The Quest – Adam Padden Searches for Life’s Definitive Answers on ‘Dreamer’ Single

Adam Padden gets introspective on his latest EP, “Oh No! It’s the Rapture.” Photo – Liz Wittman

Adam Padden boldly searches for change and truth in an uncertain world.

The Detroit post-punk rocker and multi-instrumentalist demands life’s clear-cut answers while trying to distinguish fantasy from reality on his latest turbo-charged single, “Dreamer.”

Punchy drums, hectic cymbals, intrepid bass, spirited keys and fiery electric guitars release an inner fury as Padden sings, “You better stop and ask why/The secrets always disguised/Another flimsy attempt/Was it just something you dreamt?”

In reality, Padden relishes the release of “Dreamer” alongside his insightful new EP, Oh No! It’s the Rapture, which dropped June 3.

The Stratton Setlist recently chatted with Padden about the EP, his June 10 show in Detroit, his roles in Tart and Handgrenades, his background and upcoming plans.

Oh No! It’s the Rapture

TSS: Your new EP, Oh No! It’s the Rapture, explores internal and spiritual challenges with taking risks, making changes and searching for truth in life. How did this EP help you embark on a quest of self-discovery? 

AP: In short, no, I did not purposely write these songs with that theme in mind. I think that turning 30 during a global pandemic made me a little introspective, to say the least. The lyrics to most of these songs came out super-fast. I honestly think I’m still deciphering what some of these songs are about.

TSS: How did a 10-day quarantine help produce the 7 tracks that would become Oh No! It’s the Rapture? What was it like to focus solely on writing and recording your own material during that time?

AP: I guess I was lucky enough to have the songwriting gates burst open when I had all the time in the world to write songs. It doesn’t always happen that way! It was a fantastic learning experience to write and record a collection of songs in such a short window of time.

TSS: You collaborated with Max Bauhof (drums), Kenny Szymanski (bass on “Dreamer”) and Topher Horn (keys on “It’s the Rapture”) on your new EP. How did they help shape its sound?

AP: Max had a huge influence on the sound and feel of these songs. We’ve been playing together since we met back in 2010, and I’ve always loved his style. He comes from a blues-soul-funk background, but obviously loves rock and roll. Because of those other influences, I feel like he brings a completely different vibe to what might be a straight-ahead drum beat.

Kenny and Topher both brought something special to each of those songs. Super honored to have had them play!

TSS: “Oh No” highlights taking chances and staying the course even when times get tough. How do you hope “Oh No” inspires listeners to take risks in life and remain committed to their goals?

AP: To be honest, I think you seem to have a better handle on what this song is about – ha-ha! When I first wrote the song, I felt like it was pretty dark … but I think what you just pointed out shines a more positive light on the song. I dig that!

TSS: “Make Believe” addresses the challenges of not knowing where you’re headed in life. How do you feel like you’ve been playing “Make Believe” throughout your own life?

AP: Prior to the pandemic, Tart was really busy. We were really trying to attain some level of success, but in retrospect, I don’t think any of us actually knew what we were shooting for and probably wouldn’t have known if we had gotten there at the time. Thinking back on it now, I think we did reach it in some respects … it just looked differently than any of us had expected.

So I guess “Make Believe” is kind of just about that. Feeling convinced you know exactly what you’re doing, but in reality, having absolutely no idea.

TSS: What plans do you have for your June 10 EP release show at The Lexington Bar in Detroit?

AP: I am indeed playing the album in its entirety – nothing more and nothing less. This has been a side project for everyone in the band that I put together, including myself, so rehearsals have been limited. I would have liked to get another song or two together, but the seven is all we have time for.

Tart & Handgrenades

TSS: How has being a member of Tart and Handgrenades helped you grow personally and professionally?  

AP: I’ve found a good balance between being in a more collaborative role and being a bandleader. (For Tart), I think to a certain extent, I’m the de facto bandleader, which has forced me into positions that I wouldn’t have normally felt comfortable in. I think it’s a good thing.

Handgrenades is much different for me. That truly is a scenario where I can just show up and play guitar, which is completely fulfilling for different reasons.


TSS: How did your musical journey start while growing up in Fraser? What prompted you to learn bass at age 12? 

AP: I was a total band kid in junior high and high school. I started playing trumpet in fifth grade, but quickly switched to French horn. Then, in seventh grade, I met a couple of guys (who are still friends of mine) who played guitar and were trying to start a band. I wanted so desperately to hang out with them that I convinced my parents to get a bass. The rest is history, I suppose!

At that time, I was much like the other kids my age and was deep in the throes of the pop-punk era – Blink-182 and Sum 41. My tastes really started to change when I entered high school. I made friends with some older kids at band camp the summer going into my freshman year, and they turned me on to a lot of that early mid-2000s indie rock. We actually ended up starting a band called Citizen Smile (who is still around today) that I played in throughout high school. That’s really where I caught the bug.

Playing with The Hounds Below was really where I was able to cut my teeth in a touring band. The longest run we did was six weeks, and it was a blast! I think that tour is where I really learned what it meant to perform. Not just playing songs from a musician’s standpoint, but really thinking about how to put on a show. I’ve been able to take that knowledge and apply it to other bands, especially Tart.

TSS: How did you become Nam Kook and The Typhoon in 2013? What was it like to release your self-titled EP at that time?

AP: I think the Nam Kook and The Typhoon thing was really just the logical outcome of playing other people’s songs for several years at that point. That’s not to say I hadn’t been involved in the writing process in previous groups, but I had never really done anything on my own. That being said, I prefer to be in a collaborative role more than a bandleader. That’s probably why I’ve only done a couple of stints as a bandleader.

Upcoming Plans

TSS: What upcoming live shows do you have with Handgrenades and Tart?

AP: Handgrenades is playing June 17 at The Loving Touch. Tart doesn’t have any local shows booked for the rest of the summer, but we’ll be playing a few out-of-town shows in the coming months.

TSS: What else is on the horizon for you later this year? Any plans to write and record new material with both bands?

AP: Both bands are in the process of working on new material. Tart actually started recording a new record last month and plans to just keep chipping away at it over the next few months.

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