By Nicole Hanratty
Posted June 9, 2013
Cosmic Suckerpunch, drummer Adam Timmerman may never miss another interview for the rest of his life. Aside from his band mates trying to pick an unfitting song title to describe his personality and a debate about which kind of ice cream is his favorite (for the record, it’s coffee), the poor guy had to endure endless teasing about allegedly being in the band. Being the superb negotiator that he is, Adam arranged a makeup interview in exchange for giving me a drum lesson.
Somehow the other band members knew this would be a humorous afternoon and decided to show up and catch the entire debacle on film. Watch some highlights of Adam Timmerman–who teaches at the School of Rock Fairfax in Los Angeles–attempting to teach me basic coordination, a near impossible task.
Adam Timmerman teaching Nicole Hanratty to play drums (sort of) on YouTube Music Videos
All fun aside, I get to the heart of the guy setting the beat for the band. When not on the road with Cosmic Suckerpunch–the psychedelic rock band is set to heat up the LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL music festival in Las Vegas this October–Adam teaches others how to make music. He shows me his office which includes a signed poster of Fall Out Boy whom he met on the Warped Tour “way back in the day” and an Anberlin poster whom he notes is his favorite band. He also has a Beatles sign and he tells me John Lennon is his favorite. A Cosmic Suckerpunch CD sits next to it in perfect fashion posing the emerging band next to its’ dreams of success.
My main goal for the day is to break a stick so Adam gets me a worn out pair to increase my odds. I ask him what happens when a stick breaks during a set and Adam says he has to be prepared for that on stage. “I’ve hit them several times in the back with a broken drum stick and I just have to like quickly pick up another one.” Then admits, “I know when one is about to break and I usually drop it out, but if like there’s one that’s about to break, I break it a little bit more and sometimes, yeah, I aim at them.”
While I’m still calling him Adam, Sébastien and Ari call him “Tizz” (along with other variations). Cosmic Suckerpunch is family and their long hours on the road together show as they finish each others sentences and exchange thoughts in a glance. It’s not just my observation either. Adam says, “You’ll definitely see it, but I’m like the little brother in the band, they always give me shit and pick on me a lot, and I don’t know what it is about me.” Poor Tizzwald.
At 26, this cute boy is every girl’s dream. Adam is focussed, good-hearted, sincere, and a talented Berklee College of Music graduate. He wears his heart on his sleeve and a broken hearted tattoo on his back, a remnant from an emo phase he went through at the age of 18.
Playing drums since he was eight years old, he looks at home behind his set. I comment on his extra strong forearm muscles and tell him it looks like he’s been scooping a lot of ice cream. He laughs, “Something like that. No, it’s from drumming.”
We hit high hats and cymbals, snares and talk muscle memory. My right foot is supposed to play my bass drum or kick drum, but it’s hard to do in heels. Adam laughs, “I’ve never had anyone play with heels before.” “I wasn’t supposed to wear heels?” I ask. I was clear on the “don’t wear a dress” instructions opting for shorts instead but the shoes never came up so instead they came off.
With my legs straddling the drums, Adam says, “And now you see why you don’t wear a dress. (Laughing) You’d totally just be flashing everybody right now.” “Not necessarily the worst thing in the world for everybody,” Ari says who’s sitting across from me. The banter is comforting and makes me feel like part of the group. But I tease back in my admonishing voice, “I think we’re having a G rated day.” “Yeah. We’re in the School of Rock, come on.” Adam takes my side and is probably happy for once not to be the one on the hot seat. “Okay, well, you know. Exceptions. It’s rock,” says Ari. This time Adam agrees with Ari. The conversation devolves into a story about an oversized kilt wearing drummer with nothing underneath and I begin to wish I’d brought Lysol.
I resist the urge to douse my seat with Purell and instead ask Adam about making mistakes during a live show. “Every situation you get into with a live show, you get faced with a certain set of challenges, from different stages to maybe your set is about to get cut short and you’ve been practicing a certain set list and now you need to cut one and you’re like, oh, shit, how is that transition going to go now. I think it’s all that and plus not everything goes 100% all the time in shows. The power might go out, somebody might have water spilled on their pedal…” He’s clearly referencing recent events.
He talks about the importance of playing off of the energy in the crowd. “If I see them out there dancing, yeah, f*ck, yeah, I’m making that beat behind them, you know? Or if they’re sitting… I’m like okay now I need to try harder to get them to dance to this. I’ll play the same show to a million people as I would to one person.”
We talk about the difference between playing live and in studio, and Adam says, “These kids that I teach here get to go out and perform. It’s a whole different animal when you’re in front of an audience. But that’s part of the reason that School of Rock hires actual performing musicians, because we can teach them the ins and outs of what it is to be out there touring, actually performing… and not to mention when you’re recording, the drums are the foundation track, drums and bass are the first thing that go down. I have to get that spot-on within a few takes, or else it’s kind of like how many times is this going to take? Because everything builds from that.” He also says he teaches his students that whether someones booing you or screaming for you, you can’t get too caught up in it or it will throw you off. That’s what I teach my students, whether you’re nervous or not, it’s all you, you’re the foundation.” His philosophy rings true with so many things in life.
I’m horrible at the drumming so I seek the first opportunity to cease playing and delve into deeper conversation. I went in straight for the big question, “Has anyone ever broken your heart?” “Yeah, I’m more of an emotional guy,” he says and I see immediately I’m opening a wound. “I like to really put a lot of time and effort into a relationship, which is now why I’m single, I think, because a wise man told me …if you’re putting a lot of yourself into a relationship, you’re taking away from something else and I saw myself doing that in a couple of relationships and I don’t want to do that, at this level where we’re at, so I want to get myself established and then maybe put the time and effort into a relationship. But yeah, but I’ve been in a couple of relationships. I was engaged to my college sweetheart, who moved out of state, back to Texas, and that ended. I was also with a girl who left me for my roommate. That was fun. That was recent.”
Ari fills the lingering silence by throwing out an “Awkward” and I sit quiet watching Adam. “Awkward,” repeats Adam. “I don’t know what to say to that. (laughing) I think honestly every relationship and everything like that is just a learning experience. So you learn something from everything, as shitty as it could be, so. You grow from it and you learn exactly, like I think now I know more what I want out of a relationship than I did when I was engaged.”
“You’ve grown,” I say. “Exactly. Exactly,” he agrees. “And I’ve gotten better people around me, too. Yeah, and that wise man that told me that was Ari (laughing).” “You’re now taking love advice from Ari Welkom?” I ask. “Yeah, I do. He’s like a big brother. (laughing) In like a weird, cute way. (laughing)” Ari calls me “Dr. Hanratty” and asks me if I’m trying to make Adam cry. Once again I’m painted as a therapist, a stigma and character I can’t seem to evade.
We start drumming again and the playful side of Adam Timmerman is revealed. “Stop,” I say mid instruction. “Are those Batman underwear?” “Yeah,” he admits laughing. “I have Batman underwear on right now.” “Rock stars wear Batman underwear?” I ask. “Yeah. That’s one part of me where I get to like be my goofy normal self, because not too many people get… and then when they do… it’s like, ha-ha, I’m goofy. (laughing) I’m awkward.”
He shows me his two other tattoos, one is a gothic treble clef and the other says carpe diem. His bandmates admit they were not aware that the gothic treble clef was actually a treble clef and Adam quips, “Way to not be observant, thanks. You learn a lot about your band when you hang out with them, like whether they actually give a shit about you or not.” They all laugh and Adam threatens to tattoo Ari in his sleep which seems fair game for a band tour prank.
The conversation digresses as I ask Ari, “Are you that deep of a sleeper?” “I pass out,” he admits. Adam confirms, “We’ve had to share a bed with him before. He does.” This peaks my interest, “You shared a bed with him?”
￼Adam explains, “When we tour and we stay in hotel rooms, there’s four of us and we ultimately get two queen sized rooms and beds, not all the time, but there’s times when we have to like bunk up and it’s back to back, believe me, there’s no spooning.” I look to Ari for confirmation. He says, “I don’t know what he’s talking about.”
“Who falls asleep first?” I ask. “I feel like I do all the time,” Adam admits. “Do you ever wake up with things drawn on your face?” “That’s never happened, thankfully, but we don’t keep markers in the room (laughing).”
“So you can’t be trusted with markers?” I ask pointing the question at Ari. “You know, stuff happens,” he answers. Then he looks at Adam and says, “We might fix your heart tattoo. We’ll color it in black.” “That’d be more bad ass, why don’t you?” he replies.
WE ASKED ADAM TIMMERMAN
Which song best describes your personality?
“What’s My Age Again?” by Blink-182
Having gone to college in Boston, how were feeling the day that the bombs went off at the Marathon?
I couldn’t take myself away from the TV. Actually because, I mean, where they went off, I walked those streets every day. I worked at American Eagle, the two bombs were on Boylston and Newberry Street, the American Eagle was right between them, so I walked those streets like every day. And the second one that went off is only a block away from one of the Berklee buildings, so I couldn’t stop watching it.
I went on the Berklee website, too, to make sure nobody from Berklee got hurt and there [were] all of these memos, the school was closed for a week and a half because it was part of the crime scene. So I couldn’t stop watching and I felt kind of mad, because it’s a big city, but it’s a small town, and you get to see a lot of the same faces and it’s just such a great community feel, that it touched base a little bit.
But when that happened, it just made me want to go back even more and just take it all in, you know, take Fenway in again.
There was a bunch of former Berklee musicians that got together and they did a compilation video where they sang that song “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye. Then they cut in clips of the Marathon and stuff like that and they kind of changed the arrangement a little bit and it was so well-done. The whole Boston Srong thing was highlighted throughout the video and I was really impressed. They had a guy that was in China now that went to Berklee, holding a sign, Boston Strong Forever, and he was in front of the Great Wall. It was just cool stuff like that, musicians that went to that school that feel united, coming together and showing their support for the city.