Adam Arcuragi is certainly not new to the music scene. His richly textured voice has been mesmerizing the masses since his debut album was released in 2006. Adam has toured extensively in the US and abroad, living in Georgia, Philly, NYC, and now Los Angeles. His last album, 2012’s Like A Fire That Consumes All Before It…, was met with excellent reviews (LMN included). This guy has even been deemed the founder of an entire musical genre (Death Gospel). Although “Adam Arcuragi” has taken different formers over the years (at one point there was an eight person woman’s choir involved), the music has always been under that name. Then a year or so ago, Adam went to Joshua Tree to work on new music and he emerged with a new musical moniker, SPURS. Curious about this new project, I sat down with Adam over gelato where he pontificated on his new outlook, new team, and what is on the horizon for SPURS.
Here is what I learned:
SPURS was inspired by ghosts, a personal hero, and teenage Adam
After taking some time to go home and be with family, Adam came to a realization: “Life’s too short so why not do the things you want to do. Part of that was just wanting to expand. I was driving just outside of St. Louis and it just washed over me. You’re done. You’ve scratched every itch you’ve wanted to scratch. I made all the records I wanted to make in that style and in that way. I was hungry to learn something new. So when I came out here [to Los Angeles] it was a combination of the desert (places like Santa Fe and the high desert out there in New Mexico)…I don’t know a better way to put it than they have ghosts. I know it sounds kooky but it made be believe. Any good scientist is going to tell you it’s never knowing, it’s only failure to disprove, but I was of the mind that pretty much everything has been failed to disprove at this point. It opened me back up on a weird way.
I think this set me up personally to meet a songwriting hero of mine [Jeff Barry, co-writer of 60s hits like “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “Be My Baby”]. At first it was just kind of hanging out and talking about the process and what not. Then we worked together and he said he’ll actually master and the dude made it look like nothing. Remember the piano playing Muppet who would pound his head against the piano? I always thought that real genius was that. Sitting in a dark room somewhere just feeling it. It overcomes you. And for him it was not that at all. He had his method. He had his insight. And he just went through it.
It was that combination that really let it loose. It was a feeling of sort of letting 16 year old Adam out of the box.”
More than a new sound, the new name represents a new freedom (freedom to use reverb).
From Adam’s perspective: “When you are trying to do anything creative, there is a certain idea of challenging yourself. You put up these rules or restrictions. For me, I love reverb, I love tremolo. I love organs and Mellotron, and lots of vocals, but I always sort of held back on all of that, especially reverb because in my mind, it was the easy path and as an artist I wanted to challenge and grow. I think I just got to that point that I’ve proved to myself that I can do it well holding back all those things, the sort of teenage impulses. This project is about that [exploring those impulses]. If little Adam wants reverb, there is reverb. There is reverb all over this record. Like bonkers proportions. Physical reverbs, different kinds of processed digital reverbs, things like that. There’s a whole bunch of tremolo. There’s a whole bunch of piling on voices in such a way that it sounds less and less like a human voice. Yeah, it was that kind of freedom.”
The songs are more decoded, translatable
From his time in the desert and his brief apprenticeship with Jeff Barry, Adam learned a different way to approach his lyric-writing.
“He [Jeff Barry] always gave me a hard time. He said all of my lyrics are coded. He said some people are going to have the key to decipher it and some are not, how you fix that is you don’t make it a code. I said to him, Jeff isn’t that a matter of taste, a matter of that’s how it comes out and he said that is absolute shit. If you’re trying to tell somebody something, you need to tell them in a way that they are going to understand. My lyrics didn’t go from dense mess that they are into Da Doo Run Run, but I feel like I found a nice middle ground.
And in terms of performance, and how that translates, I just shook off that part of it that is thinking that everyone could see the same color haze that I saw and instead of relying on the idea that everyone could see the same haze that I saw, just breaking through it and saying so, there’s this haze, there’s a difference in terms of intention. It has a huge different in how you come across. “
Who exactly is SPURS?
SPURS is still basically Adam Arcuargi. The way he puts it is “it’s sort of putting that closet of clothes away and getting new clothes. It’s still you in the clothes. It’s just a new way of looking at things. “
The majority of SPURS’ debut album was conceived and recorded out in Joshua Tree where Adam recruited friends David Hartley (Nightlands, The War on Drugs) and Fabian Simon, two guys that Adam claims really got it and helped him achieve the sound that was in his head. The recordings were then mixed by Andy Brohard.
For the live incarnation of the music, Adam has recruited a local LA band that consists of drums, keyboard, guitar, bass, and a couple backup vocalists. The use of multiple voices helps to capture a bit of the lush sound of the record.
Beyond those in the recording booth and on stage, Adam has recruited a new team (manager, lawyer, etc), who all have had an impact on the new project with their ideas and support.
SPURS live: from The Hotel Cafe residency to house shows
SPURS has been doing a residency at The Hotel Cafe. The final show is Tuesday April 28th at 9pm. On these shows, Adam says, “All three of these shows have gotten successively better. I think the band is finally hearing what they want to hear in terms of everything coming together. We’ve got some nice things to come out for.”
After The Hotel Cafe, SPURS has a few more LA gigs in the works. Adam also hopes to head back to Europe where he has had several successful tours in the past. One notion he loves in Europe that wants to do more of is the house show.
“The thing we’re really getting into is house shows. In Europe, it’s a whole thing. A group of people get together, pool their money, and put it towards the artist they want to host and that is the entertainment over there. It’s fulfilling in a way that playing a show in a theater or club is not. It’s different, looking at people when they are in a more intimate setting. It’s not always in a living room. It can be on a porch or in a beautiful manicured garden, or a larger space like a church. The idea is that it’s a community of people that get together to curate this thing for themselves.”
SPURS recordings: 7” vinyl and the eventual record.
Adam is excited about the upcoming release of a promotional 7” to “test the waters”. Encouraged by his vinyl junkie manager, these limited runs will be done in small batches of colors like pink and white. Then when they sell out, they will be gone.
The full length record is basically done and should come out in the US, Europe, Australia and maybe Japan by the end of the year. To answer the question of why it has taken so long for the album to come out, Adam points to another thing that’s changed with the name, “We had everything in place for one model and then when the new team came on, they wanted to see what they could do and make it a little more there’s. If you’re gonna change the name. If you’re going to slightly change the sound and the focus why not change the way you go about it? I’m looking forward to it. “
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