Eugene “Adam Warrock” Ahn’s first album, “The War for Infinity” is released today, so we at Panels on Pages ask:
Adam Warrock, should we know you?
If you like comics and own a computer that’s hooked up to the Internet, there’s a slight possibility you might know me. If not, then…how are you reading this right now?
Crafty, yet accurate. Tell us about “The War for Infinity.” The title and your stage name show a love for Marvel’s cosmic universe, so what inspired you to use that in your music?
The War For Infinity is the title of the debut album of Adam WarRock, and it is loosely inspired by Marvel Comics’ Infinity Gauntlet saga. It’s a concept album that tells a story over sixteen tracks about a hero and a villain that spans cities, galaxies and dimensions, all in hip hop form. While it’s a story album, I made the songs so that most of them could stand on their own, separate from the album; but when placed in sequence, they tell a story in a grand, epic fashion.
As for the cosmic influence, I have loved The Infinity Gauntlet my whole life, it’s easily my favorite comic event ever. As for the influence on my music, I’ve made music since college way back in 2000. I took a couple years off, and when I started making music again, I was friends with a lot of comic creators, and was doing the War Rocket Ajax podcast, which is about comics. It just made sense to kind of tailor my music to comics, and the subject matter gave me a lot of concepts and characters to use to say these bigger, more meaningful messages. Plus, who doesn’t love making rap songs about how awesome the Avengers are?
Dirty, filthy commies. Or Justice League fans. My understanding is that you left a career in law to pursue music. A lot of people wish they could give up the day job and pursue what their artistic passion, so what gave you the push to take the plunge?
I honestly never thought I’d be doing this full-time. I always thought I’d have a dayjob, and just make music on the side. But it just happened that I had received a fair amount of attention for some of my songs at a time when my job was really frustrating. I was passing up all these opportunities in the creative realm, and I realized the only thing that was holding me back was the fact that I had this job that I hated. So one day, I just…quit. It’s definitely not something I recommend everyone do, but there’s only so many chances you get to do something you love as your full-time gig. And everyone who’d succeeded before always seemed to say that you had to go all in to make it work. So I try this for a while. Those cubicles and office jobs will always be there. This opportunity will not.
From the looks of it, you’re making the most of it. In addition to your album, you also released a mix-tape about the West Coast Avengers and almost 70 assorted tracks that you’ve made available for free on your website. How have people responded to that and do you think that’s going to become a more prevalent strategy for digital distribution?
The concept of a “comic book rapper” always makes people look at me like I’m slightly crazy. The West Coast Avengers Mixtape was the easiest way to show people what I mean by that job description, and people responded really positively. I was sitting around after having recorded The War For Infinity, waiting for the final mixes and masters to come through, and I realized I had a lot of free time. So I came up with the idea to do a mixtape, and decided to use West Coast gangsta rap beats, since I never really work with that style. At that time, Marvel was releasing a billion Avengers titles, so it just made sense to make a West Coast Avengers mixtape, making each song the title of a member of the West Coast Avengers.
As for the digital distribution, I think that it’s less a strategy for internet content, and more just a strategy for the new form of the music industry. People are going to find a way around paying for music as much as possible, so artists have to relent, and just release music for free. My theory is that if you blast people with enough free music, and your product is of a certain level of quality, then the idea that you’d ask people to pay for something that’s of a superior quality isn’t as offensive as just saying, “give me your money for the privilege of listening to my music.” Also, when you engage in this creative exchange with people on such a regular basis, you form a bond with them. You want to support them. It’s why I support podcasts or webcomics I love, whether it’s through donations, buying merchandise, or spreading the word about them. That’s the business model for my music.
Obviously there are a lot of geek, nerd & genre influences to music. You’ve done songs about Doctor Who, female characters in comics, Scott Pilgrim and the aforementioned West Coast Avengers mixtape. Do you consider yourself a “nerdcore” rapper or just a rapper who likes nerdy things?
I used to avoid the “nerdcore” label, simply because I used to get nervous about any label used for my music. But at a certain point, you let your audience define your music as much as possible, without directly altering how you create your content. So now, I wear that, and geek rapper or art-hop or indie rap or whatever label proudly. If someone wants to connect with my music using those terms, then I am all for it. I seek only to make “good” music, and after that, it’s not up to me.
Another reason I used to hate labels was because of the way that geek culture often becomes this exercise in mutual exclusivity. Because I rap about comics means I can’t be in the same arena as rappers who do video game concept albums, etc. I think we’re coming into a more positive era of geek culture, whether it’s a natural evolution or a mildly forced change due to popular culture’s acceptance of geek stuff, we have to let go of these notions of exclusivity. If I loved Scott Pilgrim since the beginning, why can’t someone come in after the movie, go back and read the books, and love it just as much if not more than me? Just because I loved Public Enemy since the 80s doesn’t mean I’d want to stop someone from listening to It Takes A Nation… now. That’s an idiotic notion. The more the merrier, and I hope that the presence of geek culture in my music doesn’t keep it out of the hands of non-geeks, in the same way that I hope geek stuff in my music will draw in non-geeks into more geeky areas. That’s a good consequence, and one that I’d be proud to help foster as a nerdcore or geek emcee.
I also have never gotten busy in a Burger King bathroom or anything like that, so I gotta rap about what I know and love. I love geeky stuff.
If people don’t get that last reference, I just feel sorry for them. Anyway, are you planning on touring to support the album?
As of right now, I’m working on doing some live appearances, but a formal tour will probably take some time to organize. I’ll be appearing on stage with Kirby Krackle at NYCC for a song or two, and I will be performing at ECCC (Emerald City) in March 2011. In between, some shows will happen, and hopefully more will occur after the album’s release.
We’ll do our best to keep in touch and let the PoPulation know when other dates crop up. In the meantime, where can folks find you on the internet?
Awesome. Thanks for your time. People, if you like things that are good for your face-holes then get out there and get this album, available now!