ADAM TOPOL “CUANDO”
Prior to releasing records under his own name, Adam Topol built a considerable career for himself over the course of two decades playing drums and percussion with Jack Johnson, as well as working with musicians like Joey Santiago, Ziggy Marley, David Gilmour and Jimmy Cliff. He has explored Afro-Cuban rhythms and percussion via Ritmo Y Canto, dabbled in dubby electronic reggae with Culver City Dub Collective and visited the far edges of soul-jazz with Blue Painted Walls In Faraway Places. The 2016 release of Regardless of the Dark marked his solo debut, where he stepped out from behind the drum kit for the first time.
Cuando is the newest full length by Adam Topol, a collection that merges his roots in California folk pop and Latin percussion for ten songs that meander. Recording was done mostly in bedrooms and home studios with all instrumentation played by Topol and producer/musician Matt Costa. Unlike a lot of Adam’s previous work, which typically featured many collaborators and musicians, Topol and Costa worked one on one to develop a cohesive sound across album tracks.
Born and raised in Reno, Topol received a formal jazz education at the Berklee School of Music. Bouncing between Boston and his hometown, he noted the juxtaposition between playing in the casinos and seedy taverns of central Nevada and California, and going back to the academic ivory tower of Berklee, where he studied under Alan Dawson (lullaby, to dirge and back again on a vast sea of emotions and waves of psychedelic from astral meanderings, Lionel Hampton, Quincy Jones, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, Sonny Rollins, Dave Brubeck, and others.). Post-Berklee he spent two years traveling back and forth between the U.S. and Cuba to study Latin percussion at Havana’s Escuela Nacional de Arte, where he received hands on instruction on traditional folkloric and popular dance rhythms from genre defining Cuban percussionists Tata Guines, Changuito, Pancho Quinto and Afro-Cuba de Matanzas. When he later relocated permanently to Los Angeles he connected with like minded musicians including Raul Pacheco (Ozomatli), Roger Manning (Beck), Morgan Neville (30 Feet from Stardom), and eventually landed a gig drumming in The Martinis, Joey Santiago’s post Pixies project, where Topol would first get his sea legs for touring.
Once he teamed up with Jack Johnson, he toured extensively and had the opportunity to take in some of the best music festivals the world has on offer. Getting exposure to such a broad array of acts – Massive Attack, Bjork, Nas, Tony Allen, The Meters, Ween, Iggy Pop, etc. – opened his eyes to the power of songwriting and gave him perspective about the different methods of interacting sonically with an audience. Noting that the power of authenticity has its own kind of volume, he saw that it’s possible for someone to perform on stage as their authentic self and exist in the same space alongside bigger, noisier, larger-than-life acts.
Pairing up with Matt Costa on Cuando allowed him the breathing room to explore these broad musical influences that were beyond the scope of some of his other peers. The two connected over a mutual taste for artists like The Cure, The Dirty Three, PJ Harvey, Spacemen 3 and The Velvet Underground, and within that shared musical language they were able to explore the occasional lyrical and thematic darkness of Topol’s work while still keeping the songs on the record fully rooted in their natural sweetness and emotional depth.
Cuando is out August 2nd 2019 on Everloving Records. Contact Courtney@everloving.com. Adam Topol is also the co-founder of Roots EQ, his company that’s developed very in-demand drum mutes.