Adam Watts (musician)
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Adam Watts (born Adam Matthew Watts; December 8, 1975) is an American music and visual artist. His work as a rock and pop artist, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, mixing engineer and visual artist has garnered critical acclaim. His songwriting and productions are featured on over 50 million records sold worldwide in both the mainstream and contemporary Christian music industries. Watts owns a fine art gallery in Downtown Fullerton, CA (INTERNAL Gallery & Oddities) which features his haunting and poignant mixed media assemblage fine art and photography, as well as his handmade leather goods (under the brand name: AMW HUMAN DECOR).
Adam Watts was born in Laguna Beach, California. He came from a musical family. His grandmother was a Hawaiian style steel guitar player and teacher, his mother plays accordion and piano, his father plays guitar and sings. His older brother plays guitar and his younger sister is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter and producer. Adam began playing drums at the age of 10, inspired by the drummer in his brother's band which rehearsed in the home. Watts is a devout Christian. His faith is evident in much of his work as a songwriter.
Watts studied drumming throughout his late childhood and teens studying with various drum teachers including Glenn Young, John Hannan, Roy Burns, Evan Stone, Jim Wunderlich and Mike Jackson (in the Mission Viejo High School Drumline 1991-1994), Dave Weckl, Chad Wackerman, Joey Heredia. In 1993 he was the local winner of the Santa Ana Guitar Center Drum-Offs. In 1994 he won the National Will Calhoun Drum Solo Scholarship Contest Sponsored by Sonor Drums. In 1995, Watts attended Saddleback Community College where he studied music and philosophy, opting to leave after only one year to pursue a career in music full-time.
Watts was the drummer of local Orange County band Bulkhead (along with OC Supertones bassist Tony Terusa) from 1994-1997. In 1996 Adam contributed drum tracks to Gannin Arnold's pop/rock indie solo release entitled "One". He played his drums in various funk and top 40 cover bands in the Orange County/L.A. club scene including The Strangers, Stone Jonez and Soul Shaker. It was around this time that he began writing songs, singing and producing/engineering/mixing his own music. He also began to play live (singing and playing guitar) with various backing musicians and band members including Gannin Arnold, Melvin Davis, Adam Marcello, Drew Hester, Andy Dodd, Bill Mohler, Nate Wood, Luke Agajanian and Derek Frank.
In 2000 he contributed drums to bassist Melvin Davis's jazz/fusion solo album Tomorrow's Yesterday and percussion to Pax217's album TwoSeventeen. In 2001 Adam and his sister Jenn Watts wrote the theme song for the movie Pootie Tang (Directed and written by comedian Louis C.K.). This kick-started his career as a full-time songwriter and producer. This year also saw the birth of his production company, Red Decibel, with Andy Dodd. Watts and Dodd produced Christian pop/rock artist Jeremy Camp's 6-song indie EP which led to Jeremy's signing with BEC Recordings. Watts and Dodd produced and recorded the majority of Jeremy Camp's first two albums Stay and Carried Me in a three-month span in Watt's childhood home in Mission Viejo, CA in late 2001. Stay and Carried Me were both eventually RIAA Certified Gold. Watts and Dodd continued working with Camp throughout his career on his albums Restored, Beyond Measure and Live Unplugged. Watts and Dodd also produced various other contemporary Christian albums for 'Jadon Lavik' and 'The OC Supertones and Maranatha Music.
In 2003, Watts and Dodd were connected to pop artist Jesse McCartney through the independent A&R company TAXI. They wrote the songs Take Your Sweet TIme and Beautiful Soul for McCartney which led to his signing with Disney's Hollywood Records. Beautiful Soul became the title track and first single on Jesse's first Hollywood Records release. It went on to become a worldwide smash hit reaching number 5 on the Billboard Pop 100 Charts, number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 5 on Pop 100 Airplay and number 23 on the Adult Contemporary Charts. The "Beautiful Soul" video spent the maximum amount of time (50 days) on MTV's Total Request Live top 10 videos show. The album Beautiful Soul went Platinum in 2004. The song appeared on various compilations and soundtracks including the That's So Raven Soundtrack, A Cinderella Story Soundtrack and Kids Bop 7.
Watts signed a publishing deal with Walt Disney Music Publishing in 2004 and went on the write and/or produce (with Andy Dodd) on Aly and AJ's album Into The Rush, High School Musical 1, 2 and 3, Hannah Montana seasons 1, 2, 3 and 4, Jump In Soundtrack, Go Figure Soundtrack, Everlife's Walt Disney Records self-titled release and Ingram Hill, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian end titles song "This Is Home", co written with Switchfoot, Kelly Clarkson's "Can We Go Back", Camp Rock 1 & 2 and The Jonas Brothers among others.
To date, Watts and Dodd's songs and productions have appeared on over 50 million albums sold worldwide.
In partnership with filmmaker Daniel Chesnut, the two began to focus on film projects including music videos and feature films.
In 2011, Red Decibel added songwriter, producer, guitarist Gannin Arnold to their team. In addition to writing and recording new artist Joel Piper, they are currently working with new Hollywood Records signing, all girl rock group Cherri Bomb on their debut album.
2012 to present: Watts/Dodd/Arnold contributed as songwriters, producers, mixers and mastering engineers to American Idol finalist, Colton Dixon's best selling debut album "A Messenger" which yielded two #1 hits and song a Dove Award for Best Contemporary Christian Rock Album of the Year. The team is reported to have been collaborating extensively with American Idol finalist Angie Miller. During this time, RED DECIBEL have also contributed songs to a variety of projects within Walt Disney including, Austin & Ally (the song "Parachute"), the theme song to a new live show at Disneyland in Anaheim and the opening/titles titles song for an upcoming animated feature entitled Tinkerbell Pirate Fairy. The song features world-renowned solo artist Natasha Beddingfield on vocals.
Most recently RED DECIBEL contributed four productions (which Watts mixed) to Colton Dixon's sophomore album "Anchor" which debuted at #1 on the iTunes Christian & Gospel Album Chart. The group also cowrote the songs "Loud and Clear" and "This Isn't The End" as well as the bonus track "Where I End". Watts also played drums on the track "Our time Is Now".
While RED DECIBEL still exists as Watts/Dodd/Arnold, in 2014 Watts/Arnold formed a separate songwriting, production, mixing/mastering and artist development entity known as BROKEN CITY. The pair are focusing on the development and launch of two new solo artists, iRussi and Sanni as well as various other indie and major label projects in the mainstream and CCM markets.
July 2014 saw the release of the Watts/Arnold band project MOON KILLER. Their debut album, "Pretty Stupid" is a set of intense alternative/rock songs which add a modern twist to influences such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Soundgarden. The lineup consists of just Watts (Drums, Percussion, Synths and Vocals) and Arnold (Guitars, Bass, Synths). The pair co-produced and Watts mixed the album.
In late 2012 Watts began to more seriously delve into visual arts. A long time interest in photography and graphic design expanded into leather handcrafting and the fine arts. AMW HUMAN DECOR is the brand name surrounding his leather works which include bracelets, bags and wallets with unique designs which often incorporate bison leather, early 20th century World War I and World War II rifle sling leather and antique hardware including vintage camera and clock parts.
Watts' mixed media assemblage fine artwork incorporates objects from the Victorian era through the early 20th century. His highly conceptual work often includes found objects, early medical tools, primitive wood mechanical objects such as gears and pulleys as well as taxidermy and skeletal elements including animal skulls, feathers etc. His work has been shown at Artology, The Paul Williams Gallery, Bunker 1970, The Egan (within the Magoski Art Colony), Artservatory as well as his own permanent gallery and retail space INTERNAL Gallery & Oddities located in Downtown Fullerton, CA. Watts has an upcoming exhibition at the Center Gallery in Anaheim.
Most recently Watts had multiple works chosen to be included in the Brea Art Gallery's 29th Annual Juried Exhibit "MADE IN CALIFORNIA" as well as in the OCCCA's show entitled "THE BODY EXHIBIT" with works chosen by world renowned assemblage artist George Herms. Also see www.AdamWattsArt.com
Selected song discographyEdit
- "Never Gone" - Colton Dixon (from the album A Messenger)
- "Universe Electric" - Angie Miller (from the EP Weathered)
- "Way Out" - Adam Watts (from the album Way Out)
- "Shake The Ground" - Cherri Bomb
- "This Is Home" - Switchfoot (For the soundtrack to The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian)
- "Can We Go Back" - Kelly Clarkson
- "Let It Fade" - Jeremy Camp
- "Reckless" - Adam Watts (from the album Murder Yesterday)
- "Life On Earth" - Adam Watts (from the album Life On Earth)
- "Poison Soul" - Adam Watts (from the album FALLBORN)
- "The Glow" - Shannon Saunders
- "Carried Me" - Jeremy Camp
- "How Does It Feel" - Adam Watts (from the album The Noise Inside)
- "Critical Condition" - Adam Watts (from the album The Noise Inside)
- "Beautiful Soul" - Jesse McCartney
- "Just So You Know" - Jesse McCartney
- "Right Where You Want Me" - Jesse McCartney
- "Gotta Go My Own Way" - High School Musical 2
- "Just Like You" - Hannah Montana - Season 1
- "Make Some Noise" - Hannah Montana - Season 2
- "I Gotta Find You" - Joe Jonas - Camp Rock
- "This Is Me" - Demi Lovato and Joe Jonas - Camp Rock
- "This is Our Song" - Demi Lovato, Joe Jonas, Nick Jonas and Alyson Stoner - Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam
- "It's Not Too Late" - Demi Lovato - Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam
- "Live the Magic" - Disneyland Forever an Immersive Firework Spectacular
- "Happily Ever After" - Hong Kong Disneyland 10th Anniversary theme song and Magic Kingdom fireworks show song.
Adam Watts - solo artistEdit
In 2002 Watts contributed as a solo artist to projects such as, Songs For A Purpose Driven Life (based on Rick Warren's best selling book The Purpose Driven Life), and The Left Behind 2 Soundtrack. 2003 Watts signed to BEC Recordings and released his critically acclaimed first album The Noise Inside. He was named one of Christianity Today's Best New Artists in 2004. In 2005 Watts amicably left BEC Recordings to pursue an indie career. In 2006 Watts independently released his album "Sleeping Fire". Christianity Today gave it a rare 5 star review and named it one of the Best Albums of 2007.
After the breakup of his alt/rock project, FALLBORN in early 2010, Watts went to work on his third solo effort entitled "Murder Yesterday". The album released worldwide digitally, on September 21, 2010.
"Murder Yesterday" marks a return to Watts' singer-songwriter roots. While in the past Watts' used piano only intermittently, this album's material relies heavily on the instrument, as well as a more spacious, organic production style. The extensive collaboration with the Los Angeles-based strings group, The Section Quartet (Foo Fighters, Snow Patrol, Ryan Adams) served to further distinguish "Murder Yesterday" from previous works.
Watt's toured through New York, Chicago, L.A. and Seattle as part of best-selling author Cornelia Funke's "Get Reckless Tour". Watts performed the song "Reckless" which was inspired by Funke's book of the same name.
2013, ALBUM: "LIFE ON EARTH":
Watts released his solo album entitle "LIFE ON EARTH". In a blog post from FACEBOOK on June 5, 2012, he described the album's sound stating, I didn't set out to make an album. I just suddenly realized I had 7 or 8 songs that felt like they fit together. The songs and production feels more direct and maybe more raw in some ways than stuff I've done in past. Maybe it was out of necessity. I had been working on these artist development projects, a bunch of Disney stuff, and also making the Cherri Bomb album, and in between I would do one of my songs, just to get it out. Then I'd go back to work on those other projects. So what would happen is I'd completely forget I had written and recorded anything! Total amnesia. Then I'd see a title on my hard drive and go "huh? What's that?!". I've realized how much of artistic life has been hidden. It's the nature of the business side maybe... or maybe it's the nature of me: I create much more than I have time to "put out". And I edit the output. Maybe I over think it. I fight against an introverted nature: I like to simultaneously put myself out there and fly under the radar. It makes no sense! But, also, I'm always moving forward and sharing means looking back to some degree.. but I end up regretting not doing it... So many songs haven't been heard. I'm always battling against the urge to jump on the sort of modern-day expression-drama-word-vomit-put-it-all-out-there thing... I battle it, then I realize how pent up and blocked I feel when I don't share. When I'm not able to connect through all this stuff I'm making/expressing. So I guess I'm in a place where I'm not gonna hold back anymore. I want to knock down every preconceived notion about what it is for me to be an artist. What it means to do that in a free way. Forget genre. Forget compartmentalizing it. I just want to create and connect. that's what I love. That's what I wake up every day and spend all day doing: creating and trying to connect. BAM! And I've never been so grateful or more filled with energy. And it's not just with my music, I'm bringing everything together and sharing it. Photography, film, apparel design, prose, whatever... anything and everything that's an artistic expression is going to be up on my website. I'm really excited about it. Really. And I have no expectations. Well, at least as few as I can muster:) I feel rejuvenated. It's been really freeing.".
2014, ALBUM: "WAY OUT":
On April 7, 2014 Watts released his sixth studio album which reportedly marks a bit of a departure from the more straightforward songwriting of previous releases. The album is said to lean more heavily on influences including Philip Glass and Thomas Newman while still incorporating his singer-songwriter and rock roots. As Watts states, "This approach to music has been growing in me for awhile. You can hear elements of it popping up on previous albums and especially on a few tracks from "Life on Earth". I was profoundly effected by something Philip Glass said in his documentary ("GLASS"). I'm paraphrasing here, but he spoke about how poetry is about speaking, dance about movement and music about listening... and that he does't think about music, he listens to it and writes it down. This sparked something in me. It instantly felt true... that there was this current of music in me that I'm not always listening to in as pure a way as I could. So I sat down at the piano and began to just listen to what was there. Trying to avoid playing an instrument, I didn't want any habits to guide me, I just listened until there was music coming from inside of me and beyond technique. And rather than judge it or its validity, I trusted it and let myself go. I would compose the music this way as well as approach the lyrics similarly. What surprised me was the results were very new, yet felt truthful, or natural in a way I couldn't put my finger on... I guess it was just that it felt honest and it was sort of a given that I liked what I heard. I was preventing myself from getting into a headspace where I had a self-image associated with the music... it was more about expression. My approach to recording the album was an extension of this as well. I would write and record all in the same time frame. This isn't new for me, but my mindset was different, I was going for a moment and not letting the producer side of me take over too much. Rather than seek perfection in a technical sense, the new perfection became the truth of the moment more so. It's really transformed the way I approach my solo work. I noticed that this approach was closer to how I approached my visual arts as well... so there's this sense of it all coming together and coming from the same place... it just so happens that sometimes I'm creating for the ears and sometimes for the eyes, but it's all unified. This recent music and art feels as close to my core as anything I've done in the past... when I listen or look, there's this mirror like effect... like it's reflecting what it's like to be inside my skin. It's funny because with this kind of process, I don't find myself thinking much about whether people like it or not... I hope they do, but I realize people will either get it or they won't and it has nothing to do with me. It's liberating."
2016, ALBUM: "The Hero and the Pain":
On March 13, 2016 Watts released his seventh studio album "The Hero and the Pain". This album features the song "World War Three" which features Watts' first vocal duet, with female singer-songwriter, iRussi. A review from user lisaxspice on iTunes reads:
"Adam Watts: Hero and the Pain Review—beautifully and fearfully made. Southern California native Adam Watts’ most recent album The Hero and the Pain underlines the matchless power of a singer/songwriter daring to stand outside trends and convention to create a significant, transcendent, and sacred experience for audiences. This album quickly jumped to a place in my top 10 best albums of the last ten years.
The album is an intimate, spiritual sojourn of questions and answers. What begins with the unhealed wounds of “The Hero and the Pain “is answered by “More’s” unrushed pace, which echoes Watts’ demands for more from life than the steady gait of mediocrity. The album is a welcome reprieve from party anthems and vapid, pop music offerings.
Watts punctuates his pained recollections of emotional and spiritual turbulence of the opening track “The Hero and the Pain” with his yearning, melancholic vocals, and orchestral strings juxtaposed with the pounding, surging percussion in “A Wave Does What a Wave Does.”
The album proceeds to the forlorn cry for connection–the primal prayer, and serrated screams of “Motherfather,” which may be the most heartrending and passionate song of the album.
“Running Out of Heroes” shows us Watts is poised to take his place in the singer/songwriter world in this intricate, lyrically gorgeous vocal performance. The conspiratorial and poignant performance is punctuated with plucked strings and arrives layered with beautiful, subtle detailing. Here Watts reminds us why music is important-it teaches us about ourselves, our relationships, and our place in the world—a place of pain, disappointment, redemption, belief, yearning and joy.
Thankfully, he doesn’t let the listener rest as the musical shards and percussive darts of the track “Cage” attack. This is where Watts shows the depth and breadth of his musicality as this multiple instrumentalist races and rages to contain the animal inside, and leaves listeners gasping. Breathtaking!
Although we haven’t heard a duet from Adam Watts before, “World War Three” musically delivers an open-hearted release with the delicious contrast of a breakup that begins civilly but escalates to ruin in the delicate and destructive duet (with Broken City Artist iRussi).
“Somebody Somewhere” stays true to his unabashed, poignant revelations and delivers an emotional punch as it reminds listeners the pain of unrequited love in this tender, intimate guitar track that rings true.
Armed with only a piano, his unrushed pace of “Let You Win” requires the listener to lean in and scoot your chair closer in order to absorb this heart-rending critique about self-sabotaged relationships while revealing Watts strength is in his fragile vulnerability.
In the album, Watts interlaces fragile feeling with delicate guitar melodies with turbulent and driving percussive tracks but it is his yearning, melancholic vocals and unflinching self-examination that allow the listener the rare opportunity to witness both a lacerating self-analysis and harrowing journey of introspection. It is pure alchemy.
Musically, he deserves to be as popular commercially as artists such as Rufus Wainwright and Damien Rice as he bridges the distance between the soul of a musician and the heart of the listener. The album reminds listeners that we aren’t alone as we search and pray for our own personal redemption from suffering and pain.
Watts flawlessly staggers above spiritual ruin and carries the listener to an emotional summit so that we also accept the inescapable verity of life’s undivided, yet exquisite couplet of pain and joy. A heroic triumph."
The vocals from the songs "Let You Win" and "Where to Begin" were both used as source material for the 2019 show "CEDE" from the world-class Broken City Percussion ensemble. Broken City Percussion won the Gold Medal at SCPA Championships on April 6th, 2019 at the Citizens Bank Arena in Ontario, CA.
2018, ALBUM: "When a Heart Wakes Up":
On April 3, 2018 Watts released his eighth studio album "When a Heart Wakes Up". The album received multiple 5-Star Reviews from the online publication Jesus Freak Hideout. The site also named the album one of the Top Ten Albums of 2018.
Reviewer David Craft states in his JFH review:
"The title track also serves as the album's closer, and just might be Adam Watts' magnum opus. "When a Heart Wakes Up" illustrates a profound image of redemption and grace through its passionate and descriptive lyrics ("You hear the sound of a knocking at the door / in the middle of the night, in that room below the floor / you feel the shaking of the bedrock underneath / every fake smile, every lie, where that beat up monster sleeps"), sweet melody, and skillful instrumentation. Every aspect of this song is flawless and its message is one which is applicable to all listeners; "I'll set the table and wait / this hunger hits like a tidal wave / I'll let it rush through every window and get ready for the flood / 'cause this is what happens when a heart wakes up / nothing comes and nothing goes / in a clenched up heart the blood will never flow / we can pray our prayers and hope someone cares / but in the end it's up to us / like coming back from the dead when a heart wakes up."
In summary, When a Heart Wakes Up shoots straight for the moon as if to bring it crashing down. Watts doesn't rely on cheap tricks or catchy hooks, but rather emphasizes true musicianship. The album isn't desperate for attention, choosing instead to stand on its own two legs. Because of this, it most decidedly contends to be one of 2018's greatest offerings; there are few projects slated for release later this year which could likely challenge its standing. The album's runtime is set at a smooth 43 minutes, clocking out right when it should. Yet somehow, the listener just may be left wanting more..."
Much of Watts' solo work has been used as source material in the marching arts world. The vocals from the song "Love You More" was used as source material for the 2018 show "Fall" from the world-class Broken City Percussion ensemble.
|2004||The Noise Inside ||BEC Recordings|
|2006||Sleeping Fire||Red Decibel Music|
|2010||Murder Yesterday||Dying Ego Records|
|2012||FALLBORN||Dying Ego Records|
|2013||Life on Earth||Dying Ego Records|
|2014||WAY OUT||Dying Ego Records|
|2016||The Hero and the Pain||Broken City Artists|
|2018||When a Heart Wakes Up||Broken City Artists|
In late 2008, Watts, along with musicians Jules, Nic and Matt Rodriguez (all brothers), FALLBORN was formed. FALLBORN's debut single "Poison Soul" released on iTunes in 2009 and has received radio play on mainstream alt/rock radio, debuting on LA's 106.7 KROQ Locals Only show and Tucson, AZ's KFMA 92.1, among others. The band worked throughout 2009 recording their debut album which was mixed by Grammy winning producer/engineer Jack Joseph Puig (John Mayer, U2). Apart from a 5-song promotional EP, the album never saw the light of day. In early 2010, due to creative differences, FALLBORN disbanded.
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