I was a friend of Adam’s. Not a close friend, but close enough to know him and appreciate him, and what he meant to the world, and to his close friends and his family and to everyone who encountered him. This is about what he meant to me and the people I knew and loved when we met.
Back in the late 1990s, when the Nickel Kids had finally all re-assembled and relocated to Boston, we started out playing in the clubs; awkward as it is to admit, our first show was at Copperfield’s. We played the Linwood Grille, the Middle East, the Paradise, TT’s, mostly to pretty small audiences—like, barely cracking single digits.
We played with bands that sounded nothing like us and had nothing in common with us, made a few bucks, spent it back on beers, and sweet-talked a small, rotating cast of friends and co-workers out on Monday nights to get the numbers up, with the goal of being invited back to play maybe on a Tuesday or Wednesday night.
Sometime shortly after Tigger joined the band, we were contacted by Nick (the PMOW) from the House of Suffering in Brighton, who had seen our listing in MRR’s Book Your Own Fuckin’ Life and wanted us to play in his basement. We brought our shiny pop-punk tunes and contrarian attitudes into the musty basement of that house and found ourselves in the midst of probably our best show ever, up to that point. The room was full of people, the beer was plentiful and free, we got handed a wad of cash two or three times as big as we’d ever gotten above ground, and we found ourselves surrounded by the kinds of people we’d been wanting to play with and for.
I don’t know if Adam Haut was at that first show, but as we continued our subterranean trajectory, away from the clubs and into the dusty, dingy basements of Brighton, Allston and those across the river, finding our niche, making new friends and realizing what kind of band we actually wanted to be, we started seeing this odd-looking guy pretty regularly. He had a scattered assortment of piercings and tattoos, a scraggly beard, split down the middle, and his long hair was interspersed with asymmetrical streaks of shaved scalp. On his back was an elaborate and beautiful piece that we eventually learned was drawn from Watership Down.
And he was always in the pit. Whenever he was at a Nickel Kids show (or any other where we saw him), he was dancing—into it on a level that, as a member of the band, was extremely gratifying; and, as a person, was just impressive, and inspiring.
There’s a turning point in the Nickel Kids’ “career arc,” easily identified as the dividing line between, “when we didn’t get naked during our shows” and “when we always got naked during our shows.” And I’m pretty sure—maybe Morgan remembers—that Adam was right there with us at that turning point, on that particular night.
The first time we got naked during a show was at the House of Suffering; mid-set we just stripped down and went for it. The crowd was surprised, amused and confused—all except for Adam, who, as we started the next song, joined us in theory and in practice, shucking his own clothes and dancing naked in the pit.
Adam understood what we were doing and why; maybe better than we did. We were being daring and reckless, stripping down to the nude at a show in a pretty safe place, full of friends, in a scene we trusted. But looking back, it’s clear that Adam had already surpassed us. He was living, daily, the embodiment of the convention-questioning and boundary-pushing that we were acting out in our sweaty nakedness.
At the end of our sets, we would put our clothes back on and go home and ease back into the world. Adam didn’t have that option, with the choices he’d made. He couldn’t untie his beard, slip off the crazy wig and de-piercify for the comfort of the world. He looked, and lived, the way he wanted to, for his own enjoyment.
The point of all this is this: There was a moment in the midst of the Nickel Kids’ transition, from dreaming of getting signed by Fat Wreck Chords to being the band we truly dreamed of being, when I turned to Morgan and said, “If that guy ever stops coming to our shows, we’ll know we’ve made a wrong turn.” Morgan nodded; it was obvious. I don’t remember when this was. It might have been before the naked stage; might have been after. It was definitely before “that guy” became our friend Adam, whose company we would come to enjoy in so many different ways and places over the following years.
Even before we knew Adam Haut, we knew who he was, what he meant; and that he was a crucial part of what we were looking for, who we wanted to be, as a band and as people—even before we really knew what that was. I know we weren’t alone in that. I will always be sad that he’s not here. The world needs people like Adam. They inspire us and make us question and give us reasons to keep doing what we want to do, not what everyone else wants (us) to do.
Thank you, Adam, for being a wonderful person, a fun friend and such a fundamental part of one of the best times in my life.