Elementary school

Adom (re)learn how to be career musicians

"We thought that it would go very, very quickly," says singer/keyboardist Conal Byrne, discussing the process of writing and recording with his band, Adom. "But there are so many elements. People talk about a band's chemistry, but now I realize that extends much further than the group. A lot has to be carefully studied and handled for the mixture to stay stable and come out as intended."

Sipping Starbucks one January afternoon in Little Five Points, Byrne sees the last 12 months as a crash-course in communication. It's been almost a year to the day since Byrne, drummer Andrew Freni, bassist Bert Genovese and guitarist Brad Cook relocated to Manchester after signing with upstart Storm Music. The idea was to develop Adom's often-Brit-associated sound from merely influences and impulses into a full-time ideology. In Atlanta on a short break, Byrne is reflecting on the valuable vocabulary Adom has learned — one that has allowed its members to better communicate with each another (in and through the studio) and to other musicians who may be considering making contractual commitments.

Prior to departing, Adom's attitude was all wide-eyed enthusiasm. There was talk of bringing in producers as high-profile as Brian Eno to finish recording, and hopping tours with Doves and Badly Drawn Boy was already a serious topic. Quickly, however, reality set in, and the band decided they'd prefer establishing their name rather than their associations. If being in a signed band is like a marriage, the honeymoon soon ended. Good relationships were struck, however, and Adom began nearly a year of re-examining and reinventing.

"What we'd done before ended up feeling like demo work," admits Byrne. "Not to knock [producers Chris Brann and Bruce Bennet], but we were trying to make an entire record in a week here. That fucked us up initially, because we admired the raw spontaneity. We at first worried we'd lose something, but [U.K. producers Richard Barbieri (Japan/Porcupine Tree) and Keir Stewart (Haven/I Am Kloot)] were like, 'No.' Even the modern 'garage' bands still consider what neighborhood that garage is in and detour to make things naturalistic.

"When you sit down with a scheduled producer, the entire anti-establishment attitude means nothing," Byrne continues, "because talking about your album is more professional and corporate than anything I've ever done. They want to know your influences; why you like them; whether you want to sound like them, against them; whether you want to sound like modern bands or completely unlike them. Do you want reverb? Compression? The list goes on. I quickly realized I was completely out of my depth. I had no idea what went into it when you're at it 10 hours a day for five weeks worth of time."

Make that what goes into it 24/7. Reversing an adopted adage, the band that stays together, well, plays together. But a new living situation helped the members realize just what was no longer a joking matter.

"Living together was simultaneously harder and easier than I expected," says Byrne. "But I would recommend it to any band. You get to gauge and pump each other's level of commitment, and handing each other coffee in the morning when you have a hangover placates the ego during musical discussions. Before you know it, you're communicating better in rehearsal, and you'll realize if someone is criticizing something musically it doesn't mean they are criticizing you. Everyone ends up better represented."

The result of Adom's immersion is, in Byrne's opinion, a more guitar-heavy album, but with a more full, textured, fluid undercurrent reflecting the band's roots and increased personal involvement. "A change of context helped us re-examine," he says of the band's upcoming release, Idiot Savant. "We wrote a lot in the winter when it's cold, rainy, dark and depressing. You stop writing about Third World debt or some topic you're just terribly interested in. It gets more guttural and instinctive and better reveals what you're going through — and positively taking from it."

"What we learned most was the more time you spend on something the better," adds Byrne. "We thought it was rehearse for a month, write your songs, lay tracks, tinkle synthesizers for a while, and you've got your album. Then tour. Now we realize that couldn't be further from the truth, because it's a year later and we're still tweaking and reinventing these songs. But in the process, we're learning the works, what works and that we work. And that was worth the work."


Adom's debut single, "Down," is set for release in the U.K. Feb. 10. For more info, visit www.adom.org.