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Interview: Adam Albright of DOPESICK

Antihero Magazine’s Scott Martin recently spoke with Adam Albright, lead guitarist and main songwriter of Oakland, CA punk/metal/rock and roll outfit Dopesick about the recently released The Love and Terror Cult EP and plans for an upcoming full-length album.

Photo: Matt Zane

Scott Martin: Can you tell me a little bit about how Dopesick was formed?

Adam Albright: Absolutely. When I was in prison in ’98, ’97, I was doing the Skinlab thing, and we got signed, and then right in the middle of that, I got in trouble and went to jail. While I was in there, my bunkie was a pillhead and a junkie. He always was saying all these things, and he said “Dopesick” one day, and I was just like, “Holy shit. That’s a cool word. Sounds cool.” Then, I heard Steven Tyler say it one day. I was like, “That’s a cool word.” I just got the vision then, and when I got out, I started working on stuff and I’ve been doing Dopesick for a long time, so 20 years later, it starts to take off a little bit.

Scott Martin: Can you describe the recording process of your debut EP, The Love and Terror Cult?

Adam Albright: Absolutely. I record in Van Nuys at this place, Pawn Shop Studios, with Patrick Burkholder, and this time was the first time I ever got … I was happy. I got the sounds I wanted. I did the record with Aaron Rossi. He was playing with Ministry at the time, and me and him worked together over the phone, and then he came down to LA and we just locked up in the studio for two weeks getting everything tight, and then went straight into Patrick’s and knocked them out in a few days. I’ve got all those songs … I got a lot of music from that session, and some of that’s going to go on the full length that’s supposed to come out in October, but I’ve got some new music I’m adding to that batch, but some of those songs are from … Some of the songs that are going on the full-length are from the batch from Aaron and stuff.

Scott Martin: Did Aaron play on the EP?

Adam Albright: Yeah. Absolutely. Aaron did all the drums. He’s in Seattle. Me and him would talk on the phone and he would go over stuff and do it … He’s such a good drummer. He played different beats to different things to make stuff move right, to go into different parts right. He’s really smart as a drummer. A lot of drummers don’t get that kind of credit, I think people don’t think they write and they are dumb. Aaron helped me a lot a lot, and in the middle of it, we had a little problem, but that shit happens. I did all the bass on it. I did all the guitars, all the synths and stuff, and Aaron did all the drums. I’m happy with it, really happy.

Scott Martin: So, is that going to be the same thing for the full-length?

Adam Albright: No. The guys I’m working with right now are going to be the band, and that’s what I’m trying to do right now is just working on the full-length and getting that stuff up. I’m trying to get out so I could do some shows, too, but you know, making the full-length, getting that record done is most important. But we’ll see what happens. I’m still working with a singer right now, I’m not going to say who the singer is, but when the record comes out everybody will know what’s going on. But I mean, I write all that stuff, so it’s mainly me. I mean, I do all the bass stuff, even, all the demos will be me playing bass, so it’s like, you know, it’s all coming out of my head.

Scott Martin: Can you tell me about some of your musical influences?

Adam Albright: Yeah, I saw KISS in ’79 my first show ever. My mom took me to the Dynasty tour and that started it. Like Ace Frehley, I love Ace Frehley. You know there are a million guitar players that are … technically ripped his head off, but nobody’s as cool as Ace Frehley. Ace Frehley is the dude. And Bad Brains a lot, I love Bad Brains, the energy. I like a lot of diverse stuff. I like Stevie Wonder. I like The Cure. I like King 810. I pull from a lot of different stuff.

I think everybody is influenced by a lot of different stuff. I love the Rolling Stones. I’m not going to just … You know what I mean? I’m not going to just tune to C and play heavy shit, that’s just stupid of me. There’s not cussing in every song. Not talking about fucking bitches in every song. You know none of that stuff and it is just good music, you know?

I want to try and put positive out there. I got a lot of work to do on myself. But doing this music I get to work on myself and I get to you know possibly put    positive back into the world. That’s what I’m trying to do the best I can.

Scott Martin: How would you describe Dopesick‘s musical sound?

Adam Albright: I used to say, “Very loud and chaotic” before, but now … shit I don’t know man. I don’t even know how to describe it. Guitar-driven music, I have no idea how to describe it. Music that doesn’t bug everyone. It does bug some people though. I just read this morning, somebody played “Fruitvale” on some station or something. They picked “Fruitvale” out of the songs. I actually hit them with a ‘thanks’ for that. But more people are getting us. I’m not trying just to compete with Slayer or compete with Rage Against the Machine. I’m not trying to compete with anybody. I’m just making music that I like. And also, people get it. And some people are getting it. I get stoned and I listen to that song, and like I listen to it like four or five and it’s just like I think something different each time. Sometimes I’m happy. Sometimes I’m sad. If I can evoke an emotion by music I think I’m doing my job, you know?

Scott Martin: Yeah, because I’ve been listening to the album quite a bit lately, and “Hayes N Webster” sounds like it’s very Ministry-influenced.

Adam Albright: That’s cool. I love Ministry. I liked Ministry before Aaron was in Ministry, but actually Scott Sargeant, the guy who used to play in Skinlab, MOD, Killing Culture, all kind of shit, me and him were roommates for a while. We got a drum machine, and I didn’t know how to use it, and Scotty is a genius with all that stuff. One day, we just got stoned and he programmed a loop for me, and I had that loop forever. I just wanted to use it, so it fell into place on the EP. Yep. Scotty did that stuff.

Scott Martin: The bay area had a history of being the melting pot for thrash metal in the 80’s.

Adam Albright: But when I was there we still had good shit. We had the Kabuki. We had Berkeley Square. We had something, Club Chaos. We had something in Alameda. But there was a lot of stuff I mean Machine Head was just kind of breaking in so they did Ten Ton Hammer video at Berkeley Square. I saw that and you know and that was still cool music going back then. Shit hell of stuff I just can’t remember everything right now. I miss that. I miss the camaraderie kind of, you know? There’s still some of those guys up there still doing it though. The Devil In California is a good band up there. Infex is good up there. Somebody else that I like, shit.

Scott Martin: What Bay area bands have been your local influences?

Adam Albright: Infex is kind of like thrashy and The Watchers, there we go goddamn it, I forgot. That’s the one. The Watchers are the shit. Jeremy, Cornbread and Tim; Tim is a killer singer, killer song-writer.

And the perfect sound for right now, what’s going on. That Sabbath Highway song and videos songs they got, the new video one, Just A Needle or something like that or whatever. The solo’s ripped dude. It rips. Hopefully, he brings guitar players back to the world.  Spiral Arms. What’s funny is that Tim’s been in a bunch of bands and like each one was good. Like each one was good to its own like Systematic, you know? I think The Watchers is the best one just because I think it’s a killer group of guys. I think they all are perfect guys.

I’ve known Jeremy since back in Breach and The Venting Machine. He was actually going to play drums in Dopesick for one segment. Yeah, Jeremy’s pretty multi-talented musician. He’s a really good guitar player and I feel The Watchers, The Devil In California, Infex and then the rap group from San Jose, Gorilla Voltage.

Scott Martin: Gorilla Voltage, that’s interesting. I lived in San Jose and I never heard of them.

Adam Albright: They’re out of San Jose. I grew up with Mark. They’re really good at rap. They’re on tour right now with Twizted.

The Devil In California is different kind of rock, Infex is kind of like Thrash Metal. And then the rap. So, there’s all my influences right there just in local influences, you know what I mean?

Scott Martin:  I assume that the song “Fruitvale” is about the BART stop where Oscar Grant was killed by the Oakland Police Department?

Adam Albright: Absolutely. Thanks for saying his name. I try to always say Oscar Grant‘s name, so it’s not just the kid that got shot.

I saw the movie and it was sad. I get choked up just thinking about it because … The movie’s the movie, but basically, the story is he just went out, got in some shit, and a cop pulled his gun thinking it was a taser and shot the kid. That’s not acceptable. He got two years in prison. He did less than a year in prison, and I’d like to give that song to Oscar Grant‘s mom and just say, “Hey. I wrote this after hearing about your son and seeing it,” but that was my stop when I was in Oakland.

Scott Martin: I was going through your songs. You really stay true to your Bay Area roots. I can tell by your songs. Also, “Hayes N Webster” …Isn’t that a cross-streets in San Francisco?

Adam Albright: That’s where me and Scottie lived. That was our apartment. That’s why I named it that, because that’s where he ran the drum machine. Six months, maybe, but we’d come home and there’d be gunshots up and down the street, just crazy little spot, so yeah. That was crazy time for me and Scottie both probably.

Scott Martin: I was always wondering what the actual significance of the “Hayes N Webster” is, besides it being a street in San Francisco. Can you tell me what is “Release Me” and “Ride the Night” about?

Adam Albright: I don’t know. “Ride the Night” is about having fun and being out in the sun and just enjoying life. To me, Jahred (Hed PE) wrote that, so you have to ask Jahred that one. To me, I wrote the hook part, the noisy part, and it’s just about being outside and having fun to me, and good energy. “Release Me”, Cristian Machado (Ill Nino) wrote that one, so you’d have to talk to him about that, but I don’t know … I don’t know. I don’t think it’s a really happy one, but I don’t know. I like the song a lot though. It moves good.

Scott Martin: What I noticed about listening to your EP, it’s extremely diverse. You have a little of everything on there. You have the reggae, you have the metal with “Release Me”, and “Hayes N Webster”, and then you have the really slowed down acoustic instrumentals like “Fruitvale”, and I really like it. I think you did a great job. Only problem, I felt like I was being cheated. It’s such a short album, and I felt like I wanted more. I’m like, “I want more.”

Adam Albright: That’s good though. That’s good. If it sucked, you’d be like, “Fuck this,” and throw it away, so at least some people are like, “I want more,” so that’s cool. Sometimes you want more and you can’t always get more, but the full-length will have everything on it. People will be a lot happier, probably, with the full-length, because there’ll be more metal on it. There’ll be more songs, because I have more time to get more.

Scott Martin: So, you used to play with Sebastian Bach?


Adam Albright: Yep. I wrote … “Angel Down” was a Dopesick song, and I heard he was looking for a guitar player so I sent him the “Angel Down” demo, and he liked it. I went out there and auditioned and played that and some other Skid Row songs and got that job and did that for a while. But I recorded with him on Angel Down and that’s his title track to his second solo CD, I think? First or second CD … solo CD.

Scott Martin: Did you play on tour with him?

Adam Albright: Yeah. We toured with Twisted Sister for a while, and then toured with Twisted Sister and Alice Cooper for a couple nights and it was cool. Fun.

Scott Martin: Oh, boy. That sounds like fun.

Adam Albright: Yeah, Twisted Sister was super cool.

Scott Martin: So, besides Skinlab and Sebastian Bach, who else have you been with?

Adam Albright: That’s pretty much it as far as main people, but I’ve been doing Dopesick for a long time and then I did a little solo thing, Adam Albright and the Unstables, and you know, I’ve always been doing something. You know, whether it was out playing, or I was just hanging around with somebody in a room, and actually a lot of the 9mm stuff is turning into Dopesick stuff. You know, I just kind of took a break from Dopesick for a while and moved to North Carolina and I started doing 9mm Disco and just kind of … just trying to get my bearings back were you with Skinlab in the beginning?

I was with Skinlab when we did the demo that got us signed, and I went to prison right when that happened. And then we got signed for the Bound, Gagged and Blindfolded record. And when I got out of prison in ’98, I toured with them for a little while and then quit again, or me and Steev got into it again. Stopped that but I was pretty much, I think, the original guitar player. There was a guy before me that did some stuff, but I think I was the original guy in that.

Scott Martin: Yeah, they’ve gone through quite a bit of lineup changes in the last several years.

Adam Albright: Oh, yeah. They’ve gone through probably … I think they’ve had more guitar players than anybody in the world, dude. I was probably the second or third guitar player, and then they’ve had probably 30 guitar players. Which is a joke to me. That’s disgusting, dude. It’s stupid.

Scott Martin: I got just a couple off-the-wall questions. What would you say is the greatest song ever written? Not genre-specific, I mean just in general, the greatest overall song that was ever written in your opinion?

Adam Albright: Man. Shit, dude, that’s a hard one. There’s … I mean, there’s so many songs that are killer like “Stairway to Heaven” and “Hotel California”, or like … those songs are amazing songs, you know what I mean? But the greatest song ever written.

Scott Martin: I know it’s a tough one. I mean, I came up with “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Adam Albright: “Words” by Missing Persons. How about that?

Scott Martin: Everyone will have a different answer on that question. There is no wrong or no right, just an opinion.

Adam Albright: That’s today.

Scott Martin: In your opinion, who is the greatest frontman in music?

Adam Albright: H.R….. H.R. from Bad Brains………….PERIOD! I mean, his energy … like, if you see old videos of him … I mean, the energy, dude. Like he’s just shaking, like just … that’s fucking so intense and so heavy duty, so … you know, then there’s different styles, like Rod Stewart is killer, Mick Jagger is killer, but for me, if I could have H.R. in my band, I’d take H.R. any day of the week.

Photo: Matt Zane

Scott Martin: I remember a couple years back, I went to a show called the California Roots Music Festival, it’s a 3-day Reggae Festival that’s in Monterey and they had a Skunk Records Celebration/Jam with members of Sublime and other Skunk Records alumni. They brought H.R. up on stage to perform a couple songs with the band. I found it amazing that half of the crowd had no idea who H.R was. If it was not for H.R, we would not be here right now.

Adam Albright: He’s completely different now. That’s because people don’t know where their music comes from, they listen to one or two songs and think they know everything, and it’s like, if you research … radar detector … if you research music, I mean, you know … I don’t know. If you grew up with music and shit, you know what’s right and what’s wrong, and what’s good and bad, I think, so. I mean, Bad Brains influenced so many people, you know? Every genre, you know? Metal, punk, reggae, whatever it is, that was just a very influential band, and I love that band. I love H.R. I love that band.

Scott Martin:  Can you tell me, what is your opinion on music streaming sites such as Spotify, Google Play and Pandora? And of people downloading music for charge and for free. I know it’s stealing money from out of your pockets.

Adam Albright: Yeah, I don’t know much about it. I’m not real computer smart but if I happen to hear a band on YouTube, if I like them I go buy the CD, you know? I use that. I think it’s kind of cool. I go on Wikipedia. I check out whatever’s going on. And then I go buy it.

So, all the people that bitch and complain like their saying this or that, I don’t think they buy music, you know? I don’t think they go to shows. I don’t think they support music. I think they spend their money on other things. Which whatever, but don’t bitch if you don’t buy something you’re not part of it, you know what I mean? You can go spend ten dollars for a beer but you can’t spend $8 for a CD? And you are going to have the CD forever. You’re going to piss the fucking beer out in a minute. So, you know I think that if people started buying music again or maybe if they can you know. Sometimes I buy a record with one song on it that’s good and I’m pissed.

So, you know that’s another reason why I want to try and have some diversity like records I bought when I was little … Even Ozzy, I mean Ozzy’s diverse. He’s got fucking pianos and fucking all kind of shit. Listen to Alice Cooper records. Listen to an old Alice Cooper record. Like, what the hell is this? Well, it’s like diverse. Led Zeppelin, Bad Brains, just all that music is diverse. And it’s not just cookie-cutter, every song sounds the same as the other band. I think that’s what happens.

Scott Martin: Tell me a little bit about the listening party you had for The Love and Terror Cult EP?

Adam Albright: It was cool. I did it back in Destin, Florida and that’s where I went to high school and middle school, so it was cool. The radio station there was doing a lot for me and they were playing it a bunch and doing ads and stuff, so it was cool. It’s a weird place there, it’s not like … they don’t have a lot of music there, so you know, it was cool to go do it there. Plus, the place that we did it in was the first place that I had ever played live, like when I was 18 or 17 or some shit. That was the first place I played live music, so it was cool for me to go back and do it there. But it went pretty good. I sold some records, gave some records out.

Scott Martin: Do you have all the songs written for the full-length album?

Adam Albright: Pretty much. I mean, half of it is done. Half the stuff is done with Aaron. Going to go through some of those songs, but then I wrote a whole new bunch of shit, too, so it’s like that’s going on the record. So, we are just trying to compile the best songs, get them tight, and then we’re going to do the vocals on those good.

There is more fucking heavy metal shit on there, there’s, again, more reggae on it, there’s some punk on there, but there’s going to be some more electronic music. The EP is just a small version of what the full length is going to be, you know?

Scott Martin: So basically, you released the EP to kind of test the waters to see what the reaction would be… because I love the EP, it’s very diverse, it has a little of this, a little of that. Like you were saying the one person that reviewed it ripped it up because it was so different, but actually a lot of bands you listen to, it’s all the same style and has all the same sound, which can kind of be monotonous.

Adam Albright: Boring… Only one person ripped it up. This one lady ripped it up, but other than that I’ve been getting pretty good reviews on it. That’s what I think is cool, though, is the diversity of it. People are bored with music and people talk so much shit about the music scene and stuff. It’s like well, fucking just make some more … better music. Try and make some diverse music. You know, every song on the record doesn’t sound the same and when you buy a CD that one song is the only one that’s good, you know? I’d rather try and make fucking songs that are good songs and diverse songs and … dude, I’m up and down. Like one day I am fucking happy, one day I’m really upset so that comes out in my music, you know?

I might write heavy shit, but it just depends on my mood, so whatever my mood is that is what I’m going to write, and I don’t care who likes it or who tries to pigeonhole it to whatever, I’m going to write music, man. I’m going to play music.

Scott Martin: I didn’t realize that … I know you said you were working on Dopesick for a long time, but you had prior albums with Dopesick, right?

Adam Albright: There’s an EP out called Vendetta.

Scott Martin: And I definitely think that with anybody that listens to your music that’s from the San Francisco Bay area could totally relate to your music. Because as I said like “Fruitvale” is about Oakland, “August 1969”, “Hayes N Webster”, it all has a very strong Bay Area appeal to it.

Adam Albright: I love the city until all that tech stuff moved in. Because the city is not the city anymore you know? I moved back to San Francisco and was just like heart-broken, you know?  So, I went to L.A. I was like, I’m not staying in this shit. The Mission District is different. All the people are different. Everybody I know lives two hours out of the city. Nobody I know really except one dude was in the city and was just … It’s not the same vibe, you know? The people are different, just everything.


Scott Martin

Photographer - California - Bay area

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