Interview with Nate Adams of Sweatshirt Weather

Photo: Rian Flynn

With an upbeat pop flare that could pin them as the next The Rocket Summer, Sweatshirt Weather have been taking over the digital music world with the sounds of their infectious EP, ‘Getting By.’ Despite thousands of miles of separation, Chris Stewart and Daniel Inskeep managed to share their musical ideas over online conversations, and thus Sweatshirt Weather was born. Since then, the band have added members Nate Adams and Chad Kulaga, and taken a strong hold of the reigns on their way to success. The four-piece have self-booked their tours, worked with esteemed producers Jim Wirt and Rob Freeman, and nailed the top spot on PureVolume for two weeks straight after their EP’s release. With an ever-growing online fanbase, Sweatshirt Weather are sure to make their mark on the pop rock world.

Drummer Nate Adams took some time out to speak to Rock Edition about ‘Getting By’ and the band’s experience in the studio. Check out what he had to say below.

How are you today?

Good. Daniel and I are in Indiana and Chad’s up in Detroit. Chris is in Chicago.

How do you guys keep in touch?

We usually video chat once a week, and we get together between shows to get some practice time in.

That’s cool. You guys started out by sharing music through long distance conversations online, right?

Yeah, Daniel and Chris started it. Daniel was in Florida originally, and Chris was in Indiana. Daniel actually ended up moving to LA after that and they continued doing it that way.

The band have gained some popularity through PureVolume and keep in contact with fans through Facebook.

Definitely. We use any social media site.

Do you think that being largely accessible through the internet has helped your do-it-yourself approach to Sweatshirt Weather?

Yeah, I think so. We’ve gone through tons of member changes, so building a fanbase through concerts has been difficult. We’ll go long stretches of times without playing a show, so although we kind of lose momentum on that front, we can keep it going online.

What’s the transition from sharing musical ideas over the Internet to performing them live on stage like?

It’s not too complicated. We can’t really wing it like most bands because we have a lot of different things to play on, so it’s very precise how we do it. But it’s usually not hard for us to get it right.

How much time do you usually have to practice before a show?

Honestly, we don’t really practice a lot of the time because of the distance thing. We did a lot of practicing back in January before we went on a two-week tour. This was after Chad joined, because I went from bass to drums. That transition required a lot of practicing. If we can get one, we’ll maybe do two practices before a round of shows — that’s about normal for us.

You had a number one single on PureVolume for two weeks. How did it feel to get that kind of response from listeners?

It was good. I felt that we deserved it. We worked on that record for a long time. To ultimately achieve that and have that happen was worth all the extra work in the end.

Was there any hesitation for Chris and Daniel to essentially drop everything to put all of their focus on Sweatshirt Weather?

Daniel dropped everything. He was working at a studio full-time in LA and dropped it all to move back here to Indiana in May of 2009. That’s when they started the first EP. We were kind of skipping a lot of things that we needed to do, but now we’re going back and putting the time into building a regional fanbase, instead of going on tour full-time. We would play shows for like 20 people some nights, and it wasn’t really worth it in terms of time and money. I’d rather be in a studio just recording and writing more songs opposed to doing that. I think it has more of an impact on people instead of us driving on the road and playing shows for no one.

How did the writing process change with ‘With High Hopes’?

Chris really wrote like 90% of the music for ‘With High Hopes.’ The only writing that I was involved with was for “Best Intentions.” Chris and I do the majority of the writing, as far as music goes. Daniel does a lot of the lyrics and Chris does some, too. There was more of a dynamic once I got involved with this EP, as far as the writing process goes. “Best Intentions” used to be a techno rave song, and then it turned into an acoustic chill-out song. We were down to two songs and the producer and I sat down one night and he was just like, “I hate the both of these so much.” Him and I just went back and forth and rolled with it until we got something we liked. ‘Getting By’ was definitely more of a collaboration between Chris and I. I’d actually say that I wrote the majority of the music, and Chris did like 2/3 of the lyrics on it. Chris and I will send each other ideas because we still live about an hour and a half apart, and we’ll go back and forth three or four times to end up with a finished product.

Isn’t it hard to try to write songs when you’re all in different places?

Yeah, it is. It gets frustrating at times to be apart and not being able to sit in the same room and write with people. I think it ends up showing in the finished product that we struggled to make it happen. Those songs are not up to par with the ones that basically wrote themselves.

Your music has a very summer anthem feel to it. Any memorable summer nights end up being inspirations for songs?

I don’t know. I’m not sure how it always ends up being that way. The meaning behind a lot of the songs isn’t very summer anthem at all; it just ends up being that way. I just try to keep it upbeat and have it be something you can jam to with the windows rolled down.

The song “Fall and 106” references a specific intersection. Where is it, and what’s the story behind it?

That’s actually a song Daniel wrote. It was a place he used to take his girlfriend to make out in high school [laughs]. It was at Fall Creek and 106th street in Indianapolis — at least that’s my understanding of it. That song is Daniel’s favorite, but also his least favorite because of how much work they had to put into it when they were doing the first EP. If you talk to Daniel about it, it will a very bittersweet conversation. He put like 80 hours of pre-production into it before they even started recording. If you’ve ever heard the original demo, it’s like night and day. I think the first demo sucked so much, in my personal opinion.

How did you end up working with Jim Wirt and Rob Freeman on ‘Getting By’?

When we were talking about doing the record, we sat down one night and went through iTunes and just picked out our favorite records. We chose the ones that stood out to us in terms of the production style and the songs in general. We reached out to producers and pretty much got a response from everyone that we contacted. Jim was really interested off the bat and he was Daniel and I’s number one choice. Daniel and I are huge Jack’s Mannequin and Something Corporate fans. We couldn’t really afford the whole thing but Jim had this three-day break in his schedule and he was just like, “You gotta do it!.” We went in and did two songs with him: “Open Up the Sky” and “However We Can.” Those two are probably my favorite on the record. Just the overall experience of working with Jim was awesome. He was a super cool down to earth guy. I think him and I vibed the best out of all the guys. I was doing most of the work, as far as recording goes. We were in a weird position where we had another drummer at the time, and he ended up doing part of the drums on “Open Up the Sky.” I played all of the drums on “However We Can,” did all the guitars, and I worked with Jim on the bass. Jim and I had the most time together, so I feel like we connected a lot. Rob was really cool, too. That all worked out because while we were on tour in January, we ended up in New Jersey about 20 minutes from Rob’s studio. I had already been in touch with him and I emailed him asking if we could come in. Another band had just bailed on him so he was just like, “Let’s do it.” We went in for a week with him and did about 3 songs.

Sweet. That worked out pretty well.

Yeah. I don’t know if I enjoyed that recording session as much because I was so sick. Chad and I got deathly ill out on tour. I did drums and I was completely disconnected from the rest of the process because I just wanted to go home and sleep. Chad and I were both just miserable. Rob kicked us out, saying, “Don’t get me sick! I haven’t been sick in, like two years, get out of here.”

Did Daniel’s previous knowledge about recording music come in handy when it came time to work in the studio?

Somewhat. He did a lot more with the first EP. Jim is such an old school guy, and you can’t really doubt anything he has to say. Everything he does is just awesome, and Rob kind of has his way. But it’s nice to have Dan, especially when we’re writing songs and recording the demos ourselves. We’re actually trying to self-produce a couple of EPs now. Daniel was valedictorian and Chad was salutatorian of their class at Full Sail [University], so we have the number one and number two recording gurus in our band. It’s never a bad thing to have those two guys around.

Are there any challenges when it comes to self-booking shows?

Yeah, booking is probably every do-it-yourself band’s nightmare. I pretty much do all the business stuff for the band. There have been tours that we ended up bailing on because of some reason or another. That’s frustrating even more so for me because I put in all the time and effort to do it, so if something falls through, all my time has been wasted and everyone else is just cool with it.

What were you up to before Sweatshirt Weather came along?

I played in some local bands around Indy for a couple of years. Daniel and I went to high school together and were in the same band together, so that’s how we knew each other. We went to a Third Eye Blind concert together right after he moved back from LA and I was like, “If you need anyone to play something, let me know.” Originally, I started out in the band on keyboard, then I went to bass, and now I’m on drums. I’m pretty much doing my rounds, I guess. I was going to college at Allstate in Indiana, but it was actually convenient because I was having a bunch of surgeries at the time, so I was just so over school. The band was definitely something to take the majority of my time.

Any future plans or are you just taking things as they come for now?

Yeah, we’re pretty much going with the flow right now. We’re trying to do a couple more EPs. We’re going to do an acoustic one with two songs from the first EP, one song from the new EP, and more from an EP that we’re working on right now. We’re just trying to keep cranking out the music because being a touring band right now is not the best thing for us. We can definitely accomplish more by releasing music, but maybe by next summer we can get back to touring.

Pick up Sweatshirt Weather’s new EP, Getting By.