“I think with any band there always has to be someone that has to guide the ship, and in our case it's Kelly, thank God!” Adam Zindani tells us. “He does a great job at it. But of course, getting into this solo album, I'm thinking, 'Oh, God, it's on me, I've got to answer that."
It’s been 16 years since former Adam – an evidently proud Brummie and former frontman himself with the band Casino –- made his debut with Welsh rock heroes Stereophonics and their chief songwriter Kelly Jones. But as has been the case for so many, when the Covid-19 pandemic struck he holed-up in his home studio and did what any musician would naturally do: started making music.
“My studio is next to my house, so I was able to go in and start making demos, and as soon as I did I thought, 'This is interesting. This is different.' Then before I knew it, I had a collection of songs. Some of them worked together, some of them didn't. It just kind of happened all on its own really. So I kind of just carried on.”
Carry on he did, and the result is Black Eyes Blue – an eclectic 10-song album released on 24 March that takes in a range of influences spanning electronica, funk, soul, blues, acoustic and more. So, with such a big mix of sounds, it’s fitting to sit down and pick Adam’s brain about the albums that influenced his love of the guitar, songwriting and above all, the joy of music.
1. The Beatles - Help (1965)
"This was the first record when I was really young – I was probably about eight – which completely stopped me in my tracks. I always remember it, it arrested every sense of me. I think when I heard Lennon's voice at the beginning of Help, I was just completely hypnotised by it.
“There was something about that delivery and that intention, especially on that song, I mean, there's obviously Hide Your Love Away and loads of great songs on that record. But that word shouted out of the speakers, for some reason. It just changed the way I listen to things.
“I guess even at a younger age, I just thought 'I've never heard anything like this, ever’. I still listen to it today, and still have that same feeling. You'll find that in a lot of the albums that I choose, probably. I still turn it up and go, ‘Wow, this is a guy really shouting for help.’
“I think George is an actual master on the guitar. So I would say George is my favourite as an all round guitar player. Macca's is a pretty good guitar player. They're all amazing guitar players.
"They were brilliant, and they never really get the shout for [their guitar playing], but they were absolutely incredible.
“But more for me on that record were the songs I think. I possibly could say The Beatles are my favourite band without sounding like a cliche. But maybe it was the way it was recorded. It felt so dry and close to my ears, but that certainly is a big record for me. It definitely made me sit up and listen."
2. Queen – Jazz (1978)
"I've got a big family – there's seven of us brothers and sisters. So consequently, there were always different types of music in my house. And I would have all these LPs, so I would just listen to stuff and Queen's Jazz got put on constantly.
“That whole record to me, sonically, it just felt like somebody picked me up and transported me to a different world. For all aspects, everyone that plays in that band.
“It made me feel so good at the time, my mum and dad were going through a divorce and a lot of these albums, I guess, played such an important role in diverting me from the stuff that was happening.
“They would just kind of transport me to a different place and at that record it's amazing. The songs are so well performed too. I think people say 'This song sounds great', but a lot of the time, it's because they've performed them so well."
3. UB40 Signing Off
“I remember my brother coming home with this record and actually looking at the the front cover, which is a picture of – I'm not sure what they call it now – but back then it was called a dole card for Jobseeker's Allowance.
“The card was from a place that I lived in called Mosley in Birmingham so first of all that fascinated me. It was so unglamorous. I was used to looking at glamorous sleeves, and then when I heard the record, I think it was possibly the first time I really felt a sense of – lyrically, anyway – there was a real meaning in there.
“First of all, I think it's a brilliant record. It really is a great record. And the songwriting, which no one would possibly ever give UB40 credit for, but that record, in my opinion, is is so well written lyrically.
“There's a song on there called Burden Of Shame. And it really is them them lyrics, you know, I'm a British subject, and I'm proud of it, that there was something in the lyrics that really, really touched me. I possibly couldn't explain why. But they did. And they really made me think.
“The whole sound of that record felt very much of where I'm from. Maybe it’s in your DNA of where you come from, I don't know, but I definitely connected with that. And it's still, it's still played a lot in my life."
4. Isaac Guillory - Solo (1990)
Isaac Guillory passed away some time ago, far too young. But he was a brilliant singer, songwriter – a really great guitar player. At the time I discovered him, I was playing a lot of guitar and I was listening to a lot of rock music like Rage Against the Machine, Pearl Jam, and so on.
“Isaac Guillory, represented something that was completely different to me. I'd just met my partner who I'm still with today, and we were very young. It became our album.
“I'd never really experienced music like that before and it really touched me in a in a different way. I thought his guitar playing was, and is incredible. The songs and his delivery were just brilliant. I went to see him a few times and met him a few times, actually and he was a lovely, lovely guy.
“But that record, I'd say it actually changed the way I played the guitar, and it definitely changed the way I thought about how songs were made. Because it was literally just a live record of him and an acoustic guitar.
“So I was always fascinated by that sound, but I always went towards the big riffs and the Jimmy Page kind of [rock] guitar playing. So the acoustic thing was always in me, but when I heard Isaac… I was very naive, is what I'm trying to say, musically!
“But when I heard that record, him and an acoustic guitar played so beautifully, it was a bit of a lightning bolt moment for me. It offered something else and sort of took me backwards, but in a in a forward motion. It made me listen a lot more.
“There's a song on my album called I'll Get Over Loving You which is, is definitely influenced by that stuff. Just an acoustic picking thing, very soft and melancholic. Don't get me wrong. I'm nowhere near as good as an acoustic guitar player as Isaac was. I do try and play a couple of his songs, probably really badly!"
5. Marvin Gaye – What's Going On (1971)
"I guess, growing up in such a large family with five brothers and two sisters, music, all different types of music were brought into my life. This record was around a lot and it completely blew my mind. It still does to this day.
“Probably for all the same reasons that it blows everyone else's minds. But I think Marvin had an ability to write songs that managed to drag something from you with a feeling you've never had before. It was the type of music that was so far away from my knowledge of music. It felt like it had come out of space to me. It was from a far away place. Especially the song Inner City Blues. That was a masterpiece.
“Lyrically, that whole record said so much, so beautifully, all wrapped up in this incredible imagination that he managed to put down on tape. It's sublime, and it's still a record that makes me go very quiet very quickly.
“To go from being this Motown guy on the pop roundabout and all of a sudden that record just went 'Bang!'. And here’s this guy really telling things how he'd seen it. I'm not going to pretend that I could possibly understand what it was like at the time, because I can't.
"But you do feel the sense that he showed you a slice of it on that record. Yeah, definitely. Yeah. And, you know, the stuff he's tackling and everything that was happening.
“I've never studied [soul guitar playing] in my life. But it's always been in me because I was such a huge fan of that music – if I play the guitar, I kind of play in that way. Possibly now, later on in my life, I play more like that. I think that comes from deep love of the blues. I think it's surprising how many musicians can tap into stuff without even knowing they're tapping into it at times."
6. Queens Of The Stone Age - Songs For The Deaf
"I was already a big Queens Of The Stone Age fan. I thought Rated R was a groundbreaking record. When I started my band at the time, which was Casino, we got approached by a lady who signed Queens, and she came over to a pub in Birmingham to watch us play. Then consequently flew us over to to America to do a kind of a demo really, for Interscope.
"We recorded this demo in Stevie Wonder's old studio, I think, somewhere in Hollywood. I might be wrong about that. But at the time Queens of the Stone Age were making songs for the Deaf upstairs with Eric Valentine. It might be in his studio at the time.
"We didn't speak to them at all, but we were kind of like, ‘Wow, what a great band'. Then a few months after, we were in the studio and we'd been given this CD. I remember putting that record on and everyone in the band was just sitting there, literally open-mouthed, looking each other going, 'Oh, no. What do we do now?' Like, it's time to give up. Because for me it was that good.
"Josh is so charismatic in his style and his execution, to have such a sweet vocal over such a powerful noise is just so intoxicating. At least it was for me anyway, and they're still one of my favourite bands. All of a sudden, rock music became sexy to me again, as opposed to the Limp Bizkit vibe at the time.
"I heard them and I was like, 'Wow, this sounds like a party' you know? I don't know if I want to be there! A part of me does. I want to be at the Queens of the Stone Age party, but I'm quite scared! I've been to see them quite a lot and they're just amazing. I love the whole approach. I love the love the artwork. I love the way that they do stuff, it's so refreshing and so artistic. Josh is just… one of the best I've ever heard."
7. Michael Jackson - Off the Wall (1979)
“I was young when this album was around. There was a room in my house where there was a record player, and I would go in there and dance, basically. I wasn't necessarily a very good dancer, but I would just literally dance all the time and Off The Wall was the record that used to just make me dance. I couldn't help myself!
“I'm sure it'd be hilarious to watch it back now. I'd put it on and all of a sudden I would just dance for the whole album. Turn it around, put the other side on it and carry on dancing to that. So that has some real special memories for me.
“It still feels so fresh and alive, and fun as a record. From my experience of making records, that's a pretty hard thing to get all that right. I know everyone talks about Thriller, and rightfully so, it's a work of genius.
“But for me Off The Wall is equally as important. Because it felt like he was still a little bit less refined and you can hear, he was out to prove it, man. He was out to do it and that record is absolutely slamming. More live, raw, it's a damn fine record."
8. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
“So, the Stereophonics we were on tour in America, I think it was 2013. We'd just played a great gig in Chicago and all kind of got back on the bus, as you do. We do this thing, we call it iPod Wars, where we all stick songs on, couple of drinks.
“We were doing it one night after a particularly good gig after a couple of drinks and doing that and our tour manager, who's a great guy, and really knows his music, he stuck the song, Giorgio By Moroder. It's the one where Giorgio Moroder is talking at the beginning and then this track kicks in after his vocal. And I was… that was it.
“I could not believe what was coming out of speakers, man. I was like, not only is it the past, it's also the present and the future. I was so happy to hear these noises coming out. I remember being so happy listening to it. Just saying to myself, 'Wow, this is so brilliant!'.
“It made me feel so great that I became completely hooked on the record. I mean, completely hooked. And you can definitely hear it in the first song on my record, What About Love and some other things. I'm not going to align myself to such greatness in that way. But it was definitely an influence.”
“Just them as an act, the whole thing, I love the mystery to it. It felt like every single thing that they did was really thought about in a great way. You can tell they've really gone so deep on it, and it really paid off. I just thought the whole record was a breath of fresh air."
9. The Smiths - Hatful Of Hollow (1984)
"I love The Smiths and so did a lot of my friends in school. So much so, that I was obsessed with buying secondhand clothes from a shop in Moseley called Houghton's. These clothes that were from the '30s and '40s. Basically, I just wanted to look like Morrissey, even though I didn't look anything like Morrissey, you know – I was not cool in the slightest.
“I could have picked any of The Smiths' records, but Hatful Of Hollow… when I heard this band and this record, the lyrics spoke so much to me. Growing up in Birmingham, it always felt rainy and cold and wet and hard at times. Morrissey's lyrics painted such a picture, and yet, at the same time – maybe it was the juxtaposition with Johnny's guitar – there was an element of some kind of hope and beauty in there too. Which is a definite thing with The Smiths.
“I think people just go 'Oh, it's The Smiths, they're miserable.' And it's the quite the opposite. It really is. He was just such a brilliant viewer of the times, I think. Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want is one of the best songs I've ever heard. There's so much emotion in there.
"Johnny and the band were equally as important. Johnny Marr's guitar playing… that man is a legend. No doubt. He's an amazing guitar player and a brilliant songwriter as well. But to have that sound as well. It painted such a picture of where I felt I was. They were a friend, they understood how I was kind of feeling, not knowing what I was going to do with my life and not much hope really.
“We played with Pearl Jam recently at Hyde Park, which was an incredible gig. Pearl Jam brought Johnny on for a song. He played like a solo and my god, it was incredible. To be able to just make that sound, it was incredibly impressive. I didn't meet him though. I'm not very good at meeting people. I always feel like I'm kind of bothering them,. you know? I always feel like, why would you want to meet me!"
10. Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath (1970)
I've got to finish with this Black Sabbath. And the album is Black Sabbath. First of all, nothing sounds like this record. It's so heavy. Every time I listen to this I feel like it just makes me want to sit down. It really makes me listen, I've never got bored of this album.
“Every time I listen to it, I still find so think about it and go 'Okay, that's interesting'. You've got a band just totally working together, making something that I don't think I'd ever heard before, anyway.
“Then you've got a guy singing over the top of it like Ozzy. Obviously, Ozzy Osbourne is rightfully a legend, but I don't think he really gets the credit as being such a brilliant singer, in my opinion. And just completely individual in every way. It's kind of like Brian May in a way, you can hear two seconds and you know, it's Ozzy.
“No one sounds like that. People kind of think of Ozzy Osbourne and think about biting heads of bats and the antics. But as a band, and people would probably correct me on this but I don't know of another band that that sounded like that, as far as I'm concerned. They had it dark.
“The other thing that people don't really give Sabbath credit for is their groove. They were grooving. They were such a cool band, the rhythm section was brilliant. All that slowing down and getting faster, that's really hard to do and they made it sound effortless. It didn't come from what people would consider to be rock now. They were an R&B/blues band really.
"There's always a part of me, obviously being a Brummie, there's an element of humour in Black Sabbath that I don't think most people would understand. Even the stories, like where they said, ‘Well, we didn't know what to call the band, so we looked out of the window and we'd seen Black Sabbath, with Boris Karloff. Well, that sounds like a good idea!’ And that's how easy it was, you know. I really related to that. It’s so kind of punk rock, really. I got to see them in a club in Birmingham and it was literally mind blowing.
"I love the way Tony phrases things. There was obviously a big jazz influence in Tony's playing. But I've always thought that his guitar playing is very subtle. The way that he uses the sound of the guitar, when you hear some of those riffs, they're not how people would play them. You play it in in the way that you think it is done but actually, he does it differently.
"He's very clever, such a brilliant guitar player. I know, that's an obvious thing to say. But I think, from my own point of view, there was an element of controlling the sound which I took from him. How to make something sound bigger by playing the same notes, but maybe in different places on the neck."
- Black Eyes Blue is released 23 March on Voice Of Vega Records via
Absolute. More info at adamzindani.com