Editor’s note: With live music and concert reviews on hold due to COVID-19, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is focusing on how Georgia musicians are spending their time in our feature, Mic Check.
Adam Jaffe would like to make one thing clear: Rock isn’t dead.
As the drummer for the Atlanta-based quintet Pistols at Dawn, Jaffe is a dedicated rocker. A guy whose band prides itself on authenticity, real instrumentation and the time-honored tradition of musical virtuosity displayed in the form of guitar solos.
Originally assembled in 2015, Pistols at Dawn recorded a few singles at Cock of the Walk studio (owned by Jackyl’s Jesse James Dupree), but shortly after the band’s momentum started, it faltered. Then guitarist Mike Buffa was stricken with cancer. He died in December 2018.
After a hiatus, Pistols at Dawn reconvened and is readying the May 7 release of an EP, “Nocturnal Youth” — also recorded at Dupree’s studio — which has been introduced with the incendiary single, “Voices.”
Jaffe, who has played drums since the age of 6, is joined by guitarist Devin White, singer Chris Pierson, bassist Billy Sullivan and guitarist Tommy Richardson (all but Richardson, a native of Nicaragua, are from Georgia).
In a recent chat, Jaffe excitedly talked about the future for Pistols at Dawn, the band’s chemistry and their varied influences.
Credit: Michael Mueller/M3 Media
Credit: Michael Mueller/M3 Media
Q: The band had a bit of a winding road to its return.
A: (Laughs) Yeah, we got back together in the summer of 2019, and in January of 2020, we made the decision that yes, this is good, let’s run with it. We started marketing big time worldwide as a professional hard rock band. We’re not marketing ourselves as an Atlanta local band. We got an amazing response to the first three singles. Then the pandemic hit. Obviously, it’s been horrible. But I’ll be honest; we saw this as a really good opportunity because you have so many people at home starving for new music. We just saw it as a chance to let people get to know us; we used it as much as we could as a positive.
Q: What can people check out now?
A: We did three videos for our previous singles. We filmed “Cold” at an insane asylum in Milledgeville. We got a million views in four weeks, so we knew we had something. We said we wanted to do something sexy-cool for “Gauntlet,” so we went to a sex dungeon in Atlanta. It was one of the coolest videos we’ve ever been part of, and it was clean as hell! Then we went to the school bus graveyard in Alma for “All You Offer.” We’re doing videos for all of the songs on the EP… We’re in the process of writing for the album after the EP — we’re five songs into that. We rehearse every week, safely, with a mask on.
Q: What was the overall feeling when you decided to reignite the band?
A: It felt so good when we all got back together. It was just for fun at first. But it very quickly was, “We gotta go all the way.” It’s magic. When you’re in a band with great chemistry, to me, that’s what allows you to make great music, even if you hate each other. When we got back together, it was like having that favorite meal you haven’t had in five years. We went into the studio, and it was like all things are right in the world. It was religious. We’re not stopping until we’re playing the biggest stages. Doors are opening for us, thank God. And we intend to go through all of them and see what happens. A lot of people just want to make a living making music. Kudos to them, but we want to be one of the biggest bands in the world.
Q: Who are you listening to lately?
A: I’m a rocker, so I love Godsmack and Shinedown. A handful of these larger rock bands have put out stuff during the pandemic, and it’s fed my need as well. (Atlanta radio station) Rock 100.5 has been good to us. They’ve featured us on their “Home Brew” show. I love radio, and they’ve kept it good and put on all the new tunes that come out.
Who are some of the band’s influences? Have you gotten to know any of your fellow Atlanta hard rockers?
A: We love Sevendust and Mastodon. We know the guys in Sevendust because we used to rehearse at RTM (Rehearse Too Much, now Avatar Studio), and Sevendust used to prep their shows there, and we’d go inside and watch. If I look around at the guys in the band and asked their influences, we have our metal heads who would say Slayer, Pantera, Metallica, Killswitch Engage, all the major metal bands. Our singer would tell you progressive metal. (Guitarist) Tommy, he’s a shredder, but he likes it all, so you could probably also find him listening to Enya. We’re old school. We want solos, and Tommy solos. We are a true rock band. We’re plug and play. You give us guitars, we plug-in. There are no electronic drums or tracks. What we put on an album, we can play.