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An Interview with Kris Kohls of Adema

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Impacting the metal scene in 2001, Bakersfield’s Adema became one of the most popular bands of Nu Metal’s second wave. But Adema went through some unfortunate circumstances after the release of its second album, prophetically entitled Unstable. First the group’s label folded and, shortly thereafter, lead vocalist Mikey Chavez parted ways with the band. In early 2005 however, Adema found a new singer, Luke Caraccioli, signed to a new label (Earache) and released a stunning third album, Planets. Drummer Kris Kohls says the hardship has been worth it. “We were trying to break away from the ‘Nu Metal’ label, because we never considered ourselves part of that movement. We grew up on Led Zeppelin, Motley Crue, Guns ‘N’ Roses and rock bands. We have metal influences such as Metallica and Pantera, but we mainly come from the rock side and we were categorized as Nu Metal over and over. We wanted a new singer with his own voice – someone with an original sound – and that’s what we got with Luke.” Kris Kohls was happy to talk rock with Metal Edge while Adema toured with Brides of Destruction.

Metal Edge: Some fans have criticized Adema for keeping the name, claiming that the band’s sound has changed too radically to still be called Adema. How do you feel about that?

Kris Kohls: I just think this is the true sound of Adema. This is what we’ve evolved into and the direction in which we’ll continue to go. Musically, it’s exactly where we want to be and we respect each other, work well together and love each other as brothers. We’re having fun again and that’s what it’s all about. We just love playing together and we’re excited for the future.

Metal Edge: You’re in the middle of a tour with Brides of Destruction but most people may not know that you also played drums on the album, Here Come The Brides. How did that happen?

Kris Kohls: About ten years ago I was in a band called Cradle of Thorns and we toured with LA Guns, so I’ve known Tracii Guns since then. In 2002, Adema was finishing up an Ozzfest tour when I got a call from Tracii. He said, “I’m starting a band with Nikki Sixx, do you want to be in it?” That decision was a no brainer! Adema was taking a three-month break anyway, so I went home and started playing with Brides. We rehearsed every day for three months and then made the record. When Adema started recording Unstable I had to leave that project, but they kept my drum tracks for all those songs, even though the CD came out a year later. It was funny, because the purpose of that band was to write new songs but I’d come in every day and say, “Let’s play “Shout at The Devil” or “Too Fast For Love”! So Nikki would appease me and play those songs with me. Playing with those guys was a blast.

Metal Edge: Do you still practice Brazilian jujitsu?

Kris Kohls: Yes, that’s my hobby aside from drumming. I wanted to find an activity that would help me get in shape physically and I started [training] with the Gracies, a Brazilian family who brought [this practice] to America. If you learn to defend yourself with Brazilian jujitsu, size or strength does not matter once you have the techniques down. I also compete, which is fun and exciting. It gets the adrenaline going and gives you the same high that you get from playing drums. It’s been extremely beneficial to my drumming, both mentally – helping me with concentration and focus – and physically.

Metal Edge: I heard that you met Paul McCartney while recording one of Adema’s albums.

Kris Kohls: I did and it was pretty cool. We were recording our first record at A&M studio and he was recording there also. He was just totally nice, like a normal guy, but it was definitely one of those moments where you’re freaking out. The whole time we were talking, instead of paying attention I was just thinking, “I’m talking to Paul McCartney” (laughs).

Metal Edge: What drummers inspire you, as far as your current technique?

Kris Kohls: I listen to a broad scope of music. I do listen to players like Buddy Rich and Steve Gadd. Technically, I’m nowhere near their level, but their inspiration shows up in my playing. I also love guys who play with passion and feeling, like Tommy Lee, Josh Freese and Chad Smith. As far as technique, I’ve been watching Billy Ward’s instructional video, Big Time. His playing and philosophies on drums are amazing. My technique probably also got stronger from just playing constantly. When we were in pre-production for Planets, we ran those songs over and over. By the time I got in the studio to record them it was just second nature and I was able to let loose and be in the moment. I wasn’t thinking about anything other than just playing drums to the best of my ability.

Kris’s Gear:
Drums: TAMA StarClassic
Sizes: 24”Bass Drum, 12” & 13” Rack Toms; 16” Floor Tom, Bell Brass Snare
Hardware: TAMA hardware
Cymbals: Sabian
Sticks: Vater
Heads: Evans

Official Website: https://adema.band/
Official Website: https://kriskohls.com/

kris kohls photo by josie borisow

This article was originally written  for Metal Edge Magazine as part of a monthly column by Gail Worley (under the pen name Jayne Rollins). With the magazines’ dissolution, the article has been added to the content base of The Worley Gig for our readers’ enjoyment.