“I myself don’t identify as a man or a woman, really, but feminist issues are very near and dear to my heart. I feel like it’s not my place to say anything [when] I have male parts, but I can play the guitar and shut up and let the ladies sing about it.”
Adam Brewer, Age 30, Retail Employee and Musician; Hazard, Kentucky:
“[I’ve lived here my whole life and] I had a good childhood. You know it’s a coal camp community, so there’s not really a lot to do for kids. About all I ever did was go outside and play in the yard. [Played] G.I. Joes, Transformers, He-Man, all that good stuff. Then, I got into video games when I was a kid. I used to like to ride skateboards but I got out of skateboards and started playing the guitar. You can’t play the guitar with a broke arm, so I quit doing that!
My Papaw owned a furniture store for many years in Hazard called, Bruce Trading Post. My daddy took it over. He sells flea market stuff, but he also makes a lot of things. He watches YouTube videos and makes survival sticks, candles, and all kinds of things and sells it at the store.
My room was right below [papaw’s] room. He loved to play poker; that was his favorite thing in the world. He would have a poker game about anywhere he could. Over time, he won so many things from poker. I had a painting that he won at a poker game. It’s velvet John Wayne with the eye patch on his eye from Rooster Cogburn. [Me and Papaw] used to watch wrestling together and UK basketball, Walker Texas Ranger and westerns, Gunsmoke, and we’d play cards. I really can’t understand cards, I’m not good with math myself, but he plays solitaire and he plays rummy. Stuff like that.
My Mamaw’s still alive. She’s a foster grandparent at the grade school I went to, RW Combs. She watches kids and reads to them and they read to her. She teaches little kids how to read I guess. She’s real good at sewing. She’s probably the sweetest person I know. I spent a lot of time with her when I was a kid because I didn’t have any friends. Mamaw and me used to go to second-hand stores all the time, and we would go out to eat everyday. We’d go to Ponderosa, we’d go eat at Quiznos… we loved eating at Quiznos.
My Mamaw had a brother that died in the [coal] mines. A rock fell on him, I believe. I don’t remember [how old he was], but my Mamaw still has his boots. My mom’s papaw I know was in the mines, but those were really the only family members I had that come to mind when it comes to the mines.
I sure do [have strong matriarchs in my family]. My mom’s my hero and my Mamaw and my mom’s mommy, too. Those were people I looked up to when I was a kid. I didn’t really have a strong father figure in my life. He was there, but I was always afraid of him. So I talk more to my mom. I think that’s affected the way I am.
When I was in high school, that’s when I got into playing music. When I was 16 I asked for a guitar. I didn’t want a car; I wanted a guitar. My mama plays ‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus’ on the accordion and that’s about it. That’s the only member of my family that I know played anything.
I taught myself [to play guitar]. I didn’t have anybody that could teach me. I didn’t know anybody that played the kind of music I liked to play so I had to learn on my own. I play hardcore punk, noise punk [and] I play in a Japanese hardcore punk style.
(How to teach yourself to play guitar) You pick it up and you just beat it to death. Go to town on it. I can read guitar tablature, but I can’t read notes. I got a tattoo of a crossed out music note because I don’t like music on some counts because I don’t like regular music. I like country music, primitive music, but I hate music you hear on the radio. That stuff gets stuck in my brain and literally drives me crazy.
[My music] is noisy, political, extreme, violent; I beat myself up when I play. I take my belt off and whip my back. I beat myself to death. I’ve cut myself with knives in front of people. People have been stabbed while I’ve played music. I didn’t know about it till after it happened. I didn’t like it.
I have two bands. I’m a band called Globsters, that’s my violent one-man band, and I’m in a band called Google Boys, and it’s a political feminist band. We only care about issues that face women. That’s the biggest problem in our society lately; nobody really cares about women. Women have been cast aside for so many years and kicked down. I myself don’t identify as a man or a woman, really, but feminist issues are very near and dear to my heart. I feel like it’s not my place to say anything [when] I have male parts, but I can play the guitar and shut up and let the ladies sing about it.
[The band has four members] Lil, she’s the singer, my friend Mikey plays the drums, and my girlfriend Katie plays the Theremin and sings. A Theremin was the first electronic musical instrument. It’s a box that’s got two antennas on each side. You turn it on, plug it into an amp, one antenna controls the volume and the other antenna controls the pitch so you can move and it just makes different sounds and tones. If you’ve ever watched Star Trek, the sound effects on Star Trek, that’s what they used… a Theremin.
I write all kinds of songs. I’ve got some new songs I’ve not yet recorded yet. I’ve got a song called ‘Psych Ward Haircut’ because I’ve got a psych ward haircut. My girlfriend cuts my hair.
My stage name is ‘Adam Hussein’ like Saddam Hussein the dictator. Whenever Saddam Hussein was in the news and he got caught by the military in that hole, they kept calling me Adam Hussein at FedEx. That’s how I got my stage name. I adopted it because my favorite wrester is Sabu. I got to meet him recently. I love Sabu. Number one wrestler! [I became interested in wrestling] When I was a little kid. I got a picture of me with a Hulk Hogan doll I got for Halloween. I just never stopped watching it and I’ve been watching it ever since I was little.
I sure do [plan on living in the mountains]. I’m too country! Every time I go out on a tour and play music, people notice my accent. I don’t fake it. But a lot people think I do and I don’t! I just feel like this is me. I really identify as a hillbilly. Hillbillies are resourceful, strong-assed people.
[Appalachian culture] It’s isolated a bit. The coal industry is so extractive, it takes everything away, there’s nothing here. You got to be resourceful. That’s really part of the culture, being resourceful. Being strong. Living through the hard times, being ready for when life attacks.
One time, I played in Miami and there was a guy there that played too, and he said some things about me on the stage, and I didn’t like that. That would be like me going there and saying something about Cuba, which I would never do. I have a lot of respect for outside cultures. I love Japanese music, I love Japanese wrestling, I love Italian music. I treat those cultures with respect because they are unique cultures. I just wish that Appalachia, eastern Kentucky, could just be treated as its own culture.
Where I do music, I bring together a lot of bands from all over the world. I want them to feel right at home when they come here. It’s really my life’s work, bringing music that I like here, because I didn’t have it when I was a kid. Whenever you go [through] something like that it just hurts your feelings, you know?
(Appalachian stereotypes)I think all my life it’s affected me because the stereotype’s been around so long. Since CBS did that thing in the 60s, really, and even before that. Even people around here would make fun of the way I talk. If you really listen to the Appalachian accent, my voice is very far removed from that. If you go back and find a real old hillbilly, their accent is going to sound like a completely different language. I just feel like people should be proud to be a hillbilly.
Don’t judge us till you’ve come here and lived. Come here and try and live it, and you’ll find out how hard it is real quick. I don’t judge other people; don’t judge me.
Maybe [coal will come back]. It’s something that ain’t going to go away anytime soon because there is so much suppression of the new technology to protect the coal companies. That’s really why they lobby against that clean car that never happened.
[In 20 years, the community will be] Still going. Those hillbilly people are strong. We’ll find a way to keep it going. I read on the Internet ‘full economic collapse in 2016.’ Really if you look at it, it’s economists that are saying this. I don’t know how to cite it, but I’m ready for that. I can’t wait for the day that I’m fighting for my life and fighting other people to survive. I can’t wait for that, because I’ve been doing it for 30 years and it’s made me so strong that no man shall dare face me.
[I want to be remembered as] Just somebody that supported other people and built others up. Who didn’t bring people down and made them feel good about themselves. Just a good friend.
[For me, my life] just means getting up every day, going to work, coming home, feeding the cats, loving on my girlfriend, watching wrestling. That’s basically the highlight of my week. Monday morning. A lot of people don’t like Monday, but I do. I go to work, I get to eat good when I go to work, I come home, feed the cats and watch wrestling on Monday.”