Please Give this Man Money: Adam WarRock’s Donation Drive

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Adam WarRock at the NOC. I mean, just look at the tag cloud at the right of this page. “Adam WarRock” is almost as big as “Batman.” Maybe that should be the title of his next album: Bigger Than Batman.

Anyway, today is the anniversary of the day he decided to quit his day job and be a rapper full-time. He’s marked this occasion every year by doing an annual Donation Drive to fund all of the awesome (and mostly free) music that he puts out on the internet all the time. So if you enjoy free Adam WarRock music, you should make a pledge. And like PBS, you’ll even get some swag just for doing so! (No tote bags, though. Just more music).

In conjunction with the kick-off to another donation drive, Eugene (that’s his not-so-secret identity) and I chatted about all the music he’s released and touring he’s done this past year and what you can expect from him in the next one and beyond. Plus, we talk about House of Cards and X-Men. But just a little.

BkEsBvyCUAA_LB-.jpg largeKeith: First, I am so bummed I didn’t get a chance to catch your show at the Sidebar in Baltimore. But I’ve been listening to the album and pretending I was there! I know you weren’t feeling well during the show — can’t tell on the record, though. Other than that, how was it?
Eugene: It was great! We had a really great turnout, and the show went really well, and I think the live album captures that. Other than me immediately leaving the show after the set was done, and puking my guts up in the hotel room, it was a smashing success.

Were there any tracks you performed that didn’t make the album? If so, will you eventually release them, or are they horrible?
No, we performed all the tracks we rehearsed, except for “Paragon Renegade” from my Mass Effect EP, which was cut because I knew I was getting sicker and sicker, and had to cut a song for me to survive.

I know you’re close with the Super Art Fight guys — who basically make up At Risk Teens, right?
Jamie, the guitarist/violinist, and Erin, the bassist, are a part of SAF, and Johnny is basically SAF family.

What was it like to do a show with an actual band behind you instead of just you and your laptop on stage?
It was a bit nerve-wracking. A lot of things to think about, not having the comfort of knowing exactly how the beats would go. But it was also great — so exciting to feel like there was a living element of the music with me, and sometimes they’d surprise me with something. When we started rehearsing it, I had no idea Jamie had that themed riff for “Magneto Was Right” in there. He had just planned that out on his own.

It makes sense that this live album is the big prize for fans who donate since touring was such a big part of your life this past year or so. Any shows stand out in particular?
I think I did something like almost 50 shows from December through April. It’s hard to really pick out highlights. Tribe One and I did a great show in NYC with Schaffer the Darklord that went over really well. And Seattle was a pretty huge show full of a lot of old friends — like Beefy and Death*Star — that we don’t get to see very often. And then having Tribe and Mikal kHill push my car out of 18 inches of snow when we got snowed-in in New Hampshire was pretty memorable. Just the fact that we never died during one of the worst winters in recent memory while driving around in a Sentra or Accent is pretty memorable.

Was it always the plan to do a live album as your Donation Drive giveaway?
I have to keep coming up with new ways to make the rewards fun. So a live band album was kind of a thing I’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t done before. Eventually, I will run out of ideas, and will have to do ridiculous stunts. I’m not sure what I’ll do next year. I’m already stressing out about it.

What other things are you doing to support this year’s drive?
There’s a new mixtape album, and Super Art Fight is doing a pin-up gallery of art based on some of my more popular songs. Mostly, the live band album and new mixtape are the focus of the rewards, and as always, I’ll be releasing new music all week free to everyone, to celebrate another year of full-time music.

Cover art by Randall Trang

Let’s talk more about the Drive. How many years have you been doing this now?
This is my fourth annual Donation Drive, and it initially began just as a way to sort of raise money to keep the site’s hosting costs and get some merch made. As the years went by, more people donated, and it sort of grew to what it is today, to where it makes up a third to half of my annual income, period.

You’re like Kickstarter before there was Kickstarter. Speaking of which, have you ever considered using Kickstarter?
I love Kickstarter. I back a ton of Kickstarter projects, but I just don’t like the idea of tiered rewards. I don’t like the idea that it’s for a specific project (i.e. an album, a video, etc.). I release so much free music, that it’s mostly just a way for people to donate to keep the site alive. I never let people donate at any other time during the year, and I get more emails than you’d expect of people basically angry at me, asking me “How can I give you money?” I guess that’s what happens when you release almost 600 free songs in the process of four or five years. People feel guilty.

Would you ever just release less free music or add paywalls to the site?
Not really. I tend to approach my site the same way I approach other sites: as a general Internet consumer. I hate paywalls. I hate sites where you have to put in some code to download it or whatever. Hell, I hate when an article is more than one webpage and you have to click “Next Page.” I am the worst kind of privileged Internet user, and think things should be free. So I want my site to reflect that. I am 99.99999% certain that the site will always be free. I don’t even put ads on my YouTube channel– unless YouTube just does it automatically.

Switching gears a little, I always get a kick out of seeing my friends on TV and recently, I saw you on TV! How did you get on Jim Rash’s Sundance show? Did you record that House of Cards video specifically for the show?
I got contacted by a producer of The Writer’s Room, and they asked me if I’d be interested in doing a video to show the fan culture behind House of Cards. Being on TV is kind of a huge thing, something I never thought would be possible, so for me it was a real treat.

PS, does season 2 of House of Cards get any better? I only got through four episodes or so and was bored to death.
It does get better, if you like melodrama. I’m a huge political wonk, so I love the rompish style of the show.

What’s cooking beyond the Donation Drive?
At some point I will have to work on my next album, I suppose. So hopefully I can have some progress on that. And in the fall, I’ll be joining with a charity organization to do a 24 Hour Rap-A-Thon, so look for that. Other than that, some changes in my personal life will be coming, but the music at the site will always be flowing. I don’t plan on stopping that anytime soon.

What happened to reviewing all those old X-Men comics? You only got 19 issues in! There are 60 more!! What are you doing with all your time?
I had to stop at the Revanche storyline, because a) I started touring, and b) it was so bad I couldn’t bear to keep reading it again.

Lastly, can we get a second verse for the Hard N.O.C. Life theme song?
If Chops is down, I am down.

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