INTERVIEW: Adam WarRock, The Comic Book Rapper
Late last week I had the chance to catch a few minutes with Adam WarRock before he heads out on tour including a stop at SXSW. WarRock recently grabbed the attention of Parks & Recreation fans all over the interwebs when he released a free EP based on the town’s characters, most notably Ron F*cking Swanson. He is also the man behind the oh so shiny Browncoats Mixtape, among many other nerdy favourites.
Continue reading for my interview with Adam WarRock, we talk music, TV, comics, fandom, getting tweeted by Nathan Fillion, & more!
Firstly, can you describe your style in 140 characters?
Sincere hip hop about pop culture and other things I’m enthusiastic about.
To expand on that,your source material for songs seems to have a really wide range from comics, to tv shows to Jane Austen, and your life experience. Can you tell us a bit about what sparks the creative process for you?
Most of the ideas for songs come from really organic places, like the Parks & Rec EP it came about when I was just watching a ton of Parks & Recreation on DVD, and decided to make a song about Ron Swanson. The Browncoats Mixtape came about in a similar way. Most of my creative process is me goofing on emails or at a coffee shop with friends, and someone saying “You should make a song about that,” and just spitballing from there. I always know the stuff that’ll work, b/c I’ll just start immediately getting excited and writing at that moment.
Other than Doogie Hooser MC (I saw that tweet and would totally be down for that track) what television characters or comics can we expect you to immortalize in song soon?
Oh man, I have so many. I’m known as the “comic book rapper,” but honestly, I’m just as obsessed with TV as I am with comics. I’d love to do like a TGIF mixtape, or something about Veronica Mars. I have a lot of love for a ton of cancelled shows, I’m sure I could do something with Wonderfalls or Freaks and Geeks. Oh the list goes on and on.
You’re about to head out on tour, but what is your favourite part of the process? Writing, recording or touring? [WarRock is heading out on tour next week hitting dates all over the U.S. including a stop at SXSW, check here to see if he's playing in a town near you]
Probably the writing process, before all the logistics and stress comes in. When you’re writing a song, and you hear it in your head, there’s still that hope that it can be as good as you think it’ll be. When you start saying words aloud, or tweaking levels, things don’t always come out the way you want them to be, and touring is such an exhausting process. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love all of them, but writing probably has the least stressful stuff in it.
Who would be on the bill of your dream tour? Dead, Alive and Fictional, all fair game for this one.
I would be honored to open for Jabberjaw & The Neptunes, one of the most underrated fictional bands of all time. See? I told you, way too much TV as a kid.
From This Man…This Emcee! — Marvel vs. DC – You talk about the “haters” in the comic scene and unnecessary rivalries in comics or nerd communities… Do you encounter this kind of divisiveness when it comes to your music?
I don’t come across it too often, I think it’s a pretty big waste of energy to really HATE on someone who makes such niche music. You just find people who don’t give it a chance, or ignore it. But I do have a few dedicated people who like to constantly remind me that there’s no place for rap in comics, or that I took an idea from someone else who apparently thought of it first and never did something with it, or people who just don’t think I’m a good rapper. It’s the internet, so you always gotta expect people will just hate you b/c it’s something new to hate.
On that note, any thoughts on the announcement of the Watchmen prequels?
At this point, I am so out of things to even think about The Watchmen and anything that has to do with remakes or prequels, I kinda think I’m sitting this one out. I mean, The Watchmen is obviously a hugely important comic, and made by one of the most amazing creators of comics in our lifetime, but at the same time, it’s a book, that’s being used to squeeze every last penny out of the property by huge corporations. We could be mad, but it’s not like this kind of thing is unprecedented or unexpected at this point. What can we do?
Heading back to the Browncoats MixTape, knowing how intense the Firefly fandom did you have any kind of expectations when you released it? Were you surprised/overwhelmed at all by its reception?
I think I’m always aware that there’d be SOME attention. I mean, you don’t do this without the hope that a dedicated fanbase notices it. But I think you’re never sure if people will care. It’s such a crowded field out there, you just make the best possible thing and hope people are about it. We were pretty happy that Nathan Fillion tweeted about it, that was always our ultimate dream goal, and it happened, and then promptly crashed my server. So mission accomplished.
You recently released F*ck Sopa, as an artist who provides a lot of his music for free online …What can you tell us about your views regarding censorship and the internet /peer to peer music sharing helps or hurts artists?
I encourage people to pirate my music if they can’t afford it. I mean, obviously I’d prefer it if you paid for it and supported what I did. But really, so much of what I do involves free music. I’d like you to get the full experience of what I do so you can make the choice for yourself whether you want to support me, as an overall musician, rather than just live album to album. My music’s out there, hell I had some of my more… industrious friends put it on torrent sites, just to make sure a good version was out there. Go ahead and download it, just know if you don’t come to my shows or buy merch or albums, that may be the last thing you ever hear from me.
SOPA is obviously a horribly misguided and arguably unconstitutional sledgehammer to solve the problem of piracy, and it really goes to the root of the whole copyright regime that’s been established in the United States. This obsession with “whose property is this” is such a conservative (in the literal sense of the word) and antiquated notion of how content and art is created, and I don’t really see it changing anytime soon. To undo the amount of laws that would help make sampling, mash-up culture, and maintaining the creative status quo that’s been established on the Internet would take decades from an extremely forward thinking, web-savvy and liberal political force that I don’t really see happening in our country.
On to the Parks and Recreation EP.
I want to preface, I think Parks & Rec is one of the best shows on tv right now. The extent to which the world they live in is so thoroughly fleshed out, even minor characters have full back stories. I feel like in 3 songs you really captured the spirit of how Parks and Rec treats it’s characters and the fictional universe surrounding it. In short, your love of the show and the characters really shows. How did you go about capturing the spirit of the show in just three songs while still putting your own spin on it?
Thank you! That really means a lot to me, and I’ve been so blown away by how positive the response has been to these songs. I fully expected some people to simply not like the songs and hate on them, because you just expect that to happen when you put a twist on anyone’s beloved show or thing. But man, everyone has been so incredibly awesome about the EP, even including Jim O’Heir (Jerry on the show) and Ben Schwartz (Jean-Ralphio on the show) who both personally tweeted to me that they liked it.
The show is so game to do whatever it wants, and the writers always make it work into the structure of the show, like having Tom Haverford being so GQ, and having Ron Swanson be so traditional, using Detlef Schrempf, being unbelievably hateful towards the libraries. It’s a show that tries a lot of weird things that honestly wouldn’t work in any other universe as well, and always makes it seem sincere and positive. I think putting a hip hop spin wasn’t so outside the realm of the show’s world.
What shows/comic books/movies are you hooked on right now?
Shows: Totally obsessed with Justified, Parks & Rec obviously, huge fan of The Good Wife, How I Met Your Mother, and have been catching up with Homeland and Sherlock.
Comics: Wolverine & The X-Men, Daredevil, Uncanny X-Force, Sixth Gun, Chew, Infinite Kung Fu, and Batman & Robin
Movies: Ides of March, Midnight in Paris, The Grey, I will always pop in The Social Network when I’m bored, been rewatching a lot of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and Bridesmaids.
What can we expect from your upcoming album?
I wrote it on the road, after a long year of traveling, paying dues, and getting my name out there. So half of it is about how I feel like I’ve arrived, maybe puffing my chest out a bit and throwing around my weight, and the other half of it is about how I’m still scared about the future and hoping people like what I put out. So you get the best of both worlds, the cocky, swaggerific rapper, and the emotional, sensitive and human writer. Also, a lot of comic book references. Maybe some movie, video game, and TV references too.
Can we expect to see you in Canada any time soon?
I would love to come to Canada. I actually was talking to FanExpo last year for a bit, but nothing ever came of it. If anyone can help me get up there, I’d love to hit one of the bigger cities.
Thank you so much to Adam WarRock for taking the time to talk to us.
Do you like what you’ve read? Check out Adam WarRock’s site, buy his tunes, go see him on tour & Spread the Word!