Though Adam Topol is best known for his engaging rhythms as Jack Johnson's acclaimed drummer, his other 2 releases -- his own Ritmo y Canto, and a collaboration known as the Culver City Dub Collective -- as well as his other collaborations and musical ventures, are increasingly landing him in the public eye -- and ear.
In 2006 he recieved wild acclaim along with the rest of Jack Johnson, for the Curious George film soundtrack, broadening his listening base even further. And yet his latest projects -- recording and touring in support of Piers Faccini's US debut, and touring with his own Culver City Dub Collective -- reflect an incredibly diverse body of musical knowledge and interest.
Perhaps most incredible of all, Adam remains true to his other passions as well -- giving back to the community through volunteer service -- and most of all, remaining refreshingly humble.
Find out more about this percussionist extraordinaire and musical hero through MY HERO's interview with Adam in Los Angeles, California...
With all the popularity Jack Johnson has gained in recent years, has it changed your perspective on popular music?
Music, for me, just comes from the heart. It's not a social scene. We've all worked hard. We've maintained an earthy kind of song... there's a lot of love in there. We're all studio trained and studio-ready but at the same time, hopefully you can hear the friendship on tape.
You have played on all of Jack's albums and toured with Jack since the beginning (Adam has been with Jack since 1999). How is life on the road?
Jack is so cool and generous and loyal. It's such a rarity in this business.
The way we tour is different too. We tour in a biodiesel bus. The bus is actually made of organic recycled materials. There is organic food and even kids in diapers aboard. It's not your typical rock tour. Really, it's a clean environment -- family oriented, down-to-earth. Being on tour is actually really grounding for me.
Sounds great! Was this level of success what you hoped to achieve as a musician?
Any musician that can do this for a living is just lucky. I've been so lucky... I've had so many lucky breaks in this life. I owe a lot.
So how did you get started? What set you on this path?
As a child my dad bought me a beautiful drumset. I was in 5th grade. When it [music] calls you, you gotta do it. It called me.
So have you always been a musician, career-wise?
I was actually a teacher before this. I taught English in and music to grades 9-12 for 4 years. I loved it. Teaching was the best thing I ever did in my life. I eventually want to go back to it.
You obviously believe in the power of teachers and of a good education. (MY HERO agrees!) Where did you go to school?
I went to the Berkelee College of Music, where I studied Jazz Performance. I recieved my MA degree in Education at Boston University.
Where did you pick up your amazing afro-cuban rhythms?
I consider myself a student of music. I've been to Cuba and studied percussion there, in the heart of it. I took a Caribbean music and dance course. I am very influenced by Afro-Cuban percussion, by rhumba, by Afro-Cuban folkloric.
Per his bio: "Adam has also recorded two albums of his own. Ritmo Y Canto is his folkloric drum and voice album. It features traditional Cuban songs performed by a host of roots and Latin afficianados. And Culver City Dub Collective is a collaboration with Franchot Tone and explores Jamaican roots reggae, funk, ska and dub. Everloving Records will present a full-length CCDC album this Summer, a tribute of sorts to King Tubby and Lee Scratch Perry's earliest dub and reggae recordings."
So tell me more about the Culver City Dub Collective...
The whole community is involved in it. In that way, it's very spiritual. It has so much soul. This album is a tribute to Jamaican dub...Studio 1. You gotta work in what you believe in, and I believe in this.
Do you get much free time now? What do you enjoy doing with it?
I actually enjoy doing community service work. I volunteer at a substance abuse referral clinic, supporting people that have a sincere desire to change. I also help people coming out of adult rehabilitation centers.
I am also involved in youth mentoring. I volunteer with the Salvation Army -- I'm basically like a friend to someone, helping them find employment, helping mentor them back into society.
That's amazing!... How are you able to find time to give back to the community so much, with all your current musical projects and endeavors?
When there are times that I can, I show up and help as much as I can, whenever I can. We should all do this. I think it's particularly important for musicians not to lose sight of this. If they have had the luck, they need to remember to give something back.
- the official website. Includes a bio, links, shows, album list, sound clips, and more.
- Jack Johnson Percussionist Performs on Yamaha Drums
- Adam Topol has been the beat behind platinum artist Jack Johnson for a number of years.