Some artists unquestionably feel like they’re coming from a place of sincerity when they sing. Adam French is one of these. French is a British singer-songwriter known for his ballads and his penchant for oranges as a symbol. His You From the Rest EP, released in the spring of this year, features heartfelt songs like the title track, about losing fake friends, and “No Cigar,” a stripped-down Millencolin cover.
Recently, we had the chance to chat with French on the phone. We talked about the You From the Rest EP, French’s favorite films, and what it means to be a “bathroom vampire.” Read the conversation below.
TYF: You just wrapped up a UK tour. What are some of the most memorable things that happened on the road?
Adam French: When we tour, it’s nice ‘cause we have a really friendly vibe, the team and the band and stuff. It just turns into this family vacation. It was great. London was probably the highlight, my favorite show, but whenever we have days off or whatever, we make the most of that. Newcastle’s pretty interesting. We got caught up in this ridiculous pub brawl at one point. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to the UK before, but it’s pretty rowdy, hectic. We literally ended up in this situation where guys were scrapping at the bar and there were tables flying everywhere, flying across the room. We were just musicians trying to have a drink after the show! We were like, “What the fuck is going on?” That was pretty exciting. It was a pretty frantic twenty minutes, but memorable. (Laughs)
TYF: I’ve never been to the UK, but that sounds pretty wild.
French: Yeah. As an introduction to Newcastle, it was pretty full-on. We did a show there, as well. We’ll certainly remember it.
TYF: You also recently released the You From the Rest EP. If you had to choose a favorite lyric from that, which would it be?
French: It would be from “You From the Rest”—“My friends, well, they’re fewer by the day.” It’s not like one neat statement. It’s more like understanding that just because you have a lot of people surrounding you doesn’t mean that they want what’s best for you. Being attuned to the fact that you can only ever have a certain amount of people in your life who genuinely care about you enough to justify friendship, I guess. Learning about who’s important and who’s negative for you.
TYF: Last year, you released a song called “Skin Deep,” which is one of my favorites. What’s the story behind the lyrics to that one?
French: It’s a dark one, to be honest. I had two friends die in the span of a year. And that one’s about how just because you can’t necessarily see problems on the surface doesn’t mean that they’re not there. The person is still going through the problem on their own. I guess it’s just me questioning whether people could have done more about that before he made the decision to do the thing he did. It’s just that—the idea of not taking everything at face value sometimes.
TYF: You’ve covered “The Rat” by The Walkmen. Are there any other songs that you might want to cover in the future?
French: In the future… I don’t know. “The Rat” was one of my favorite songs of all time, so it felt right to do that. I gravitated toward it massively as a teenager because of my teen life in guitar bands and rock venues throughout the UK, basically. It felt right to cover. I did cover “No Cigar” by Millencolin, which is on the You From the Rest EP. I’ve always felt as though nostalgia should be the reason to cover a song. You should have a genuine reason to re-interpret the track; [you shouldn’t do it] just to have something out online. It’s important to have a reason for choosing the song and have a good connection to it in the first place. Both of those, in my youth, they got me pumped up and wanting to learn how to write music or play in a band.
TYF: I’ve noticed that your Instagram bio says “bathroom vampire.” What exactly is a bathroom vampire?
(Laughs) Yeah. That was me as a teenager… Like, I’m super pale, and I had a rather large enthusiasm for ketamine and stuff like that as a teenager, so I’d usually be knocking around in bathrooms. (Laughs) It sounds terrible. Just looking pale and being me. But yeah, it was a bit of a nickname that we used as a jokey reference in regards to my skin tone. I’ve kind of adopted it and embraced it. (Laughs)
TYF: You’ve mentioned that in addition to writing songs, you write poetry, but you never show it to anybody. How does your poetry differ from your songwriting?
French: Well, I think my songwriting’s extremely lyrically led. I always find it super important to be able to read any of my songs on a sheet of paper. I think that music’s the voicing of what you want to say, but what you’ve written lyrically, and the words and the stories—that is the most important part of it. When I’m unable to sleep, I’ll usually just grab my phone and start writing whatever’s going through my head at the time. I’m an awful sleeper. I spend a lot of time awake and being concerned about things that are just ridiculous. The morning after, it’s like, “Why was I stressed about that?” When I started writing poetry, I would understand what was stressing me out a bit more the next day, and why it was making me feel that way. It’s like a self-help kind of thing. It’s kind of therapeutic and cathartic. But I’ve never shared it with anyone. I just leave it on my phone, in my notes. I leave that to myself. Maybe I’ll show people one day…
TYF: I read that you love traveling. If you could get on a plane to anywhere tomorrow, where would you go?
French: Good question. Maybe Amsterdam. It’s a very, very nice place. But other than that, maybe LA. I have a few friends out there, and the weather’s always beautiful. There’s always something to do. I love Africa, as well. I’ve spent a lot of time in Botswana, and I have friends out in South Africa. And obviously, there’s the wildlife. I do like that side of it. That’s not really a good answer, though. (Laughs) I don’t know if that really answers your question.
TYF: It’s hard to choose.
French: It is hard to choose. It’s really hard to choose.
TYF: I also read that you love films—what are some of your favorites?
French: I love Donnie Darko. I’ve seen it so many times, and every time I watch it, I think up something else about it. I start to think about it in a different way and question which theory I agree with. I also like Back to the Future, the Back to the Future trilogy. My favorite trilogy. I’m kind of into sci-fi, and The Butterfly Effect I was into a lot. Anything that questions reality a little bit is really good.
TYF: If you could visit the world of any film, which one would you choose?
French: Definitely Back to the Future. I could activate the time machine.
TYF: That’d be fun.
French: It’d be good, it’d be good. I’d like to meet the Doc. He seems like a glorious nutcase.
TYF: Which era would you time travel to?
French: Good question. Maybe the ‘70s. My dad introduced me to a lot of music, and I would love to see Jimi Hendrix playing live at Woodstock. There’s a lot of music that I would’ve liked to have been a part of, but obviously, I was born too late to enjoy it properly. You can always listen to records and stuff, but to have been around in those times would’ve been interesting.
TYF: All right. Is there anything else you’d like to say to the readers before we wrap up?
French: I’d love to see as many of you as possible at a show. I’m grateful to you for reading this far. (Laughs)