Interview: Broken Family Band

MUSICIAN Steve Adams, 31, is the front-man of country-alternative group The Broken Family Band. Since forming in 2001, the group have released four albums, recorded two Peel sessions, toured Europe and performed at Glastonbury and Cambridge Folk Festival.

MUSICIAN Steve Adams, 31, is the front-man of country-alternative group The Broken Family Band. Since forming in 2001, the group have released four albums, recorded two Peel sessions, toured Europe and performed at Glastonbury and Cambridge Folk Festival. Steve has lived in Crouch End, North London, for two years. As a day job, he works for a charity fundraising centre.

Steve releases his solo album Problems by The Singing Adams later this month. The Broken Family Band's new album Balls was released in January.

"When we're on tour we do drink a lot. We say we won't but we do. We get up at 9am, about two hours before we should, regarding our hangovers and, in Europe, they give us a lovely, continental breakfast.

"We consider ourselves to be an amateur band rather than a professional, touring band. When people offer us gigs we feel blessed and excited. Because we all have day jobs, we always think it's a treat.

"Our last tour was early this year in Germany. We do lots of one-off dates in Europe. We try to get one or two shows then have a mini-break, like a middle-class couple except there's four of us.

"We're in a good position. Unlike proper touring bands on a tight schedule, we usually have a whole day somewhere to go sightseeing. We like getting as much out of places as we can. I'm a fiend for art galleries, especially contemporary art. There was a great gallery in Oslo, we loved the whole city.

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"We have no roadies or groupies on tour. We're a very non-groupie band. We all have girlfriends and Jay got married in the summer. It's tough for Jay, he's got a little boy and he gets sad if he doesn't see him.

"If you see really cool stuff, you want to share it with everybody you know. That's why we don't tour the world for months because we're not those sorts of people.

"I'm an orphan and so is Jay, hence the name of the group. My parents died when I was in

my early twenties.

"It's friends rather than music that gets you through times like that. Music makes life interesting but it's friends that make it worth living.

"I became a performer because, when I was 11, I was a huge Duran Duran fan and wanted to be like Simon Le Bon. I love it when musicians say they were into John Coltrane, jazz and African funk when they were 14. I had terrible taste when I was a kid.

"When we're touring, we like to try local food. The reindeer steak with juniper berry sauce in Stockholm was fantastic.

"After lunch we drive to the next gig. The time it takes varies wildly. In Germany we drove thousands of miles. It took days. I never look at mileage. We get paid enough to cover petrol costs and make money so we don't have to worry.

"We enjoy each other's company which is why we have done it this way for so long. We tend to laugh a lot, gossip about people and act disgustingly. We all have filthy minds! We don't play car games but we do play Hog The Stereo.

"It's rare for us all to like the same album. We like The Bronx, AC/DC and old ska records. If I could play whatever I wanted, I'd have Nina Nastasia, Hank Williams, Otis Redding and The Constantines, they might be the best live band in the world.

"We usually eat before the show. We sometimes ask for a carvery on our ride but we like to see how people treat us without us asking. We don't want to pretend to be rock stars. As long as people feed us, then we're happy.

"Audience sizes differ. In Europe it's picking up. We never expect to sell out. When we do we're overjoyed.

"It's always good to play to big crowds but it's not depressing to play to fewer people - you can get a really good atmosphere. We sell out in London all the time. We have a much bigger fan-base there than in Cambridge. We call ourselves a Cambridge and North London band.

"We played the Avalon Stage at Glastonbury this summer. The good thing about that was we made loads of people smile. I remember saying something stupid like: 'This is amazing! We're playing at Glastonbury!'

"The crowd laughed but they understood why we were so happy. We were obviously enjoying it.

"Playing music to people fulfils the need to show off. I like making people laugh and we all love playing. If we get to a venue early, we play for a couple of hours before the gig just because we like making music together.

"When we come off stage, we ask the locals to show us around. We try go to bed at a sensible time, about 2am. Before then, we make friends with the local people and drink with them.

"One of the biggest highlights for the band was being in a Danish town, getting drunk and feeling we could all move there. The biggest highlights for us tend to be the moments we had the most fun."

JULIET BURTON

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