by Alexander Laurence
mysterious duo behind Adult. started releasing records 1998
under the pseudonym Plasma Co. They became known quickly
for their integration of vocals into analog synths and drum-machine
electro. By 2000, it was clear that Adult. had already developed
a style based around their new electro sounds and the almost
punk, robotic vocals and the confident and strange lyrics.
For years the identity of Adult. was unknown. The word is
now out that the band consists of Adam Lee Miller (formerly
of Le Car) and visual artist Nicola Kuperus.
Adult. were initially best known for their remixes of other
bands. They released five singles and were included on many
compilations. At the same time many people saw them for
the first time live. They travelled to Europe to do many
festivals. I saw them play with THe Faint and I Am Spoonbender
for the first time a year ago at Noise Pop. They definitely
made an impact. I was searching the stores for their records.
The duo released Resuscitation (2001), a full-length album
consisting of reworkings of previously released tracks.
By this time it was obvious Adam Lee Miller and Nicola Kuperus
were responsible for a resurgeance in electronic music and
were a big influence on many bands. Adult. toured with Trans
Am in 2002. Nicola Kuperus did the lead vocals of a Death
In Vegas track. The duo's cynical satirization of mainstream
life continued on with the new record, Anxiety Always, which
was released in April 2003. In May 2003, Adult. embarked
on its first headlining tour of America. I was able to speak
to Adam Lee Miller a day before their show at The Echo.
Have you done a lot of tours?
Adam: No. The most
we have ever done is nine shows with Trans Am. This is our
first headline tour and our longest tour ever. It's twenty
AL: When did you stop
doing Le Car?
Adam: Le Car ended in 1997. We put out a 12-inch on a German
label under the name Plasma Co. In 1998, Le Car was asked
to play a show with Kraftwerk in Barcelona. It was the Sonar
Festival. We got back together just for that one show.
AL: The Resuscitation CD is mainly just a collection of
all the early singles and EPs. Why did you release that?
Adam: People kept saying that we should release these records
on CD because people would like that. People would say:
"I don't have a record player. I would really like
to get your stuff on CD." So that's what we did. But
many of the times, we didn't like the way the songs were
recorded originally. Most of the songs were remastered or
re-recorded. Songs like "Dispassionate Furniture"
were completely redone. That is why the album is called
AL: You released all those songs as singles before?
Adam: All of them eventually were. There was a song "Mouth
To Mouth" was an original song. But then a Dutch label
put it out on a "Hand To Phone" remix EP. Everything
on Resuscitation is on vinyl, but not in the same version.
Many of these records are hard to find now. The first Adult.
12-inch single is out of print. The Plasma Co. record is
out of print. All the singles are becoming rare.
AL: Was Nicola Kuperus always the visual component of Adult.?
Adam: I did the graphic design. There was a compilation
that first had a photograph of hers. We started to use more
and more of them. I think it was the "Hand To Phone"
picture disc that created a buzz. That was a year before
Resuscitation. That was the moment that solidified her photography
AL: Did you ever DJ as Adult. or were you a studio group?
Adam: No, I never DJed. I have only DJed at three or four
events in my life. Those were just casual events. I was
just having fun with friends. I don't mix or match beats.
Adult. was totally a studio project at the beginning. It
was a big surprise that we got invited to play shows. We
thought it was funny.
AL: Why did you think it was funny?
Adam: We never thought of ourselves as doing any of that.
It was 1997. We were doing harder electronic music with
vocals. Absolutely nobody else was doing that, except Kitbuilders.
People were just getting into it.
AL: Why do you think that music caught on with people like
Ladytron and The Faint?
Adam: I know a lot of these bands: Ladytron, The Faint,
Kitbuilders, Miss Kitten and The Hackers. I think that you
had all these people who were super passionate about what
they were doing. It's one of those things. You can have
a great business team or put out music that you believe
in. I spoke to a lot of these people. There were a bunch
of Techno DJs who were totally burned out and going through
the motions. It just becomes a job.
AL: Paul Oakenfold has been doing the same thing for fifteen
Adam: Exactly. There was a time between 1990 and 1995,
when Techno music was still really weird. Now when you go
to a Banana Republic and they are playing that music. It's
on bank commercials. It's not weird nor new music anymore.
AL: You have a few songs which are ironic comments on techno
music and consumerism.
Adam: Yeah. In the song "Pressure Suit" we are
talking about that. It's quite funny to have a crowd of
people chanting "I want to spend my money on entertainment."
Yeah, you just did. We have been playing a lot of small
clubs that hold about 500 people. People usually want to
be there. I couldn't imagine that happening at a big festival
where people are so burned out on drugs that they couldn't
care less who is on stage. Obviously you can tell that I
don't have a good opinion of festivals.
AL: What did you think of being part of the first Electroclash
Adam: At the time, it was just the name of a festival then.
I don't think that we fit in that at all. We recently played
a festival in Greece called Fire Fighters. No one started
calling us Fire Fighter music. If we knew what Electroclash
was going to mean in the future, we would have never done
it, because we don't want to be genre-fied.
AL: Do you collect a lot of old Arps and Moogs?
Adam: On this whole trip, we have been driving around the
country and seeing pawn shops. We think maybe we should
look around and see if they have anything. We never really
have any time. We want to stop and look around in these
small towns. Right now I am in Flagstaff, Arizona. We are
near the Grand Canyon. If you could find some old pawn shop,
you could probably find some old Korg. You could plug it
in and make it sound really stupid. They would probably
give it to you for twenty bucks. I like gear. I am not a
hardcore collector. We are more into pedals right now.
AL: Do you have old keyboards?
Adam: Yeah. We don't tour with the really fragile stuff.
We have a Juno 106. If one of them breaks, we have a second
AL: Could you talk about the label Ersatz Audio?
Adam: We started it about eight years ago. We evolved over
time. We don't sound like we did eight years ago. There
was a time when it became Adult.-centric. We didn't want
that. We wanted to have a family again. We have Magas now.
It's naturally happened. Now it's like the Manson Family.
We had a lot of labels who wanted to put out the new Adult.
record, but we are very content to do it ourselves.
AL: When did you record the new album, Anxiety Always?
Adam: It started in September 2002 and we finished up in
December. Most of the songs have been written in the past
year. One song "Nothing of The Kind" had been
around a little longer. We wrote it so we could do it live
on the Trans Am tour last June. We hadn't recorded it yet.
AL: It seems like the vocals are really advanced on this
record, compared to the early stuff.
Adam: Nicola is asleep in the back right now. I don't like
to answer for her. We played so many live shows between
Resuscitation and the new record. That allowed her to develop
from one record to the next. On stage we used to be static.
Now, she has total control over the audience, and it's awesome.
AL: Some of the bass guitar on the new record reminds me
of Joy Division and The Cure.
Adam: Oh yeah. I love those bands. I played bass guitar
in some punk rock bands before this too. In the show I play
a lot of bass guitar and keyboards. Many of the early songs
are mechanical and many of the parts are impossible to play
live. One of the ideas with this album was that we wanted
to write songs that we would enjoy playing live. We wanted
to give out more energy to the crowd.
AL: When I think of some of the songs like "Glue Your
Eyelids Together" and "Nausea" it reminds
me of Existentialism. Do you like those writers, like Sartre
Adam: Yeah. I have actually. People have asked us before
about our lyrics. Most things work on a subconscious level.
When it is written, nothing is about this one thing. Our
songs are not about anything specifically. They are a non-didactic,
or non-narrative approach. Then over time, the songs begin
to have meaning to us. But we always enjoy what people think
the lyrics mean. "The Wages of Fear" is my favorite
AL: You have remixed tracks by The Faint, Tuxudeomoon ,and
Erase Errata. Do you think that you will release a remix
album at some point?
Adam: I don't know. It's a double edged sword. It's totally
out of control. We have just put out Anxiety Always. Then
people think "So when are you going to do a remix album?"
When did that become a standard? I don't know if we will
or we won't. Shouldn't you put out a real record, and see
if it does well, before you do a remix record. I find that
really funny. We have cut down on doing remixes. We have
done about twenty-three remixes in the past few years. That
is ridiculous. We could have done two new albums in that
same time. If you concentrate on that, you stop developing
your own music.
AL: What other bands do you like?
Adam: The Faint.
AL: When I first heard "Pressure Suit" it made
me think of John Foxx "Metamatic." Were you familiar
with John Foxx and the stuff he did with Ultravox!?
Adam: Oh yeah. My old band, Le Car, was very John Foxx-centric.
It was on a label called Monoplaza, which referred to a
song of his called "Plaza." The sticker for our
band had a burning car on it which referred to his song
"Burning Car." The bands that we like the most
were Throbbing Gristle and Sonic Youth. They are an influence
because they are massively independent. They had their own
labels and they always did exactly what they want to do.
AL: Do you see yourself as a futuristic band?
Adam: Yeah, except phones still don't work everywhere in
the future. We have never thought of ourselves as futuristic
music. Lyrically, we think of what we are doing as social
commentary. It's about anxiety and social disorder. I know
that John Foxx and Tubeaway Army are the first records that
I bought that put me on this path that I am still on sixteen
AL: What do you think of people who put your music on the
internet and do filesharing?
Adam: There's a good chance that all that will kill the
industry. We had a lot of problems with Anxiety Always being
uploaded on the web. This is how we live. We are just two
people. We are not a corporation. We have no money coming
in, except through playing live and putting out our CDs
and selling them. Now that we have released it, there are
journalists who sell them back, and people who buy them
used and put them on Ebay. There are massive amounts of
lost revenues. We had to go after this one company. They
put the whole album up on this corporation website. It was
the webmaster for this corporation. We had to tell the corporation
that we were going to sue them, because this webmaster would
take it down. They had to lock him out and close the website
down. It's okay to have one or two MP3's to hear what you
sound like. But if you give it all away for free, nobody
can do it for a living.