I recently got the chance to sit down with Adam Lindberg, who is a Los Angeles based session drummer and songwriter. Currently located in Pasadena, California, Adam is quite far away from home here in LA. Having transplanted to the music capital of the world from a small neighborhood in Vasteras, Sweden, Adam’s story tells the tale of a unique journey into the professional world of drumming and a career in the music business.
Let’s talk origins here. What’s life like in Vasteras and how close are you to Stockholm?
… “Well, Vasteras is a pretty small town… only around 170,000 people. Mainly an industrial town - nothing too exciting at all.
.... "We are about an hour outside of Stockholm.”
What was the music scene like growing up in Sweden & what did you play?
... "The only thing you can achieve in my hometown is to have a rehearsal space with a band and maybe have a few gigs a year. You gotta go to Stockholm for any consistency... and even then it's hard because the country is so small."
... "The first real artist I got into was Elvis when I was four or five years old. I got my first Elvis album on my birthday - "Elvis Presley in Person”, which I still have today. The second band I got into was KISS. After a few years [early 2000s], I moved over to the hip hop and rap world. When I found Marshall Mathers [Eminem] it was game over for me."
... "When I grew up I listened to a lot of funk, soul, and R&B because that's what my mom was listening too so that music was always around."
... "Growing up I played in mostly rock and metal bands around town."
... "I started playing drums when I was 13 years old. Before that I had already been playing guitar for about a year. Thirteen is roughly when I caught the metal bug. The first song that I really liked was “Touch Like Angel of Death" - Children of Bodom. I fell in love with metal right away. I suppose it was the intensity and power that metal felt like. I could also see a connection between Eminem and metal - both are very angry and dark music."
Did you ever have any music mentors or formal training before coming to California?
... "Yes, my drum mentor was Svetlan Raket back home. Svetlan was my drum teacher and taught me techniques and about life in general."
... "I went to an arts school for middle school [Carlforsska] - which gave me lots of experience playing with my bands on top of school life."
... "For about 6 years I was gigging with my band Intrive. We kept busy with gigs and rehearsals and it was a lot of great experience. Around 2006 we won a music competition and got like five hundred bucks that we put towards making an EP. We ended up releasing that EP in 2006."
... "Around 2008 we saved enough money to go into a professional studio to record our first real album. We wound up recording at Studio Underground, which is run by Pelle Saether."
..."The album unfortunately never got released and the band broke up shortly after in 2010."
What are some desert island bands for you?
- Rage Against the Machine
What made the choice for you to come to Los Angeles?
... "It was basically because my drum teacher went to MI in the 90s. Svetlan had studied under Ralph Humphrey and Joe Porcaro and I followed in his footsteps. Svetlan said if I really wanted to pursue music I should go to LA. It took me around 5 years to really decide to uproot myself or not. During that time I started taking lessons with Joey Heredia - who also helped me to decide to look into Los Angeles College of Music and other music schools in California."
... "I finally built up the courage to take the steps necessary to move to Southern California. I took about 5 years to really build up the courage no joke. CSN gave me a loan, which shocked me because I wasn't aware that I could get a loan of that size until then."
How do you like it here in Los Angeles & how was it different than you imagined it would be?
... "Well for me it was hard to imagine how California would be. When I came here It was unbelievable... [when] I got on the highway and saw the city at night... the lights just kept going! I was like damn, I'm in LA; of course Hollywood Blvd was cool but I suppose I played it up in my head. It's just names on the ground and weird people. Hollywood is great to gig in though."
... "The music scene is really good in LA. It's always fun to go out and meet people; they seem to be open and willing to chat. The only thing I would say is that clubs should pay artists more in general. Musicians should be paid to play a lot more around town."
What’s life like for an active drummer in LA?
... "Well, if you are an international drummer - it's quite difficult. You must always been seeking work and constantly try to advance in the industry all while thinking about your visa. It's good to have the advantage of being able to play multiple instruments. People that play many instruments are very desirable for bands or companies hiring. I would definitely recommend to try and learn different instruments."
... "It's good to have the harmony side also as a drummer. It's more important to be able to understand the music - as opposed to just the technical drumming stuff. Your main focus should be the song - listen and try to make the music better."
How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards developing your own voice?
... "I don't think I have really fully developed my voice. But I do know more things that I love, which are more dynamics and tension within a piece. I mostly just trust my gut in songwriting. I think that following your instincts is really important in developing your own voice on an instrument. When it comes to tracking/playing drums I think less is more. I like groove and dynamics. When it comes to songwriting I really want to be able to share a story with my audience."
... "My drum sound comes from me being a songwriter at heart; I just happen to play drums. I will always try to orchestrate my drums to the song. If the song needs simple drums - then you shall have simple drums. I really love seeing music making people dance - while playing funk/Latin/soul etc. However, when I’m playing rock or metal I want it loud and in your face. I think it's important to be able to understand what is really critical inside every genre you play as an artist."
Could you describe your creative process? How is that versus jamming with someone?
... "For me, writing music feels like a game. Sometimes I want to make music but I can't get anything out while other times I get this huge creative burst of energy."
... "Jamming on the other hand starts with people just playing together - interacting with their instruments in real time. This process is how people start to really "get to know" each other musically . Making music is so free and flowing - magic can happen at any moment. The brilliant thing is that you may not even know you're at the high point since everyone can be so locked in."
To you, what are the 3 most important things any drummer should have?
... "You have to be able to understand the music. You need good time and flow. You also have to be very confident and have a wide vocabulary on your instrument."
... "When you start playing any instrument - you should not worry about technique so much - just play the music. Try to figure out what the hell is going on. Then after a while perhaps look into getting a private instructor. If you can, choose someone that excels in what you like. Most genres have the same fundamentals but start to differ various ways further along the path.
Let's talk gear for a second - what are you using mostly these days?
... "The cymbals I use are Paste and Zidljian. I use DW pedals, a vintage Ludwig snare, and Joey Heredia signature sticks."
Thoughts on practice and discipline?
... "That's difficult - if I look at myself I would say that I don't seem to posses the "discipline gift" that I see a lot of people have. I willingly force myself to practice. It's all about that willpower. Will power and ambition are directly related to your goals and what you are doing."
Where do you see the music industry in the future?
... "The trends last way shorter than they used to. I suppose the internet plays a huge part in that."
... "That’s why it’s more important than ever to “stick to your guns” and work for the best future you can as an artist."
Okay last question here. Give me a rock and roll story from your years of gigging.
..."One gig in Sunderland, UK we were playing and the volume was really loud. I had an in - ear monitor connected to a mixer which was on some basic old regular chair. When the stage started shaking, the mixer started to slowly move away from me eventually falling down. One of my in - ears was suddenly yanked out and my ear took all the damage... so there I was getting my ears blasted but just kept keeping time until I could catch a moment to get my in - ears back in properly."
... "Now later that same night there was a mosh pit which actually broke into a real fight were the cops came. That was a great tour. In London the first thing we saw back stage was this freakishly big rat. I don't know if you've ever seen one, but London rats are something else in person."
Current Activities and How to Find Adam
Adam is currently playing in several projects throughout Los Angeles. Some of the artists he is playing for are: