Adam Gomez (The Dickies / Drum-Thru Drive-In)

  • Marcus Solomon posted
  • Interviews

The Dickies - Adam Gomez

  • 29th August 2022
  • Online
  • Marcus Solomon
  • Cleopatra Records

We all know that the remaining founding members and principal members of The Dickies are Leonard Phillips Graves (lead vocals) and Stan Lee (lead guitar) but what about the other members of the band? A band is only as good as its weakest member, and with The Dickies, there is no weakest member. Over the decades, people have come and gone, leaving Leonard and Stan searching to find people worthy of upholding The Dickies’ reputation for skilled musicianship, high energy, and punk rock versatility. Musician’s Institute graduate and local boy made good Adam Gomez, was chosen to take the drummer’s position for The Dickies in 2013 because he is a phenomenal and dependable performer. Since that time, Adam has also played for The Adolescents, D.I., CJ Ramone, and many other bands who suddenly needed a drummer capable of learning quickly and saving the show at the last minute.

Adam was not even born when The Dickies began in 1977. Today, he is an integral part of the band, one of the seminal punk rock outfits that helped define the undefinable punk rock genre. To watch him play during a concert is a show in itself. He is precise, thunderous, and clearly at one with his instrument. Adam motivates himself to give every performance all of his ability by imagining that each performance will be his last. It shows. Adam also has a YouTube channel called Adam Gomez Presents: Drum-Thru Drive-In wherein he presents videos of himself playing along to popular punk and metal songs such as Nirvana’s Territorial Pissings, and Megadeth’s Tornado of Souls. He also presents advice to his fellow drummers and occasionally has contest giveaways. Be sure to check that out, and if you see Adam at a show, step up and say hello. He is a nice guy. This interview begins during a conversation Adam was having with photographer Faith Zorh wherein he was offering advice about finding one’s personal passion and success in life.

Adam: “The more I have been learning about the music industry, getting to know all these people and all these bands, it’s just like we’re doing here. We meet up, kind of hang out and talk…It turns out that it is not always about being the best drummer. It’s not about being the one who knows all the stick tricks and all that. It’s about who you are as a person, because if you are going to bring someone into a band. They [the other band members] want to know who is coming into their circle.”

Marcus: It’s like a family.

Adam: “Yeah. Whether or not they are going to consider you like family, they are going to be spending a lot of time with you…and you have to do the same. You have to be like: ‘Okay, what are these people all about? Can I handle being around all these personalities? When you are out for an audition, like I said, it’s not about being the stick twirlier or some kind of drum virtuoso, it’s about having heart and showing it.”

Marcus: So, The Dickies were in existence before you were born, right?

Adam: [Laughs.]

Marcus: Did you ever stop and think, how did this happen?

Adam: “Once I graduated from music school, I did not just have a gig handed to me. Once you graduate its like, okay, here’s your percussion and performance arts degree…bye…good luck. I just started looking everywhere I could to get a gig. I knew that I needed to work of course because I was an adult by then. So, I just started teaching drums. I was looking online for stuff. You know how there’s a Facebook Marketplace and stuff like that? I went to Criaigslist and The Recyler and I found this band called Bloodhook. They had already been playing for a couple of years, and had an European tour already scheduled and lined up, but they didn’t have a drummer anymore. I hit them up. I was like, okay, I’m down. What do I have to do? They had a full album out already and had Dusty Watson [who had played drums for] Dick Dale, Agent Orange, The Bellrays. He was not available to tour. I started listening to their stuff, and I liked it. I told them I could learn two or three songs by tomorrow and they were like…uh, we were hoping you could learn the whole album by tomorrow.”

Marcus: Learn the entire album by tomorrow?

Adam: “Yeah. I was like…sure. But it was because of the skills I had learned in music school. How to listen and transcribe. I get the gig, we do the tour, so that was under my belt. I could say that I had been on tour and done Europe. Because I had hooked up with Bloodhook, even though they are not a band that everybody knows, all these bands make friends with each other.”

Marcus: Networking.

Adam: “Yes. It was a matter of networking. That is not something that I realized at the moment, but….”

Marcus: And then Stan Lee just came up and started giving you money?

Adam: [Laughs] “Yeah.”

Marcus: There he is. [Stan Lee comes over to give Adam some money.]

Stan: [To Adam] “Here, go buy yourself a burger.”

Adam: “Okay. [Returns to his story] What I didn’t know was that the guys in Bloodhook knew the guys in D.I. And Eddie’s in it [Edward Tatar plays bass for both The Dickies and D.I.] but back then, he was not in The Dickies. He was in D.I. and some other bands, and one night, D.I. needed a drummer for one gig. They called Bloodhook and they were like, hey, can we borrow your drummer for one gig? I was like, oh god yes! So, I played with them for a gig, I did my homework and I showed them what was up with the way I played. It might not have been perfect, and I wanted it to be, but more than that, they saw how much heart I had. A year later, I was still playing for Bloodhook and Eddie calls me up and asks: “Hey, you got a passport?” I said yeah, and he asks, “Can you tour?” I said yeah, and he says, “Okay, I’m going to get you an audition with The Dickies.”

Marcus: It just fell into your lap?

Adam: “Yeah, I go…wait, what do you mean? How did this happen? What is going on here? It turns out that a lot of us know each other on some level. Eddie found out that The Dickies’ bass player was on his way out and one way or another, he became the bass player during that year I had not heard from him. When he found out The Dickies’ drummer was on his way out, he said, “I know somebody.”

Marcus: You made an impression.

Adam: “Yeah, from playing in front of him, and I ended up getting the gig.”

Marcus: Was it like America’s Got Talent with Stan and Leonard there and some big button to push if they like you?

Adam: [Laughs] “No. There was no Leonard until the final part of the auditioning. They had me learn some of the songs, but Eddie was like: “You know what? Learn more.”

Marcus: Bring more to the table.

Adam: “And lucky for me, he wanted me to get that gig. He told me to go to this YouTube video and learn this performance because the way the drummer is doing it is the way we are doing it now. That will make Leonard and Stan feel more comfortable. It would basically be like the former drummer never left. Little things like that really helped me. If I had gone back and listened to the first Dickies record and learned everything Karlos Kaballero did, it may not have worked out so well. It was so very different in that recording.”

Marcus: Tell us about your YouTube Channel, Drum-Thru Drive-In.

Adam: “My channel “Drum-Thru Drive-In” is my main focus as an independent artist. It’s packed with drum covers, with musician tips, and stories from the road. The channel is something I’m growing from the ground up, that has a punk/metal influence, with a slight horror cinema vibe. I’ve added a horror trivia intro to the latest videos. You’ll know what I mean when you watch.”

Marcus: You mentioned on your YouTube page that drums saved your life. Tell me about that.

Adam: “Where I grew up, it was not the best area.”

Marcus: Fontana?

Adam: [Chuckles] “No. I was born in Echo Park, near downtown Los Angeles. It was not the greatest place in the ‘80s. We moved to another part of Los Angeles, and that also was not the greatest.”

Marcus: Boyle Heights?

Adam: “No. El Sereno, but Boyle Heights is also not known to be the most peaceful of neighborhoods. It was weird, because you have Boyle Heights and El Sereno here and then right next door is Alhambra, and its like…wow! [Boyle Heights and El Sereno are known for heavy gang activity and Alhambra is primarily an upscale community.] There was a lot of gang activity. I had my mom and dad, but we were pretty dysfunctional for a time. Because I got into music as opposed to getting into other things, and finding a passion in that, and staying busy in that, I think it saved my life.”

Marcus: Music kept you from getting involved with gangs and drugs.

Adam: “Yes. And when I play drums, I like to bang on things pretty hard. I kind of have to be busy in that way. It’s better to do that than getting into fights when you are 12 or 13 years-old. I am really glad I did not [go the wrong way.]”

Marcus: How do you manage to have a marriage, a child, a job, and somehow manage to take off to tour? I have always wondered how so many musicians are able to do that.

Adam: “It’s tough. Touring with The Dickies is kind of like my 2nd job. I am always working. I work in an office.”

Marcus: They let you go on tour?

Adam: “They let me go, but I had to go through quite a few jobs to find that one. Some people go different routes [to be able to tour.] Some people start their own businesses, so they don’t have anyone to ask to take off. For me, it’s hard because I care about being a dad.”

Marcus: Your daughter is beautiful.

Adam: “Thank you. It is not just about being a musician and bringing in an income as a musician. It is not just about seeing the world. I have done that, and I am still trying to level up in many aspects. It’s not just about seeing the world and seeing all the sights. It’s about, what time is back home because I have to call my wife and daughter before dinner. So my daughter can see my face and she knows that her dad still cares and her dad is still here. It’s not just fulfilling my responsibility, but it is so years from now, my daughter can look back and think, ‘Yeah, my dad cared about me even though he was thousands of miles away.’”

Marcus: What countries have you visited as a member of The Dickies?

Adam: “All over the U.S, I have been to China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Czech Republic, UK, Scotland, Ireland, Belgium, Germany and France.”

Marcus: What countries did you like the best?

Adam: “The best? Too hard to decide, man. I guess, when it comes down to it, touring in a band ends up involving a lot of figuring out what you’re going to eat. And I love good old American barbecue. So, I just might have to say the US.”

Marcus: I read somewhere you had to do a show when you had the flu.

Adam: “Yeah. We had a gig in Seattle, and right before we started playing, I started feeling kind of funny. We played the gig, and it was all good, but afterward I started feeling sick to my stomach. We load up and take off. We were on tour with The Queers. They all found pizza, but I didn’t want any. I just felt bad. I was way in back [of the van]. There were like four dudes in my way, and I had to throw up. I said, I need to do this now! So, they pull over and I am there on the side of the freeway throwing up. We get to the hotel, it was a nice hotel, and I spent half the night with my face in the toilet and the rest of the time I was curled up in a ball, shivering.”

Marcus: Did you have to play the next day?

Adam: “Yeah, that was the first show of the tour. It took like three or four days for me to feel normal. The throwing up stopped during those eight or nine hours, but the next day, I looked pale like I was going to die. We had a show in Portland, Oregon, and I just grabbed a trash can, put it next to my drum set and said, alright man, let’s go!”

Marcus: I saw Steve Diggle of the Buzzcocks do that. The band played The Glasshouse many years ago, and he had a bucket on the side of the stage, and he would occasionally go over there and throw up while he kept playing.

Adam: “Yikes! Yeah, that happens. Well, that’s one of many throw up stories from being on tour.”

Marcus: Tell me some more:

Adam: “One time (one of quite a few times actually), we were going into New York I think on the Verrazano Bridge, and we were listening to music, and I was drinking some orange juice. Runaround Sue was playing through the speakers and Leonard was singing along, making up his own words. He caught me off guard when I had to swallow, and he made me laugh so hard I started choking. I got orange juice in my nose, choked on it and then puked. We were still in motion on the bridge, basically the freeway, and I had to stick my head out of the van door while we were moving and just let it all out. There was a lot of laughter. That’s actually just one of many puking incidences I’ve had on the road.”

Faith: In one of the videos [on Drum-Thru Drive-In] you said you played with CJ Ramone?

Marcus: Yeah! How did you hook up with CJ?

Adam: “I hooked up with CJ Ramone through Steve Soto of the Adolescents. When Steve was still alive, I toured with Adolescents. I got to know Steve and the whole band. I just stayed in touch with Steve, and he was always trying to find me gigs. He knew I wanted to get busy and stay busy.”

Marcus: Steve was always helping people.

Adam: “Yes, he was, and I was very lucky to meet that kind of person in this circle. One day, Steve says, hey man, CJ Ramone, we got a TV performance…and their drummer Pete Sosa, he drums for the Street Dogs, they were already on tour…[Steve said] so I’m calling you.” [Laughs.]

Marcus: You got to tour with CJ Ramone?

Adam: “No. It was for a TV performance, and that was rad! We did a rehearsal, I met up with him at a burger joint in Fullerton with him and Steve…and Dan Root from the Adolescents.”

Marcus: Did that lead to you being in the Adolescents? [I was not paying close attention, because Adam had already mentioned that he toured with Adolescents before this meeting.]

Adam: “No. I did the Adolescents before that. I toured with Adolescents. It was another networking thing. It was like being in Bloodhook and them knowing Eddie [D.I., Dickies], and Eddie knowing The Dickies.”

Marcus: All that and they knew you were reliable.

Adam: “Right. You can network, but if you don’t hold up your end of the bargain by showing up on time or doing what you have to do it will be…okay, that guy didn’t work out. It can be easy for stuff like that to fall apart. It has to be a combination of networking and pulling off what you need to pull off…and that does not just apply to playing drums.”

Marcus: What you said applies to life in general. Be on time and do your best.

Adam: “You’d be surprised how important it is to be on time. As miniscule as that sounds, so many people are not.”

Marcus: Apparently, there is some discussion about the Chiodo brothers making a sequel to Killer Klowns from Outer Space, but the complicated legalities are taking a long time.

Adam: “Yes.”

Marcus: The composer for that film, John Massari [who has also produced music for Sony Pictures, Disney, HBO, and MGM] had you help him rearrange the soundtrack, including The Dickies’ title track?

Adam: “Yes. Massari reimagined the whole movie score, and in addition, The Dickies and I re- recorded the title track, and it was put into Massari’s reimagined album.”

Marcus: Massari has you working with him on other projects as well?

Adam. “Yes. I’ve been involved with doing drums for Massari for a Christmas track “Wild Spruce Chase” which was for a music score library called Extreme Music, that also showcases music from Quincy Jones and Hans Zimmerman. It’s parent company is Sony Music Publishing.”

Marcus: Impressive. Anything else you are doing we should know about?

Adam: “[I worked on a] “Mikey and his Uke” appearance that’s coming out soon on YouTube.”  His channel does punk covers with different artists. I’m doing one with Mike Palm, Billy Gould (Faith No More), Ego Plum (The Cuphead Show, Spongebob Squarepants), and Rikk Agnew. [] [Adam is also working on another big project, but it is an industry secret at the present time.]”

Marcus: Tell me about your personal style. What’s with the bow tie and suspenders?

Adam: “The very first gig with The Dickies, my sister got married that same day. I got dressed up for my sister’s wedding. I had to leave early because we were playing the House of Blues Anaheim that night. I brought a change of clothes, black jeans, black shirt. I am the new guy so I did not want to try to stand out. I still had this on [bow tie and suspenders] when I got there. I ran into Stan in a hallway, and he goes: “Are you wearing that [on stage?]” I go, oh, no no no! I got a change of clothes. He goes: “No, no…I like it.” [Laughs]. Well, its kind of weird, but okay.”

Marcus: Serendipity.

Adam: “Yeah, that’s how that came about.”

Marcus: Are you playing on The Dickies final album, that is finally to be released when that finally happens?

Adam: “Yes. That is me. I can now say that someday, when the band is finally done, at least I was part of that rock ‘n’ roll history.”

Marcus: You are already part of The Dickies legacy, but this is a physical, tangible, piece of that.

Adam: “If we hadn’t done the record, the only proof would have been YouTube videos. Who knows what’s going to happen with that in ten or twenty years.”

Marcus: You must have been so stoked to when they chose you.

Adam: “Oh yeah! Because I grew up listening to them too. I was a fan!”

Marcus: “When were you born?”

Adam: “’82.”

Marcus: The Dickies started in 1977.

Adam: “Do the math”

Marcus: You were a negative integer.

Adam: [Laughs]. “Yeah. I used to be the youngest guy in the band, but not anymore.”

Marcus: Who is the youngest?

Adam: “Ben Seelig. I actually went to music school with him. That guy is a real player [musically.] He is very precise. He is really more into jazz. That is his thing.”

Marcus: Have you ever seen the Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa drum battle?

Adam: “Oh yes. I think I had the CD. It wasn’t really a battle. It was more a show of them, but it was always marketed that way.”

Marcus: Hey, how did you meet Bill of Dr. Strange Records?

Adam: “When I was a teenager, before I even started in bands. I already knew about Dr. Strange Records. It used to be not even a store. It was not a website or anything.”

Marcus: He used to sell records on consignment out of my skateboard shop, and he put ads in Flipside Magazine.

Adam: “Okay. I remember Flipside, but it was kind of past my time. I just remember some punk rocker friends of mine would get it [Dr. Strange Records catalogue] in the mail. I would always check out the catalogue. One day, on the catalogue, it said: “We are opening our first store!” I think this was around ’96, ’97? I was like, oh my god, its going to be in my area! I did not really know that Dr. Strange Records was local at the time. I remember going over there and thinking: Oh my god, that’s him. That’s Dr. Strange. That’s the guy! When I came back in one day, he recognized me, and he said something like, “Hey, you’re in The Dickies!” I said: “Yeah, I live like right down the street!” We just became buds, man.”

Marcus: Bill is hard-working, dedicated, and honest.

Adam: “Yeah, that’s for sure. Bill is non-stop.”

Marcus: Too many dick jokes though.

Adam: “Oh, for sure. [Laughs]. Bill is a good dude. I like him a lot.”

Marcus: Do you intend to make the music industry your permanent career?

Adam: “Yes. I will always be within the music industry. At least for as long as I humanly possibly can. I’m mostly known for being the drummer keeping bands on the train tracks while we’re pushing forward live or in the studio, but I’m also a creator. In the future, I’m sure I’ll be creating new things whether it be contributing more to The Dickies material, starting new projects, (which I already have in mind), or writing new material for my oddball metal band Jahmbi. Jahmbi is and has always been a safe haven for my for ideas and concepts within heavy music. I’m also shoving my head through the door of movie scores and that whole arena. I’m becoming a little more involved with movie scoring and such as far as drums go, but I may eventually be creating things on my own as well. Even though that’s definitely a son-of-a-bitch to build as far as programs and stuff like that. What I mean is, it’s definitely an investment, money-wise and in terms of time, getting to know and understand the programs you’ve bought. But yeah, either way I want to shove my head all the way through that door and eventually have my whole skeleton in the room.”

Adam has accomplished much, and he is destined to achieve much more as he continues to make an even larger name for himself in the music industry. Take the time to see The Dickies live when you are able, because none of us are getting any younger and nothing lasts forever.

Photography by Faith Zorh