RBR Insights: Using Music to Promote Fitness: An Interview with Adam Johnson Eder, by Larry Eder

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Adam Johnson-Eder is my son. His mother, Christine and I started our first publishing venture when he was six months old. He has seen the positives and the negatives of a family involved in the media business. From the time he was three to his tenth birthday, I coached at Foothill College. Adam was at the track most every day, and he saw, for first hand my love of the sport, shared with my fellow coaches, Joe Mangan and Hank Ketels. I have always told him to chase his dreams, then worry about making a living.

Music has always been big part of Adams' life. His mother, Christine would sing with Adam when he was little, from Gary Pucket and the Union Gap to Elvis. I would sign him songs to put him to sleep at night. Adam always knew that a family party was happening when the Pogues records came out. In the office, Adam changed the music: our favorites were Dwight Yokum, Elton John, Counting Crows and Pete Yorn. In the old farmhouse that I call home, Adam still comes by to borrow his favorite DVD's, CDs or books.

Adam has worked for our business most summers since he was about eleven: answering phones, packing packages, moving our offices two times and for the past few years, selling ads when I needed help. I have always gone to him and his friends as I was pitching various advertisers. His perceptions and comments are way above his years. He also has the frightening habit, of picking great magazine covers, like his mother.

Adam is the lead singer in a band called Lords of Discipline. They play heavy metal. This is his seventh band since he was fourteen. After having observed his shows for that many years, I have become fascinated with the crowd that I see at these events, from hippies, to metal heads, to yuppies by day, metal heads by night. What unites this crowd is their love of the music and the lifestyle.

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Lords of Discipline, May 2009, Adam (mohawk), Andrew (back), Nick ((center), Craig (back), Jason (right)

When my son Adam and one his band members, Nick came to me about doing a tour where various bands played at clubs, but also visited schools and talked about staying fit on the road, plus providing music videos and fitness videos, I became fascinated with their idea. More than just a proud father, I was pleased that both Adam, Nick and the other members of Lords of Discipline ( Craig, Jason, Andrew) are living their dreams, Which is something all of us should hope to attain.

As many brands have asked me how to reach out to this 18-30 age group, I thought that I would ask Adam to provide you with some insights into his crowd, his lifestyle and his dreams. The interview was done about a month ago, and it covers a lot of ground. I have also provided, courtesy of Mad City Podcasts, one of the bands songs, at the end of the interview. Photos are courtesy of the band and their fans.

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Lords' Album demo cover


I asked Adam to help my readers get an appreciation for the scene, and how his generation looks at marketing, and social networks. This is his scene, I am only an observer, but I find it fascinating how his generation digests all of the marketing thrown at them....


After studying Greek & Latin classical literature and history at Carthage college, Adam decided to focus on his love of music. Now the lead singer in the heavy metal band, Lords of Discipline, I asked him to share some of his observations with RBR on how to successfully market to the young adults (18-25):

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Adam

Adam and his band members take their lifestyle and fitness decisions very seriously. Their bassist Nicholas Moreno is multi-black belt in several styles of martial arts and has been competing, training, and teaching for the last eleven years. He is now in charge of the implementation and maintenance of the bands workout schedule and training regimens.

Nick is not only a avid practitioner of martial arts, he also teaches to a select group of professional heavy metal musicians, including Mark Rizzo of Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy. After having many discussions about Nick's conversations with Mark, Adam realized that there was an entire generation of pro- musicians that are like minded with Nick. They are all deeply concerned with their overall health while on tour, specifically their choices regarding diet and fitness. The number one complaint Nick and Adam heard about was how to keep fit, flexible, and eat right on the road. As it turns out, this is probably the largest obstacle a professional musician on tour has to overcome, given all the temptation that the lifestyle provides. It's a topic of conversation regulaily between Nick and Mark.

(This interview was done last month, by providing questions to Adam and asking his reply).


RBR, 1: How did you get involved in playing in a band?


Adam, 1: I guess I got involved in my first band a little differently than most kids do. I had started writing poetry and lyrics when I was 14, and in my sophomore year of high school. I found out that an acquaintance of mine was looking for a singer for his band. I went over to his house and we jammed, and found a uniting energy and drive that carried us for three years.

Looking back I am impressed at the fact that our line up and sound stayed pretty consistent throughout that time period, because a lot of bands in their teens tend to fall apart in a few weeks. The most important thing that I pulled from the experience was the necessity of unity within a band. It is incredibly important that the members can put their sublimate needs to what the band needs as a whole, much like being part of a sports team or group.

Lords of Discipline is the epitome of this ideal, having mastered the skills necessary to continue forward as a tribe or group all depending upon one another to reach a specific goal. The communication between band members is unparalleled, and egos are non-existent, making the writing of music and mastering our abilities as musicians effortless.

RBR, 2: Tell us about the members of the band, Lords of Discipline?


Adam, 2: Lords of Discipline is without a doubt the most professional, talented, and genuine group of guys I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Each member of Lords of Discipline takes their instrument and role in the band as serious as a samurai takes his training.

All of us understand the state of mind necessary for mastery. In sports, athletes refer to this state of mind as "The Zone." In martial arts, Nick says they call that state of mind "mushin", or no mind. "-Thinking without thinking, or total present moment awareness." It is the single most valuable commodity for the martial artist or athlete. It is their measure and ability to concentrate in such an environment, and to produce the results desired based upon actions developed out of reflex and long hours of training.

{Not out of conscious thought. Every member of this band has a natural ability with this mindset. It's application is directly evident in our live performances, our recording and engineering, our execution of short and long term goals, even our training and lifestyles outside the band. Hence the name Lords of Discipline.}

The first member I met was Craig, our lead guitarist. We discovered we had the same interests and drives in life and started jamming shortly thereafter. Craig has a ridiculous amount of natural talent and an innate understanding of musical composition and theory. He is currently studying music theory and enjoys playing piano, drums, and guitar all equally well. Craig's life is very direct and to the point as far as the band goes...guitar. When he is not practicing literally 3-4 hours a day, he's tracking riffs and structures for the band. When he's not working on song composition and layouts, he's working in the guitar dept at Guitar Center in Madison. So he literally eat, sleeps, works, and dreams about the guitar. This is his Discipline.

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Craig

Shortly after connecting with Craig, I met Andrew Harrington (guitar) and Jason Buffington (drums). Jason and Andy are cousins, and have been playing music with each other since the age of 13. Andrew Harrington is the recording sensei of the group. He completed his degree at Madison Media Institute, and apart from shredding incredible leads and rhythms on his Ibanez guitar, Andrew is responsible for all the recording and production with the band. Everything is recorded at Andrew's house and is mixed and mastered by him. His actions reflect his mindset --same as Craig. When he's not playing or practicing his guitar, he is on the computer editing the tracks. When he is not doing either of the two, he is also working with Craig and Nick at Guitar Center in Madison.

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Andrew Harrington

Jason Buffington is the best drummer I have ever met. Nick affectionately calls him the "metronome" for his ability to lay his drum tracks without guitar reference tracks and to do it on the first try. His frequent game is to listen to what is the most popular and at the same time most difficult metal songs for drumming, and then to be the first kid on his block to be able to mimic those movements and patterns. Jason is very passionate about his fitness and health.

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Jason Buffington

Jason is the primary training partner in the band for Nick. He is ambidextrous, just like Nick, and because of this gift, Nick focuses an incredible amount of personal attention to his workouts in Kali/escrima (stick and knife patterns) and MMA/Brazilian Jiu-jitsu training.

Nick Moreno was the final addition to the Lords of Discipline. He joined the band in late November of 2008. Nick has been playing in professional music projects since 2001. He has played in front of countless national acts, in many states, to a wide variety of audience sizes. The most notable being 94.1WJJO's BANDCAMP in 2005 and 2006 to audiences of over 10,000 screaming kids. He has been training and teaching martial arts since 1998, and has competed as far away as Rio de Janiero Brazil to win State Championship Titles (2005). The band members consider Nick as the "Older Brother" or "Spiritual guide" for the band.

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Nick Moreno

He has solidified the idea of our mindset into a physical reality of discipline and lifestyle training when not playing shows. Nick is helping all of us to change and try to achieve our own personal goals of fitness, diet, and state of mind when not doing music. If he's not playing shows or laying tracks and recording, you can find Nick in a quiet place practicing his forms and patterns, or out training at a number of different gyms he's affiliated with here in Madison.

All of the songs written by Lords were done within a 4 week period. The guitar tracks were laid to a click track with no drum reference. Jason followed up right away with his beats. I came in last to the rough recordings and laid the vocals. After wards, Nick was given a burned copy of the rough tracks to figure out his bass lines and we were playing out within three weeks...Our first show was in December of 2008. Lords of Discipline does not do band practice. Each of us is talented enough to bring our skills to the table and execute live, using our rough cd as a reference. Since our first show we have enjoyed the stage with mostly National Acts keeping our momentum going with names like Dragonforce, Devil Driver, Sworn Enemy, Abacaab, and most notably The Music as a Weapon Tour with Disturbed, Chimaira and Killswitch Engage (audience of 2000 ). We now know and feel that, regardless of venue or crowd size, that we are ready to perform anywhere at anytime.


RBR, 3: Now with Lords of Discipline, you have a group of like-minded musicians, what is it like playing in front of fans in a mosh pit?


Adam, 3: It's absolutely fantastic. I highly recommend going to a metal show if you never have, its quite the experience. To the untrained eye, it looks like people are just trying to hurt each other, but in reality when someone falls in a pit, half a dozen hands pick them up and people shield them from the pit to make sure they are okay. It really brings out the tribal bond in metal heads, and represents the music well. It's an emotional release for us, and for the fans. I never want to play in front of a crowd that doesn't mosh again, because the whole concept of the pit is the fans joining in the power of the music, and its something that I've never seen replicated in any other genre. Metal is interactive and very emotional. It's the main reason why I love being a part of it.

RBR, 4: What motivates you? Do you like performing. What does it feel like?


Adam, 4: The motivation stems from a lot of different sources, I love being able to share my creations with the world. The overall theme lyrically with our music is the timelessness of conflict. Conflict can take many forms, from everyday challenges and stresses, to arguments, goals, and outright warfare. The music doesn't incite conflict, it's a clarion call to stand up and do what must be done, to persevere when things are most difficult and challenging. It seems like too many people of my generation just seem to take the conflict and roll over, as opposed to setting goals and furthering one's self and actually aspire to something. Conflict in our music is simply a hurdle that one must overcome to better one's self. I use historical references and find inspiration from books like Miyamoto Musashi's A Book of Five Rings and Sun-Tzu's Art of War to bring this across in the music.


RBR, 5: How do the fans treat your band afterwords?


Adam, 5: So far, our response has been amazing. It's like nothing that I've ever experienced playing music before. After we left the stage to hand out demos at the Music as a Weapon Tour, we were swarmed by a legion of newly devoted Lords fans numbering in excess of 500. We couldn't even get past the tour buses to sign autographs. It was intense. We ran out of our 100 demos and found ourselves signing old t-shirts, empty, stepped-on Pepsi cups, wallets, merchandise flyers from the merch booths, various parts of people's anatomy....basically anything these fans could get their hands on.

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The crowd after Music as a Weapon Tour, May 2009.

We were held up for about two hours shaking hands and taking pictures with people. It was great. I've noticed a consistent response like this with every show that we play. It might not be as large as the aforementioned show, but we are always cornered a bit after every set to shake hands and slap five to lots of people.

RBR, 6: Your age group is marketed to like no generation before, what are brands that resonate with you?

Adam, 6: Brands that resonate with me are the ones that appreciate subtlety. Slapping gigantic brand logos in front of me often makes me want to go for a different brand, and in my opinion is a mediocre understanding of how to sell a product. A good ad campaign should be approached like a military campaign.

Careful planning is key, and subtle placement of brand name on shoes or apparel in internet advertising, movies, and shows has a far greater dollar to effectiveness ratio than other forms of advertising. Of course, I love viral marketing, so that could just be my bias. Brands That I'm personally into are companies like adidas, ASICS, Affliction, Brooks, Nike, Ranghart, Saucony, Starbucks, Taco Bell, and pretty much anything that's comfortable and doesn't try to shove its advertising down my throat.

RBR, 7: How does a brand try to market successfully to your age group?


Adam, 7: The issue with our generation, as it comes to marketing is the fact that, with the ability to pirate television and music, its harder to keep brand names on products when they are being viewed.

If I download the Office I'm not going to see the Tide or Target commercials, so in essence the capital companies put into advertising on Television is a complete waste. Marketing with my age group, in mind, involves key placement of product on athletes, musicians, etc. Along with sponsorship of sporting events, concerts, and pretty much any event you can get a decently large group of people to without the sponsors names in blaring lights. With metal heads, this is especially true.

The issue arises, simply put, that when blatant marketing gets involved. Fans tend to see whatever band, athlete, etc. has sold out, and that causes not only a loss for the company, but a loss of integrity for the band/athlete. Our generation is into brand loyalty and idol loyalty. If my idol on guitar is wearing Nike shoes on stage, I'll probably look into them or go buy a pair. If the Nike symbol is all over their album cover/myspace page....they just turned into a sellout. The key is to be extremely subtle. I recommend that you don't plaster your logo all over everything. I would say to increase your chances and the laws of probability... make sure these rockstars are simply just wearing your product while playing, or more importantly, doing their workout routines with your products in their free time.

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The band at the Music as a Weapon Tour, May 2009.

RBR, 8: Tell us about how your really communicate with your friends? Texting? Facebook? Twitter? You Tube?

Adam, 8: I predominantly use texting and Facebook to stay in contact with my friends, and bandmates. Myspace.com for communication to the fans to an extent, but its worth seems to be fading. Youtube.com has an incredible validity for our fan base. We've been posting live clips for our shows on there and then pasting them on bulletins or messages and events on Myspace and predominantly Facebook.


RBR, 9: What books do you read? newspapers? Favorite books? Life changing books? Movies? Politics?

Adam, 9: I read as much as i can, currently I am working on Dan Millman's Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior (given to me by Nick), and Just finished A book of Five Rings and taking a break from Bullock's Hitler and Stalin. Politically I guess I'm a moderate. I'm a complete social democrat, but more fiscally conservative, although I am not a fan of either of the major political persuasions in this country. The band seems to have a pretty liberal view of politics, taking what they read and see on TV with a grain of salt. All of my band mates enjoy reading. Mostly it's myself and Nick. We trade off. Whenever he and I find a good book, we turn the other on to it. Life changing books for me would have to be Sun-Tzu's Art of War, Dostoyevsky's vignette "the Grand inquisitor" Michael Curtis Ford's The Last King, Robbert Bakker's Raptor Red J.D. Salingers book of Nine Stories and Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five. For Nick, "The Way of the Warrior..Life as a Spiritual Path"...and "Secrets of the Tai Chi Circle"....


RBR, 10: What do you eat? When?

Adam, 10: I eat a lot of random things, depending on timing and cash. Sometimes, it's Taco Bell, other times it's sushi when I can afford it. I'd prefer sushi. I love cooking and enjoy making new or challenging dishes, usually something Mediterranean, Middle Eastern or Japanese. The same is true for the guys. Fast food when it's convenient or inexpensive, but good food is preferred when we get the chance. I do not eat red meat.

RBR, 11: Your band is working on an album right now? Tell us about the amount of energy it requires and the time needed for completion?

Adam, 11: The Album is due out August 21st, titled "The Art of War" and we're all getting really excited about it. The release date is a confirmed free show and video shoot called "The Summer Metal Meltown", and it will score us a full article in a music publication called Maxiumum Ink.

We're looking forward to a lot of sleepless nights and long days pouring over the tracks and vocal melodies. The artwork has to be decided on, pictures of the band chosen, text and font figured out for the inlay, not to mention all of the phone calls and meetings needed to set up the video shoot and the production behind our show.

We will be handling everything. This translates to us having our stamina and resolve tested, but that's nothing new for us and we're more than ready the challenge. Our only wish is that we all didn't have to try and fit this in in between our independent work schedules. It would be a lot easier if we could just knuckledown and concentrate on just writing this album and getting the show set up.

RBR, 12: You have mentioned that you would like to share you music but also your bands interest in fitness? How could you do that?

Adam, 12: The band name Lords of Discipline has come to be a lot more to us as a group than it meant in the first month we were together. In January, I decided that I was unhappy with the way i felt physically, and started to walk and train with Nick. The other members of the band have begun training in their own rights in a multitude of different "Disciplines".... our guitarists Andrew is working on nunchaku and Bo staff routines with Nick. While Craig, our other guitarist, has been doing a lot of lifting and meditation/ state of mind training. Jason and Nick are constantly working the sticks and MMA pads and Nick in particular is looking forward to the possibility of competition on the road. I have discussed this question and issue with Nick and he has a very direct and simple answer. Nick knows a lot of professional martial arts experts, along with a few Pro UFC fighters like Spencer Fischer, and has trained extensively with guys on the road like Mark Rizzo from Soulfly. He has talked with Mark already and he is positive that if funding and the opportunity became available, we can be secured on a tour as direct support for them and Nick will be training full time with Mark backstage for all to see.

The sessions could be video blogged for whatever use. The same process is easily repeatable with a very longlist of Mark and Nick's musician and pro MMA/UFC friends including Mark Hunter from Chimaira, Spencer Fischer from the UFC, and Chris Kohls from ADEMA. This shows our fans and anyone watching that the being a metal head or pro musician/ pro fighter is not ONLY all about the girls and partying and the events. There is an entire generation of musicians and fighters that thrive on this music, the adrenaline, and staying fit while staying true to themselves and their sub-culture of heavy metal.

RBR, 13: Tell us about Band Camp? What are you looking for there? What could a partner get from Band Camp?

Adam, 13: Band camp is one of the largest outdoor metal shows in the country, with attendance often around 12,000. Ozzfest on average is around 9,000 at its best, so the exposure would be huge for both ourselves and our prospective partners. Nick, our bass player, is a two time Bandcamp veteran and did an internship with the staff at 94.1WJJO this last year. He is intimately familiar with backstage vibe and networking/production.

When you play a show of this magnitude, simply being backstage as a musician gives you the street credit or relevance to be able to network with the other pros involved with playing the show. We would get a chance to talk with these fellow musicians and share these same ideas with them rallying them to our cause. The exposure to over 10,000 fans is obvious. What's not obvious is that the radio station holding the event is ranked the #1 rock radio station 3 years running, and draws the likes and media connections of guys like Lou Brutus...the #1 rock dj in the world.

Our performance would be noted to all the right people. If given the opportunity to play Bandcamp on Aug 9th, our investors would see first hand the relevance that our music brings to their products and to the fans. They would see the crowd reaction and the street credit that follows. It provides our sponsors with proof of our validity in front of a crowd of ten thousand. Whispers of this possibility have hit our ears and we are excited to show whomever is interested that we can deliver what they need. The ball is rolling and we're all just trying to hold on now....like a hood ornament on a freight train."

Lords of Discipline Podcast, from MadCity Podcasts, May 2009:

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My space site: http://www.myspace.com/lordsofdiscipline


Website: http://www.lords-of-discipline.com

To reach Adam Johnson-Eder, please use[email protected]

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