BIO Adam Gnade's work comes from the heart of summer and "the heart of Saturday night." It's a dirty, knocked-down America of truckstops and mall parking lots, water towers and grain silos, late-night conversation on porches, dark woods and fields, wild times in neonlit cowboy bars or sunlit apartment blocks where you feel like the last human on Earth. Spread across a connected series of novels and audio recordings of writing backed by noisy folk music self-described as "talking songs," his cast of reoccurring characters inhabits a world of loneliness on river docks at sundown, cattle towns and beach houses, vodka in the evening heat, sailor bars and bayside piers, bats in the dusk, the sound of distant freight trains, the clatter of BQE, failing industry, red brick tenements, ghost towns of factories, the Atlantic Seaboard or the Pacific Ocean as the end of the world, foggy San Francisco streets, morning skies over Brooklyn looking for the ghost of Lou Reed, punk songs on long Southern drives, country music radio in Texas desert, crumbling farmhouses in the weeds, good and ill, sweet and vile, all the truth.
ARTIST’S STATEMENT My goal as an artist is to create a personal history of America, to tell how it was to live when I lived, to show the ugly, the beautiful, and the things we don’t always see. Through novels and audio recordings of writing, I plan to leave behind a vast and immersive body of connected work. I call this series We Live Nowhere and Know No One. The novels are intended to be one long book that can be read in the order that the parts were written. The audio recordings are the same—my hope is that they will be seen as one continuous album, inextricably connected to the work in the books, as the work in the books is connected to them.
Fiction can be a sort of history if it’s told right. By showing how it was to live when you lived you can lay down a portrait of your times. A good history is personal and the more personal a history is the more original it is.
As an American author writing about American life in audio and print formats, I take direct influence from both music and literature--weird folk music, old country records, noise artists, and authors who write about this country as they saw it.
I was born in San Diego, California, and spent years traveling the US and living in various American cities before going back-to-the-land in rural Kansas in 2010. My writing reflects the place I came from, the places I’ve gone, and where I live now. My books take place across the entire country (and beyond) but are rooted in a Western American experience, revolving around Southern California beach bordertowns, rural Heartland farm country, and the desert cities and wastelands of Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico.
My characters come from the people I’ve known—cattle ranchers, activists, Chicano punks, Colorado farmers, trainhoppers, desert cowboys, petty criminals, drug dealers, commercial fisherman, wayward farm kids, bordertown artists, beach goths, and young drifters hoping to evade the traps of American capitalism. I write the world as I see it and all that I experience goes into my books. Like Proust, Stefan Zweig, and Karl Ove Knausgaard, I hope to document my world in clear, visual details and offer whatever kind of wisdom or solace I can to readers in a tumultuous era.
As a lifelong fan of Dickens, rendering characters as strongly as I'm able is one of the things I shoot for. I want my characters to be as real as if they're sitting across a dinner table from the reader. Real enough to love and hate, to miss or grieve when they're gone.
I have always loved the Walker Percy quote that “American novels are about everything.” A good American story should have the crowded, dense, encyclopedic life of a poem by Cisneros, a song about the world’s ruined mess by X, and the stately quiet and musicality of Steinbeck’s prose. My hope is that my work, once collected and set in order after I am gone, will reflect that. -Adam Gnade
EXTENDED BIOGRAPHY Adam Gnade (pronounced "guh-naw-dee") was born in San Diego, California, and cut his teeth at the houseparties and all-ages shows of his hometown’s experimental art scene. After running the weekly newspaper Fahrenheit San Diego with Jessie Duke, Demetrius Francisco Antuña, Jamey Bainer, Sohrob Nikzad, and Elizabeth Thompson, Gnade went on the road, crossing the country, as he says, "what felt like endlessly, in cars and buses and trains" while writing what would become the first two works of his connected series.
Later after settling in Portland, Oregon, Gnade issued these two releases, his debut record, Run Hide Retreat Surrender via San Diego's Loud + Clear Records, and then his first novel, Hymn California, three years later on CASH Music‘s DutchMoney Books. Both saw extensive touring in the US and overseas along with artists such as Jonquil, Eugene McGuinness, Blood Red Shoes, and Oxford, England’s Youthmovies, the latter of which released Honey Slides, a collaborative "talking songs" EP with Gnade via Try Harder Records (Foals, Tired Irie, the Joy Formidable) which followed up the Shout the Rafters Down! EP on the Drowned in Sound label. Both EPs received substantial UK and EU radio play and were followed by further overseas touring. Two more "talking song" tracks with Youthmovies were released as part of the Polyp EP in 2009 via the Blast First Petite label (John Fahey, Suicide, the Slits).
In 2010, Gnade left Portland and went "back to the land," starting the Hard Fifty Farm in rural Kansas with Jessie Duke and Thaddeus Christian. Before relocating to Ann Arbor, Michigan with her two toddler sons and partner, journalist, TED Fellow, and Green is the New Red author Will Potter, Duke launched the publishing house Pioneers Press in 2013, releasing Gnade’s next two books, a novel, Caveworld, and his sole work of nonfiction, The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Fighting the Big Motherfuckin‘ Sad, which would become the #1 bestseller of Powell’s Books‘ small press section for many consecutive years following its publication.
In 2016 Gnade signed with San Diego-based label/publisher Three One G (The Locust, Bastard Noise, Blood Brothers, Doomsday Student, Head Wound City, Black Dice, Antioch Arrow, etc) and released a novella, Locust House (a co-publication with Pioneers Press). His next Three One G releases were two "talking songs" EPs, Greater Mythology Blues and AMERICANS, as well as a digital single of "talking song" vocals backed by the band Planet B (members of The Locust, Head Wound City, Dead Cross, Retox, etc). Recent "talking songs" have featured members of Gang of Four, the Crimson Curse, Castanets, Swing Kids, Chad Valley, All Leather, Some Girls, Tulpa Luna, Modest Mouse, Ohioan, Sydney Eloise and the Palms, Holy Molar, Menomena, and 65daysofstatic.
Performing "talking songs" and reading works of fiction, Gnade has shared stages and festival bills with Calvin Johnson, Foals, Fuck Buttons, the Album Leaf, Nathaniel Kennon Perkins, Bart Schaneman, Justin Pearson, Julia Eff, Thurston Moore, Godspeed! You Black Emperor, Under White Pines, Alana Amram, Television, the Evolutionary Jass Band, the Max Levine Ensemble, Tortoise, BEAK, Mum, Charlie Cunningham, the Wild, Ramshackle Glory, Garden Club, Teri Quinn, Dylan Pyles, Adrian Orange, Wolf Eyes, Andrew Mears, Har Mar Superstar, Scout Niblett, Ebsen and the Witch, Big Cosmos, House of Brothers, Eugene McGuinness, Castanets, Jeff Rosenstock, Les Savy Fav, Viking Moses, Levon Helm, Matty Terrones of Neutral Shirt, Julia Dixon Evans, George Pringle, Angelo Spencer, These Monsters, Jonquil, Larsen B, Ohioan, Youthmovies, Blood Red Shoes, Catsandcatsandcats, Erin Tobey, Morgan Eldridge, Your Heart Breaks, Dinosaur Jr, regular collaborator Demetrius Francisco, Antuña, and more. Recent performances have been at the All Tomorrow’s Parties "End of an Era" Festival, ATP’s Netil House Takeover in London, Plan-It-X Fest, as well as various house shows, book fairs, and in-stores.
Recent audio releases include the Three One G cassettes Life is the Meatginder that Sucks in All Things and Voicemails from the Great Satan, collaborations with Planet B and Antuña, respectively. Two collections of home demos, The Goddamn Marching Tide and Isolation Tapes, were released in spring 2019 and spring 2020, as well as a two song collaboration with the goth band Tulpa Luna on 7" vinyl, issued by San Francisco's Sell the Heart Records.
Gnade's third novel, This is the End of Something But It's Not the End of You, was released February 14th, 2020 via Three One G and Pioneers Press. The novel was reprinted in February of 2021 by Three One G and Chelsea, Michigan's Bread & Roses Press. This is the End received press from NPR, The San Diego Union-Tribune, Publisher's Weekly, Buzzfeed, and more. His fourth, Float Me Away, Floodwaters, was released January 5th, 2021 by Bread & Roses Press and Three One G.
In February of 2021, Gnade launched a record label to release poetry and stories on cassette. Hello America Stereo Cassette has issued tapes and mixtape tracks from Sam Pink, Jared Thomas Friend with music by Gogo Erlandson and Death Ribbons, Ryan Schulte, Canada's Prairie Girl Collective, Juliet Escoria, Erik Tinsley, Nicole Morning, Youthmovies (a reissue of Honey Slides), Gary Bunting, Eileen Ramos, Marty Hillard of the rap group Ebony Tusks, Lora Mathis, Dmitry Samarov, Mallory Smart, andrw fx, Mugabi Byenkya, Rin Hart, Zac Smith, Jessie Lynn McMains, Nathaniel Kennon Perkins, and more.
A collection of audio recordings of writing entitled The World of Today and The World of Tomorrow, was released by Hello America Stereo Cassette on November 26th, 2021. A book version of the pamphlet Simple Steps to a Life Less Shitty was released in August of 2021 by Bread & Roses Press.
Gnade's most recent novel, After Tonight, Everything Will Be Different, was released on January 5th, 2022 by Bread & Roses Press and Three One G. An excerpt of which was featured as a cover story in the San Diego Reader. It also received press via San Diego Magazine, StatoRec, and others.
He is currently at work on his sixth novel.