I don’t remember when I first saw Adequate Seven. They feel like a constant in my life since I first started university in 2002. I distinctly remember being sent their debut album Songs of Innocence and Experience in early 2003 and being floored by the quality of the music and lyrics. Beautiful punk, laced with grooves, horn sections and articulate sincere lyrics. I have no idea how many hundreds of times I listened to it. Fast forward three years later, countless tours, countless sweaty dance floors, and lots of fun Adequate Seven decided to call it a day. I caught up with Tom Pinder (trombone) and Jamie Searle (vocals) in the depths of the Underworld. Without beating around the bush we discussed splitting up, how awesome it has been being in a band and how they’ve held seven members together for so long.
LH: To get right to the point: Why are you breaking up?
Tom: It feels like the right time; we’re still having an awesome time doing the band. But touring, I’m sure as you know, takes its toll. We wanted to be able to bring it to a close in an organised fashion whilst we’re still enjoying ourselves and getting on well.
Jamie: With Adequate Seven it’s always been the case of all or nothing. It just got to a point where for various reasons, we couldn’t give it 100%. I think we’d rather have a bit of closure.
Tom: The only other option for us would have been to become one of those bands that eases up slightly on the touring and does less. We could have done that but it didn’t make any sense for us.
LH: So what are you going to do now that you’re not in a band?
Tom: I don’t think anyone has any concrete plans to be honest. Kaz has been applying for a few jobs and that but…
Jamie: He’s got an interview next week when we’re on tour. We’ve somehow got to play a gig in Southampton drive him back for an interview, and then he’s got to get himself on a train to Brighton afterwards for a gig. After the tour I’m going to move up to London. Check out the scene here!
Tom: A few of us are on about continuing playing music in one form or other. Not with an immediate view of touring or anything like that. It would just feel weird to completely stop.
Jamie: It’s not like, “Oh this is the end of our lives.” It’s getting to the stage where we want to draw do something new.
LH: [To Tom] Are you going to keep doing the label [Breaking World Records]?
Tom: Matt Cheap [who ran Good Clean Fun Records] and I are discussing a few things. If there’s something awesome to put out, it would be nice to put something out but we’ll see. The live thing that we’re recording today we’re putting out with Gravity [DIP] and Breaking World Records. It makes it a lot easier having put the infrastructure in place, which we have by having had to try and do it properly ourselves.
LH: What do you think people took away with them from Adequate Seven shows?
Tom: We always tried to do something a bit different, and something that we enjoyed. We were playing in the punk scene, but we didn’t always musically fit. So I hope that people considered our music, and coming to our gig, as something being a bit different.
Jamie: We never set out to change the world but we wanted to put the world to rights didn’t we?
Tom: That is changing it though, isn’t it?
Jamie: To me it’s just important that if like a few people can look back at their time of going to see bands and think of Adequate Seven and having a good time, then that’s good, because that’s the same for us.
LH: So what’s been the reaction about you guys splitting up?
Tom: I didn’t expect such a big reaction. We had a huge reaction on the usual outlets t’internet wise.
Jamie: I was really surprised as well. It made me a little bit tearful.
LH: Where did the idea for the pink uniform come from?
Tom: I think that it’s cool trying to be visual. Every good band is cool to look at as well as to listen to. I think that our live show has always been more important than our records. I think it’s cool to have something to tie us together visually. Making a decision in Adequate Seven is always impossible to make because everyone has an opinion on it, and no one will ever budge. There were tons of ideas of what we should do, and essentially that was the only one that everybody would settle on.
Jamie: I wanted silver costumes with moon boots. And space helmets.
Tom: I had lots of ideas that ended up on the scrap heap too, but I think it ended up alright. We did a pink and white thing for a bit, and then we just settled on generally white. It’s nice to be a little bit unique in that way. There’s plenty of bands that either consciously or subconsciously dress in very similar fashion so you may as well make the most of it.
LH: The latest album took quite a few twist and turns before finally coming out. Was that frustrating?
Tom: I’m not sure whether frustrating is necessarily the word. It came out a year and a half after most of it was recorded. So obviously it would have been good to have got it out sooner. But the inevitable things happened.
LH: I’ve always associated Adequate Seven very heavily with a specific kind of the punk scene, I guess revolving around Hidden Talent Booking, but a lot of it seems to have disappeared in recent years. A lot of the bands that you used to tour with aren’t around anymore.
Jamie: That’s just because we’ve been going for five years and that’s just the way it happens.
Tom: I think there’s a lot of bands get to that stage similar to what we did. Inevitably the entire DIY thing in a band of more than four or five members is tricky to maintain. To sustain everyone’s equal interest and love of the whole thing when it kind of feels like, ‘Aren’t we doing exactly the same as we’ve been doing for the past couple of years, and there’s not really any money, and we can’t pay the bills.’ It’s not something that you can do forever. It’d be cool if you could.
Jamie: It’d be wicked if you could. But you’d have to be a robot.
Tom: It’s certainly nothing to do with the infrastructure itself in terms of the labels, and agents, and venues, and promoters and that kind of thing. But maybe it’s quite inward looking, this scene. You can’t really break out of it seems.
Jamie: But that’s not the scenes fault is it? That’s just the way the music industry [is set up]. We have nothing but, or I have nothing but, gratitude to the scene, which has been the only thing that we can call our own. You can’t say that the band is trapped by the scene, that’s just ridiculous. The scene means everything to us. What traps the bands? I don’t know it’s just, you just have to be really lucky.
Tom: You mentioned Five Knuckle, who I just think were one of the most incredible bands ever. I just don’t know why these bands can’t break out of their particular audience that they’re playing to. I’m not talking about having huge labels behind them. I just don’t know why more people don’t go and see them, and that would increase their income, and make it easier to continue being a band. Whilst none of us do it for the money, and you’d be stupid to because there is no money, it would make it a lot easier to survive in the long term if there was some income. I think that’s maybe why none of these bands have been able to take it that step further.
Jamie: That probably is the main reason.
Tom: At the end of the day if we’re, and all these bands, are doing it as a hobby, but a hobby that is taking up your entire live, and you have put it before anything else. After a few years it’s inevitable that it becomes grinding and there are just other things that you want to do elsewhere in your life.
LH: Do you feel fulfilled having spent five solid years in this band?
Tom: I was saying to someone the other day at one of these shows, that I have this theory that probably any band in the world no matter how huge they get can ever really end their career thinking they’ve achieved everything. But then they’ve pointed out about 30 bands that probably could say they’ve achieved everything they set out to do. So maybe that’s not the best example.
I do think that unless you’re the Stones or something like that you can’t really reach a point where you’re really happy. Certainly thinking about nearly all the bands that I’m into they could have obviously been a lot larger, even though I’m not sure they necessarily wanted to be that.
The only real way to think about it is to think about what we were thinking about when we first started the band. I can remember conversations we had as we were starting the band, listening to the first ever Capdown stuff in Jamie’s car when we were all 19, and in our second year of university, hooking up and talking about doing this band, and saying how amazing it would be if one day we were able to put out a record with a label like Household Name and get to play with a band like Capdown.
If you look back at what we were thinking, then we’ve been dead lucky, and it’s been really fulfilling. But I guess what we’ve been trying to do over the past year and a half in expanding our audience and playing outside the specific punk scene. You could say that that hasn’t gone stunningly well. But we’ve done 500 or 600 shows, put out two records that we’re happy with, and we’ve had an awesome time, met so many amazing people. That’s all such clichéd stuff but we totally have. There’s so many people who will be our life long friends and even just how close we all are, the seven of us. It becomes everything to you. It’s something that I wouldn’t have any other way. It’s been an awesome way to spend five years, and it’s been really hard to call it a day. It kind of feels like where do you go from here? It feels like it’s everything that defines me as a person and I’m sure that’s a case for a lot of the other people who are in the band as well. And I’m sure that’s not exclusive to Adequate Seven either.