Wed 2 May - Manchester - The Castle
Thur 3 May - Glasgow - Hug & Pint
Fr 4 May - Newcastle - Cluny 2
Sat 5 May - York - The Basement
Sun 6 May - Halifax - Grayston Unity courtyard (afternoon)
Sun 6 May - Sheffield - Shakespeares (evening)
Wed 16 May - London - Boston Music Room
Steven Adams is back with a new band, The French Drops - featuring members of The Drink - and a new album Virtue Signals, which is due out via Hudson Records on 4 May - Pre-order link here. Steven Adams & The French Drops will be heading out on a UK tour in May starting off at The Castle in Manchester on 2 May and ending with two shows on 6 May, in Halifax in the afternoon and Sheffield in the evening, before playing a date at Boston Music Room in London on 16 May more info here.
He shares the opening track for the album, "Bad Apples" here. “You’re part of something,” Adams sings, “the thing you tore apart” – a song about the flag-waving, supposed patriots whose voices are drowning out the national conversation. He says; “That song came last and it alludes to ideas without being too specific. I’ve always liked writers who leave things open to interpretation, people like Britt Daniel from Spoon, or John Lennon. It’s a kind of absurdist take on where the right wing press are trying to lead us.”
Anger seldom sounds as enticing as it does on Virtue Signals. It is an album that rails against the iniquities of the world and meshes the personal with the political, without ever smacking the listener around the head. Adams (former songwriter/singer/guitarist with The Broken Family Band and Singing Adams) can’t help but be witty and empathetic even as he rages, and the fury is wrapped inside his characteristically sweet melodies.
There are writers who deal with the ‘issues’ directly; how governments are behaving, how people are being betrayed, but that’s not how Adams see his role. “I found myself writing about that feeling you get when you’ve just woken up and seen what the idiots have done overnight. Like a lot of people, I’m angry and confused about some of the mean, spiteful, cowardly things being said and done in the name of patriotism and cultural identity and economic prosperity. Some of these things can be defused by calling them out, by singing about them, and by laughing at them.”
Virtue Signals captures the sound of a band finding “its own thing”. Laurie Earle (Absentee, Dan Michaelson & The Coastguards, Wet Paint) plays guitar with a loose, intuitive touch; Michael Wood – who had played bass with The Singing Adams – switches to keyboards here, while Daniel Fordham (drums) and David Stewart (bass) from The Drink complete the band.
Following a few years of performing and recording solo (see 2014’s House Music and 2016’s Old Magick), Adams says he wanted to put together “a band where everyone was following their noses. I’ve been calling the shots for ages now, and now I can lean on these people, make more noise. It’s fair to say we share a lot of the same thoughts and feelings about the state of the world. But mostly we talk about food.”
Though the band worked on the songs for several months, the album was recorded in a little over a week, in September 2017, at Half Ton Studios in Cambridge. It was produced by Ben Nicholls, who plays with Nadine Shah, Cara Dillon, and many others, as well as helming his own Kings of the South Seas project. Adams was initially ambivalent about having a producer on board, but “Ben’s head is full of music. He came to a rehearsal and started making the occasional suggestion about songs and arrangements. At first we were a bit freaked out, but everything he suggested worked. In the studio he was in charge, which was oddly liberating.” The album was then mixed by acclaimed producer and engineer (and Hudson Records supremo) Andy Bell.
It’s over 16 years since Adams started making music with The Broken Family Band, generating critical acclaim with each subsequent release and maintaining a dedicated cult following ever since. So, all these years later – having been called a national treasure enough times to fill a pirate’s chest, without ever having become an actual pop star – why does Steven Adams still do it? “I write songs and I play them and I try not to overthink it or to feel reliant on this for anything other than what it is; sounds, words, feelings, and an excuse to hang out with good people. That’s virtue signaling, in case anyone asks.”
Pre-order Virtue Signals here:
Steven Adams & The French Drops
1. Bad Apples
3. Ex Future
4. Last Centurys Man
7. A Joke
8. Free Will
9. Desire Lines