Adam Thompson

Adam Thompson

Adam Thompson is something of an enigma.

Whether fronting his band of the last 22 years, Chocolate Starfish, or playing his solo show, or taking on the unenviable task of tackling Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell album, Adam says the key to success is remaining focused while still being able to enjoy life to the fullest.

“Life’s pretty good actually!” he enthused ahead of his upcoming show at Vertigo Bar.

“People say getting a bit older is not good but I reckon it’s great! We’re back, obviously doing shows with Starfish, which is great, and we recently did the full ‘Bat Out of Hell’ album to a sold out show at the Crown in Melbourne which was fantastic. I grew up with it, it’s such a good album, and I rarely talk about this but he obviously didn’t do that good a job of it himself at the AFL Grand Final, and me and the guys got together and thought ‘I know we could do that album so much more justice’ but we didn’t want to do it as a regular covers band, we wanted to give it that Starfish overview. We are theatrical by nature anyway by virtue of my performing style and it sold out to the point where we’re definately going to do a tour of it next year.”

No stranger to performing in Cairns, Adam believes the variety in his shows and diversity in his music is something which keeps the fans coming.

“I’m bringing my solo band to this show,” he explained, “which is not the Starfish band. I’m sort of trying to keep the two separate if I can so my solo guys know my solo stuff pretty well and the Starfish guys know the Starfish stuff pretty well – hopefully anyway!” he laughed.

“It’s good to be able to do that but it will certainly be a rocking show as usual.”

While having a solid career and a number of popular tunes, Adam and Chocolate Starfish are perhaps known more for their cover of Carly Simon’s ‘You’re So Vain’, a fact which doesn’t seem to bother Adam.

“That song and ‘Mountain’ are our two biggest songs,” he agreed.

“Whether I’m doing it as a solo or with Starfish people always want to hear it and you have to be grateful that you’ve had some hits that people want to hear so that’s a great platform from which to do new stuff as well as the odd cover that you like to play. In this situation, where I’m up before the Eurogliders, it’s not as big or as much pressure as being the headliner so I’ll just slay them in the aisles and let the other guys run with it after that.”

“I think in some circles we ARE better known for someone else’s song, but I guess the people that know Starfish and the music know that’s just one part of us. You could say there’s just as many people know us from my crazy antics on stage, so….. I just look at that as part of the puzzle and it doesn’t matter to me at all whether…. how you get there is not really the question, as long as you get there. Whatever ‘there’ is for you – and for us it’s obviously the luxury of still being able to do shows 20 years later and still have people come to them no matter what you’re playing. If you’re doing it well – be it our original stuff or ‘You’re So Vain’, or whether it’s the Bat Out of Hell album – it doesn’t matter. As long as they’re there and they’re enjoying what you do. There are a lot of other bands out there that don’t have that luxury so we’re grateful for that.”

Although Chocolate Starfish broke up in 1998 before reforming in 2010, you don’t last more than two decades in the music industry without a bit of luck, and Adam says having other interests outside of the band is also conducive to his longevity.

“I think you need to explore other boundaries than just being in a band – unless you’re one of the biggest bands in the world like U2 or the Rolling Stones, then money will talk louder than experience – but for most of us you have to have other life experiences that you can bring back to the table and I think that time apart made us all mature and had we stayed together and just gradually become a shrinking violet in the RSL Clubs then I don’t think we’d be in as healthy a position as what we are now but we’ve all got other interests. We’ve all got other lives. I developed a brand that I travel the world with now so purely in terms of dollars and cents that gives me more money than rock and roll ever has but that’s probably more a reflection of the music industry. I think the fact that we can come together now and do a show in whatever format it is – whether it’s the Bat Out of Hell show, or the Starfish rock show and now we’ve also got an eclectic acoustic version of our songs – and I don’t mean just picking up an acoustic guitar and playing the songs acoustically. We’ve got an album out that we put out about 6 months ago called ‘Born Again Versions’ and we were really able to turn the songs into a different feel so we’ve got reggae versions of some songs and samba versions of others and all in the acoustic format so that’s more like our dinner and show type thing so it’s great to have that flexibility. Again, a lot of bands are a bit one dimensional and can’t do that so we’re lucky that we can.”

That other brand that Adam alluded to is an initiative called Muso Magic, a program that takes music to people in areas and communities that might otherwise attract little in the way of artistic development.

“I’ve got a program called Muso Magic and it’s a personal development program whereby I go into corporate companies or remote aboriginal communities and schools across the globe and I get hired to come in and develop their core integrity and ideas into a bona fide song – not just a jingle but a proper rock or pop song that reflects their mission statement or it could reflect a social issue – but it’s all written and recorded by non – musicians. It’s quite an interesting program. I’ve actually done quite a bit of stuff around the Cairns region in different schools. I’m heading up to the Hopevale community early next year in partnership with Cairns Hardware to do a community initiative up there. Yesterday I was with BHP so it’s very wide and varied.”

“The whole initiative was something I developed myself as a knee jerk reaction to the ridiculous nature of reality TV. I wanted to create something where anybody can feel that creative potential within themselves which they can do without fear of being measured by the Top 50 or the Top 20 either individually or collectively by a group so we have people that have the most amazing epiphanies of creativity – not that they want to become rock stars – but they think ‘oh shit, if I can do that, what else can I contribute to my family relationships? What else can I contribute to my work space that I didn’t understand I could do?’”

The name Chocolate Starfish has long been revered as a band name, ridiculed in some quarters, praised for its humor in others, and frowned upon by others, but Adam says he wouldn’t change the name or the controversy it has caused under any circumstance.

“Never in a day!” he laughed when asked if he ever regrets naming the band Chocolate Starfish.

“I’ve had some uncomfortable moments where some pretty straight laced or young fans have asked me what it means and I’ve had to mumble my way through it with some wry smiles from the rest of the band who were standing behind me. But no, never at all. If I think about it, it truly reflects the joy of the tongue in cheek nature of what we’re all about…….”

Kris Peters

Adam Thompson plays at Vertigo Bar supporting Eurogliders on Friday, November 28. It is a free concert

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