Adam Halferty has been writing under the name American Tomahawk for two years. Prior to American Tomahawk, he played and toured in a band called Young Coyotes for two years. He is also known for his position as a drummer in the band 3Oh!3, as well as other various awesome bands. As for L.A. based American Tomahawk, Adam captains the guitar and handles vocals for the band. American Tomahawk’s other honorary members that make up the band are producer and long time friend to Adam, Matthew Wilcox and talented Mikel Spear. Adam has many good friends that have played/toured with him live, but for this interview, we are just going to focus on Mr. Halferty.
J- So, Adam, what comes first? Drumming for 3Oh!3 or singing/playing for American Tomahawk? How do you prioritize your projects?
AH- What you do the most (usually) is where your priorities lie. I am fortunate enough to be paid to play drums, so my priorities lay there…American Tomahawk is a way for me to keep my mind occupied while touring to pay my bills.
J-That makes sense. So moving on to American Tomahawk. How did the band come to be named thus?
AH- It was the result of a conversation I was having with a friend about the history of war. I said something to the effect of.. “And we will lay down our arms and be known as American Tomahawks.” And it stuck.
J-I really like it. Wish I had thought of that…Okay, so I’ve been dying to ask…You have quite a collection of tattoos. Which one is your favorite and why?
AH- I have a bull wearing a bow-tie on my upper arm that my best friend drew for me, and that another friend tattooed on me. It reminds me to be decent. It was inspired by one of my favorite books (Breakfast of Champions). It’s also a drinking game that reminds me not to hold drinks in my right hand..
J-Awesome. Very unique. Very different. You are very versatile as a musician with all of this drumming, strumming, and singing. What is your favorite spot to be on stage?
AH- I naturally feel and hear drums and bass. I feel most natural when I’m playing the drums. I feel the most at peace when I’m singing.
J-I’ve heard that singing can make you live longer! Could be true! You have recently relocated to LA after living in Colorado. Are you happy about the move? What do you miss the most?
AH- I am very happy. California runs in my family. I was born here, and lived here while I was a kid before moving. So I knew I would move back. I miss my Denver friends the most, and going to my favorite bar.
J- Both states are beautiful. I guess people really make the place though. So who writes the melodies and lyrics to all of the songs? What inspires your songs? What do you write about?
AH- I write the songs. They’re inspired by whatever I’m eating, drinking, thinking, witnessing, or talking about at the moment. I mostly write about what is going on in my life. The songs are little diary entries.
J-Well I’m glad you are letting those diary entries go public. I really enjoy your music. I don’t know how you do it. What happens on those mornings where you don’t want to get out of bed…What is it that gets you up and keeps you going?
AH- On those days I simply sleep it off. If I wake up and it’s still not working, I go back to bed. I do this until I can get my thinking right. That’s of one of the advantages to not working a normal job.
J-I’ll have to try that sometime. But, if being a musician, for some odd reason, was not an option for you…What other career can you see yourself pursuing?
AH- I would have been a hockey player in another life. That was my high school dream.
J-Athlete all the way! Going back to music, how would you describe your music to curious new ears? Any musicians or groups that have influenced you that you can name off the top of your head?
AH- I have described it as “Agnostic Gospel music.” I have two friends that have influenced me the most (won’t name them) and what I read often influences me a great deal. Everything seems to be influencing me. My subconscious is a giant sponge.
J-What do you want to see happen with American Tomahawk within the next few years?
AH- My only goal/focus right now is putting out another album, and trying to remain as genuine as possible without over thinking it.
J-Sounds like a plan. Any tours or new music that we should be looking forward to experiencing in the near future?
AH- American Tomahawk will be on tour with Fitz and the Tantrums and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. in January. We will be doing two nights at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco, 26th and 27th of January. Tickets are $20 but I will put the first 5 people on our list that mention this interview.
J-Alright! That’s the spirit! What a fun way to start off the new year! Okay, last question…I love discovering new music. What have you been listening to lately?
AH-I really like Yuck and Real Estate, as well as, I am the Dot and Nightbeds.
J-I’ll look them up! Adam, thank you so much for your time.
AH-Thank you for having me.
Here are some links to help you get on the American Tomahawk train!
Images via AmericanTMHWK and Something Like Sound