Adam Lasher is the first one to admit that his guitar, his eyebrow ring, and his cool rocker bracelets are not what makes him stand out in a sea of upcoming musicians, (“uh, because NO ONE in LA plays guitar… ”) but his playful sense of humor coupled with distinct talent and drive might be. The youngest in a large family of celebrated musicians, Adam has played alongside the likes of Alien Ant Farm and P.O.D., as well as in special events at the Playboy Mansion. His band – duly dubbed Adam Lasher Band – is proving to Los Angeles that rock music is still out there, and it most certainly can’t be ignored.
Tell me a bit about your background – how you got into music before college.
I think I was just born into a family of musicians. I’ve just always been around it. It’s just always something my uncles did, and my cousins did, and it was really encouraged for me. We had a piano for as long as I can remember. I started playing piano around five.
You mention your family’s involvement with music – and your uncle happens to be a very well-known musician (Carlos Santana). Growing up and being able to see your family’s successes, what was it like to look up to that?
I know my grandfather, for one, I really respected a lot. He was a Mariachi violinist. I’m a first generation American – my mother was the youngest of seven brothers and sisters. They grew up dirt poor in Mexico and then they moved to Tijuana and then to San Francisco. My grandfather supported seven kids and a wife with just his violin. So I figure… I should be able to support just myself by playing guitar. I grew up hearing from my uncle and my grandfather, “You’re never late. No excuses. If the gig’s at seven, you’re there an hour early.” I think I’ve been lucky to see it from the sidelines, just to see that if this is the thing you want to do for a living, these are the standards you’ve got to hold yourself to.
You went to Berklee College of Music, and that’s where you met your current band members. Tell me about forming the band.
I always had the mindset that when I left school, I wanted to come out with a product. Towards the end of the first year, I started finding some guys to play with and started forming the band. I also started singing with a hat out in the subways. Right before I left it became my main source of income. I just quit my job and I played out there.
How would you describe the sound of Adam Lasher Band?
I could say eclectic but everyone uses that word. I guess I could say original, because I don’t really stay with a specific genre, but I’d say soul, rock, Latin and blues are the things I stick to.
So talk a little bit about your live shows for me. Do you have a fan base that comes regularly? Where do you perform?
Somewhere where I do have my little “residency” is up in Ventura at this place called The Good Bar, and we play there every Sunday. We also did the Halloween Playboy Mansion event at the Hollywood Castle on October 23, which is an event we’ve done before.
Is there an event or show that your band has done so far that has been the biggest or most exciting?
I’d definitely say the Playboy Mansion… but the other would probably be when we got to open up for Carlos Santana and Lila Downs and Zack de la Rocha from Rage Against the Machine – it was a benefit for Delores Huerta, the activist. President Obama had actually prerecorded a message and thanked the audience and everyone for participating. I was like, wow, obviously the president doesn’t know who I am – nor anyone else in this place – but it feels great just to be a part of a function and be able to donate my time for something the president would take four minutes out of his day to acknowledge on camera.
Can you tell me a little bit about your music writing process?
Ummm, [in a funny voice] very sloooow like a turrrrrtle. No, I’m kidding. I always come out with music real fast. It’s totally easy for me to come out with something. It starts with a few bars, and I know everything that the song isn’t, and I just haven’t discovered what it is yet. And I have to keep chipping away at it. I generally write with acoustic, and then I’ll come out of it with the backbone of the song, and then I give it to the band and they add the little sparkles and sprinkles on it.
Are there clichés or topics you avoid?
Maybe not avoid, but I realized after our first album, I was like, “Wow, all of my songs are about trying to get with a girl.” Sex, love, rock and roll. I think our first album was generally all about that. I write about life experiences – love found, love lost – whether it’s a girl, or someone dying. I only write about things that I know.
In every sort of artistic medium, there’s always the art at the core, but then there’s the business aspect that surrounds it. What keeps you passionate, not discouraged, about the things that get put on top of you as an artist?
You have to manage it well. Because I’ve learned I can burn myself out a lot, just trying my absolute hardest for so long too fast. In the daytime I teach students guitar and at night I either do random special events or play at smaller bars… so sometimes you have to ask yourself, “Okay, am I going to blow off these little kids that I teach every week to take this big shot at a gig?” There’s always going to be $70 or $100 or whatever here and there, but teaching is stable. And this other stuff isn’t stable. It’s always a back-and-forth gamble.
What’s the biggest challenge you feel daily living as a musician?
[thinks] I want to be a musician – I want to do this for the rest of my life – and I don’t want to make a dime unless it’s with music. Even if I have to do something on the business end – selling guitars – I would rather do that than make more money doing something else. Even if that job was easier. It’s not about the money, it’s about the pride. To be like, “Wow, I bought $100 of groceries because I played my guitar.” And to me, that’s way better than being like, “Hey, I’m on iTunes!”
Put music aside for a minute. What can I find you doing on the weekends?
Well, because my parents will probably read this… I like to help the children and go to church and I save penguins that are covered with tar. I scrape them and clean them with toothbrushes. No, honestly, it’s hard because I think about music 24/7. I don’t even have cable. I literally wake up in the morning and first thing, I’m wide awake and I’m like, “What can I do to get ahead?”
I’m really curious what your opinion is about rock music right now.
I think the Black Keys is the only thing that’s on the radio right now that I really enjoy. The idea of “genres” now is just another tone knob on the amp. Rock might not be on the radio right now, but its influence is everywhere.
So what’s next for you? You had an album out the November of last year, right?
Yes. And next, a brand new EP is ready to come out, and then we’ll be doing our real album. It’s going to be a concept album. I literally just started working with a producer a couple days ago.
Okay, last question —
My favorite color’s blue. No it’s not, it’s orange.
Well I’m glad you’re decisive.
I’m not decisive, I’m a Pisces.
What can Daily BR!NK readers do to contribute to your success?
First, check out the albums that we have on iTunes – Adam Lasher Band. If you want to catch a show, add us on Facebook or Twitter. And add us on YouTube. Also, we need a booking agent and management, as well as music licensing, label and touring support. Personally, I’m always looking for guitar students as well.