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Jason Adams Ladbroke Interview

March 14, 2017

Jason Adams Devium USA Ladbroke Tee

INTERVIEW KEVIN WILKINS
PHOTOGRAPHY JAI TANJU

Generally, we go with what we know and then fill in the blanks with what’s on hand.

Jason Adams’ process is a mixture of cutting, painting, appropriation, and whatever, and is not at all immune from knowing or going. His obsessions with skateboarding, punk rock, and their arty intersections—in this case, The Clash and their influence on Jason’s daily grind—have led the way for him, and many others, for decades. But the output of all that knowing is often as unexpected as it is necessary.

As our quick convo with The Kid illustrates, not knowing walks hand-in-hand with the familiar and the recognizable, no matter what we think we know or where we think we want to go.

Explain how you get to a point where you realize something’s happening the way you want it to. Not just with the painting you did for the Ladbroke Tee, but with other stuff. When do you realize, “Oh. This is gonna work out.”

There’s always gotta be some sort of drive to get me interested. There’s gotta be something, because it’s easy for me to lose interest in anything … quickly.

You’re saying that there has to be something to draw you to it?

Not only to draw me to it, but to drive me through the whole process. And the process that I’ve figured out is very long due to the fact that I’m not very talented. Some people can be like, “Oh, this is awesome. I’ll just pen this out or brush this out.” But for me it’s a very long process to produce something that’s actually worth looking at.

So with this piece, for one, it’s Paul Simonon. And he’s from The Clash, which, over the years, has been one of my biggest influences. I think they’re the greatest rock and roll band of all time—the music, the angle, the message, everything. I’ve done a lot of images of Joe Strummer, but I don’t know exactly how I came across this image of Paul to recreate. I think I was looking into his artwork—his painting. I’m always curious about the people who influence me, like, what do they do? What are they about? I like finding inspiration in humans. That’s what interests me. Some artists are like, “Oh! This sunscape!” Or they’re into composition. I like people. People are interesting to me. So when I came across the image of Paul, I thought it would make a great picture … one of my pictures. I just sat on it for a while, and when it came time to do it, I cut a stencil and made a painting.

It really comes down to The Clash and then it goes to me asking, “Who are these people in The Clash?” And then it’s like, “Oh, Paul Simonon is a painter?” I don’t know. The older I get, the less opinion I have on anything. I’m just like, “I don’t really know what happened.”

I’ve done a lot of images of Joe Strummer, but I don’t know exactly how I came across this image of Paul to recreate. I think I was looking into his artwork—his painting. I’m always curious about the people who influence me, like, what do they do? What are they about? I like finding inspiration in humans. That’s what interests me.

For me, The Clash was always Joe Strummer and Paul was a background guy.

It’s always Joe Strummer!

But Paul is the guy smashing his bass on the cover of London Calling.

Yeah, that’s him. I got so into The Clash for a while. It was like my religion. This was a while ago, like maybe fifteen years ago. I was so into it. I wanted to know everything about them. I wanted to know what they were all about. I watched The Clash documentary Westway to the World and the Joe Strummer documentary The Future is Unwritten. That’s when I found out that Paul Simonon had such a huge influence on the band. He was the guy who brought in the reggae influence.

He brought the reggae rhythms to The Clash?

Kinda, yeah. Not saying they didn’t know about it or they didn’t like it, but he was the guy who was like, “This is what I’m about.” And he was also the guy who created their aesthetic—what they wore, their stage design, and things like that. And a lot of that came from reggae. They were recreating reggae that they could relate to.

On a side note, one thing that I think was great about The Clash, was the fact that you have Paul Simonon growing up in the Brixton area with Jamaicans and reggae; you have Joe Strummer who was into Woody Guthrie, folk music, and a bit of rockabilly; and then you have Mick Jones who loved the New York Dolls and just basically wanted to be a rock star. And that combination is what made them great—they all could get together. They all somehow jived and it was all inspired by punk rock. It was a beautiful thing.

I like the idea that it might have all been a giant art project.

Yeah, except I think Mick Jones really wanted to be a big-time rock star. I don’t know. They probably all wanted that, but yeah, it was an art project. I watched this little documentary recently about Black Flag The Art Of Punk – Black Flag, and people were like, “Black Flag was a fucking art rock band.” No wonder I like them.

Supposedly, Paul Simonon came up with the name for The Clash, too.

He really was a key … those three were like … you couldn’t do it without the three. But it’s kinda cool sometimes to do something out of the norm. ’Cause everyone wants to go, “Joe Strummer, Joe Strummer, Joe Strummer.” And even though I would tattoo Joe Strummer on my heart, I like the idea of being, “You know, Paul was important as well.”

... everyone wants to go, “Joe Strummer, Joe Strummer, Joe Strummer.” And even though I would tattoo Joe Strummer on my heart, I like the idea of being, “You know, Paul was important as well.”

I like, too, that he wasn’t the guy up front. To know anything about Paul, you have to do a little excavation.  

The way I look at it is all these pieces of a puzzle. You have Mick Jones; when it comes to music, he really knows how to put music together. You have Joe Strummer who’s a great front man and he’s got great lyrics because he’s kind of a philosopher. He can’t really sing, but that doesn’t matter because it’s rock and roll. And then you have Paul Simonon who brings in these other cultures, and he’s good looking so that’s totally helpful, and he was an art student.

It’s just so interesting when you start looking at putting everything together and the magic that happened. I don’t know. I was just obsessed with The Clash for a while. Super obsessed. Fucking insanely obsessed. And I made a lot of paintings of them. A majority of them were Joe Strummer, but then I just kinda branched out.

I look at The Clash, even though they were a punk rock band and a rock and roll band, to me, they were kind of like a folk band. It was Joe writing songs about how he saw life. It was influenced by just living. It wasn’t glamorous. It was about what was happening. It was no different than Johnny Cash or Woody Guthrie or Bob Dylan. I always felt like The Clash was the punk rock/rock and roll version of all those people put together.

The Paul thing is just like, let’s branch out. I kinda always thought that he didn’t get what he deserved. Not that me making a painting is going to influence anything at all, but it was like, let’s do something different. Let’s branch out.

The Paul thing is just like, let’s branch out. I kinda always thought that he didn’t get what he deserved. Not that me making a painting is going to influence anything at all, but it was like, let’s do something different. Let’s branch out.

Jason Adams Devium USA Ladbroke Tee

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