A Super Man With ADD


Adam Goldberg is pacing the floor as he talks on his cell phone. Today he’s doing interviews to promote his new Goldberg Sisters album, Stranger’s Morning, and helping his friends Darian Zahedi and Jon Safley of The Reflections select the cover art for their new album, Limerence. Goldberg is also doing the final revisions on the script he’s writing for No Way Jose, a feature film he’s directing, starring in and producing with his pal Giovanni Ribisi. How does he find the time to do it all?

“Right now, I’m asking myself the same question,” he says laughing. “Writing, acting and directing a feature film is overwhelming, especially a personal film like this. It’s about an indie rocker that’s reduced to playing children’s birthday parties and sleeping on the couches of friends who are poets that don’t write and philosophers that don’t philosophize. This is after his fiancée discovers a grievous passive aggressive act that he tried to cover up. Luckily, I don’t sleep very much, or at least I keep long hours. I do a lot of work when the rest of the world is asleep.”

Goldberg’s been acting, playing music, writing scripts and taking photos for as long as he can remember. “I saw a production of Macbeth at the local Jewish Community Center when I was seven. I went home and restaged a sword-fighting scene from the play. I was director and star, along with my mom and her boyfriend. I made my dad buy a ticket to see his ex-wife and her new boyfriend acting out my scenario.

“I played drums to Bowie records in high school, but I was shy about playing with people. I took film and photography classes. Woody Allen got me into Bergman, Fellini and Godard and created a mini-cinephile. I also started acting in school plays, but I didn’t get serious about it until I got an agent after I dropped out of Sarah Lawrence.”

Small roles in films and TV shows led to Goldberg’s breakout roles as Mike Newhouse in Dazed and Confused and Private Stanley Mellish in Saving Private Ryan. All the while, he was taking photos, making demo tapes and playing in various low-key bands. “Unless you’re a star like Tom Cruise, you have a lot of time on your hands when you’re an actor,” Goldberg explains. “You’re on a movie set for days or weeks, but I don’t know how many hours in a day you’re actually working, so you start bands and play in them, just like everybody else does when they’re between jobs.”

Before working on Private Ryan, Goldberg wrote, directed and starred in his first film, Scotch and Milk, a black and white feature about a guy searching for true love as he wallows in self-destruction. It was made for next to nothing, but ran into problems because of the music Goldberg used on the soundtrack. “I had tunes by Charles Mingus, John Coltrane and Mose Allison. I needed 200,000 to clear the rights to all the music, so I couldn’t get a distributor.”

Goldberg composed the soundtrack music for his next film, I Love Your Work, with the help of Flaming Lips drummer/guitarist Steven Drozd. They continued to collaborate and, with Drozd’s encouragement, Goldberg made his first album, LANDy. “I never really learned to play an instrument but sometime in the ‘90s, I had a musical renaissance and started making demos.

I didn’t put anything out until I made the LANDy album, which took several years to make.

“I started the Goldberg Sisters a few years ago, to cash in on the Sister craze. Darian [Zahedi] and Jon [Safley] were in one version of the band, fronted by my sister Celeste, who has a beard and wears my clothes and looks a lot like me. She’s my bearded twin and part of an inside joke, unless we become more popular than we are now.”

The songs on Stranger’s Morning were selected from the hundreds of demos Goldberg’s made as part of his Tumblr blog over the last three years. He recorded them in his garage studio, playing all the instruments and singing all the vocals. The music is shimmering, gentle, multi-layered psychedelia, with darkly humorous lyrics – “would you know a good thing if it crawled up your ass” – delivered by Goldberg in a breathy folk/pop style. He says he’ll be making videos for the album while he’s working on his film, putting together a gallery show of his photos and looking for other acting jobs.

“I’m always all over the map, or maybe a jerk of all trades, however you like to phrase it,” he jokes. “Do I have ADD? I think it’s more mania, because I do finish things. My only regret is that I don’t make furniture, but if I tried to learn how, I’d probably saw my hand off.”

Text by J. Poet
Photography by Adam Goldberg