Dave Adoff (Crossed Keys)

Crossed Keys

Crossed Keys - Dave Adoff

  • May 2023
  • online
  • Matt Horowitz
  • Sell The Heart Records / Creep Records / Dead Satellite Records

Dave Adoff is a Philadelphia area teacher, long-time musician, and guitar/bass player. Adoff has been making, playing, recording and activity releasing music since about 1997-98. He has spent time playing with Hey Angel, Jackie Thousand, The Lovlies, Step Ahead, Stranger Stations and most recently, Crossed Keys. Adoff is one of Crossed Keys‘ founding members and has been with the band since their Summer 2016 Demo. Just this past Friday, Crossed Keys unleashed their debut full-length, Believes In You, unto the masses that was jointly released on Dead Satellite Records, Creep Records and Sell The Heart Records. Ahead of Believes In You‘s wide release, Crossed Keys‘ one-time label suddenly folded and Adoff decided to form his own label imprint, Dead Satellite Records, to self-release it. Soon after, the band inked deals with Creep Records & Sell The Heart Records for widespread distribution.

Dead Satellite Records

Crossed Keys played arguably their biggest scale stage to date at Dave Hause‘s first annual Sing Us Home Festival in both Venice Island & Manayunk, Pennsylvania just this past weekend. I was fortunate enough to conduct an interview, via email, with Dave Adoff that (for clarity’s sake) was conducted prior to Sing Us Home. Check out my comprehensive interview with Adoff, which has been lightly edited for general clarity. Crossed KeysBelieves In You is now available across digital streaming platforms, as well as on limited edition orange/blue vinyl from Dead Satellite Records and limited edition gold vinyl through both Creep Records & Sell The Heart Records.

Crossed Keys

1. How did you initially come to join Crossed Keys?

“All of the guys in Crossed Keys have been long-time friends that have played with each other a lot over the years in various Philly bands. My memory of the beginnings of the band is Josh [Alvarez] & Andrew [Wellbrock] had the idea to put the band together and Josh reached out to me about joining. He claims that I reached out to him, but I am pretty sure he is wrong about that. At the time, I was playing in a band called Jackie Thousand, which is a pretty big departure from Punk Rock music. The band was slowing down a bit and the timing was perfect for me to join Crossed Keys, especially, since the entire band was made up of some of my closest friends and people that I respect a ton musically. From our very first practice, we wrote the song “Jeff Pelly vs. The Empire” and the chemistry was undeniable. Our original drummer, Brandon Wallace, who has been in countless awesome Philly Hardcore bands, was too busy with his other band, so he only was with us for that first practice. We got our friend, Steve Roche, to take his spot and we were off to the races.”

Crossed Keys
Photo Courtesy Matt Shaver

2. What was your relationship with your bandmates like prior to joining Crossed Keys?

“We are all long-time friends, so this band really was a no-brainer. Josh & I have been best buds since 7th grade and found our love for music together. We have been playing music together since high school, so this band is really just the next progression in our musical journey together. I have been friends with Beau [Brendley] since the late 90’s through his old band, Kill The Man Who Questions. At that time, the West Philly Punk scene was amazing and between Stalag 13, The Killtime, and [The] Fake House, there were shows going on almost every night of the week. I would say I was hanging with Beau at a show at least once or twice a week and a whole crew of us would hit up Mad Mex after and rip up the half-price late night menu. Andrew is another person that has been a friend for years; he went to high school with some of my close friends, so we met years back. I was friendly with Steve [Roche], but did not know him as well as the other guys, but when he left the band, Dave [“Wags”] Wagenschutz took his place. I have known Wags since the late 90’s, also. My old band, Step Ahead, would play a bunch with Kid Dynamite and we all became friends and hung on the regular. Josh was the only one I had played with before, so I was stoked to get to play with everyone else, since I was a fan of their past musical projects.”

3. What were some of your greatest personal sources of inspiration while making Crossed Keys’ Believes In You?

“Believes In You was written during The Pandemic, so the writing of that record is a reflection of that time. Everyone was spending all of their time at home and I was listening to a ton of music. The way Crossed Keys usually writes is that either Beau or I will come to practice with a completed song musically and show Andrew & Wags. Once there is a song structure, I record a demo and, then, the guitar lead and vocal melodies are added after that. Beau & I have a very different style of playing, but our musical North Stars are the same, so it all seems to work. We both pull a lot of influence from the angular writing of bands, like Archers of Loaf & Afghan Whigs, so we are able to fuse our two parts together without too much overthinking. For the songs that I wrote on Believes In You, I was able to spend a lot of time working them out with Wags. The band was not able to all get together because of COVID, but Wags & I would mask up and jam for a few hours every week. That is not something that we are normally able to do, so it allowed us to really get a feel for how the songs should sound. Taking that time to flesh out the songs really allowed us to make sure what we made was a representation of us as a band.”

Crossed Keys

4. What prompted you to start your own label imprint, Dead Satellite Records, which is co-releasing Believes In You along with Sell The Heart & Creep Records?

“We found ourselves with the record being finished, but the label that was going to put it out could no longer make it happen. We were scrambling to find a label that would want to release it, but a group of middle-aged rockers that can’t really tour is not an easy sell for a label. We had talked to a couple labels and there was a little interest, but one of my closest buds, Dave Hause, talked me into starting my own label. He and his brother, Tim, started their own label, Blood Harmony Records, to release their album, Blood Harmony, and he thought I should do the same thing. Nobody is going to push the record harder than I will, so why cut someone else in on the process? Andrew & I have been figuring it out as we go, but it has been such a great experience and it feels amazing to be part of every aspect of the record. From writing the songs to printing out labels and putting the record in the mail, every step of the way, the band has total control. I think it is amazing that anyone would invest their time and money in a band that they believe in. There are plenty of labels that would be unreal to get to be on the roster, but right now, this makes the most sense for us. Arik [Victor] from Creep [Records] is a long-time friend of a few of us and he was willing to help us out with distribution and Andy Pohl at Sell The Heart [Records] was interested in helping, as well.”

5. What are some of your future plans and/or intentions for Dead Satellite Records?

“I have no idea what the future of Dead Satellite is at this point. It could be something that is just a means to release this album or I might use it to put out future projects. I am a high school teacher, which does afford me some time off in the summer, so once I get this album out, I will have to see if I have it in me to do something else. I love making music, so I am hopeful this will be a way for me to play music with different people and if something clicks, I have the infrastructure in place to put it out. For right now, I do not have any plans for future releases, but who knows?”

Crossed Keys

6. Can you tell us a little bit about the assortment of unique vinyl variants each label is hosting and selling for Believes In You?

“We wound up doing a pressing of 500 records. We pressed 150 on orange and blue to match the cover artwork and those are being sold through Dead Satellite Records. We pressed the other 350 on gold vinyl and you can order those through Creep & Sell The Heart Records.”

7. How would you say Crossed Keys’ overall sound, style, delivery, approach, etc. has changed and evolved since your earliest recordings together on the I’m Just Happy That You’re Here (2017) CD-R EP?

“On that first album, we were really just figuring out how to all play with each other, but you can hear the elements there that contribute to our sound. We all come from very different places musically and when we work together on a song, we find a way to land somewhere really great. I have never played in a band where I did not feel like I had to sacrifice my style of playing to make the songs work. Steve Roche was our drummer on that record and when he left the band and Dave Wagenschutz joined, that really pushed us into new territory. The energy of Wags’ playing and raw intensity pushed the songs to the next level and we started writing with that in mind. I feel like Believes In You is a product of us falling into a real rhythm as a band. We are learning the musical shorthand that you develop when you play with the same people for a long time. We are all very excited to get started on working on the next album and feel that our best songs are still ahead of us.”

Crossed Keys
Photo courtesy Jared Coffin

8. What can you tell us about the concept(s) behind and creation of Crossed Keys’ “Vina Park” music video starring Bruce Park formerly of Only Glory?

“That video was something that we cooked up as a band. Bruce has been close friends with the band for a long time. He & I were in the dorms together in college and spent way too many hours playing Tetris. We needed to come up with an idea that we could shoot in one day and had a video budget of zero dollars. I reached out to a guy I teach with named Dave Jennis, who was a director before he started teaching. I asked if he was willing to make the video for us and he said he was up for helping us out. He made that entire video for us in a couple of weeks and we couldn’t be happier with how it came out. We feel like it really represents the joy we have playing with each other. We really love each other and we think Dave captured that in the video. Bruce is the greatest and we hope this launches his acting career; he killed it and the song is, actually, about him. Josh likes to write songs for his friends and he did a great job of capturing the positive force that is Bruce Park. Dave [Jennis] started Shotgun Productions, so if you are in need of a music video, you should definitely hit him up!”

9. What are some of the most stacked, varied, mixed bill, etc. gigs you’ve been fortunate enough to play over these past few years as part of Crossed Keys?

“The band has played with some great bands and we are the most excited for the Sing Us Home Festival the weekend of May 5th and 6th. Dave Hause is the organizer of the festival and he curated an unbelievable show with The Drive-By Truckers, Dave Hause & The Mermaid, Kathleen Edwards, Craig Finn, CATBITE, Tisburys, Tim Hause, and a few others. It is such a cool group of bands from all over the musical spectrum and I am really excited to be able to play in front of people that would probably not normally get to see us. We have been lucky enough to play with some killer bands, like BE WELL, Good Riddance, Dave Hause, H2O, and a ton more.”

10. How would you say your past body of work(s) with Hey Angel, Jackie Thousand, Step Ahead, and Stranger Station has affected or influenced your guitar playing technique within Crossed Keys?

“I really started getting serious about playing in my early 20’s, so I do not have that foundation that a lot of players have from starting way younger. I have minimal understanding of music theory, so my guitar playing is informed by what sounds right to me and not what is necessarily the “right” thing to play. I have been in a lot of very different sounding musical projects, but I think my guitar style is pretty constant through all of it. Crossed Keys is the first band I have been in with two guitars, so I am writing more with leads in mind. In past bands, my parts were more rhythm-based with melodic chord variations, but with Crossed Keys, I am spending more time trying to develop tight melodic leads that, hopefully, add to the songs.”

Crossed Keys
Photo Courtesy Megan Matuzak

11. How does it feel to be able to have your new band, Crossed Keys, be playing the Sing Us Home Festival presented by your old bandmate, Dave Hause, this spring?

“I am so excited to play the festival. I have been best buds with Dave since we started our first band. Step Ahead, in 1996. To see Dave grow into one of the best song-writers making music today has been so great. I have been fortunate enough to join him on the road over the years when I was off during the summer and have watched him gain more and more momentum as he went. I couldn’t be more proud of Dave, Tim [Hause], and Alex [Fang] for making this amazing idea a reality. I am so thankful that he asked us to be a part of the first one and I cannot wait to see how the festival grows in the future.”

12. Speaking of Dave Hause: are there any immediate plans or intentions to give your lone 1997-98 album, There’s Always Hope, recorded together with Brendan Hill & Steve Heywood as Step Ahead a proper re-release?

“Step Ahead was my first attempt at being in a band and my friendship with Dave & Brendan is something I cherish above most things. We talked about the idea of re-releasing that album at some point, but I don’t see it happening anytime soon.”

Crossed Keys
Photo Courtesy Brandi Adoff

13. What’s planned next for Crossed Keys?

“Believes In You comes out May 5th and we will be playing as much as we can to support the record. We all are super-proud of what we made and want as many people to hear it as possible. We are excited to be able to play the new songs live and get to some places we have not been able to play yet. We are planning to get started working on new songs this summer and, hopefully, will be ready to record another record next year. The fact that I get to make music with my closest buds and we have something we all really Believe In has me very excited about what is ahead for the band. Thanks so much for the interview, Matt!”