INTERVIEW: ADAM MALONE (THE LONG COLD DARK)

Adam is my friend, my colleague in the creative writing world, one of my favorite musicians, and one of my favorite all around human beings. He has a worldly intelligence, a plethora of “hot takes”, a knack for irony and curiosity, a diverse array of musical talents, and can help almost anyone through any situation through his impeccable timing, and almost obnoxious brand of common sense.

The Long Cold Dark are a band we don’t visit too often here at the zine, but it’s not due to a lack of interest. Too often, we overlook the artists who have been here in the Buffalo-Rochester heavy music scene for over a decade, as we consistently strive to “stay with the times” when it comes to new, emerging artists. Consider the following interview just one more stepping stone in our quest to correct these periodic oversights:

1.) How long have you been with The Long Cold Dark and how did you first come to join them?

I am fortunate enough to have been with The Long Cold Dark since 2010. Which in hindsight seems impossibly long ago. I’ve enjoyed each of the twelve years I’ve been playing with Drew Celestino (Vocals, Guitar, Primary Songwriter) and Jason Oberg (Lead Guitar, Songwriter) and our assorted, almost Spinal Tap-esque, run of drummers (each of whom I’ve also enjoyed playing with, but more on that later). During those twelve years we have released three albums, the debut had been released before I joined, and played countless shows with so many bands I honestly do not think I could name them all.

I came to join The Long Cold Dark because the band I was drumming in at the time, Unholy Oath, was on a bill with them at Diablo. We were a new band at the time, so we were blessed with jerking the nicotine and booze stained curtain that night.

It was an awesome experience and fantastic show. After we played our set we stayed around to watch the others. At the time I was very unfamiliar with the local scene, so I was excited to check the other bands out. My fellow bandmates and I were getting after the booze with much vigor that night and when it came time for the last band, The Long Cold Dark got up on stage.

These fuckin’ guys got up there and blew us out of the water, as well as every other band that was on the bill that night, in my opinion. They were so tight, so well practiced, everything sounded perfect. Drew was a monster up there, kickin’ total ass on vocals and crushing his guitar parts. Jason was playing his ass off, flingin’ strings and breakin’ hearts, it was incredible. It felt like the air was alive with their songs. The rest of the crowd was loving them as much as I was and I was thinking, “Man, I hope we can get there some day, to these dudes’ level.” We were right up front, my bass player Alek and I, rockin’ out like madmen the whole time. It was wonderful. As soon as the last note hit and Drew said, “Thank you, goodnight!” at that exact moment in time is when the blackout hit from the aforementioned booze. I don’t remember anything from the rest of the night but I am fairly confident I would have told them, “Bro, you guys fuckin’ kicked ass bro.” or something to that effect.

The next day I woke up with whiplash like I’d been in a high speed automotive accident, and the rest of my body didn’t feel much better. The first thing I thought of when I woke up was, “Wow, that band was fucking AMAZING last night… what were they called?!” So I got on the computer machine and found them on Facebook and YouTube.

On their Facebook I saw they were looking for a bass player. I couldn’t believe it, didn’t they have one last night? Maybe the post was old and they’d since found one? Unsure, I decided to fire off a message to the band inquiring if they were still looking. They replied back, “Yes, we are.” The guy who played with them that night was Phil Boyle, a long time friend who lived in Cleveland and would drive all the way to Buffalo to help his friends out. (Phil is still involved with the band, he’s a class act.) Needless to say, my fists were pumping like pistons at the news; they indeed did need a bass player! They asked if I would be willing to try out. To which I replied, after a sufficient amount of time had passed since they messaged so I didn’t look crazy, “I’d love to.”

Now, time to learn the songs. I had never liked, and still don’t like, to show up for a tryout empty handed. I try like hell to learn as much of the band’s material as I can, even if I have to just write my own parts to play along with them, I want bands to know I take it seriously and put the time in to try to impress them. So, when a band this amazing wants me to try out, you bet your ass I put in the time and learned my ass off. The only issue was I couldn’t, and still can’t, figure out low tones by ear. Which is unfortunate for a bass player to say the least. So I set to studying their grainy, of the era, footage they had on YouTube. Luckily, the bass player in the videos was facing the camera much of the time and I could see his hands and go from that. The only problem? I didn’t own a bass. I was learning them on my guitar and quickly realized I had fucking NO idea what tuning they were in. I sent an additional message asking about their tuning and was told, “C-Standard.”

Now, you have to understand my bumpkin nature to get how wildly confused I was. I’m a hillbilly. I live in Amish paradise and have since I was a kid. The only tunings I’d ever used in my life were standard, and drop-d. I had NO idea what the fuck C-Standard meant. So I had to look it up online. Tune down TWO full steps?! Yeesh! The strings basically fell off my guitar tuning that low and I was quite frazzled. Learning them on my junk, First Act guitar wasn’t going to work, I needed to get a bass.

So, I called my bass player and great friend to this day Alek Potter and asked him if I could use his bass to try learning these songs. He agreed and I got to work. It was like a BC Rich style bass and wasn’t the best, but it worked the best for our punk/metal band. Tuning it that low for The Long Cold Dark sounded terrible, but at least I was on track. After a few weeks we arranged a proper audition in Buffalo.

I live an hour away from Buffalo so I had a wonderful ride up, freaking out that I was forgetting everything I’d learned, and I was going to blow it, and they’d never hire me, and fun thoughts. I get to practice and they’re all there and I’m the last in. I can hear them down in Drew’s then basement just kickin’ ass, AGAIN. It’s starting to seem like all these guys do is plug in and kick ass. I’m still feeling pretty confident in myself though, having learned these songs on my own. I think that’s honestly the only reason I got asked back with that Dollar General bass rig I showed up with, I had a couple songs down and the parts I didn’t I quickly picked up. I’m good about that, picking up the songs quickly.

The amp I was using was this old, dusty, fuzzy, and muddy sounding Carvin combo and coupled with the BC Rich Warlock thing it was dog-falling-down-stairs awful sounding. I could immediately tell I’d have to get new gear, ASAP. I wasn’t used to playing with guys who had that quality of gear, all my bands just had guitars and amps, not Gibsons and Mesa Boogies. When they asked if that was my only bass I could tell why they were asking and quickly lied, “This? Fuck no! Pfft, this is my beater I lug around sometimes…” They let me know that’s great, and that I should bring the one that doesn’t sound like a dog falling down a set of stairs next time. I agreed and quickly ran home to buy another, the LTD I still play with them today. I ordered a five string because at practice Drew asked if I had one, and I quickly lied, “Yeah, of course”. He told me to go ahead and bring that next time because instead of tuning down to C I can just tune half a step up and be in C standard with tighter tone and less wobble. So that’s exactly what I ordered. It wasn’t a very expensive bass, I think it was around $600, but it’s the only bass I like. I’ve tried countless others and they all suck compared to my bass, so that’s what I stick with to this day. I’m not sure I ever could get comfortable with another bass.

It ended up working out, I’m still with them twelve years later. They’re exceptional people and they push me, without knowing or intending, to be better every practice, every show. You’ve got to always try getting better so you don’t let each other down. They’re constantly improving in everything they do in the band so I have to follow suit and keep up. I will forever be thankful for them and the band itself. Without it I wouldn’t even be playing music in a band anymore and wouldn’t have been for the last eleven years. My other band, my baby, Unholy Oath, had dissolved a little over a year after I joined The Long Cold Dark. I wouldn’t have gotten to know any other bands from the city and where I live the pool of like-minded musicians is small enough to make a mud puddle blush.

It took me seven years to start feeling ownership of the band, despite being told to take it earlier. I never felt like it was really my band, more a band I was fortunate enough to be playing in. After a few albums recorded, countless shows played I started to feel like it was my band, and now it is my band. I’m exceptionally proud of my band. I’m proud of Drew for continuing to push himself as a songwriter and as a singer, I’m proud of Jason for bringing increasingly thoughtful and multifaceted leads, never getting comfortable with a style of play yet having everything he plays sound like him. I’m proud of us for the fact that here we are twelve years later and still going strong with the band sounding better than it ever has. We are each respectively the best at our jobs and perform them with more consistency than ever before. I don’t see that slowing or changing anytime soon. We’re just going to keep getting better. Every practice, every show.

2.) How did you get your start playing bass and what made you gravitate towards playing it over other instruments? Feel free to talk about your love of piano here as well. I’d love a brief segment about the lesser talked about instruments.

I got my start playing bass when I was 15. I had an electric guitar at the time and new kids moved to town. I taught them how to play guitar so we could jam together, but we needed more instruments so I got my parents to order me a bass as well, from Musician’s Friend, of course. It was a cherry red Sammick that sounded and played like a cinder block with strings right out of the box. I played it for around two months and never really touched it again. I didn’t touch bass again for over a decade after that, I used one to record the Unholy Oath songs, but other than that I didn’t play bass until I saw The Long Cold Dark needed a bass player. I’d have learned to play the ophilicide if that’s what the band needed me to learn to join them. I’ve since fallen in love with the instrument, I’ve gone from playing the guitar riffs on bass with the band to playing the bass along with the band, and it’s been a true joy. But yes, The Long Cold Dark is why I gravitated towards bass, no other reason.

What took my bass playing to the next level, for me, was learning piano. I’d always liked them, but never put in any time on them to learn how to play it. Piano, by its nature, is a linear instrument. Guitars are serpentine, so can be difficult to grasp fully without a good teacher or resources. Piano however, is just a straight line, low to high. Learning piano and its scales and then transferring that knowledge over to bass allowed a whole new world of playing and understanding to open up. I think everyone, regardless of age, should learn piano. It’s fun, easy, and will make you better at the other instruments you already play. If you don’t play any other instruments, go ahead and learn piano anyway, you’ll be able to play all the other instruments after you learn it.

3.) Talk about your first bass guitar and your first bass amp, even if it was a little practice amp or something.

My first bass was that beautiful, cherry red Sammick cinder block I mentioned earlier. I honestly wish I still had it. My first bass amp was the one I got for The Long Cold Dark when they asked if I had a bass amp and I’m like, “….yeah” and ran home to order one. Before that I just played through my guitar amp and thought I was beating the system by getting a two for one. Turns out, you’re not. They actually ARE different. What a world. Also, they still claim instrument and speaker cables are two different things and I don’t know what they’re talking about, but I listen and buy TWO different types of the same cable. What a world!

4.) Talk about the gear you love.

The only gear I have that I honestly love is my LTD B5E bass. I don’t know what I would do if I lost it or it was stolen, just buy a used one and hope it fits the same. I’ve tried countless other makes and models since then, and none fit and play like my bass does. So, I stick with what works. For guitars, electric and acoustic, I’m a big Fender mark. I think they make the best stuff and the price ain’t half bad either. I’m not a gear head, whatsoever. I would come home with a Line 6, beaming, showing how it has an INSANE setting. I’m just happy when my gear all works. When my stuff works, that’s the gear I love.

5.) Talk about how your live set up has evolved over the years.

My live set-up has changed a lot over the years, and it’s continually getting smaller. I used to have a big rack unit. It had a tuner, compressor, cool light bar that I never used (I’m not sure anyone has ever used them to be honest), all kinds of gadgets, as well as my 4×10 cab and my 1×15 cab so I could have the ULTIMATE power. Nowadays, I just bring my bass, my Boss bass overdrive and tuner, and my head. I run straight DI, no stage volume whatsoever. I know the songs, I don’t need to hear myself, I need to hear my bandmates. So, it’s become much more manageable.

I’d like to get it to where I don’t even have to show up anymore and we have a robot who does it for me, that’s something Phil can get to work on. (Phil Boyle is the guy who’d drive from Cleveland to cover for the band and has since made the drive to play with us, record our sets, hang out, remind me what the first note of Atlas is, etc. He’s an all around great guy and honorary member who will always be a member. He is also very smart and could build my bass robot in an afternoon, I’m sure. I’ll call him after this interview to get to work on it.)

6.) List off every active band you’ve ever been a part of in Chronological order.

Since joining The Long Cold Dark I’ve gone on to be a bit of a full time or fill-in bass guy in the area for a number of exceptional bands, as well as sit on on piano for a few. The first was The Barry Brothers. They were fronted by Pat Barry. He’s a fantastic singer, and the band was super super fun while it lasted. We got to play some MASSIVE shows, including one in Fillmore, the next town over from me, where we shut the street down and there were more people there than about at any gig I’ve ever played, it was just a sea of bodies that went on and on forever. They were a blues influenced rock band, great guys who wrote great songs and played them well.

After that I got to play with my favorite band, Dredneks. I’m good friends with them all still and would gladly sit in again on bass if ever needed. Grant Emeigh, Dredneks’ mastermind and frontman, is a great friend and I’m blessed to have him as a friend. He’s helped me out in more ways than I could possibly list here, from driving me home from the hospital after an operation, to running sound (free of charge because he’s a wonderful human being) at my Centerville Showdown shows I do annually out in the sticks. He’s an all around stand up guy. He has a guest vocals spot on “Guns, Guns, Guns” a track from The Long Cold Dark’s newest record, There Are No Answers.

I also got to play bass with The Leroy Townes Band. They are such a great band I honestly am still shocked they wanted me up there with them. Leroy Townes, the singer, is such a gifted songwriter and singer. He will send me recordings that he makes on his porch of him with his acoustic, showing me song ideas, and they’re so staggeringly good it almost makes me cry at times; that I know this living human who writes songs like that and records them on his phone to send me. Usually you only hear songs like that on dusty old vinyls at your grandparent’s house.

After that I got to join up with the charming lads in Eyes Of The Blind, another heavy Buffalo band. Their band kind of defies genre and is best classified, I think, as a heavy rock with pop sensibilities. They’re all super fun to play and work with, just didn’t work out with schedules and drive distance. I have a lot of awesome memories with them, we filmed my only music video I’ve been a part of to date in my barn and the video turned out great and I’ll remember that day the rest of my life. (Hope you’re properly hydrated by now, Colin!)

On other instruments, I’ve gotten to play piano with the HIGHLY underrated Wyatt Coin. They deem themselves Cow Punk, as a genre, and I wholeheartedly agree. They are great songwriters and playing with them was a riot. I hope to do it again one of these days. If you have a chance go check out their tune, “Lights Out! Kill The Noise”. It could be a top 40 song on any radio station in America. Go see them live, go buy their shirts, go buy their records, they’re a great band and tend to fly under the radar like a stealth bomber.

7.) Discuss the most memorable local shows.

Most memorable local show? That is an easy one. We got to play with fucking GWAR at Town Ballroom. I still can’t believe we got to do that. If I told myself when I was a kid first receiving that cinder block bass that fateful day, that in twenty years I’d be playing bass at Town Ballroom with GWAR, I would have thought it literally impossible. It was such a unique, memorable day.

We arrived at Town Ballroom super early, before scheduled load in. The Long Cold Dark has always been a very professional band, it’s one of the things I respect most about the guys, their respect for the business, promoters, and venues. We are there on time, and off the stage so fast your head will spin, every time. So we arrive hours early and are just kinda hanging out inside the venue, getting a feel for the place and getting comfortable. The Town Ballroom can be a weird place when you’re there and it’s empty. It feels like it should be full of life. I would round corners expecting to see an ocean of people and was instead greeted by a sparse, almost lonely expanse of dirty floors and dingy walls. The bartenders were there early as well, toiling away behind their counters wiping endless at spots only they could see.

There were these old skater-looking roadie dudes lugging gear around near the stage area, so I offered to help. I explained I was picked to open that night, beaming like a goof I’m sure. We smoked a few joints together out back. They were the coolest road crew ever! I could get into this roadie business. I asked what it was like getting to travel with a national act like GWAR and set up at all these cool venues around the country. They just kinda smirked and said it was cool. Man, these roadies are cool as a cucumber.

Only, they weren’t the road crew. It was GWAR. Outside of their costumes. Watching them soundcheck in street clothes after they made themselves known was such a surreal moment. They were one of the nicest, most down to earth bands I’ve ever played with, including locals. Those guys had zero ego and were awesome. Really glad to have had that opportunity. After our set I went out into the crowd for my first ever GWAR show. It was great. I think that’s part of why we got along so well, I don’t care about GWAR. I respect them for their accomplishments, but that’s about it. I think they appreciated that, having someone who didn’t fanboy or ask for a picture, and instead just treated them like anyone else.

8.) Discuss your most memorable out of town experiences performing with The Long Cold Dark or really any band you’ve been a part of. What made the experience so noteworthy?

Most memorable out of town show for me is hands down getting to be direct support for The Devin Townsend Project in Cleveland, Ohio. It was at a club called Peabody’s. Really neat venue, it was divided into two halves, with two stages, to cut down on change over time. We got to be on the same stage as The Devin Townsend Project unlike the other local act who was on the bill. That was a wonderful feeling and I was super happy for Drew and Jason for the chance to literally share the stage with him because they’ve been fans of his much, much longer than I had been. I would have been bummed, for them, had they put us on the other stage.

But no, we were treated as a main event ticket that night. Phil Boyle got us that gig, because he’s a class act as mentioned before. It was a great experience for us as a whole because Devin Townsend’s work is one of The Long Cold Dark’s early, chief influences. It was a great show and he was nice to everyone, including my friend and Unholy Oath frontman I had brought along, Johnny D, who was just thinking, “Man, I smoked this shit now I’m standing next to Devin Townsend.” It’s worth noting Devin was nice to Jon because Jon can make people nervous with his genuine lack of ability to give a shit about what you think, and famous people sometimes don’t take that well.

9.) List off, or promote any and all upcoming shows you have in the works that you’re allowed to talk about.

On September 17th, 2022 in beautiful Centerville, New York, The Long Cold Dark will be playing my annual ‘Centerville Showdown’ event at the Centerville Memorial Fire Department. This is the fourth or fifth year doing it, the first was in 2010 and then I took an extended break on them until 2017 I believe, maybe 2016. The show is my hair-brained idea and contribution to the community. For the longest time, to personally get people to shows, you have to convince your friends to drive over an hour away, then drive back home afterwards. It’s a hard sell, yet I somehow sold it and continue to for the band.

To pay my friends and hometown back for supporting me so strongly like they do I devised ‘Centerville Showdown’. The idea is to bring an eclectic mix of bands and have them all on one bill. It’s like a miniature, hay-seeded Woodstock, in premise. I don’t book a metal show, or a rock show, or a country show. I have country bands play side by side with a punk band who then lead into a folk duo who pound the ground smooth again for The Long Cold Dark to follow them and leave the crowd exhausted for Dredneks to get up there and knock the crowd flat.

They’re honestly my favorite shows to play, and not because they’re my shows. The mix of genres and the crowd of my friends and the locals who are so appreciative that the bands take the time to come out and play, it’s just the best. It’s such a fun, carefree and wild night for all involved. This year I am so happy and excited about the line up. A few changes from the norm, but it’ll be fantastic, promise.

The line up consists of; The Speakeasy Incident (classic rock cover band), Tough Old Bird (acoustic homespun duo, unreasonably good, check them out), Crop Circle Worship (a new project from Grant Emeigh of Dredneks fame), Wyatt Coin (Cow Punk), Shallow Teeth (Buffalo Based Hardcore/Metal), and yours truly, The Long Cold Dark.

The show starts at 6pm sharp, which isn’t true. I have the first band start at 6:15 and just tell the crowd at 6pm to safeguard against those fashionably late. Dan Preston of Southern Tier Beef will once again be providing the food with his farm fresh beef (and veggies!) that are raised literally across the street from where the bands will be playing. Just pastoral farmland, a few Amish, and a whole lot of my rowdy friends having a great time together. I can’t wait!

10.) Looking back at your career, talk about the drummers you’ve jammed with going back to your very beginnings as a musician. Discuss the drummers you feel pushed you to enhance your playing, or who just had a great dynamic with you in a band setting.

This will be another long answer, would be a good time to change the tape in your recorder. (Think, Lestat.)

The only drummers I’ve ever played with are those I’ve played with in The Long Cold Dark. Honestly, if I’m lyin’ I’m flyin’ and my feet ain’t left the ground, I have enjoyed playing with each and every one of them, in different ways. As mentioned much earlier, we have an almost Spinal Tap-esque relationship with drummers. We get along with them all, none have ever been fired, it just doesn’t work out for one reason or another. But, unlike Spinal Tap we still get to have friendly conversation with our old drummers.

First up would be Mitch Krieger. He was the drummer for The Long Cold Dark when I had joined the band. He was with us up through the recording of our sophomore album, The Inner Workings Of Infinity. When I was first trying out and practicing with the band he was so nice and welcoming. He made me feel comfortable immediately. Mitch had the nicest looking drum kit I’ve still ever seen out to this day. Every time I saw it it looked brand spanking new. That dude knew how to care for his gear, good grief. He was also an incredibly tight and focused drummer. He never fucked up. Ever. Even at practice, he was perfect all the time. Never missed a beat, never dropped a drumstick, never hit a phrase early. Nothing. He is the man who got me used to playing with a drummer. Before that I had only ever played to a metronome when recording the Unholy Oath tracks. So to learn to do it live with the feeling of the moment, I couldn’t have had a better drummer to work with. He lives in Nashville now and is doing well. He just came to town recently for the Metallica show that was in August of 2022, I just didn’t have a chance to link up with him but from what I gather he’s doing great and pleased with his lot in life.

Next in line was Trooper Dan. He joined us in time to play The Inner Workings Of Infinity release show. He was a great drummer, inspired by the hair metal bands of the 80s. Which meant he had a totally different approach for the idea of how the songs should be played than Mitch had. We like to allow our drummers freedom to make the songs their own, but also keep the important ‘song defining’ parts and phrases intact. Dan was a workhorse for us. He never couldn’t make a gig, he pulled his weight, and helped us carry ours in and out of the venue. He gave us plenty of time to find a replacement when he was winding down his tenure, which made the transition nice and easy. Thanks, Dan!

Next up we had the incomparable Collin Folger. Collin was and remains the most unique of the bunch. His drumming style is completely his own. He plays with a lot of jazz influence mixed with the more aggressive, straight forward metal drumming we were used to. I like to think he pushed us all as a band to think outside the box a little and as a result we wrote and recorded our third album, Captive Audience, with him behind the kit. It is a bit unique, I think, in our catalog as a result. A lot of the riffs evolved around his style of playing and I don’t think we would have written that album with anyone else drumming for us. He’s a fantastic drummer, worth looking into whatever band and project he has going, because it’ll kick ass for sure. I got to go watch the project he was in after The Long Cold Dark, a three-piece band called Squach and they were fucking incredible.

That brings us to where we are today, with Zack Del Moral. He is actually the band’s first drummer. He can be seen behind the kit in the grainy, of the era videos I used to learn how to play the songs for that first practice. I don’t mean to play favorites but he genuinely is my favorite to play with, and not just because he’s our current drummer. He understands the songs at a fundamental level and plays drums to the songs instead of trying to play the drums in the song. It may sound confusing when I word it like that, but it’s the difference between talking to someone versus talking at someone. He plays to the song the same way I play to the song. We aren’t playing along to the guitar riffs, we’re playing along with the guitar riffs. They might be strumming thirty second notes on guitar, but maybe I’m playing sixteenth notes and he’s playing eighth notes, or vice versa. It creates a dynamic that in my opinion breathes more life into the songs than ever before. Zack’s drumming is one of the key reasons I think we as a band, The Long Cold Dark, sound better than ever.

11.) Who is your favorite bassist of all time and why?

Martyn P. Casey. He plays bass for Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds as well as Grinderman. The reason he is my favorite is because he informed my song writing approach. Instead of following along with the guitars, or another instrument in the song, he simply plays bass with them. That may sound like what everyone does, but usually people will play the song on bass, not play bass with the song. I always want to play bass with the song, not play the song on bass. He’s the rock in the center of the hurricane and I hope to get there one day myself.

12.) Breaking away from music for a second, How is the creative literary writing come along? Have you any new updates there that you’re allowed to discuss?

Writing still is and always will be a passion of mine. I’m closing in on a word count of 120k of Life In Consternation. I hope to get another 10k into it then start revising it and whittle it back down to a strong 90-100k. I’m very pleased with how it’s progressing and look forward to sending you a completed copy, Mike. For side exercises I’ve been writing stories within the world of Fallout video games. Nothing involving characters from the games, just the wonderful post apocalyptic setting and the 50’s futurism look. Great world to play in and stretch the old muscles.

Thanks for reading! To purchase a physical copy of this interview in our September ’22 ALL-RHYTHM edition, click here.

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