Finishing his 'degree': A reunion with The Reason's Adam White

"If you like Hatebreed and liked our screamier stuff, you're going to find nothing on this record that you'll like. But if you liked our last record and your favorite band is Weezer or something, you'll probably like this record more."

- Sheila Busteed
Photo by Gordon Ball

posted May 17, 2007

Finishing his \'degree\': A reunion with The Reason\'s Adam White
     Before Adam White takes the stage for a new performance, he follows a routine. As the frontman for Hamilton, Ontario, Canada-based rock band The Reason, White takes time to warm up his vocals and do a little primping – "He's back doing his hair right now," guitarist James Nelan told me as I arrived at Ottawa's Babylon Nightclub for an interview with White.

     Once the band finished its set, White proceeded to the merch table to change his shirt, which was soaked with sweat, and talk to some fans. We then went into the dingy basement of the club. The room was empty except for two old couches that desperately needed to be discarded, and the air reeked of sweat and mold. The walls were bare except for messages and drawings penned with Sharpie markers left behind by previous artists.

     As White and I sat down on the couches, drummer Cam Bordignon preceded to strip off his pants in the background and change into a fresh pair of jeans. It was hardly the usual interview setting. Then again, who I was interviewing was hardly a stranger.

     White grew up right across the river from Detroit in the industrious city of Windsor, Ontario. He started his life in music back in high school, which he attended with my best friend. The Reason's previous drummer was in the same Air Cadet squadron as me, and I attended dozens of the band's shows in my youth, back when the punk rock scene was alive and well in Windsor. I even organized a concert at my high school featuring The Reason in my senior year.

     Needless to say, White and I were hardly strangers to each other. So as we sat on those dingy couches in Babylon's basement, the only thing that prevented our interview from feeling like a reunion between old friends was the microphone.

     And, as many reunions usual begin, we chatted about the old days in Windsor. White said he returns to his hometown rarely, and he's surprised to see how much the city has changed.

     "My brother and sister moved away. My mother moved away. I only go there to see my dad now," he said. "I spend more time in Detroit than Windsor because my mom lives there. I'll stay with her for three or four days and pass back up and hang out with my dad for a day or two."

     He added that, like most of the members of his family, the majority of his good friends have left home as well.

     "I like going back," he continued. "It's neat to see that now they have a Hooters. You know what I mean, it's cool – now Windsor has a Hooters. I wish I was around for that. It's where I'm from and I'm stoked. It's just you can't go back there too much. There aren't many shows that go on. I'd get to see it a lot more if there were shows like it use to be."

     The Reason has come a long way from playing local shows at the Gino A. Marcus Community Complex in Windsor. The band relocated to Hamilton a number of years ago and, according to White, he and his band members haven't looked back. "A few years ago I regretted dropping out of university," he said. "We weren't touring as much as we are now. We've worked so hard to get where we are and we're doing this and this is the main thing in all of our lives. I'm glad now that I dropped out of university. It's almost like this is what I was meant to do."

     And White has reinforced that life purpose in music with a new album. The band recently released “Things Couldn't Be Better” through Smallman Records and the album is being distributed by Warner Music Canada, which picked up Smallman's catalog soon after the band released its previous record, “Ravenna.”

     "For me, the record that we just did is my university degree. I'm more proud of it than anything I've ever done. I think of it the same way," he said. "This is what I've wanted always, since I was 15."

     The Reason has a full schedule already in support of the new record. The band is set to start a new cross-Canada tour with fellow Canuck rockers The Junction, which includes a date in Vancouver on the second day of the Virgin Festival.

     But one thing is out of the ordinary: The Reason's music isn't as angry as it used to be, and neither is White.

     "We're at a point where we can do this with our lives for a living now and we're all happy and that's what the whole record is all about," he said. "Every song is about a certain struggle that made the record what it is and the band what it is. Those struggles are bad and you had to go through them to get to the point where we are now and things really couldn't be better."

     He added that, when in the process of writing the lyrics for the new record, White realized that the music didn't suit an angry message. On top of that, he didn't really have anything angry to say.

     "Two or three months before [“Ravenna”] came out, we were on tour and at one of the venues they were playing “The Ugly Organ” by this band called Cursive," White recalled. "I fucking bought the record and from then on I was just into melody.

     "I planned to have screaming in a lot of the songs originally, but once I wrote the lyrics I thought, 'These aren't angry lyrics. Why scream this? Let's write a melody, let's make it pretty and good,'" he added. "It's hard to scream when you're not pissed off about anything."

     Despite the drastic change in overall mood on the new album, White is content that it is being received well by fans.

     "It seems really positive and the people who want to say something negative just don't say it because I think that it's respectable music," he said. "It's been a really good response I think. I think a lot of people in the last three years have grown older as well, and tastes change.

     "If you like Hatebreed and liked our screamier stuff, you're going to find nothing on this record that you'll like," he suggested. "But if you liked our last record and your favorite band is Weezer or something, you'll probably like this record more."