After an amicable split with Passion Pit just before the Boston-born electro-pop band released 2012 sophomore record Gossamer, AYAD AL ADHAMY remained in the indie rock spotlight. His one-time side project, the high-energy guitar-rocking TEAM SPIRIT, became his main music-playing focus, and more time and attention was allotted to his New-York-based record label, Black Bell Recordings, which first launched in 2010 with the Joy Formidable’s debut EP, A Balloon Called Moaning (the label has since issued releases from Secret Music, Stepdad, and Boston bands Pretty & Nice and Girlfriends).
With Team Spirit’s self-titled EP out this past April off Vice Records, Al Adhamy has been busy touring the country with UK band Peace, and the tour hits Brighton Music Hall on Thursday, June 13 with local pop purveyors Parks warming things up.
Earlier this week I caught up with Al Adhamy about the differences between Passion Pit and Team Spirit, their Boston homecoming, and watching shit like the Red Wedding episode on Game Of Thrones while stuck in a tour van for nearly 24-hours. Also be sure to check out our Facebook page on Thursday to enter to win tickets to the show.
Michael Marotta: How’s life post-Passion-Pit treating you?
Ayad Al Adhamy: Pretty alright! I’ve been super busy raising cats, working on my label, and rockin’ out with Team Spirit! And eating cheeseburgers.
MM: Does Boston feel like a homecoming at all?
AA: For sure! I love coming back and having a beer at the Great Scott. Me, Mike and Toby all met in Boston when we lived there, and Cosmo is a Massachusetts kid, so it always feel rad to come back. Stoked to see the transformation of Harper’s Ferry to Brighton Music Hall this Thursday!
MM: You’ll hardly recognize it. So for years you were trapped on stage behind all those monstrous keyboards, and now with Team Spirit you’re rocking the eff out. Do you feel liberated?
AA: It’s just really different! I did a good amount of rockin’ and running and climbing when I didn’t have a guitar strapped to me, and on the flip side playing and singing is exhausting. I’ve def been hitting up some cardio for that! It definitely feels right though!
MM: What inspired you to leave the synths behind and go full-frontal guitar rock?
AA: Guitars. And rock. Freedom!
MM: Were you nervous about how fans of Passion Pit would take the new band? Was it ever a concern?
AA: I was never really concerned, because I don’t think that we’d share the same fans.
MM: How’d you find the dudes that would comprise Team Spirit? One of them is really tall.
AA: I met Toby and Mike my first week of college when I moved to Boston for college. Toby would be the tall guy – we used to dance at the Pill all the time and at one point had our own drink at the Great Scott; the “Lanky & Small” which was have Newcastle half Sam Summer. Cosmo I met when he was with DOM and when it came to finding a guitarist he was really the only person that perfectly fit.
MM: The “Fuck The Beach” video is quite a mindtrip. How did all that come about?
AA: I met this genius animation duo Hannes & Johannes and they just killed it! We’ve since been making a series for the EP (with an actual storyline) that starts with “Jesus He’s Alright!” We’re three-fifths of the way through it right now, so check them out on our Youtube! The fourth should be released in the next week or so!
MM: I read online that you just watched the Red Wedding episode of Game of Thrones during a 23-hour road trip between California and Colorado. What effect has this had on the band? And who thought it was a good idea to pass the time this way?
AA: HOLY SHIT. I just had to. I couldn’t be behind. I actually have velcro attached to my phone so I can stick it on the back of the seat in front of me and have my own personal movie theater. So I was the only one who watched it. I forced everyone to pull over at the next stop and luckily there was a Chili’s, so I drank a massive margarita. Dark times.
MM: When you hit Boston this week, it’ll wrap up Team Spirit’s spring tour, and several dates with Peace. What’s been the highlight so far?
AA: I think having Joey Santiago from Pixies play with us at our LA show. And then we got drunk and played some Pixies songs on acoustics at the bar. Pretty fucking awesome crossed-that-one-off-the-list moment for sure!
MM: What’s the nicest and worst thing you can say about the Peace dudes?
AA: The Peace guys are all lovely! Really good dudes. We bonded at a shitty motel in Iowa watching four cop cars pull in an arrest some dude. Good times! Worst thing? Not sure yet! Haha, it’s been pretty positive so far!
MM: Are you surprised Peace was available as a band name? On the Boston show, Parks is also playing, and I can’t believe that was free to use. The whole night is like Bands With Names That Should Have Been Used Right When Music Was Invented. I guess Team Spirit falls into this category as well.
AA: Oh band names! I guess there are just more words than bands! And I don’t pity the fool that would’ve decided to pick Team Spirit… If i hear “Wow that smells like…” one more time. THAT’S TEEN SPIRIT PEOPLE KNOW YOUR HISTORY. I actually had to shoot down an interviewer for that one too! But I still love our name.
MM: Finally, what’s the rest of the year looking like for Team Spirit?
AA: We are wrapping up our LP this summer and then some more touring. We have a UK festival in August called Beacons and we are trying to sort out some other shows there to make it a trip!