Nickelback’s Surrey-raised drummer, Daniel Adair, flies high in the latest episode of
Radio Chatter, an “airborne talkshow experience” that features interviews with prominent people while seated in a Cessna 172 aircraft.
Youtube show host/pilot Mat Mosveen has filmed at 10,000 feet over B.C., Ontario and Quebec with guest musicians, actors, athletes, entrepreneurs and others.
“We take interesting people flying over breathtaking views, and ask them questions that they’ve never been asked before,” Mosveen says of his unique talkshow, “Squawking & Talking” since 2018.
The Adair episode, filmed last July and debuted Wednesday (May 18), involves a clear-skies flight above the lakes and snow-capped mountains of Garibaldi Provincial Park, northeast of Squamish. Pilot and co-pilot talk about drumming, the music industry, flying and Nickelback memes, among other subjects.
(STORY CONTINUES BELOW VIDEO)
Now a hobby pilot, Adair recalls the time he lived in White Rock and first flew an ultralight plane (of suspect quality), with lessons gifted to him by his wife.
“I was shaking, kind of from excitement,” Adair says. “I drove around for an hour and I went back, signed up for the course. I gotta fly, man, it’s amazing. It was around when I turned 40 so that was the best thing I could do at the time is go back to school. Like, I aced the test, and have something to put my focus into. It made me feel young again, and I’m very, very passionate about it. It changed my life in a lot of ways.”
From Toronto, the Adair family moved to Whalley when Daniel was in Grade 1. Adair went to school in North Delta for a time before he landed a job at the Long & McQuade store in Whalley. Adair now lives in Langley.
For Radio Chatter, he recalls his musical roots and also the stage fright he experienced earlier in life.
“I would lie in bed at night listening to Rush, ‘Exit Stage Left,’ that was a live Rush album, and I’d hear the crowd cheering and I would say to myself, I want to make people feel the way I do one day.”
On drums, he gigged and did studio work before Nickelback came calling in the mid-2000s.
RELATED STORY, from 2020: Arm surgery for Nickelback’s Surrey-raised drummer Daniel Adair.
Mosveen, a part-time Victoria resident, says he’s been a licenced pilot since the age of 16.
“I think it’s way cooler to interview somebody in a plane,” Mosveen says. “From the audience’s perspective, you get to see a guest you know and love in a much more human state where they might be nervous or excited or scared, so it’s much different than just interviewing somebody in a studio or over a cup of coffee.”
Posted below is Tom Zillich’s profile of Daniel Adair in the Surrey Now newspaper. Aug. 3, 2007 edition of
In a haze of pot smoke, Daniel Adair knew something wasn’t right in his life. At that very moment, he was parked with some buddies on Elevator Road on the Surrey/North Delta border, overlooking the New Westminster waterfront.
For Adair, getting stoned was the day’s highlight once he’d returned home from Europe, where he fled after dropping out of school, barely old enough to drive. He stayed in Slovakia for a year but, bored and dissatisfied with life in a post-communist country, he flew home and scraped together enough cash to buy an old Chevy Malibu, which frequently rolled up to what he knew as “Surrey’s best grow-ops.”
High in the hot-boxed vehicle on the edge of the Fraser River, Adair looked out the window and saw the world going by without him. Something had to change.
“Panic set in,” he says.
From that point on, Adair says he stopped smoking drugs, made some new friends and found a job at a music store.
“Everything started falling into place after that.”
Years later, after much hard work and making the right connections, Adair would be welcomed as a member of Nickelback, a union that has allowed him to tour the world, hang with pro-sports stars such as Tiger Woods backstage in Florida, and generally have a blast playing drums in one of the most popular rock bands on the continent.
For the past month, Adair has been pounding out the hits (“How You Remind Me,” “Photograph,” etc.) on Nickelback’s cross-Canada tour, which stops at GM Place on Aug. 9.
The Now recently caught up with Adair on the phone from London, Ontario, after reaching him via the message board at www.daniel-adair.com. It’s a venue for fans to sound off (wrote a girl named Tasha: “Hey sexy! You are an amazing talent — and pretty good on the drums too, lol”). The website also offers tour-stop postings written by the drummer and showcases some great photos of Adair posing with friends, celebrities and fellow rockers — Wayne Gretzky, Kid Rock, members of Van Halen and ZZ Top, that kind of thing.
“It’s strange,” Adair told the Now, “because when I get home (from a tour), I have to digest all the things I’ve done and seen and experienced over the previous weeks and months. It’s a surreal world.”
These days, “home” is the place Adair bought last year in a nice area of North Delta, where he lives with his new bride, Brittany, their dog Orco and cat Nikko. “You get a lot of land for the money there,” he says. “We looked at something in White Rock but I need a buffer for the noise — I just put a studio in the house for my drums. I’ve waited my whole life for that!”
Before settling in North Delta, Adair lived in Langley — and in no less than nine other South Fraser neighbourhoods over the past couple of decades.
From Toronto, the Adair family moved to Whalley when Daniel was in Grade 1. “It was pretty rough in Whalley, sure,” recalls Adair, now in his early 30s. “Friends would show me their bruises from the beating they got from their step-father the night before, stuff like that.”
In his own family, music was in the blood. Adair’s father had played drums in a cover band back in Ontario. By the time his son was 13, he’d discovered the set of Ludwigs in storage, set them up and taught himself to bash along to Rush, Led Zeppelin and Metallica songs.
“I did terrible in school (at Delview junior high in the Annieville area) because all I thought about was music.
“The (school) band program was lame,” he continues, “so I didn’t join. I was the Grade 10 dude playing with younger kids, doing ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb.’ And there I was, knowing how to play ‘Tom Sawyer’ (by Rush). I skipped out a lot to play the drums.”
Adair was set to graduate to North Delta secondary when his principal phoned his mom and said Daniel should just quit school and get a job.
That’s when Europe called his name.
“I was 16 or 17,” he recalls. “It was me kind of running away to the other side of the world. It was eye-opening. I quit playing drums during that time, too.”
Back home, Adair eventually landed a job at the Long & McQuade shop in Whalley, where he connected with other musicians and practised until his hands blistered. He also played any gig that came his way, from the “nastiest bars in East Vancouver to the five-star hotels in Whistler,” often on little or no sleep.
Studio work also beckoned. One night, the woman who ran a recording studio in Vancouver phoned Adair to hire him for a session with the American band Three Doors Down, who, a couple years earlier, had a hit with “Kryptonite.”
“I almost blew it off because I was seeing this girl!” Adair reveals. “Good thing I went down there, though, because three months later, I was on Letterman and touring the world.”
After opening for Nickelback on tour with Three Doors Down, Adair received a call from Kroeger asking him to join the Canadian band. (In the mid-1990s, Adair’s band New Big Shoes had also opened for Nickelback at the old Starfish Room bar in Vancouver.)
In Nickelback as a full-fledged member — as opposed to a hired gun — Adair set out to tour arenas, including a date at GM Place in the winter of 2006. “That was one of the highlights of my life,” says Adair of the show. “I was new in this band and had a lot of high school friends there. What a trip.”
Nickelback’s stage show blitzes audiences with exploding pyrotechnics and other blasts from rock’s past, including a drum solo by Adair which sees his riser move to the front of the stage (think Peter Criss of KISS). It’s a fitting pedestal for a drummer many consider to be among the best in the business.
“The thing about Daniel,” says his longtime friend, Rick Clark, “is that not only is he a great drummer who can play pretty much anything, he’s also a great guy to be around.”
Clark, who worked with Adair at Long & McQuade and now manages the Whalley store, recently bar-hopped some of Surrey’s live-music venues with Adair in tow — Pancho and Lefty’s cabaret and The Wheelhouse pub among them. “What a blast from the past…. It reminded me of where I came from,” says Adair with a laugh.
It’s a long way from those bars to playing for 100,000 screaming fans, as Nickelback recently did in Quebec City. Away from the arena circuit, Adair records and performs with the band Martone, which is due to bring its mind-mending, Rush-like rock to Canada’s smaller venues on a November tour. Also on his calendar is the creation of a new Nickelback album, to follow the wildly successful, hit-filled All the Right Reasons.
Somehow, it all relates back to Adair’s motto: “The harder you work, the luckier you get.”
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