The other day I was listening to Courtney Barnett being interviewed on a podcast. Courtney Barnett put out one of my favourite albums in a long time, the irritatingly long-named Sometimes I Sit and Think Sometimes I Just Sit, and is someone I have a lot of respect for. The podcast must have been recorded around the time Prince died – and the interviewer was asking her if she was much of a Prince fan.
Barnett said that she was always vaguely familiar with the hits, but it wasn’t until she heard Foo Fighters covering a Prince song that she decided to dive further into his catalogue. It seemed strange to me – getting into Prince via Foo Fighters? The difference in calibre between those two acts is so huge that it seems crazy to me that someone could get into Prince after the Foo Fighters. Of course, in reality, it actually makes total sense, and if I track the way I got into a lot of artists I love it’s often through unconventional, uncredible routes. Sometimes it’s something I feel makes me a fraud – as if somehow I should’ve been born with an ingrained knowledge of the intricacies of Bob Dylan’s work and not first heard Rage Against The Machine doing Maggie’s Farm. As if hearing Elliott Smith in a movie is somehow the wrong way to first hear Elliott Smith.
Hearing someone as talented as Courtney Barnett explain her route into Prince made me realise that’s just the way things work for everyone. Things overlap and interlink in varied and often unexpected ways, and to pretend that you don’t stumble across great things in peculiar ways is to do that inter-connectivity a dis-service. But that’s not the only problem with explaining how you found something – it’s not that your route might be uncool, who really cares about that? It’s that it might not get across what the thing is actually about. If I had to tell someone that Tom Waits is a guy who played with Keith Richards sometimes, or who turned up in Seven Pscyhopaths, I’d feel like I was totally undermining everything he was about.
I guess what I’m saying is, at first I was worried about calling Adam Ficek the ‘former Babyshambles drummer’ – not because I didn’t love Babyshambles, but because it feels a little reductive. I have a different relationship with Adam’s music than I ever had with Babyshambles’ music. Although I think, given all that personal growth I’ve experienced in the last three paragraphs, I’ve now realised it’s perfectly natural to say I first heard of Adam Ficek/Roses Kings Castles through Babyshambles, because at one point, to Courtney Barnett, even Prince was just that guy who wrote that song Foo Fighters were playing. So this is an interview with former Babyshambles drummer Adam Ficek. His previous records have been as Roses Kings Castles – but he’s now taking the plunge under his own name.
I remember once staying up all night with the first RKC album on a loop writing my first attempt at a full novel. It was terrible. The novel I mean. But I really like remember that time in my life oddly fondly. Adam used to occasionally write these blog posts that I really enjoyed following. It was cool to feel personally connected to his musical journey. I remember how exciting it felt to receive a free signed copy of the first RKC single in the post. That’s why it was such a shame for me to read that Adam had considered quitting music. Hopefully, given the positive response to his new EP – on PledgeMusic here – he will continue to make music for a long time to come.
Having put out a few records as Roses Kings Castles, what prompted the move for the new record to be under your own name?
I feel more confident in being ‘me’ these days. It also helped with the exposure as there is a stronger link to a bigger band.
Do you feel like the tag of ‘former Babyshambles drummer’, while perhaps serving as a handy tagline, often undermines people’s expectations of your ability as a songwriter away from the drums?
Possibly but the ‘RKC’ project got to the point where I couldn’t get the exposure it deserved. People feel confident with what they know so the association from my bigger branded corporate days is welcome. I don’t feel undermined.
There was a real shift in sound from Suburban Timebombs to British Plastic. Did you consciously decide to try and create a different sort of RKC album, or was that the direction those songs organically ended up taking you in?
I just get bored with certain domains, I get very obsessed, I ingest then move on. I’m lucky I have a varied musical scope and range. I’m already looking at my next EP, it will be electric and more sonically potent. The problem is the infrastructure, I imagine it must be simple to get up and create art when you have a team around you to fulfil every need form funding, recording, marketing, press…..I have to expend vast amounts of energy to just raise the finances to do it.
You’ve always been pretty open about your process with your fans – often having demos and other tracks available for your fans to hear online. Did you feel that using PledgeMusic for this EP was a natural step for you?
I was on the verge of stopping music altogether due to the struggles on being a DIY artist, I thought I would try it as a potential avenue. We’ll see.
Finally, what was the last thing (song, album, book, place etc) that you totally fell in love with?
Myself. I’ve done lots of ‘growing’ since my commercial music days. I’m far happier with me.