NOVEMBER 1st 2016

There are a number of bands with a similar vibe to Scattered Hamlet. Bands that are explosive, sludgy, gritty, and twangy and most importantly; they rock and they rock hard. None of these acts are around anymore; Alabama Thunderpussy, Artimus Pyle Driver and Angus Khan great underground acts that exuded the true spirit of rock ‘n’ roll and possessed the reckless abandon that we expected from this music. Well one band still does; Scattered Hamlet is on the verge of releasing their 3rd effort ‘Swamp Rebel Music’ and if you’re not familiar with the band you should be. The band consists of front man/guitarist Adam Joad, guitarist Adam Newell, bassist Richard Erwin and drummer Jake Delling Le Bas.  ‘Swamp Rebel Music’ is sure get a rise out of you with standouts like; “Battle Hymn,” “Stonewall Jackson,” “Four Barrel Mojo,” and “Outlaw Breed.”  Adam Joad took some time to talk with Metal Titans; as he prepped to go out on tour to promote the album.

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By Ruben Mosqueda

Metal Titans: Scattered Hamlet mix punk, core and southern doom metal brilliantly. Was this the intent from the inception of the band or did evolve into what we hear on the records?

Adam Joad: Thank you. There’s a little bit of both actually; by design and simply the band evolving. I spent a lot of time in the punk scene and my whole time there I couldn’t completely be myself because let’s face it, I have as much in common with Ted Nugent as I do Henry Rollins - that’s just who I was and depending on the music style I was playing there was always some aspect I had to play down. SH was just about being ourselves and making no apologies for it because we didn’t fit into any neat industry or ‘scenester’ category. Really it was intended to be like a cross between Skynyrd and Motorhead. That’s not exactly where we started but time on the road, having the same lineup in place for a while now and growing as musicians we just kind of ended up with a mashup that was natural for us. Jake and Rich have brought a lot of the doom and stoner stuff to the table and they turned me on to bands like Fu Manchu and Orange Goblin so this is kind of just what we turned into. I’m happy where it ended up, we have a sound.

Metal Titans: You have a new record titled; ‘Swamp Rebel Machine’ how long did you spend writing the new material?

Adam Joad: A good chunk of that was written on the road, the earliest one was “Stonewall Jackson.” Over the course of a year though we did a serious pre-production, wrote some more tracks and hashed out all the parts for the album. It was really about making an album for us too. We spent a lot of time thinking about song order, transitions, background sounds and the overall vibe. I wanted it to be like a journey that rises from the swamp and then ends up back in the same place. I was thinking vinyl the whole time; the start and end of an album side and all that. I listen to a lot of vinyl at home and there’s an element missing in modern radio rock where teams of writers just try to make a copy of what worked last time - if you just write a good album it will touch people in a different way than just having a catchy single; think ‘Darkside of the Moon.’  I’m obviously not comparing ‘Swamp Rebel Machine’ to that I’m just saying that the totality of that album, that also includes singles, is what makes it so epic. I’d rather try to chase that down than try to be a bad copy of whatever is trendy on active radio rock.

Metal Titans: How many songs did you guys wind up writing for this record?

Adam Joad: We have unfinished skeletons of a bunch but from start to finish we only had 12 songs we did pre-production for thinking we would cut 2 and have a 10 song album. We ended up cutting 1, I was very against that track for a long time and the producers ended up agreeing it was the weakest song and it also didn’t really fit into the flow of the album so we all voted it out. I had spent hours in my home studio trying to make that track work and I just couldn’t do anything with it. Maybe one day we’ll figure out what to do with it or maybe not.

Metal Titans: What made “Swamp Rebel Machine” ‘the song’ to name the record after?

Adam Joad: I came up with a list of possible album titles; I originally wanted to call it ‘Swampland Magic’ like in the last chorus of the tune “Swamp Rebel Machine.” The album has a lot of supernatural undercurrents and I wanted to capture that in the title. When we ran that idea past a number of our friends there was an overwhelming resistance to it. To quote one of our buddies from Kentucky’s first reaction, “’Swampland Magic?!’  What the hell kind of ‘fruit ass’ name is that?!” [laughs] We figured of all the songs ‘Swamp Rebel Machine’ sums up exactly what the album is all about. It’s like a thumbnail sketch of the entire album. I [now] agree that I was wrong about wanting to call it ‘Swampland Magic.’ That’s why it’s important to surround yourself with people that are honest and help you be better and not just folks that tell you how awesome you are and agree with everything you say.

Metal Titans: You recorded the new album in an actual studio and not in someone’s converted garage or someone's house which is the norm these days. How important was it for you to knock this one out in an actual studio?

Adam Joad: It was very important because we originally wanted to record this album live to tape like all our favorite classic rock records were done. We had trouble getting the right studio and engineers to make that happen so we abandoned that plan but we still wanted to record the bulk of it live. We also wanted to stay away from drum replacements for the most part and all that kind of shit so we needed a big room to record a band properly. So NRG Studios was where our producers took us. They did the last Lamb of God album there, the last Motorhead Record, Slash’s stuff and so many other great albums so it really drove it home. We did the overdubs and additional instruments in a smaller studio in Hollywood called Perfect Sound. I still had my punk rock wish; I decided I wasn’t going to cut the vocals in LA because it just didn’t seem right for this type of album. So my producers turned my home studio bunker here in Appalachia proper into a vocal booth. They brought classic Neves preamps, a few mics, one of them they used on some of the Rob Zombie stuff for ‘Hellbilly Deluxe’ so it had good juju. I did my vocals in the same place the stories I talk about and the music came from and that was important to me. I thought it was my best vocal performance effort to date and the location was a big part of that.

Metal Titans: Sonically this record has a nice kick to it. Did you guys use a particular record or records as a reference?

Adam Joad: Thank you. We didn’t use a particular album but we tried to keep it as close to our live sound as possible. Before ‘Swamp Rebel Machine’ our other recordings were missing parts of what we do and the energy we have live. That was mostly due to limitations we had recording or not yet having become a studio band. We’ve always been a live band, we know how to do that, we had to learn how to be a studio band. We reached our comfort zone finally. We used Les Pauls and Telecasters through 60’s and 70’s Marshall Plexis for the bulk of it. We wanted more ‘crunch’ and less heavy modern distortion. That’s the thing, there’s not much studio magic at all and it sounds different because we used less I think.

Metal Titans: You used producer Jason Donaghy on this album. What does he bring to the table?

Adam Joad: Both he and [executive producer] Jake Rodenhouse brought a lot; experience, they have great ears --- they didn’t try to change us. They understand what we are and wanted to get the best version of us. They also believed in us too which helps because self-doubt always creeps in at some point. Those guys don’t give a shit about who you are either, they were telling us stories about meeting Brian Wilson and Mike Ness and shit, they are there to make great albums. If we needed something, they tracked it down. It was really a great experience. I’ve been saying if the album sucks it’s 100% our fault because they gave us access to everything we wanted to do this. That alone was an awesome experience as a musician; I’ve never in all my years got to do that.

Metal Titans: If you don’t mind could you give us the backstory behind a handful of tracks from the album?

Adam Joad: I can do that!

Metal Titans: “Battle Hymn”

The whole intro march was supposed to be epic like “Am I Evil” [Diamond Head] or [Iron] Maiden’s “Alexander the Great.” I got the idea camping out by a civil war battlefield. All night I could sleep, there was no one around but all I could hear was horses, pop shots in the distance and like ambient voices all night. It freaked me out and I talked to some locals and they were like, oh you heard the ghost army. Anyway, I wanted it to sound like the ‘Ghost Army’ was coming out of the swamp because of some vow-doo snake magic or something. The cuts are from voodoo and civil war movies. Then the tune is about our journey, we are the drifting roadhouse band. I’ve been on the wrong end of a shotgun maybe twice in my life and it ain’t fun. Sometimes out on the road or dealing with industry vampires you feel like you’re on the wrong end of a shotgun. We adopted the mantra “Don’t fuck with me” after dealing with too many pissy soundmen, angry tour managers and ‘dickish rock stars.’ We’re always respectful but we must set boundaries these days; since we have touring has gotten a lot better [for us].

Metal Titans: “Stonewall Jackson”

Adam Joad: When I was a ‘rowdy youngster’ we’d have to cross the West Virginia border to Blacksville where we could use our fake ID to buy beer and there were some folks there in a trailer that would trade us weed for stuff too - one of them I heard went to jail and they said started traveling with the carnival... You can’t make this shit up! [Laughs]. Anyway, if you were running from the police, whom I don’t recommend, we’d either try to get across the border to hide because we somehow thought the police can’t cross state-lines! [Laughs] Not true! [Laughs] Or we’d hide out at this ‘haunted’ cemetery where the locals said witches met every October. So that tune is about trying to get across the border or the cemetery to hide from people chasing you. We somehow managed to not kill ourselves flying around on those back roads. Sometimes I go home to the old train tracks right where that road starts and just walk around and all that stuff that seems like it was so long ago that is so much a part of me just comes back. Sometimes I go there when I’m emotionally or mentally lost and I call it ‘chasing ghosts’ so I can get my head straight.

Metal Titans: “Green Bastard”

Adam Joad: So this song started with my nephew telling me I needed to write a song about The Trailer Park Boys while we were fishing. I ended up actually doing it. It’s half autobiographical and half about Bubble’s pro-wrestling character called the “Green Bastard.” The two things worked because I know people just like Ricky and Adrian on that show. Anyway, [guitarist] Adam Newell put together these awesome leads as tributes to pro-wrestling legends. The first Middle Eastern scale is for the Iron Sheik, I reference ‘jabronis’ and then when the beer cracks open we say “Stone Cold” for Stone Cold Steve Austin. Just alone autobiographically, it’s a little too heavy of a topic and it just sounded to me like a hip hop song where some guy tells you how “badass” they are. That’s silly so we blended the humor with it so it was fun. For the big punk choruses I got the idea watching my friends in Anti-Flag play a show in Pittsburgh. They killed those big punk “whoas” both live and in the studio and I wanted something like that on the album.

Metal Titans: “Outlaw Breed”

Adam Joad: That one hits close to home for me, it’s all about the way I grew up and I wanted to get ‘Thin Lizzyish’ guitar harmonies on something and I thought it worked well with that. I also wanted sleigh bells in a song and though Jake Delling Le Bas told me we weren’t a 90’s hip hop band he made it happen! As I get older I think that a lot ways of living are sort of dying and that’s not a good thing. I called those ways the ‘outlaw breed.’ People have called the style of country we like and the music we play ‘outlaw’ so I just ran with it. It’s better than being called ‘bro country’ or ‘emo’ I think. [Laughs]

Metal Titans: “Buckshot”

Adam Joad: This tune was actually the first time anyone but me contributed vocal writing to a track which was really cool. [Bassist] Rich [Erwin] wrote the chorus on this one. I just had nothing and he came up with it after listening to a lot of Hank Williams Jr. He said, “Hank talks a lot about homemade wine” and having fond memories of homemade wine and Dandelion Wine etc. I was all about it. “Buckshot” and “Rimfire” are named after two of my uncle’s hunting dogs he had when I was growing up but that’s another story. We wrote the verses about the entire bizarre and unstable nature of being in a band or being a career musician. I thought of the classic industry people trying to get you to go in a different direction and all that and it was really crazy, that same shit actually started happening. When this was done we started talking to labels we love and respect and the stuff they wanted us to do was worse than I imagined. It was crazy, my favorite response I gave to an industry fella from a label you’d know but that I won’t say was, “Christ, I’m not fucking Beyonce”... So rather than writing with a ‘team,’ scrapping the album and turning Scattered Hamlet into a hillbilly version of Five Finger Death Punch with a nu-metal flair, we stuck to the album we wanted and gave up getting bought on to all the major festivals and all the big radio stations etc. I mean that with no offense to FFDP, they do what they do and Zoltan was very kind to me when I met him in the media tent before; but we said fuck all that. I’d rather make the album we wanted to. You do that right and good things will come, even if it means less initial exposure.

Metal Titans: I hope you don’t take offense but why write and record a song like “White Trash?” It plays into a cliche, no?

Adam Joad: If I was offended by that I‘d be a hypocrite because the song is supposed to be anti-being offended by everything. But yes, it does and I thought about throwing it out or not even making it a single, especially in this racially charged climate because I didn’t want it to be some type of white power rallying cry or anything. We had just done pre-production on that tune when we went to the ‘Dimebash’ last January where Anselmo had his little rant or whatever and I was like; Damn, that doesn’t help the image of rednecks [Laughs]. The fact was I had this tune I demoed on my computer; it was really catchy and simple with Chuck Berry style riffing and just AC/DC kind of power chords, real basic compared to the other stuff on the album. It called for an anthem kind of chorus and White Trash worked. I don’t like to get political but I really hate this whole politically correct shit that’s everywhere. It sterilizes everything and everyone is so ‘offended’ or hates another group or this and that, there’s far too much division. So I kept the song to celebrate differences and to just say fuck PC, let’s have a good time. It’s an audience favorite and I’ll probably have to play it for the rest of my career..... It is what it is; I didn’t go full on “Cherry Pie” Warrant style. [Laughs] At the end of the day, I come from a long line and from an area with a large concentration of white trash folks. I don’t think that should be considered a bad thing or something to hide, it’s funny. Yes, we used to get the first day of deer season off from school, yes we all carry pistols and give nods to sweet cowboy boots and slick lines on a 4x4. What we think is normal isn’t and it’s funny, my buddies I met in Southern California got a big kick of out my take on shit. On the serious side, I don’t let folks forget that a lot of my kin and people like them, people that many folks these days make fun of, were the same people that left their small towns, fought Nazis in the Second World War, fought in the Jungles of Vietnam and did a lot things ‘high society’ types wouldn’t think of. Steve Earle said it best I think, “They draft the poor white trash first ‘round here anyway.”

Metal Titans: Has Scattered Hamlet ever bought their way onto a tour?

Adam Joad: No, but we’ve had the opportunity though, they weren’t the right deal so we turned them down. I’d consider it if it made sense.  I don’t judge anyone for doing it because it can be helpful under the right set of conditions. Just about every national tour we’ve gotten support slots on always seems to get cancelled so that blows; this summer we were supposed to be out with Blackfoot for 2 months and instead we did 3 shows with them. Quiet Riot cancelled a date on us, Red Lamb, Rhinobucket,  Gypsyhawk....there are so many. We’re always are really good at salvaging tours and we’ve built a pretty solid following ourselves. Doing it that way has been slower but it is what it is. That’s the thing; no one can take that from us. We aren’t jabornis either; we only cancel if we absolutely can’t do a show. Hell one time Rich was so dehydrated and sick in South Carolina he let some dude give him a saline IV in the parking so he could get through the show! I’ve toured with my ribs cracked away from my sternum and Jake and I did a whole tour where we both had bones in our hand broken. Fuck it! The show must go on.

Metal Titans: Does Scattered Hamlet have any pre-gig rituals?

Adam Joad: We don’t collectively, I do though. I’m the last one on stage and I always take that time to have a moment of silence for all the folks that have touched me that aren’t around anymore. I tried to picture each one in my head smiling and happy - I collect strength from that. It helps me remember that everything I do is a reflection of everyone that has touched me in some way and I don’t want to let them down. I always was into sports, I played college football and I’ve been heavily involved in MMA, I would do the same thing for that kind of stuff too. It’s like getting in the zone. We wear many hats in life and if you have the wrong one on at the wrong time shit gets messed up. It’s funny some people have gotten pissed at me because they interrupted me during that time and wanted me to talk about their cousin Jim’s band or get me to sign something or whatever and I politely asked them to give me a minute--- just the same we’ll end up with hate mail saying “Man, the singer for Scattered Hamlet is a dick, who does he think he is.” The truth is during that little moment of time I’m trying to remember who I am and not get distracted.

Metal Titans: Who’s been surprisingly good to Scattered Hamlet?

Adam Joad: I’m assuming you mean like in the industry, in that department there’s been a lot. Texas Hippie Coalition has been really nice to us, Twelve Stones was great, we opened for them and they helped us carry our gear and even gave us their hotel rooms because they couldn’t use them. Anti-Flag has been great to all of us, there’s so many. I grew up a big Mikey V. fan and when we met Revolution Mother he was really cool to us. Tommy Victor was cool, Doyle and Till from Rammstein were both very patient with our drummer, Beandip, who has a tendency to ask people much larger than him if they want a “knuckle sandwich.” [Laughs] Viktor from the WWE tag team the Ascension is really good to us, he tweets stuff for us all the time. Far more people have been cool than not. Tom Morello got me passes to see him playing with Springsteen, I’m a huge boss fan, and even sent me a card when my dog passed away. He’s a stand up dude. John Popper gave me some harmonica tips, if it wasn’t for the stuff he showed me I’d have never pulled off the track “Rimfire” on the album.

Metal Titans: Is there anyone that’s been hard to work with? How did you get past that?

Adam Joad: Oh, hells yes! [Laughs] We normally get along easy with 99% of folks we work with but there’s always the exception. We had a hell of time with the SH camp getting along with the Jason Charles Miller camp. He and I are cool now but there were many times on that tour things got heated. The tour manager for the band Hellion tried to get away with treating us like shit but we put the kibosh on that - she on the other hand was very nice to us. That’s the thing, we’re simple blue collar country folks, we don’t look for trouble or pretend we’re hard but like Skynyrd says, “When it comes to a fix we ain’t afraid to fight.” I’ve gotten in the cage and got my ass handed to me by several UFC fighters so I’m not afraid to trade a few shots from a flip flop wearing grumpy TM or an angry self-important rock star... we’re also not afraid to take a few shots of Wild Turkey. I much prefer the Turkey, getting hit hurts and getting arrested sucks, even if you “win.” Really though, I find the people at the top of their game and the real “big” folks are usually the coolest and I think that’s probably how they got there. My buddy and I were standing on the corner of Sunset one day and at the light stopped was Steven Tyler riding shotgun. He looked at us and we had a quick conversation until the light switched. He was cool as hell and the people that have been shitty to us certainly aren’t Steven Tyler. Success is all about attitude and balance I think, but shit I stand on a beer keg on stage and taunt PETA kids at Warped Tour so what do I know [laughs].

Metal Titans: What are five essential records that you take on tour?

Adam Joad: It changes, I go through cycles. One of my all-time favorite albums is Springsteen’s ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town.’ Social Distortion’s ‘Sex Love and Rock and Roll’ I really like. I’ve been on a huge Cheap Trick and Cars kick. I’ve been playing along to The Cars for the past month in my jam room. I put some Redman chaw in and strap on the Les Paul and rock out to “Magic!” [Laughs] Fu Manchu’s ‘King of the Road,’ and ‘South of Heaven’ I think is an amazing Slayer album. Bryan Adam’s ‘Reckless’ I really like. My iPod is a really strange place. I’m not sure if that’s five yet? We bring a lot of music on the road with us. I really like KISS; not everyone in the SH mobile shares my passion for KISS.