ADULT. is currently in a car, making the long trek from Detroit to New York where they’re scheduled to obliterate Verboten’s stage. Just a blink ago the duo of Adam Lee Miller and Nicola Kuperus were in Asheville for Moogfest, joining waveform pioneers like Giorgio Moroder, Keith Emerson, Chic, and Dan Deacon in all-out synth-worship. Their approach to that instrument is everything to their sound; melodies are twisted off of their tonal centers and made to grind each other in dirty, unspeakable ways. No wonder they chose that band name…
All told, it would be unfair to classify the pair as just musicians. Through their distinct videography and imagery, they have created a stark aesthetic for ADULT. that fixates on human frailty and often veers into violent territory. They’ve been at it for about 16 years now, boasting 5 albums and about 16 EPs, making for an impressive legacy in underground culture.
As ADULT. barrels towards Brooklyn, Kuperus has been kind enough to answer a handful of burning questions…
On The Way Things Fall, you guys kept a lot of your detuned synth aesthetic intact, but it seems you’ve also shifted towards catchier, less dissonant songs. What inspired the changes on this album, and how have they been received?
Each record we make has a different approach or theme. We of course want to have elements that are consistent that says this is an ADULT. album, but not that each one sounds like the last. When we began working on The Way Things Fall we had just come out of doing construction work for the past 3 years. We were listening to a lot of Pet Shop Boys / Depeche Mode / New Order. When you’re working your body that hard all day you really want to hear music that keeps you motivated and helps keep you in a good mood. Why Bother?
Our last album was horror themed. It was a bit harsh. Talked about serial killers and herd mentality. But that was 2008, and we were burnt out and pissed off. When we started The Way Things Fall, it was really private. It was like a cleaning out of the closet and coming back to where we started in a way. It’s a very sentimental album. I think the lyrics are also quite beautiful at times.
As for how the album has been received? It’s impossible to have a perspective on that. It’s not really for us to judge and frankly, we try not to pay too much attention.
A very fat, analogue synth sound has been pretty integral throughout your career. How, if at all, has your live setup changed over these past 15 years?
It’s changed so many times it’s ridiculous! I will say we are the most happy we’ve been in our 17 years with our live set up. As a 2 person band with no tour budget you have to get pretty clever with what you pack and tour with, especially when touring Europe. Last year we changed our live gear to a Dave Smith Mopho X4, a MOOG Slim phatty, and a sampling keyboard. We can get alot of sound out of these 3 devices and they are incredibly sturdy, light weight machines. It’s really fantastic!
Do you guys have a favorite piece of equipment to use?
We’ve been collecting analog gear since 1996. As for the favorite? It’s always changing. Really depends what mood we are in and what we are working on. Right now, TR-808! Although, we just got a Mooger Fogger FreqBox MF-107 at MOOGfest that is pretty wicked!
You guys are a happily married couple, but a lot of the lyrics seem to be about romantic turmoil. What about your relationship history(s) makes it such fertile ground for exploration?
The lyrics never have anything to do with our relationship. That would be too obvious. The lyrics are observations turned poetic.
There is a remarkable cohesion between Nicola’s imagery and the music you guys make. Do the songs usually inspire the photos and videos that are taken with them, or is it the other way around?
There’s no exact method for what inspires what. We are both visual artist and musicians so everything merges and affects one another. It is all inseparable.
Speaking of shifts, you guys have been on Thrill Jockey records for the majority of your career. How are things different now that you’re with Ghostly?
Actually, our first 2 albums along with a handful of 12s were on our own label Ersatz Audio. Our 3rd and 4th album on Thrill Jockey. Thrill Jockey is an amazing label as is Ghostly. We are on Ghostly right now because they really wanted to do the rerelease of Resuscitation and then it was a natural progression to do the full length with them.