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A Conversation with Adam Jensen (Exclusive Interview)

On March 4, 2016  I interviewed Adam Jensen, a Boston native whose debut single, the deliciously dark, alt pop “Sandcastles,” was recently one of our #songoftheday selections. The only other track of his that I’d heard was his forthcoming second single, “Ritual,” which is even more amazing. Normally, I wouldn’t interview someone I’d only heard a couple of tracks from, but since Adam is from Boston – which I live about 40 minutes away from – I decided to make an exception and interviewed him. However, as you’re about to see, there was a lot of back and forth between us, being a couple of local guys with similar interests, which is why I’m billing this one as “a conversation with” as opposed to a regular interview. That said, it is still very much an interview; all of my many questions were answered. Of course, I could have edited it so it would appear like your typical interview, leaving out our little discussions. But, thinking about doing that, it just didn’t feel right; it’s my belief that  you get to know another side of Adam when we’re just talking normally.  So, here you have it, a conversation style interview between Adam and I. I think you’ll actually find it to be one of the most interesting and insightful interviews I’ve done. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy getting to know Adam; he’s quite colorful and one of the coolest dudes I’ve ever had the pleasure of interviewing.

MM: Your hometown is Boston. Are you still living in Boston?

AJ: Yeah, man. I live over in Allston. I’ve got a place in Allston and a place on Winter Hill in Somerville.

MM: Did you grow up in Allston?

AJ: No, no. I’m like a Boston mutt. Born in Boston. I went to elementary school in Somerville, South Medford. Moved back to the city, parents split up. A common tale.

MM: I live in Dracut, which is next to Lowell.

AJ: Yeah, I know where that is. My sister went to UMass, Lowell.

MM: Oh, cool.

AJ: It’s a good town. Good town.

MM: How often do you use the word wicked in conversation?

AJ: [Laughs] Not very often unless I’m talking to my mother or something.

entering boston

MM: On the cover of “Sandcastles” it looks like there’s a skyline of a city in between the two birds. Is that Boston there?

AJ: I don’t think it was specifically the Boston landscape. I just tried to capture the craziness, the chaos of the song.

MM: Did you do the artwork for that?

AJ: No, I did it with a guy in New York City. A guy named Steve Atlin. I think his company is called Rock Meets Paper. He has a clothing company down in New York. We’ve been doing stuff together for a while. He does really cool shit.

MM: When I was looking at it, I thought the two tallest buildings were supposed to be the Prudential and the Hancock.

AJ: I’ll take it. I’ll change the story to that. [Both laugh]

MM: You had me fooled. Do you remember the days when you used to be able to pay a few bucks and go up to the top of the Hancock Buildings and look at the city?

AJ: I don’t remember, man. I was too poor for that shit.

MM: You wrote “Sandcastles” with Scott Harris and Christian Medice, the latter of which co-produced the song with you. How did you connect with them?

AJ: Um, just randomly. Actually, I went to a concert – a house-y concert – I knew the producer and stuff and he invited me to the show. When I was drinking at the show I met Christian there and was just like, yo, let’s work on some fucking songs. And I had this song “Sandcastles” kind of written on my acoustic and I just brought it in to Christian. We tracked it. Scott helped us with the bridge and I like it. It kind of sounds like a pop song, but to me it sounds like a fucking punk rock song. I’m weird.

MM: I thought it was like alternative pop meets electro, that kind of thing.

AJ: Yeah, Christian’s got a cool little studio down in Brookline. I’ve got a studio up in Boston. So, I do a lot of my writing on the acoustic and piano in Boston and then I go down to Brookline and work with Christian.

MM: Did you write “Ritual” with him?

AJ: Yup. Yup. And another kid named Dennis. Great writer. Good kid.

MM: What software did you use to make the beats and to put things all together?

AJ: We used Logic and Pro-Tools. Logic for more of the programming and Pro-Tools for the analog stuff like guitars and vocals.

MM: Logic keeps coming up a lot in my interviews. It used to be Acid and Pro-Tools, but now Logic seems to be the most popular.

AJ: I’ve always been die-hard Pro-Tools but Logic has beat me down, man. They got a good program. Very useful. I installed one of the first Pro-Tools on my fucking mum’s computer when I was like ten and fucking caught it on fire. Ever since, I’ve been trying to master Pro-Tools. They’re all good for their own different things.

MM: I have an old, old version of Acid. Like version 7. I don’t know what they’re up to now.

AJ: You can drop beats on fucking Acid all day long, man. Acid’s great.

MM: How old were you when you wrote your first song, if you recall?

AJ: Oh, man, I’ve been writing songs as long as I can remember. My mum says I started when I was like four. I was carrying around a little like doctor’s tape recorder and I would sing little songs and my little poems and shit. My first song song – I mean, we always had guitars around. Keyboards. I started taking piano lessons when I was around eight and I probably wrote my first song the next day. I was into that.

MM: How old were you when you learned to play guitar?

AJ: Probably when I was like eleven or twelve. I saw Kurt Cobain and I was like holy shit, I gotta do what that guy’s doing. I just started teaching myself guitar. Once you know the piano and the theory behind it you can pretty much play any instrument. How about you – do you play?

MM: No, I do mostly electronic stuff. I do do some singing but it’s been a little while since I did that.

AJ: Do you program with the keys, or drag and drop?

MM: I was just using samples and loops.

AJ: Yeah, sick. You can get some awesome shit out of that. I’m trying to combine the loops, the beats, the samples, mix that new sound with the analog, the acoustic guitar. And maybe some electric guitar. Try to combine the two instead of being one or the other.

How we say it in Boston.

How we say it in Boston.

MM: I like the way you mixed the acoustic guitar with the beats on “Sandcastles.” That guy Avicii did an album or two in that vein, but for me it just didn’t work. But on your tracks, somehow it really works.

AJ: Thank you very much. I tried to stay away from that Avicii sound. I appreciate that.

MM: So, that’s you playing guitar on “Sandcastles”?

AJ: Yeah. Yup. I pretty much cover all the instruments on there. I can play most instruments. Piano, bass, mando – mandolin – all that stuff. I play mandolin on there, too, I think. Yeah, mando, on the drop there’s mando.

MM: The lyrics to “Sandcastles” are pretty dark. Were you in a dark place when you wrote it?

AJ: Yeah, I mean, I kind of always am. It’s kind of my style, you know? I like to sing about dark things and real things because I don’t know anything else, really. You can only sing or write about what you know if it’s your project, you know? Yeah, I’m kind of always there but I like combining the dark lyrics with upbeat production. It’s just my style or something a little bit but I appreciate that. The lyrics are very important to me. To not be run of the mill lyrics. To be like something with substance and to be something that someone goes, oh, shit. That’s what I’m going for.

MM: So, who are your influences?

AJ: I’m all about The Beatles, man. John Lennon. Kurt Cobain. Bob Dylan. I love Steven Jenkins from Third Eye Blind. Mostly The Beatles. I grew up – we lived in an apartment, we weren’t very rich. We didn’t have much money or nothing. So, you know, I listened to my parents records. That’s kind of what I came up on. Old ass records. When everyone else was listening to CDs and shit, I only had records, you know? There was no internet. If you can’t pay for it back then there still wasn’t much to get, so I just listened to records and I would just beg my mum to put The Beatles record on. I’d sit in my chair and sing. And if anyone came in the door, I’d be like get the fuck out, I’m singing! [Both laugh]

MM: When I was really young, I had a record called The Chipmunks sing The Beatles, so before I was listening to the actual Beatles, I was listening to The Chipmunks sing it.

AJ: [Laughs] Hell, yeah. I collect those. Every possible pressing. Belgian pressings, German pressings, UK pressings, every possible one. I love The Beatles.

MM: So, you’re really into vinyl then?

AJ: Yeah. I’m not necessarily like an audio snob like, “Oh, I love the quality.” You put the record on and you can’t bother me for twenty minutes because it’s a record. I can’t skip. I can’t stop. I put the record on, it’s the exact length of a blunt. You know? [Laughs] Play one side of a record, smoke a blunt, don’t bother me for thirty minutes. That’s why I like records. I used to get in a lot of trouble when I was younger. My father wasn’t a very nice person. A very angry guy. I wasn’t allowed to play his records, his Beatles records, so, you know, once I got older I was like fuck. My mum would sneak when he wasn’t around to put The Beatles records on for me. And now those Beatles records I wasn’t allowed to touch, I own all of them. I love The Beatles, man.

MM: It seems like vinyl’s making quite a comeback.

AJ: Yeah, I think it’s less about the quality of and more like it’s personal when you spin a record, you know?

MM: Yeah, it’s more interactive. I have thousands of CDs, but there’s something about holding the vinyl in your hands. It’s bigger, and it’s more collectable and all of that.

AJ: Pulling the insert out, you know? Reading the players and reading everything – that’s my favorite part. Every time a new thrift store pops up I go in there and I get all the records. And every time I go in there I buy a bunch of records. The next time I come in, they’ve figured it out and they mark all the prices way up. It’s hard to find good records these days.

MM: I’ve got a place down here called Vinyl Destination. The owner used to be a music critic for The Lowell Sun and I guess he’d started buying massive amounts of vinyl because he wanted to open a record store someday and apparently he wound up with so much of it that he’s got good shit down there for like a dollar, two dollars.

AJ: What’s the name of that place?

MM: Vinyl Destination.

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mill no 5

AJ: Vinyl Destination. Is it in Dracut? I’ve gotta check that out.

MM: It’s in Lowell in a building called Mill Number 5.

AJ: Oh, it’s in the mills?

MM: Yeah, it’s in one of the mills. There’s another good record store downtown, too, called triple R Records.

AJ: What’s it called?

MM: Triple R. Just RRR. It stands for Ron’s Radical Records. He used to be in this space that was just like the size of a couple of closets when I was younger, but he’s got a full size store now. But the only thing about that is that you can find cool stuff there that’s hard to find, but he knows the value of it, so you’re not gonna find a record worth twenty bucks sitting there for a dollar.

AJ: Right, right. That’s what gets interesting. I just bought this — have you ever heard of Nick Drake?

MM: Yeah, I think so.

AJ: He killed himself back in the day. He wasn’t popular. He only sold like two thousand records. There’s an album called Pink Moon. It’s like one of my favorite records ever. And he submitted it to the label all acoustic, no band, just to be like fuck you, here’s my last record. Then he went and killed himself. I bought one online. They go for eight hundred dollars a pop. And I saw one for five hundred. And I was like, oh my God, I’ve gotta buy this even though I can’t pay my fucking rent, you know?

MM: Yeah.

AJ: I bought it and it got here and it was a fucking fake. It was so obvious. The vinyl was too thick, you know? It was a 180 gram, not an old ’70s record. I wrote the guy like, “Yo, this is a fake, take it back.” He was like, “I’ll take it back, I’ll take it back. Don’t say anything.” Yeah, I’m gonna say something and take it back.

Labels from some of the much sought after "purple 45s" by The Beatles.

Labels from some of the much sought after “purple 45s” by The Beatles.

MM: What was the first album you bought with your own money?

AJ: Oh, man, my own money? It had to have been a Beatles record. There’s a Salvation Army. It used to be up the street from my house. I fucking loved that store. I bought my first piano there. I used to buy clothes there and shit. But they had boxes of records. And I bought a bunch of Beatles records in there. That was like before vinyl was huge [again]. I was like eight years old. And they had no idea that a Beatles record was worth something. I got a ton of those purple 45s. I think that’s what it was. How about you? What was your first record?

MM: My first record I bought with my own money was actually Motley Crue’s Shout At The Devil.

AJ: Hell yeah, dude. Fucking rock ‘n’ roll. I’ve got both of those books downstairs. Dirt, that’s some good shit, man. I love Motley Crue. Nikki Sixx is an under-rated songwriter. He’s a great writer.

MM: Yeah, I’ve always liked his lyrics.

AJ: You gotta get in with Nikki Sixx, man. Write a song with Nikki, that would be fun.

MM: I’ve actually interviewed him a few times.

AJ: Oh yeah?

MM: I used to write for some actual magazines and before that I was doing a zine, which was about hair metal bands during the grunge era. And I interviewed him for that by e-mail but then I was writing for LiveWire magazine later on, which was a full glossy, distributed throughout –

AJ: – Yeah, I remember that.

MM: I went to a press thing. They were announcing a tour with Cheap Trick. And it was at the Hard Rock Cafe in Boston. It was just supposed to be one of those conference things where they sit there [and talk]. Anyway, I’m sitting there, taking notes, then the publicist comes over and she’s like, do you want to interview the band after? And, of course, I said yes. But then I went in panic mode because I didn’t have any questions written. But I was able to just go through it without them because I know the band so well.

AJ: That sounds sick, man. I love those guys. Have you read that book, The Dirt?

MM: Yeah.

AJ: And Nikki has one of his own. That’s good shit.

MM: The Heroin Diaries?

AJ: Yeah. The Heroin Diaries, yeah.

MM: That was a good book. I wish he’d put out more of his journals because he’s got like thousands of them.

AJ: Yeah, he’s got a lot of good stuff, man.

MM: “Ritual” is a song about overcoming addiction, if I understand correctly. How much of that is based on personal experience?

AJ: All my stuff, it’s very hard for me to sing and write things for myself that aren’t personally done. It feels very fake to me when I see a pop star up there singing about this or that when they’ve never been through that. You can be addicted to a female. You can be addicted to a lifestyle. You can be addicted to the trouble. You can be addicted to all kinds of things. To booze. I’ve definitely struggled with those things my whole life. It gets me in a lot of trouble. Arrested and all that stuff. It’s just kind of a song about, aw, shit, I need a new ritual, man. I need a new habit.

MM: So did you find any good ones?

AJ: [Laughs] Nah, man, still causing fucking trouble. Maybe next year.

MM: Your press release says one of your goals is not to die or get arrested again. What were you arrested for?

AJ: Oh, man, I’ve been arrested so many times. Mainly assault and battery. I’ve never been arrested for drugs. Scumbag shit. Just assault and batteries, assault and battery with a deadly weapon, assault and battery on a cop. Assault and battery with a foot. They call that a deadly weapon, isn’t that some bullshit? If you get jumped by a group of kids and you kick one of them in the face with your shoe on, they call that assault and battery with a deadly weapon.

MM: Wow, that’s crazy.

AJ: Disturbing the peace, assault and battery on a cop. I got a long record. But I’m a nice guy, right? I don’t want people to think I’m a fucking shithead punk. It’s just self-defense. You’re from around here. You know how it is. You gotta fucking stick up for yourself. If you stick up for yourself and the other kid gets hurt, you get in trouble. Even if four or five kids jump you. If you break some kid’s – if he [needs] stitches in the face, you get arrested. They don’t look at it objectively. They just go, “You, get in the car.”

MM: I remember when I was growing up, kids got in fights all the time, in like high school and stuff, and nobody ever called the cops or anything like that back then.

AJ: That’s how I was raised, too, man. I think a lot of the college kids is what really got me in trouble around here. These college kids they move here and they talk shit. They say something, they say something to my friend, and I just blast them in the face. I’m like, what? And then you get in trouble. And it’s like wait, what happened to a fair fight or you deserved that? They’ll talk shit to you. I got kicked out of George Washington because – I had a full ride and everything – but the first week I’m down there some kid goes, yeah, I’ll fucking kill you. I was like, wait, you’re gonna fucking kill me? And I beat the shit out of him. And I got in trouble. He cried and called his mom and got a lawyer. I was like, wait a minute, you just told me you were gonna kill me and now you’re crying, calling a fucking lawyer? It’s kind of gotten me in some trouble. And I had to learn to just let those fake ass motherfuckers go. You can’t teach every college kid a lesson. It got to a point where I was on probation for assault and battery with a deadly weapon and I got like two and a half years and I had to check in every day to probation. It just got to the point where it was like if you get in trouble one more time, for anything… If you’re on probation and you get pulled over in a car for going too fast, anything criminal, you go right to state prison for the whole length of your probation. So, it was just like, holy shit, I don’t want to go to jail anymore. I can’t do anything. So, I was just like I’m just gonna play music and be on tour at all times so I can stay out of trouble. There’s no other way.

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MM: Have you done much touring yet?

AJ: Yeah, I go around with a band and I go around solo with my acoustic. I play some local shows and stuff around here, just trying to build up a following and stuff before I put the record out. When I do Boston shows there’s usually like four or five hundred people. You should come. You’re in Dracut, right?

MM: Yeah.

AJ: Hell yeah, my next Boston show, you should come.

MM: Sweet. I noticed you have some tattoos in your photo. Can you tell us what a couple represent to you? Or what the stories behind them are?

AJ: Oh, hell yeah, man, I appreciate it. I got one on my chest that says decerto. It means fight to the death in Latin. I got it when I was like seventeen. I’ve got the American coat of arms. You know, that eagle?

MM: Yeah.

AJ: Before the government and everyone took it for their symbols, it was the original American coat of arms. And I love America. So. [Laughs] And I’ve got a Mjölnir,. I’m a hundred percent American as fuck but my heritage is half Danish, half Irish. So, Mjölnir is Thor’s Hammer. It’s a Danish symbol of Vikings. And on my other arm I have an Irish blessing. My mum’s maiden name was O’Keefe. That’s as Irish as it gets. Twelve brothers and sisters. I’ve got an Irish blessing on my arm in Gaelic. It translates to – it’s a common blessing – it’s may the road rise to meet you, the wind be at your back, sunshine on your face. And I’ve got a couple of Native American arrows. And my best buddy Dog died last year, Damien the Dog. So, I’ve got a couple tattoos commemorating my best buddy. How about you, you got some tatts?

MM: Yeah. The first one I got is the word Beaulieu, which is a last name in French. It means beautiful place. And I got that because my grandparents only had daughters, so the family line wasn’t going to continue with that name. And I’ve got an Eiffel Tower that I drew, just like a cartoonish one with the French flag above it because I’ve been to Paris four times and I love it there. And then I went to LA and lived there for three years and to commemorate that I got this tattoo – if you just look at it from afar, it looks like the hammer and sickle, that old communist logo, but it’s like a parody of that. It actually says LA if you stop and look at it.

AJ: Hell yeah, man. Inked up, bro! Inked up! I love that, dude. They get expensive but… Where do you go? I go to Stingray in Allston. And I go to Pino’s in Somerville. Good spots.

MM: I got some of mine at Tattoo Fever in Pelham, New Hampshire from a guy named Dana and the other ones I got from a girl named Karrie Whitfield, who was at a tattoo place called About Time in Nashua, New Hampshire. She’s not there anymore though. I lost track of her. And I actually taught myself to tattoo and I’ve got seven tattoos on my lower left leg that I did myself.

AJ: That’s fucking sick, man. My uncles used to have tattoo parties. They’d have a couple of guys come and everyone gets tattooed all night, you know? It’s good times.

MM: I just interviewed a guy the other day who was at a party and he got a tattoo.

AJ: How’d it come out?

MM: I didn’t ask him. [Laughs]

AJ: Some of the guys that come from the tattoo party say it came out all fucked up.

MM: Yeah, you hear shit about tattoo parties where the tattoo artist is drinking along with everybody else and they spell shit wrong, all that crap.

AJ: Smoking blunts.

MM: Is your EP going to be released on CD and vinyl or just digitally when it comes out?

AJ: I’m hoping it will be everything. I’m really hoping to get a vinyl pressing if I can.

MM: When is the “Ritual” single coming out?

AJ: I think “Ritual” is maybe in the next week or two. They always tell me. I always want to just put tons of shit out. [Laughs] And they always go, yeah, in two weeks, Adam. So, hopefully in two weeks or maybe in a month or something like that. I like to get stuff out there a little bit, put it out in twos. Do a couple things.

MM: Did you put out anything before “Sandcastles”?

AJ: Nope. It’s my debut single.

MM: Cool.

AJ: I’ve always had little recordings of stuff like that, but as a solo artist it’s my debut, man.

MM: So, are you on a label then?

AJ: Nah. Being from around here, us Boston people, we aren’t very fucking friendly with the establishment, you know? I’ve kind of avoided all that. I’d rather do it on my own, if I can. I’m not afraid of hard work or anything like that. But my publisher is good to me. He helps me out. But, yeah, I want to do it as organically as I can. Try to build a fan base and a following of people who believe in the sound and the message. As opposed to just like a flash pop thing, you know?

MM: Yeah, you definitely don’t want to go with the major labels these days. But there are some cool smaller labels like Sub Pop and Polyvinyl.

AJ: Downtown is a great label. I mean, the major labels, you know, they have avenues to get you access to things you can’t get yourself, but I just think when you’re in the artist development stage like this, it’s important to develop it organically like, so people think they found you instead of it being forced at them by a major label. But what the fuck do I know? [Laughs] I’m a fucking idiot. [Both laugh] I’m a dude from Boston. Who knows, man?

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Newbury Comics on Newbury Street in Boston

MM: Do you shop at Newbury Comics [record store] at all?

AJ: Yeah, of course, everyone rocks down there, man. How about you?

MM: Oh yeah, definitely. I’m so glad now that vinyl is making a comeback they have a huge selection in Nashua. The one on Newbury Street in Boston is still bigger but they used to just have a small section in Nashua but it’s multiplied and multiplied again. Now they have barely any CDs. Now it’s mostly just vinyl.

AJ: Yeah, it’s just the vinyls and shit. That’s probably the way they gotta go. The new business model.

MM: You see now it’s becoming kind of trendy. Even Urban Outfitters has vinyl. It’s in Barnes and Noble now, too.

AJ: Yeah, once it gets into Urban Outfitters you know it’s gonna start the downfall.

MM: Yeah.

AJ: I wonder what the next thing is.

MM: I heard cassette tapes are starting to make a comeback.

AJ: I’m down with cassettes, man.

MM: They don’t sound as good though.

AJ: It’s because of the little strip. Maybe huge fucking – remember those reels?

MM: Yeah.

AJ: Like reel-to-reel tape. I did an album on an analog machine like that when I was sixteen. And that has some audio quality to it. It was a bitch.

MM: I had a mini-disc player when those were out.

AJ: Hell yeah.

Newbury Comics at the Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua, NH

Newbury Comics at the Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua, NH

MM: They didn’t last very long, but I loved mini-discs because you could erase them and re-record on them up to a million times. I used to make these compilations and you can move the tracks around on a mini-disc. I’d record audio from a newscast and all kinds of shit then I would chop it up so there was one quote from it between each song and things like that.

AJ: Hell, yeah, man. I had a tape deck thing for a while. Like a four track recorder. I used to make tons of tapes and pass them out. I had this whole little fucking set up going on. Into the four track into the stereo with the tape deck on the stereo so that I could record my mix down and put that back into the four track so I could record more tracks on it.

MM: At the end of our interviews we always ask some random questions. The first one for you is have you ever, or would you like to, do some acting?

AJ: I’ve tried. I would love to do some acting. But, honestly, every time I go to do it in my videos I’m so fucking bad.

MM: Really?

AJ: It’s unbelievable. I’m like, how can someone be so bad? But then sometimes I do it and I do a great job. I’ve got that Boston face for it you, know? [Laughs] That Boston Irish face.

MM: Do you have any videos up [on Youtube] now?

AJ: Nope. We shot another video for one of my songs and I’ve got that in the vault but the video I was just talking about, I ended up not using it because my acting wasn’t so good. I’m shooting a video for “Ritual.” That’s gonna be fun. I think I’ll be doing some acting in it, too. At the very least you’ll get to laugh at me.

MM: Do you know who’s gonna be directing it yet?

AJ: I’m not sure. I’m not totally sure. We’ve got some good pitches. Some good story-lines or whatever from a couple people. It’s gonna be awesome.

MM: Name three of your favorite movies.

AJ: Oh, man. Good Will Hunting, The Departed, Boondock Saints. Boston, all day.

MM: If someone was giving you a million dollars to give to charity, which cause or charity would you pick?

AJ: Oh, man, that’s a tough one. Um, I think I would go with the one for special needs. People with disabilities. My older brother is special needs. So, that’s what I’d donate it to. Or I donate it to the cats. Is there a cat foundation? Give it all to the cats. [Laughs]

MM: I’m sure there is. [Laughs]

AJ: Split it between the two. Half between the mentally disabled kids and half between the cats.

MM: I used to work in group homes where people with special needs lived.

AJ: Awesome, that’s good work. Anything I can do, anytime I can, I do stuff for that. I wish I was more famous so that I could do more for those people but, in time. I’ll try my best. The forgotten people, man. Gotta remember them.

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Adam Jensen 2016.

MM: Yeah definitely. Do you have any enemies?

AJ: Enemies? Absolutely, man. I used to do a lot of bad things. A lot of bad things. I collected for a bookie. So, I definitely have enemies. Everywhere. If you read this, come get me. Come find me.

MM: Yeah, but if you hit them and you leave a scar or something then they’ll come put you in jail.

AJ: Now I’m too smart. I’m wicked fast. I got a ski mask in my back pocket all of the time. [Laughs] Figuratively. [Both laugh] I’m too smart to get in trouble now. And I’ve proven that I can take care of myself. I don’t think anybody’s coming for me.

MM: Do you prefer cities or the country?

AJ: Always, cities, man. I go insane out in the country. It’s weird because I don’t really get along with too many people. I like to be in the city and stake my claim. This is my fucking shit.

MM: I wish apartments in Boston weren’t so expensive.

AJ: Oh, man, so expensive. I have a recording studio, too, and it’s so expensive. It’s brutal, man. It’s brutal. That’s why you gotta get a pretty girl, man. A pretty girl with a nice job.

MM: I don’t have much luck in that department though.

AJ: What? You’ve gotta hit them karaoke bars. And be like, what’s up ladies, I’ve got a music blog, buy me a drink.

MM: I always tend to have bad luck. I think it’s partly because I’m bipolar. I don’t get wicked depressed and I don’t break shit or anything like that. It’s just, like, I get really, really hyper, you know? And I get really passionate. So, I kind of freak people out sometimes.

AJ: My older brother, he’s bipolar, too. He goes up, he goes down, but he he gets some ladies. You just gotta throw it out there. Karaoke, man. They’re always good to him. And if he’s excited or not excited it doesn’t really matter because it’s karaoke. He goes to different bars and picks up chicks. He’s my hero.

MM: I did a lot of karaoke out in Los Angeles, but when I moved back here none of my friends would go with me. I’m like, you don’t even have to sing, just have a few drinks.

AJ: It’s gotten bigger around here and people are less afraid.

MM: My friends were all like, fuck karaoke, I’m not listening to that shit.

AJ: What? Karaoke’s a good time, man. I don’t sing. I just go and listen to my brother Ryan, but good times, everybody gets down. Good singers.

MM: The last question is tell us about a prank you’ve played on someone or that someone played on you.

AJ: Oh, man. A prank? [Laughs] I don’t know if anyone’s brave enough to fucking play a prank on me. [Laughs] I’m trying to think of some good pranks. I prank my my mom, my sister, my brother, my girl, basically every day. I used to – all the time, to my mother and my brother – I’d put shaving cream on the phone and then call. [Both laugh] On the ear handle. I’m trying to think of a real prank. I got the best one. You know how they’ve got those things online and it’s like a talk box. You push different things and it [talks] in different accents. And you can call and prank people. I used to call and prank my sister at school. All the time. In fake accents. Like a guy in an accent being like, “Hello, you kicked my dog. You must pay for kicking my dog.” And she’d be like, “What? I didn’t kick your dog.” [Both laugh] She’d be like, “I’m calling my fucking brother.” She’d call me up and I’d just be cracking up.

MM: So, you’d prank her and she’d get all freaked out and then call you about it?

AJ: She’d call me and be like, “You gotta go beat this guy up.” Which I would love to get a real call to go beat someone up for my sister because that would make my day. I’d love to beat someone up for my sister.

MM: Yeah, but you don’t want to go back to jail, right?

AJ: No more jail though.

MM: What was the longest amount of time you ever spent in jail?

AJ: I’ve never been to state or anything like that. Just holding. Just waiting a couple of weeks. If you can’t afford bail, you’ve gotta wait. You’ve gotta wait your turn. And if it goes to the next day, you’ve gotta wait, you know what I mean? If you get it on a Monday or a Tuesday and you can’t pay your bail you’ve gotta wait until your date, you know? I’m a little better now, you know what I mean? I don’t really remember much of those times back then. I just remember a guy coming down and being like, “Adam, you’re fucked.” And when your own lawyer comes down and says, “Adam, you’re fucked – how much money do you got?”

AJ: I’m like, zero. He’s like, “You’re gonna need a couple grand to get out of here.” Oh, looks like I’m fucking staying. I’d rather sit there than fucking call my mother for money. But I never went to state or nothing like that.

MM: Just like at the police station waiting?

AJ: Right. Like if you’re waiting for a court date or something, or you can’t make bail, you’ll wait in the courthouse for a couple of weeks. Stuff like that. Which I’ve done that because I’d rather wait than call my mum for fucking bail money.

MM: Has she ever seen something in the paper saying that you were arrested?

AJ: That’s exactly what happened, man. One time I got in real big trouble. Allegedly, they say I plead guilty to stabbing these two kids, but I just beat the shit out of them. I didn’t stab them. But I had a knife in my pocket and then the cops came to get me and I broke this cop’s nose. These kids went to the hospital because I got them real good. Maybe it was like four or five days later when my girl got enough money for the bail from my friends and everybody. And my mum called me. My mum called me and was like “Hey, Adam, do you need any help?” I was like, “No, I’m good.” And she’s like, “Really? ‘Cause I’m reading the front page of The Boston Globe right now and it says Adam Jensen of Mission Hill allegedly stabbed two men in the face in an Allston bar.” Yeah, she read it in the newspaper. I was like, “Nah, it’s the wrong person, mum.” And then I called her back like two minutes later like, “Mom, I’m fucked. I’m going to jail. Can you get me a lawyer or anything?”

MM: You were always able to –

AJ: – I kind of talked my way out of it, I guess. I used to just represent myself. We have a big family. I’d call my Uncle Steve – he’s only like three years older than me – and I’d be like Steve, can you just come sit in the courthouse in case I lose and go to jail. So you can, I don’t know, tell my mother or something. And he used to come in there and the prosecutor – the Boston district – would be like, “Hey Adam, what do you got, season tickets?” I’m like, what the fuck? I don’t know what happened. I was sentenced to go to jail and when I showed up for my sentencing hearing for how long and where I was gonna go the judge called me up and was just like – she was like crying – and she was like you look like my grandson. I can’t send you to prison. It was just the luckiest day of my life. I got like three years of supervised probation and shit. I’ve dodged some bullets with that. But I’ve been pretty unlucky with my arrest record, but I’m still living. I haven’t been in trouble in a while. ‘Cause I don’t get caught. I’d rather play music though. God help the city of Boston if I get kicked out of the music industry then I’ll have to go back to my old ways. [Both laugh]

Special thanks to Adam for taking the time to talk to us and also to Amanda at Black Panda PR for setting it up.

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Written by

Paris365

An entertainment journalist for 20 years, Michael McCarthy was a columnist and contributing editor for the magazines Lollipop and LiveWire. He co-created and wrote for Cinezine, one of the '90's most popular movie E-zines. The only time he's not listening to music is when he's watching television shows and movies or reading, usually music magazines.

1 Comment to “A Conversation with Adam Jensen (Exclusive Interview)”

  1. Mark says:

    He sounds like a really cool dude. I like his song, too. Looking forward to the next one.

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