“We’re not punks, we’re not mods, we’re not new wavers — we’re just the Adored,” proclaims bristly headed singer Ryan George, sipping red wine and eating Chex mix in his West Hollywood living room last Friday night. His words might sound cocky, but George says them with a subdued, almost self-conscious demeanor that’s anything but. George admits his band borrows blatantly from all three genres, by the way. He’s just a little weary of being lumped in with the nouveau disco-punk bands, when he feels his band has outgrown the label.
“It was kind of our fault, because [when we started] we were learning how to write songs — and those kinds of songs are actually easier to play,” admits George, who grew up in San Luis Obispo, did time in S.F. and eventually settled here with the Adored two years ago. “But that’s what everyone’s doing now, and there’s not a lot of substance to it. You write some weird abstract lyrics, put a disco beat on it and a scratchy guitar and you’re the next big band. We ultimately kind of took the harder route and tried to write more intricate songs when we made the EP” (their self-titled ’04 release on V2).
The band (which includes guitarist Drew Seventeen, bassist Max Humphrey and drummer Nat Keefer) had only been together two months before they started playing gigs a few years back — and quickly gathered a buzz. They pranced and pogo’d their way into nearly every local hipster joint in town — the Echo, M Bar, the Key Club’s Ruby Tuesday and, most pivotally, Star Shoes, where their ’03 set at an Interpol afterparty wasn’t just pandemonium but a turning point.
“That was a crazy night. Mike stands got thrown in the crowd, and people were just going crazy,” George remembers, adding that New Musical Express even wrote it up. “People knew the songs off our demo, and were singing along.”
“The thing about [the Adored] was that they were playing punk rock, but not the kind people know today,” says Sidell, a well-known local bar owner before becoming an A&R man for V2, signing the Blood Brothers and the Burning Brides. “They were what I call Spock kids — they looked like Spock from Star Trek with the hair and everything — but sounded like the stuff I listened to growing up. They also had a bit of the post-punk dance element, kind of like the Rapture, that really worked.”
But even as they were getting signed, the Adored were still figuring out what worked for them sonically. Ultimately, their core influences came down to only two bands: the Buzzcocks and the Jam. They toned down the dance beats in favor of a more organic, raw vibe on wax — something George says they always leaned toward. The presence of the Buzzcocks’ Pete Shelley on the EP (on the snappy “TV Riot” and saucy “Sex Is In Fashion”) adds a particularly old-school, snarly feel. The band even became pals with their idol (though his rumored guest appearance during an Adored show at Tokio last year never took place because Shelley was too “cocktailed” out to perform).
The forthcoming LP (due in March) sees them stepping even further from the synth-punk crowd with super-clean guitars, elastic pop hooks, bracing harmonies, big choruses and L.A.-centric themes exploring the city’s shiny faces and facades (“Chemistry,” “Queens Head”) and the band’s struggle to fit in (“We Don’t Want You Around”). They wrote the latter about “starting to play faster, punkier stuff and not really having a place in the trendy dance L.A. new wave craze,” explains George. “We’re not into keyboard-heavy, four-on-the floor Flock of Seagulls–type stuff, you know what I mean?” Yeah, we know. But even with a more late-’70s Brit-stomper edge, the Adored maintain a groove that makes you move. They’re no Men Without Hats, but you can dance if you want to.
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