The band members of The Maladies of Adam Stokes graciously sat down with ForgetTheBox for a pre-CMF show interview where they candidly spoke about their success to date, band dynamics and future plans.
Where did your band name come from, and what does it mean?
Mikey: It’s from an old medical text I remember hearing in medical school titled “The Maladies of Adams-Stokes – Affairs of the Heart.” Adams and Stokes are the last names of two 18th century physicians. Thought it was nice, albeit very long. We dropped the ‘s’ at the end of Adams for ease.
Tell us something about Montréal.
Emily: We’ve got the best response from people in Québec. I love the culture there in terms of the way they treat music. There’s so much respect. We had a couple gigs where they did pass the hat, and it’s just so quiet when you play which is incredible. Our culture here, people are drinking and partying in the background.
Kohji: Our experience was where people were actually watching us when we were playing.
Brett: When we played there was still no hockey though, (laugh) so there were no Habs games on!
Ted: It’s close enough that we can drive down for a weekend and play a few gigs.
How do you guys travel as a band?
Ted: Two cars. That’s what keeps us together as a band! If we all shared the same car, it would have been like, “you do this wrong, you do that wrong.” Ha!
Brett: We have two distinct groups in the band. Some of us are “laid back adults” and some of us appreciate toilet humour, so there was is one car that was absolutely rambunctious and one where the music is quiet.
Emily: Introverts (Emily, Mikey, Ted) and extroverts (Brett, Josh, Kohji).
Mikey: During the eleven hour drive to Québec I think we said all of ten words to each other, the three of us.
How does that dynamic shape your sound, introverts and extroverts?
Kohji: I think the introverts start the creation of the music. I think being introverted really helps you reflect and write meaningful lyrics, and then the more rambunctious of us add flavour to the songs, kind of put the energy into it. So we take these simple songs and make them what they are.
Ted: There’s aspects of that in all of us, the introvert and the extrovert. There’s times where we’ll practice and we’ll all be very focused on learning, and then there’ll be practices like today where we’ll all try to smile like idiots for no reason and then everyone laughs.
Mikey: The last few shows we thought we were too serious on stage so we decided that we were going to practice smiling.
Emily: Practice today was really creepy.
Brett: It was like hand puppets.
Josh: Some of the songs are kinda dark and to see someone smiling at me was creepy and uncomfortable.
Mikey, do you do most of the writing in terms of lyrics and song structures and then the band fills in the rest of the parts?
Mikey: Yeah, but it’s not always the case, but the majority of the time I sit down and write the bones and the words. But I bring it to them with the idea that they’re going to say if something doesn’t work, or try something here or there.
Kohji: Or even if one of us has an idea for a song, or a bit of a song, we’ll still bring it to Mikey and say, “this is what we have, now write some words to it.” It always makes me uncomfortable to hear, and this isn’t a knock against any band, that a person singing the words didn’t actually write them. To me that’s a bit awkward, because I feel if you’re singing, it needs to come from you. So I would never presume to give Mikey words to sing.
Emily: I asked Mikey just last week what he thinks about when he sings, because he has this concentration face, and he said he thinks about what the song is about and you can see it.
Mikey: Sometimes I think about what I ate. And then I’m like, shit I need to think about what I’m doing.
Brett: I find if I think about playing, I play worse. I think about what I’m doing tomorrow, or when I’m going to trim my beard next.
Do you guys call him Beardo?
Mikey: We do now!
Emily: We wrote a song about a girl who got lost in Brett’s beard.
What do you guys have coming up in the future?
Emily: A vacation. We’re taking Easter weekend off, having a bit of a break.
Mikey: We’ve been working really hard on getting ready for this week, and getting the video done and stuff like that, so we kind of need to sit down and talk about what our next step is. One big thing is getting to North by Northeast as the next step of focus. And looking into some grants to get a tour on the way, probably next September-ish.
Kohji: We’re going to try to focus on Québec and Montréal, that general area, and Ontario as well. We found that those performed the best for us when we were on our last tour. It’s also close to home so it makes the most sense to build an audience around home and grow from there.
Ted: Plus writing songs.