It’s been a year since this man graced the pages of this very site. Busy being holed up in the studio working on what I believe is the best work he has ever produced, I speak to Adam Ficek. We discuss his new album, British Plastic, change of musical direction and his feelings on his departure from Babyshambles.
Sourmash Music: So Adam you are back with a new Roses Kings Castles album called British Plastic. Interesting title, where did that come from?
Adam Ficek: It depends how you look at it, it could be the celebration of the British Plastics industry or it could be about the many fake people we meet everyday…
SM: Having heard the album a few times, it’s a triumph by the way, it’s certainly bigger, more sonic in sound than previous efforts. Was that a concious decision or just natural progression?
AF: I wanted to make it bigger and bolder, I was growing tired of playing the accoustic thing it seemed a little done and tacky for me personally, also I was being tagged as folk and the music isn’t really folk, it was just performed accoustically because that’s all I had at my disposal. The whole UK folk thing always seems a little odd to me. In this country I always assumed folk music was music for the people, but the this particular scene in London is as far removed from that as possible, it’s a very public school thing. I don’t get the link but that’s genre definition for you. Folk for me is music which brings the common ‘folk’ together. I think the last real ‘folk’ band were Oasis. The Arctic Monkeys are more folk than those that define themselves as such. It takes more than a waistcoat.
SM: Did you have anyone else playing on British Plastic or is it all you?
AF: Patrick Walden played the lead guitar parts. How could I not include him. He’s amazing.
SM: How do you go about writing material, being known as a drummer obviously, are the beats something you start with first? Or Melody? Or is it a different approach all the time?
AF: The song normally start with a melody sung with pyschobabble, I generally make the words to fit the melody. I’m not a particulary well read person. I leave that to the clever kids, I tend to write words which fit the melody and then tweak them to form a tasty story or to air my angst.
SM: As a songwriter do you deal with certain subject matters on songs?
AF: I think on this album there is quite a lot of anger and general distrust and upset. It was a tough time for me and making a more angry record helped pull me through.
SM: Anything influenced you in the process of making the album?
AF: As I mentioned earlier, yes the album was influenced by the Babyshambles thing, for me it was a mixture of confusion, betrayal, anger and upset.
It was a horrid time, you look around and suddenly most of the people you counted as your friends for the past six years suddenly put their heads own and stare at their feet. The phone stops ringing….
The good thing to come out of that is the realisation of how strong an individual can be, I just put my head down and toured Suburban Timebombs, it was hard but ‘the show must go on’.
SM: You have been a DJ for a number of years now, has the kind of music you would play had an influence on this album?
AF: Yes, I was and still am spending a lot more time trying to hone my production skills and make far bigger and creative use of technology, I couldn’t have ever DJ’d any of my previous releases out, they weren’t physical. This album is physical.
SM: With the different kind of sounds on British Plastic compared to your previous releases, has your live set up changed much? eg. Band line-up.
AF: Yes it’s a completely new band, I feel like we’re a proper band now, the previous guys I worked with were all great and it worked for the last album but for ‘BP’ I needed some player who can get moody up there and front it out. For the first time in my live career I’m now ready to hit the live circuit a lot harder, we’ll be gigging every week at least for a year alongside the tours around every single. It feels right.
SM: You are very passionate about having a DIY ethic and keeping things independent, is it important to you to release your music in this way? And why?
AF: To be honest I don’t have a choice, labels are only signing dead certs, or bands that they can mould into something marketable. It’s become acceptable to have a songwriter, creative director, and all the other stuff which creates this perfectly sellable product. It’s moving further and further away from sincerity and honesty. The media are now so efficient at selling ‘processed’ products to people, it just angers me that the average punter can’t see through it.
Ultimately I would love a label to take the burden of the boring stuff from my shoulders but real ‘Indie’ labels are slowly dying.
When the going gets tough, I’ll pick up the axe and do it myself. Why wait for some itchy headed A&R.
SM: Now people know you as the drummer of Babyshambles. It is well documented that your departure from the band came as a bit of shock to you and your fans. What is happening with that situation? Can we expect to see you behind the kit again for them?
AF: I don’t really know, it’s still moving through lawyers, I’ve grown a little tired of chasing it so I’m just going to let it settle for a while.
I shouldn’t think I’ll be playing too soon. I could have re-joined but I decided to stand up to what I thought was morally right. It has cost me financially but what’s money if you can’t look yourself in the mirror.
SM: Do you miss playing with those guys?
AF: There is certain elements I miss, certain elements I don’t miss.
SM: You also have a project with Gary Powell called London Guns. A unique DJ/Drumming experience. Can we expect any releases from that? Or any more live shows?
AF: I think it’s a mainly a DJ thing but if we manage to squeeze some more hours out of a day then it’s possible. Gary is awesome, one of the most positive people I know. I think we balance each other out.
SM: So what is on Adam Ficek’s stereo/iPod at the moment? Any new bands/artists you buzzing off right now?
AF: I’m really excited by more electronic stuff at the the moment, Panda Bear especially. I’m sure there are also a thousand amazing guitar kids doing hip sonics but I’ve been so deep in this release I’ve had my head stuck in a hole.
SM: And finally, many many years down the line, how would you like to be remembered?
AF: As a Jazz Legend.
‘British Plastic’ by RKC is out 31st October. To hear a sample of tracks from the album head over to the official site