Adam Deitch

Adam Deitch

by Robin Tolleson

With his producer’s ear for playing exactly the right thing at exactly the right time, the Lettuce/Break Science drummer has claimed his place among contemporary funk’s great musical voices. Robin Tolleson digs deep to find the roots of his earthy, impossibly good-feeling grooves.

Ask him, and Adam Deitch will tell you that he’s got it pretty much exactly the way he wants it now—unless what you’re talking about is sleep.

On the festival circuit with the funk crusaders Lettuce and the electronic/acoustic dance hybrid Break Science, Deitch often finds himself playing two different ninety-minute sets in a night. Lettuce, riding peaks of popularity with a new album, Crush, might hit around midnight, before Deitch joins DJ/keyboardist Borahm Lee for a late, late set with Break Science. “They put us anywhere, three in the morning sometimes,” the drummer says with a smile. “The late-night dance crowds. It’s a workout.”

Lettuce is a story in itself. The members met while attending a summer program for incoming Berklee freshmen, and twenty-two years later they’re an overnight success story. Head nodding up and down and then side to side with the changing rhythmic current, eyes barely visible under the brim of his cap, Deitch is all allegiance to the groove. His wicked fills only embellish and kick up the flow.

A studio rat since childhood, Deitch has been building an impressive client list of late as a producer: Ledisi, Pretty Lights, 50 Cent…. “It’s all about putting a great melody with a great groove that feels good,” Adam says. “And for me to feel happy about it, every song has to have something rhythmically inventive.”

Deitch has been producing his own tracks as well, with release eminent on his own Golden Wolf Records. “I have a new organ trio, a solo record, and I’m doing three different versions of electronic-based records, all with live drums,” he tells us. “There’s a slew of projects on the way.”

Looks like Deitch isn’t the only one who’ll be staying up late with his music in the near future—we’re all going to be spending some long nights diggin’ on this man’s beats.

MD: One of the great things about Lettuce is the rhythm guitar work. How does that feed what you do?

Adam: Yeah, we have two of the greatest guitar players in the world, and they can both play lead and rhythm.

Our rhythmic anchor is Adam Smirnoff, who is the first Lettuce member I met at Berklee. He counts off the tunes, and, you know, he probably could have been a drummer, because he’s got this insane drummer-like time and sense of tempo and pace. So he puts all of that rhythm into his guitar, and it’s just…it’s my percussion, it’s my congas, it’s my shekere—it’s everything. That unbreakable, amazing rhythmic guitar feel has been anchoring me and making me a better drummer since we met when I was sixteen, so I owe a lot to Mr. Smirnoff. And Eric Krasno, of course, is the other guitar player—not bad.

MD: You played with another band that many associate with great rhythm guitar, the Average White Band.

Adam: Oh, yeah, Onnie McIntyre. I was with them for three years. I guess that was my first professional gig, touring on a bus with a band that is definitely one of the funk stalwarts of all time. The two original members that were still in the band, Onnie and Alan Gorrie, they imparted a lot of knowledge to me. They were wonderful people who brought this twenty-three-year-old kid who was totally into hip-hop into their scene with a bunch of fifty-something-year-old men, and really taught me a lot about life, about rhythm and blues, about the beauty of a good song and all those things.

We also got to meet and perform with bands like Tower of Power, the Ohio Players, Chaka Khan, and Earth, Wind & Fire—artists that we were backstage with, rubbing elbows with. All these superheroes that I worshipped from my parents’ record collection. That definitely helped me establish myself and prove that I could actually be a touring drummer. I didn’t know if it was even possible before that. It was definitely a big one for me.

MD: It must have been fun locking in with Onnie on those rhythms.

Adam: Oh, yeah, that’s what they’re about. It was all about that lock, and Onnie and I had a great relationship, on and off stage. It was kind of like a crash course in Scottish culture as well as funk and soul music. We would hang out and sip on quality scotch and talk about the old Atlantic Records days when they first met Aretha, when they came over to America, and the whole scene over at Atlantic.

MD: And they had a hit record with an instrumental, “Pick Up the Pieces.”

Adam DeitchAdam: Yes! That was a big influence on Lettuce, on me taking Lettuce seriously. Knowing that a funk instrumental like that had [been a hit]—plus “Chameleon” by Herbie Hancock, obviously. Those great instrumental funk hits were the inspiration for keeping Lettuce primarily an instrumental funk band with simple, singable melodies, and not sort of coming from the jazz side or trying to come up with some super-hip line that’s hard to sing. We try to make all our melodies somewhat hummable when you’re just walking down the street, and concentrate on the Maceo Parker school of horn arranging.

MD: Was that always the mindset with you guys?

Adam: Yeah, it was always instrumental funk with singable melodies. There’s definitely been a heavy James Brown influence, from all his eras, but especially ’73, ’74, ’75—pre-disco James, you know. We were obsessed with that style and everything surrounding it. We just concentrated on that and added a little of the modern hip-hop grooves to that vibe, meaning the big, swinging East Coast go-go-esque hip-hop beats, and also the down-south sort of trap-bounce kinds of beats with funk. So we like to mess with the modern rhythmic template right now but still keep it as true to the funk as we can.

MD: What’s kept Lettuce together for over twenty years?

Adam: It’s the love of the music, the joy of playing with each other, and the ability to improvise as a group in the way that we do. Smirnoff may come up with a completely different riff for a solo section that he just made up, and he’ll smile at the other guys and at me, and I’ll come up with a beat that fits that as best as possible. And our bass player, Erick Coomes, will listen and most times just sort of copy the guitar riff with low notes and make it really pump, and the horns come up with…you know, it’s that improvisational factor, mixed with the tightness and all the other things, that really keeps us motivated and excited to play every night, ready to grind, ready to make it happen. This is our passion.

MD: When you guys lock in, it’s powerful.

Adam: Yeah, the funk has a thing, you know, when it has that mean, nasty feeling but it’s still beautiful at the same time. It has the ability to make the hairs on your neck stand up and give a chill when you get in that groove and it starts feeling so good. We’re all searching for that high that you get when the groove just settles in that right spot and the crowd is in the right place. It’s a beautiful thing.

MD: The opening track on Crush, “The Force,” has those singable melodies you were talking about.

Adam: Smirnoff had the main groove, and then I just started singing the melody. It developed from that place. We always help each other, finish each other’s thoughts, so to speak.

MD: It’s great the way you open the hats on that groove. It’s like creating hooks on the drums with real simple stuff.

Adam: I’m all about that simple stuff. Yeah, it was a great experience also playing with Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings. Homer Steinweiss is their drummer, and he’s very dedicated to soul and funk drumming from the ’60s. I wasn’t that familiar with the style-specific kinds of grooves and fills, and it was good to learn that from him. There’s nothing coming from us that says, “Let’s prove our worth as musicians.” It’s more like, “What’s the funkiest thing we can do to keep it movin’ and groovin’?” That’s the focus.

MD: On “Get Greasy,” there’s just one accent, but it makes the tune.

Adam: I’m out playing a lot of electronic music as well these days, with DJ Pretty Lights and with this guy Gramatik, who’s also a great live producer. And I’ve learned what works as far as how the hip-hop aesthetic connects to Lettuce and what grooves work. I wrote “Get Greasy” with a simple funk guitar groove and that hip-hop swing feeling, mid-tempo, to get people head-bobbing and moving. It’s in the pocket, and there’s nothing about the song that’s mind-blowingly difficult. The difficulty comes in the ability to repeat the groove bar after bar and keep it feeling as good as it felt in the first four bars.

MD: Sometimes you grab attention with the things that you leave out or simplify, not necessarily some chops thing.

Adam: Yeah, the chops thing is tricky these days. I feel like it’s developed to the point where most drummers I see, these cats got their chops together. People really got into what Dennis [Chambers] was doing with John Scofield in the ’80s, and also Vinnie Colaiuta’s influence and Dave Weckl’s influence. Aaron Spears is huge. And yeah, I enjoy it, and it’s something that I’ll always work on in the shed. But as far as Lettuce, I feel like the focus on groove is what’s going to set us apart, and if there’s going to be chops, it’ll be during a drum solo. That’s when it’s appropriate. The old mid-song chop doesn’t really appeal to me anymore.

MD: The interludes on Crush sound like they could be looped samples of your playing.

Adam: No, there were no samples on the record. I found a big thunder drum at the studio and put it on top of the snare drum on a couple of those, and hit the thunder drum as opposed to the snare. It created this weird hybrid sample-y snare drum sound. That’s basically where all the interludes came from: everyone coming up with different parts that fit these hip-hop-esque grooves I was messing around with.

MD: The band gets into some ambient and dub vibes.

Adam: Our sax player, Ryan Zoidis, is a dub aficionado, and it’s pretty special. On those four-hour van rides that we’ve been doing for years, dub has been the music of choice, because it keeps everybody calm, has a nice groove, and keeps everybody in this positive mental state. I really like what dub does for us. I recommend all bands to put on some good dub on their long rides.

And the sounds—the use of cheap echoes, tape delays, old-school-sounding reverbs, and natural reverbs. Not just a reverb box, but a reverb chamber that you send the snare drum to. Our engineer Joel Hamilton knew how to record a modern band like us and give us that vintage feel and sound. He was able to help bring our dub influence, old-school soul influence, funk stuff, and hip-hop stuff together sonically, and for it to all make sense and seem like one thing. Just copying the greats, one particular style, is not what we’re about. We love Sly and the Family Stone, AWB, and James Brown and Maceo, but to re-create that exactly wasn’t ever the goal. It was always to mix it with a dub aesthetic and with a hip-hop feeling.

Our bass player, Erick Coomes, works with Dr. Dre, Talib Kweli, Eminem—all the hip-hop guys that are putting out big records. He’s the bass player and guitar player on a lot of those tracks. He’s always been my main supporter of keeping it simple, playing the groove, and keeping it hip-hop, which to him keeps it current and not just a throwback funk band. He’s always pushed me to play the beat hard—you know, don’t move, stay on the hi-hat as long as you can until you have to play the ride. He’s been my number-one [supporter], giving me pep talks when I was down, giving me the green light to just zone out and play the groove and not feel like I have to do anything else. And what I realize is that when I do that, he shines, and all the rest of the guys shine. It just makes sense with everyone’s concept if I lock it down. Then all those little accents that they’re doing make sense, and it allows the grooves to breathe.

MD: Sometimes it’s cool to play the breaks and accents that everybody’s playing, and sometimes it’s cooler not to.

Adam DeitchAdam: Right, exactly. That’s my biggest decision sometimes, like, do you let this one go? Do you let this accent fly by without any sort of big band fill leading up to it and a crash cymbal? Or is the accent important enough to really showcase it? And I find that every song I play, no matter what style, that decision keeps coming up. The decision becomes based on the musical need at the moment.

MD: I’ve been in situations where guys look at me, like, Why don’t you play that? And then you have to explain.

Adam: Right. Well, you’re like, I have good taste. I mean, it depends. If it’s a cover song and the original version had a big accent, okay, I understand that. That’s the way cats are hearing it. But for original music that you create, it’s your choice. And sometimes it makes sense and sometimes it doesn’t to do a big fill prior and a crash every time a certain accent comes by.

MD: David Garibaldi let a few go by.

Adam: Yeah, and he also hit a lot of them, so…. But Dave has great taste. I had a lesson with him when I was twelve years old. My teacher at the time, Frank Marino, a brilliant teacher who opened my mind to a whole slew of concepts to deal with in drumming and life and music, was keyed in to a lot of things, and I’m sure he had something to do with Garibaldi coming to the drum shop in my town. And I was lucky to have a dad that realized how important that was. I was already a Tower of Power fan, which makes me just a weirdo kid at ten years old. [laughs] But it was really enjoyable, and Dave was wonderful. He explained his ghost-note concept, the three levels of snare drum height—tiny accents, mid accents, and rimshots—his incorporation of paradiddles and paradiddle combinations with grooves, and moving the snare drum accents around to other beats besides 2 and 4.

Garibaldi is a genius with that stuff. When you hear him explain his concepts, you notice how important clave is to him and the three-two and two-three concepts that he uses. He also played all of his Tower of Power grooves for me, and I recorded them. I said, “Would you mind playing this particular song really slow?” So he helped me out immensely, and I had that cassette tape for years. I got to really dig in, and it was like I got to hang out with Dave every day for a couple years.

MD: “Pocket Change” reminds me of Tower.

Adam: “Pocket Change” is a tune by Adam Smirnoff that’s coming from a “Cold Sweat” vibe. Besides Clyde Stubblefield and Jabo Starks, the obvious [influential James Brown drummers], one of Dave’s biggest influences was Maceo’s brother Melvin Parker. I think that Dave had seen Melvin play in the ’70s, and Melvin’s thing was kind of like the “Oakland Stroke” but a little more swingy and slowed down. It was pumpin’, but 2-and-4 was never his calling card. It was like his hi-hat was playing quarter notes, his kick drum was playing on beat 1, and there was a slew of ghost notes and accents happening on the snare.

MD: It sounds like you’re playing drums with a producer’s ears sometimes, shaping the music as you go.

Adam: Yeah, that’s definitely the goal, especially as a composer. You want to make sure that everything is in its musical place and makes sense, which is what I think playing as a producer means. It’s being micro by making sure all the parts are correct, but the macro part is noticing every little thing and how it fits as one organism. That’s always on my mind when I’m playing, how to make the whole band cook in a certain way, just looking at the entire picture.

I always looked at producing as something extremely fun, something that goes hand in hand with drumming. Quincy Jones has been an idol of mine forever, and Maurice White is one of my favorite producers. The music of Earth, Wind & Fire had a profound effect on me as a kid. I saw them at Radio City Music Hall when I was eleven and was blown away. To this day it reminds me of how powerful music can be, and it can override any bad mood that you’re in. Everyone’s familiar with “Shining Star” and “September,” but when you start digging into their catalog from the early ’70s, it’s quite a ride they can take you on, and it’s definitely my go-to thing for feeling good. And of course Stevie Wonder’s records sound so amazing, as well as Prince.

MD: How did you develop the ear for producing so young?

Adam: Well, both my parents went to Berklee College of Music, and they’ve both played drums their entire life, keyboards as well. They were a club-date band, and in between every gig my dad was in the basement, where his Teac reel-to-reel tape deck was, recording songs, producing himself, playing drums, playing bass, playing keyboards. So I got to see how it was done. He was a huge influence on me in terms of the science of producing and what it meant to bring a song to life.

MD: Is there something to drummers being good producers, having the right vantage point for that?

Adam: Absolutely. We’re playing a combination of instruments. The hi-hat is its own instrument. The snare drum is its own instrument. The kick drum… So we’re naturally arranging—that’s part of it. And then the more background you have on other instruments, the better you’re going to be able to come up with parts yourself and do what’s right for the music.

MD: Some of the drum breaks on “Phyllis” almost sound like programmed beats. Has that sound just become a part of drummers’ playing today?

Adam: Right. My crew, we’re very influenced by James Yancey, aka J Dilla. He was an amazing producer who had a distinct feel when it came to drums, and I related to it in a huge way. Because I grew up thinking that the concepts of swung and straight [notes], where you have a 16th-note triplet versus a straight 16th note, I thought that the song called for either one or the other. But Scofield hipped me to a lot of New Orleans music, and also Bill Stewart and Billy Higgins’ ability to play with the 8th note, which translates to funk as a 16th note, in an in-between way, meaning that it’s not quite swung and not quite straight. So a lot of times during the three years I spent with Scofield, those two records [Up All Night and Überjam], when we weren’t playing an electronic vibe, my focus was to kind of understand that sort of New Orleans in-between swing and straight thing.

And Dilla really championed that feel with his very earthy, live sort of style, and that’s basically where the groove from “Phyllis” came from. The hi-hat is kind of in between, and you pull the hi-hat back and keep the snare and kick relatively spot on, but then the hi-hat becomes a slight flam. So you take 16th notes that are kind of in between straight and swung, and you shift them slightly later than the snare and kick. You’re moving it a 64th note to the right, if you will. It becomes something else, and it feels like it’s cutting off and starting again on 1.

That’s something that comes from when you’re a hip-hop producer and you sample something. Prior to recently, you weren’t able to fix it and put it perfectly in the grid. Now with Ableton Live, there’s less and less of that, unless you do it on purpose, but back then they would piece these loops together, and if the hi-hat loop was a little late, or the shaker loop was a little late, that’s how you left it. And it had this sort of round feel, which feels more natural, feels more like a Brazilian samba-school groove or a New Orleans second-line groove than like a machine.

So I enjoy going into that place. It’s sort of a new world, and everyone does it differently. Chris Dave does his take on it. He adds a really heavy 8th-note-triplet vibe over a 16th-note kind of hip-hop groove. Then you have Karriem Riggins, who really understands the feel of J Dilla, and Daru Jones, who has his take on it because he’s from around Detroit, where J Dilla is from. And Billy Martin from Medeski Martin and Wood has a beautiful in-between swing and straight thing he does that’s unique. You find your place where your 16th notes lie, as far as whether they’re moving toward swing or moving toward straight.

MD: “Trillogy” has kind of a broken beat too.

Adam: Yeah, totally. It’s like a West Coast hip-hop thing, which melds the slightly swung 8th notes of the hi-hat with a pretty solid kick and snare. It just puts everything in a weird sort of place and gets everybody feeling loose and feeling good. As long as the downbeats, the actual quarter notes, are there, the upbeats in between those quarter notes is where the fun happens.

There are three styles of hip-hop in that piece. One is West Coast/Dr. Dre–inspired, with a sort of Dilla hi-hat approach. Then we have the Dirty South type of trap or krump thing that is basically a machine-based art form, which I love playing on an acoustic kit. Think of the hi-hats as 16th notes with 32nds, little flurries here and there, plus a half-time snare and a kick drum pattern that’s basically like a go-go pattern. And the third one has a whole different thing—definitely based off a Dilla vibe and kind of messing with the hi-hat 16th-note pattern, moving it around.

So we’re paying tribute to three of our favorite rhythmic places where hip-hop is at right now.

MD: In Break Science you’re programming, producing, and playing.

Adam: I’ve been doing electronic production for about seven years, and I’ve learned a lot from my friend and partner in Break Science, Borahm Lee, who is just a phenomenal producer and jazz pianist. We’ve always wanted more elements of live music in it. We were concerned that the beauty of electronic music would be overlooked, so we wanted to make sure that it had live elements to make it viable to those that enjoy instruments being played.

We’re trying to find this place between it being a live band and a producer’s art form. I spent time making sure the electronic elements of the drums and all kinds of otherworldly sounds from percussion were exactly where I wanted them sonically. Then, when I play over the top, I let the acoustic drums have a place that doesn’t overpower the electronic stuff but still allows people to have an organic musical experience while hearing all these futuristic production techniques. It’s all about the song, knowing when and where to incorporate live drums and other instruments.

MD: Break Science, as in drum breaks—have you studied them like a science?

Adam: Yeah, the name goes back to those records from the late ’60s, early ’70s where the band would build to a certain place in the song, have a big hit on the 1, and allow the drums to play for four or eight bars by themselves, without taking a solo, just holding the groove where it was. That’s the break. DJs like Grandmaster Flash zeroed in on these parts of the records. A lot of this was happening in go-go music in D.C. in the late ’70s, with Chuck Brown and Rare Essence and bands like that. Hip-hop borrowed a lot of those grooves, along with a lot of James Brown and lesser-known bands that incorporated the drum break into their music.

So my number-one focus in the band was how to future-ize the idea of the drum breaks, to incorporate the science aspect of technology, creating synth textures and all kinds of lush melodies. Borahm is very intuitive about creating these things. So yeah, that’s the concept of Break Science—the science of breaks.

MD: How does your work with John Scofield fit into the picture?

Adam: Sco continually inspires me and keeps me grounded. The musicians that he’s been involved with in his career are a who’s who of jazz, funk, and fusion, from Dennis Chambers to Bill Stewart. He’s played with Elvin, he’s played with Roy Haynes—he’s played with everybody. Because of his respect for the history of the music, it makes you feel like you just have to keep studying and keep getting better. And there’s the constant search for finding out what your sound is and what you’re able to express in the moment, when it counts. It just keeps everybody humble and willing to learn and get better.

MD: Given how busy you are, do you have to be selective about who you go on the road with?

Adam: Well, I spent my twenties and early thirties playing with as many people as I could. I was touring with Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings for a while, and I was out with Meshell Ndegeocello, and with Wyclef, and I did some stuff with Slick Rick and Wu-Tang Clan. And of course there’s the Scofield stuff. So I had kind of quenched the thirst for what it’s like to tour with a band. You don’t necessarily know the artist that well, but you go out and you do a good job, and you enjoy the road as a sideman. I enjoyed that process, and what it did was make me obsessed with writing and creating my own music, and it lit the fire for me in my mid-thirties to get real serious about Break Science and having Lettuce be my main thing.

So I’ve turned down a few things since I made that decision. I still have some time to do outside stuff, but mostly it’s a focused effort. Now when I sit down to write, I know that I’m writing for a band that’s going to play the song this weekend, try it out in front of a thousand people. So it’s a life change, but it’s worth it.

MD: Drummers have to learn to say no sometimes.

Adam: Definitely. It’s important to know what gigs to choose. If you have a great band, you may not make money, but you [hopefully] make it on your other gigs for a little while. That’s the risk, and that’s why a lot of great musicians don’t do the band thing—they do the hired-gun thing. Because it’s not immediate money. It takes a while to build, to get it popping. It requires management and a good agent, and a very focused band. But once it starts going, it’s like a freight train. It goes by itself.

INFLUENCES

Earth, Wind & Fire Gratitude, Last Days and Time, Open Our Eyes, Raise! (Fred White, Maurice White, Ralph Johnson) /// Tower of Power East Bay Grease (David Garibaldi) /// Average White Band Person to Person, Cut the Cake (Steve Ferrone) /// Maceo and All the King’s Men Doing Their Own Thing (Melvin Parker) /// Maceo Parker Life on Planet Groove (Kenwood Dennard) /// James Brown all (Clyde Stubblefield, Jabo Starks, Melvin Parker, others) /// Parliament Live: P Funk Earth Tour (Jerome Brailey) /// P-Funk All-Stars Live at the Beverly Theatre in Hollywood (Dennis Chambers) /// the Meters Funkify Your Life: The Meters Anthology, Uptown Rulers: Live on the Queen Mary (Zigaboo Modeliste) /// Tony Allen Black Voices (Tony Allen) /// KRS-One Return of the Boom Bap (samples) /// Kool and the Gang Live at P.J.’s, The Best of Kool and the Gang 1969–1976 (George Brown) /// Cold Blood First Taste of Sin, Sisyphus (Sandy McKee), Thriller! (Gaylord Birch) /// Gang Starr Hard to Earn, Daily Operation (samples by DJ Premier) /// Grant Green Alive! (Idris Muhammad) /// Brecker Bros. Collection Vol. 1 (Terry Bozzio, Steve Gadd, Steve Jordan, Harvey Mason, Richie Morales, Chris Parker, Allan Schwartzberg), Collection Vol. 2 (Terry Bozzio, Steve Jordan, Harvey Mason, Richie Morales), Back to Back (Steve Gadd, Chris Parker) /// Squarepusher Feed Me Weird Things (samples) /// Keith Jarrett Standards Trio all (Jack DeJohnette) /// Herbie Hancock Flood (Mike Clark), Man-Child (Mike Clark, James Gadson, Harvey Mason), Secrets (James Levi, James Gadson), Head Hunters (Harvey Mason), Sunlight (Ndugu Chancler, James Levi, Harvey Mason, Tony Williams) /// Mint Condition Definition of a Band (Stokley Williams, Chris Dave) /// David Axelrod Song of Innocence, Songs of Experience (Earl Palmer)

RECORDINGS

John Scofield Up All Night, Überjam 1 and 2 /// Average White Band Tonight: In Concert (DVD) /// DJ Quik Greatest Hits: Live at the House of Blues /// Ledisi “Say No” and “Knockin” from Turn Me Loose /// Lettuce all /// Break Science all (live drums mixed with samples, loops, and glitches) /// Chaka Khan “Shining Star” from Interpretations: Celebrating the Music of Earth, Wind & Fire /// Drkwav The Purge /// Sam Kininger “No War for Oil” from Sam Kininger /// Talib Kweli “So Low” from Gutter Rainbows

A FAMILY AFAIR

For this story Adam insisted that we talk with his folks, Bobby and Denise Deitch. Bobby plays in a Ray Charles tribute band, Forever Ray; in a funk band with Berklee guitar instructor Richie Hart; and in a rock cover band called the New York Hitmen. He also teaches at Ramapo College in New Jersey and at Rockland Community College in New York State. Denise retired two years ago after twenty-five years in the public school system but still teaches drums and beginning piano privately. “They’re cool, funny people,” Adam says, “and their knowledge of drums is endless.”

“Adam always says that he got his pocket from his mom,” Bobby notes.

“Mom doesn’t have the greatest chops, but I do have the pocket,” Denise confirms with a grin.

Truth is, both parents were heavy influences on Adam’s playing from early on. “One thing I tried to impress on him,” Bobby explains, “was that you could have all the technique in the world, but if you can’t groove, then it doesn’t really mean much. I stressed from day one how important it is to make it feel good.”

Bobby and Denise met at Berklee College of Music. Both were drummers, pianists, writers, and educators, and the home they made was full of music. “There was a lot of rehearsing going on and musicians walking through the house all the time,” Denise recalls. “And Adam was always listening to everybody. And [the way] he played at an early age was kind of scary—he was playing a beat on the drums at two years old. And he and Bobby used to record songs in the little studio in our apartment, so that’s how he got into producing.”

“We were always trying to make each take a little bit better, so that probably helped him with his production skills later on,” Bobby says. “Those influences all come together to make him who he is.”

The studio provided an inadvertent parenting aid to the elder Deitches as well. “If Adam didn’t do his homework or come home on time,” Bobby says, “we’d have to lock the studio—kick him out!”

“Believe me, that got him where it hurts,” Denise adds.

All kidding aside, seeing Adam’s musical accomplishments makes his parents extremely proud. “Proud isn’t even the word for it,” says Bobby.

“I miss him,” Denise says. “I never see him—he’s always touring.” •

ADAM’S SETUPAdam Deitch Kit
Drums: Tama Star Bubinga in natural Indian laurel finish
A. Star solid zebrawood snare*
B. 9×12 tom
C. 16×16 floor tom
D. 18×22 bass drum

*Deitch uses a variety of Tama snare drums, depending on the gig, including a 6×14 Starphonic Aluminum and various S.L.P. models.

Cymbals: Zildjian
1. 14″ Kerope hi-hats
2. 18″ K Custom Dark crash
3. 18″ K EFX/Constantinople stack
4. 20″ Kerope ride

Sticks: Vater Fusion acorn-tip

Heads: Evans

Hardware: Tama, including Iron Cobra bass drum pedal and hi-hat stand; Star and Roadpro cymbal, tom, and snare stands; and 1st Chair Ergo-Rider throne