SEGAS interviews Adam Stoler

SEGAS: What made a kid growing up in the New York city area become more interested in Jazz than rock?

STOLER: I was very lucky to go to a public school district that had a very strong music department.  I had an opportunity to perform in many different ensembles a jazz group.  I was lucky to have a teacher that was sort of the real deal, teaching during the day, and playing in some of the most prestigious bands and clubs in Manhattan at night.  He was probably one of the biggest pushes for me playing jazz.  I always knew I wanted to pursue music, and unless you were going the classical route, if you wanted to study guitar and music, Jazz was really the only other academically viable option.  Again, it was advantageous that Manhattan, which is unarguably the world capital of Jazz, was just 50 miles away.  When I applied for college, my only criteria was to study music in Manhattan, which lead me to NYU.  New York is a really amazing place, and I try not to take it for granted.  On any given night of the week, there’s at least a dozen clubs, most of them very intimate, where you could go to and see some of the world’s finest players.  It would be impossible not to absorb some off that.

SEGAS: When you were first learning the guitar, what lessons did you gain that have had the most impact on your professional career?

STOLER: LESS IS MORE.  It’s amazing how much this still holds true in almost every situation.  It’s so common for us to over play, or wanna to get all our ideas at once, but it usually winds up detracting from the final product.  Sometimes, restraint is the most difficult but relevant thing you can practice.

SEGAS: Got a good John Scofield anecdote?

STOLER: John is the Man!  He’s amazing, and a great person…He is often referred to as Sco, because of a record he did called ScoLoHoFo, and I coincidentally got nicknamed in college “Sto”, so that’s what we call each other.  I had the opportunity to study in a small group setting with him at NYU, and one time we had a rhythm section playing with us.  Just for example, John had the rhythm section play a 4 chord repeating vamp and for about 5 minutes, plugged directly into a crappy bass amp with no fx, he just kept soloing over it.  He never played the same thing twice, and everything just grooved so hard.  Before I met him, I wasn’t so into his playing or his sound, but after those 5 minutes, he became my favorite guitarist.

SEGAS: You’ve played with such a diverse roster of artists, from Anna Rose to Keiko Matsuio, so what’s the common thread there for you?

STOLER: I love playing with a wide range of artists.  Sometimes it gets a little crazy; constantly being a chameleon, but it’s a great challenge.  The common thread is that no matter what style or group, you always have to consider what your role is at that time and how you can serve the music best.  Often, that does not mean soloing, or being the star.  Listening to what’s going on around you is key, and musicians will respect you more for knowing what to play and when than just having super fast chops.

SEGAS: Tell us about your main instrument, and why it works for you…

STOLER: My main touring instrument now is a Stratocaster style guitar that Matt Brewer, owner of 30th St Guitars in Manhattan, built for me.  I love it…it’s got a really thick neck and an old swamp ash sunburst body that’s beaten up.  It’s heavy and has such a solid sound.  He put in Virtual Vintage single coil pickups in the neck and middle positions that are just awesome, stratier than a strat, and really quiet.  The bridge position is a Duncan Distortion humbucker that makes the guitar really versatile.  Best of all is that it looks super cool, but it’s not a ’59 strat, so I don’t worry about it getting beaten up a little on the road.

SEGAS: Do you collect?

STOLER: I wish.  I have some beautiful guitars, but I certainly wouldn’t call myself a collector.  Maybe someday when I’m super rich, I’ll indulge myself more!

SEGAS: What is your biggest challenge, in getting your music heard by the masses?

STOLER: Technology and the changing nature of the music industry has made a lot of things easier, but it’s also made a lot of things harder.  More and more artists are trying to be heard without the support and multi-million dollar backing of a large company.  I think the biggest challenge is figuring out ways to be unique and stand out from the crowds.

SEGAS: What do you feel is the future of the contemporary Jazz genre, where is it heading?

STOLER: I have no idea.  10 years ago, people told me that Jazz was dead, and I just went to a club and heard some great jazz music last week, so I’m pretty sure that’s not true.  I think a lot of younger artists are beginning to incorporate different sounds into their music, and even incorporate more aspects of pop music.  After all, most of what we call “jazz standards” were at one time “pop music”.  I think jazz artists will continue to push the boundaries of what people call jazz, and of what people expect of them.

SEGAS: Is there one artist who you’d really like to play with, that you haven’t yet?

STOLER: I’d really get a huge kick out of playing with Prince.  He’s always been a favorite of mine and really influential.  And what a killing guitar player too!!!!

SEGAS: What’s next for Adam Stoler?

STOLER: Hmmmm….that’s a tough one.  I’ve been working and touring with a lot of different artists lately, most of them more in the pop genre, and getting more into production, which I really dig.  It’s really exciting working on music in the studio and hearing the final product pieced together after so many hours and hours.

September 21, 2010 in 2010,News | Comments (0)