Interview With Travis Williams of The Adio Sequence
The Adio Sequence formed in Portland, Oregon during the musical maelstrom of 2007. They quickly gained a massive following thanks to their inimitable blend of musical genres, liberal use of catchy hooks, soaring vocals, and a blistering live show. A year later, the band released Follow the Sun which was an amalgamation of good old-fashioned hard rock, tribal beats, melodic vocals, and rich harmonies. The album was applauded by fans and critics alike for its adroit songwriting and proficient production (which is exceedingly rare in this era of half-assed self-production and impatient songwriting). 2010, saw the release of the Shine On EP, which advanced The Adio Sequence’s powerful sound while providing hints of their funk and pop influences.
After several years on hiatus, in 2016 The Adio Sequence released the Electric Body EP. This release pushed the group further into new aural terrains, adding nods to Maroon Five, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and other Funk and R&B inspired rock acts. An instant classic, Electric Body, was filled with ubiquitous dance beats, hybrid rock/R&B rhythms, funk guitar, and solid pop-rock vocals.
The new album, Then & Now, has the quintet combining the high energy rock that made them staples of the Portland music scene with energetic dance-pop beats, luxurious orchestral layers and, of course, sing-along choruses.
Lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist Travis Williams was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to share his thoughts with me about the new record, the music scene in general and, what movies he'd take with him if he were stuck on a desert island.
Justin Price: What is the current lineup for The Adio Sequence?
Travis Williams: Currently the band consists of myself, Josh, Dan, with Stephen Branch on bass/ backup vocals and Zach Mclean on keys/guitar/backup vocals. Stephen and Zach are both amazing people and musicians and are both two of my best friends now. It felt a lot like the old days when they came aboard, it was just so easy to connect with them. Both have tremendously helped TAS step up a level and I couldn’t be more proud to play with them all.
JP: Can you give my readers a little background on The Adio Sequence? How and when did it form? What are some of the various incarnations of the band?
TW: We started TAS at the very end of 2006 going in to 2007. Our guitarist Josh and I had been hanging out and jamming and I was really inspired by his playing and influences. I had come from playing in heavier bands at that point and was looking to work on being more of a melodic vocalist. We were really into classics like Zeppelin and The Doors but also modern stuff like Incubus and 311.
So we picked our band name and like everyone else in 2007 we started a Myspace page haha. I had played with our drummer Dan Lawrence in my previous band so we approached him to play with us and he was instantly on board. Our original bassist was Peter Arvidson and we went to high school with him but recruited him after buying his amp off Craigslist. He played bass for Josh and Josh told me about him and we all started hanging out and became great friends right off the bat!
Our sound has radically changed through the years. We’ve been funky rock, heavy rock, pop rock, you name it. We like to switch it up but I think the consistency and through line of our music has always been about feeling good and hopefully being able to sing along and get something out of the vibe of the tunes!
JP: Tell my readers about the new album. How did these songs come about and is there anything that you would change?
TW: The new album is called “THEN & NOW” and we just released it after working on it for a full year! It’s been a labor of love but certainly was worth the wait. As the title suggest this album was meant to incorporate elements from our past and present sounds. I think it captured the energy and attitude of our old music but with a much more mature approach to dynamics and genre blending. Some of the songs started when we started up the band again back in 2014 and some were written during our time in the studio. So it really was literally a “then and now” collection of music! The album was very inspiring to write because all five of us knew we were firing on all cylinders creatively but it did become more ambitions than originally intended. I think a do-over for me would be to plan for that a bit better, but at the end of the day I’m really happy with the album!
JP: Where do you see The Adio Sequence over the next decade?
TW: Oh man, I think about TAS ten years ago vs. now a lot but thinking about the future it’s hard to say. I just hope we’re still playing and I think we will be. We may not be the biggest band ever but we’ve hit a lot of milestones and successes that make me cherish our little legacy so much. I already feel successful in that sense. I will say we have been strategizing a lot on 2018 and have some great things planned!
JP: What are some of your musical and lyrical inspirations? Does The Adio Sequence have a specific message or underlying theme to their lyrics? A specific sound
TW: The new album was very much so about reflection. I turned 30 through the year we made this and I think we as humans naturally reflect when those pivotal milestones come knocking. Personally, I’m very inspired by soul music, RnB, funk and pop so I try to instill that vibe to the lyrics and melodies I write to our music. Lyrically, those genres don’t always spell it out for you and I love that. It’s about the melody and the delivery the vocalist performs rather than a direct message.
At the end of the day, we’re a rock band but I think our layers are more interesting than what’s considered a standard rock band. We were recently described as “funk-infused pop/rock” by the Portland Mercury, which I thought was pretty accurate. With that said, the new album was meant to celebrate where we came from, where we are but also where we’re going. I think you’ll see a very different sounding TAS yet again on our next batch of music!
JP: What is the songwriting process like for The Adio Sequence? Is there a primary songwriter or is it a collaborative effort?
TW: Our band from day one has always been 100% collaborative. We write multiple ways which keeps things fun and exciting too. A lot of songs stem from the classic rock n roll approach of just jamming together. I remember the song “Open Up, Open Up” started as a jam when Zach first joined and when we finished that first play though Zach asked if that was an old song, which was really cool because it was totally spontaneous! The guys are really good improv musicians so that’s always a good go-to for songwriting.
Another way we write is from more of a production standpoint. Two songs on the album started from a programmed hip-hop beat/ bass line with rhodes that Zach created. He and I bonded over that style and I asked him to send them to me. This lined up with when I was recording vocals so I wrote lyrics and tracked over the loops he made to structure them. From there we brought them back to our studio and had Dan, Stephen and Josh write and track to my vocals and the loops to finish the songs! It was like a reverse engineer because I typically record vocals last!
JP: Give me your top five desert island movies.
TW: I love this question! Here’s my personal list:
Empire Strikes Back
Cast Away (So I know what to do on the island haha)
JP: The Adio Sequence is a Portland band, both in sound and in aesthetic. What are some of your favorite spots in Portland?
TW: I really enjoy playing the Analog Theater, Donnie and his crews are always amazing to us. Dantes is a good old-fashioned rock club that is always a blast to play. We played a sold-out Doug Fir show in that was amazing, that venue is top notch. My all-time favorite spot is no longer around but some old school TAS fans can confirm that Rock n Roll Pizza was the best place to play!
I want to give a shout out to Big Dave [Cote. Former booking agent for Rock N Roll Pizza] who was a big support back then. He was actually one of the first people to send some love and message me a few months back when we dropped our first single from the album. Get well soon Dave!
JP: How often do you guys perform? Any regional or national touring?
TW: 2017 was very much a hibernation year for us to finish our album so this year we plan to play much more but we still want to be strategic and choose great lineups and venues to give the best show we can to old and new fans alike. This summer we have some weekend warrior tour stuff planned but our big plans I can’t reveal quite yet.
JP: Do you have any advice to young musicians out there about how to handle yourself in the industry?
TW: I personally think if you want to be in a band you have to find people that are friends first and bandmates second. Having that strong connection will translate to your audience. I’ve been in groups with very talented people but the vibes weren’t right and that’s why I Iove my TAS brothers, both past and present so much. It’s a deeper connection and makes the music more believable in my opinion.
Also be mindful of the landscape of the industry. We just got on things like Spotify and the digital train which was way overdue and silly of us not to do. This industry mutates and evolves so often, and if you want exposure you have to get on board. We’re playing catch up to start strong and keep the consistency going!
JP: What is your favorite food?
TW: Chicken wings, I always eat spicy wings before a vocal recording session too ☺
JP: Why should people devote their time to listening to your music and going to your shows? What makes The Adio Sequence unique and different?
TW: We describe ourselves as “high energy dance rock” and strive to bring that to the stage every time. I hope people can discover our music somehow, maybe online and give us a chance to share it live with them. We change up our sets for each show so you’ll always get a fresh experience. I think our attitude and our positive vibe is a distinguishing characteristic of ours which all ties back to that thing we have from being great friends first. You can’t fake that and it shows when you hang with TAS!
JP: Where can folks purchase your music and keep up to date on upcoming shows and events?
TW: You can find The Adio Sequence on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Music, Pandora, Youtube and any other digital music source out there. I’m in the process of reloading our back catalog as well, so the entire TAS discography is on its way!
Our website is coming but in the meantime, you can find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @theadiosequence
JP: You get one song to listen to on a loop for all eternity. Which song is it?
TW: “Gangsters Paradise” by Coolio
…you’ll have to follow The Adio Sequence to ask me why haha…
JP: Is there anything else you would like to add?
TW: I just want to say thank you for this interview, it’s so fun to look back at the crazy journey this band has been on. Also, thank you to the readers for taking the time to learn about our band! I hope to meet you and give a personal thank you someday!
© 2018 Justin W Price