Adam Warrock seems to be a pretty busy guy. When we connected over Skype, he cuts me off after a moment. "Hang on one moment, I have to grab the dog." Juggling the animal at home, he's been in the throes of a yearly campaign to raise money for his music.
Our first topic is Star Wars: one of his recently released songs comes from Timothy Zahn’s highly praised trilogy that kicked off the entire Star Wars Expanded Universe. Thrawn, he noted, is one of those characters that is a bit out of the ordinary, and a bit of an oddity in the universe. In many ways, he’s a brainy villain, one who doesn’t rely on raw fear and power like the movie villains Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine. His song was about someone who he found interesting: a classy master tactician who used an adversary’s own artwork – and by extension, their way of thinking, against them.
Despite his fascination with Thrawn, Warrock said that he wasn’t as well versed in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. The only other books that he’s read was Kevin J. Anderson’s Jedi Academy Trilogy, which features Luke Skywalker as he attempts to rebuild the Jedi Order. He’s a Star Wars fan, but not only a Star Wars fan: he’s a generalist, enjoying science fiction films as he comes across them, enjoying them on their own merits. In many ways, Warrock described himself as a bit of a latecomer to some of the more popular franchises. When we spoke, he was working his way through Ronald D. Moore’s version of Battlestar Galactica.
That being said, he’s been a lifelong fan of comics, science fiction and fantasy. They have the ability to tell a huge range of stories that appeal to wide audiences. We’re interrupted by a question on Twitter from a fan: “What’s your favorite X-Man?” He laughs, and rattles off a number of the lesser known characters. Jubilee, he noted, was an important one; an Asian American character who was awesome, someone that he, with family roots in Asia, could identify with. Comics, especially the X-Men, have long been able to break new ground in ways that were unexpected, whether or not they were gay, straight, aliens or others.
“Why rap?” is my inevitable question for Warrock. It’s not an unheard of genre to be working in: other artists, such as MC Chris and MC Frontalot are known for their geeky rhymes and successful careers. Nerdcore, as the genre’s known, wasn’t on his mind when he started: rapping and singing were ways for him to relax, he explained, and a couple of years ago, he found himself with a lot of stress, transitioning out of Law School. Meshing two loves became an inevitable thing, and slowly, he started rapping more often. Rap, he explained, was something that he could do on his own, with little more than home equipment that he had on hand. It was great to play in a band, but you needed to either know how to play everything, or have people around you who did know.
His music hasn’t been a straight line. When asked about his influences, he noted it was less of MC Frontalot and more Jonathan Coulton, another geek musician who’s forged a successful career singing about such things as mad scientists and Red Shirts. When he started out, he admitted he was listening to a lot of Coulton’s music, and began to put down anything that came to his mind. The approach was akin to throwing spaghetti against a wall and seeing what stuck. When I admitted that I was a huge fan of his song Top Wobble, about the film Inception, he sounded horrified: the song isn’t a favorite of his. His approach, at first, was to release single tracks online with whatever came to mind. Since then, he’s refined his approach, focusing on polishing his songs and songwriting quite a bit more.
The big push that he’s been working on recently is his annual Donation Drive. For much of the year, he doesn’t charge for his music: he sees this as his way of giving and contributing to the geek community. Selling his music rigorously didn’t feel quite right, but asking once a year for a lot of content was a voluntary way to go about making a living off of his music. Make a donation, and there’s some additional perks for you. Along with the drive, he’s been recording some exclusive tracks for the week, including one on Stark Industries and another on Joe Hill’s Locke and Key comics.
Listen to Warrock’s semi-autobiographical “Jet Pack”, off of the Donation Drive album:
Touring was something that was a bit more difficult. Explaining what he rapped about, he explained, was also sometimes difficult to do, and he found that outside of touring with other established nerdcore icons, there were few options. However, he could reliably put up his act at comedy clubs, where he found that people were willing to go along with what he was doing. This helped to build an audience, and he’s been finding that there’s a real community effort when he looks to go places. Comic book stores, he’s found, are a bit like small social networks, with his audience really invested in the things that they’re passionate about. Singing about their icons and singing at comic book stores and other similar outlets, have been fairly successful, because he can get the word out quickly. He’ll be out on the road again this fall, with a short tour of the Northeast in August, hitting New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. (You can find the dates, times and locations over on his website.)
Main Image: Joey Miller, used with permission