago, but one of the nicest suprises I've experienced in DFW was seeing the Electromagnetics play before one of my bands, The Backsliders, at City Tavern. Their drummer, Gerard Bendiks, is one of the most interesting musicians I've ever seen. I had the opportunity to record him at my temporary studio in Garland as well as the new Ferralog Studio in Deep Ellum.
When I asked you what you'd do if you were made Mayor of the music scene, your answer reminded me of what Frank Zappa might do in the same scenario.
Hmmmmm. Musicians are a true subculture. We live a bubble where almost everyone is participating voluntarily and that is a beautiful thing. After turning the Union Bank building into a Casino, I would abolish the Mayor's office.