Rock music and MMA have always gone together. Throughout the history of the sport, fighters have come out to fist pounding tunes to get them and the crowd pumped up before a fight. It seems impossible to think about a live MMA experience without hard rocking tunes.
Last year the UFC came together with various record labels to produce their first official soundtrack album, Ultimate Beatdowns Vol. 1: Metal. The album featured some of the most respected and heavy acts in music today including Fear Factory, Sepultura, Damageplan (featuring the now sadly deceased Dimebag Darrell, RIP), Zuffa Records’ own Stemm, and the reason for Chuck Liddell’s signature mohawk, Slayer.
The album seemed to a perfect way to introduce fans of heavy music to the sport of MMA, but one thing was missing from the compilation, of all the songs on the album, none of them actually incorporated MMA into their themes/lyrics. Now one year later, rock band Adema have penned a homage to the sport, and specifically the UFC, with their song “Enter the Cage” off their brand new third release Planets. The band, whose self-titled major label debut album sold over 200,000 copies in the US alone, hopes to have the song featured in future UFC projects, including live shows and possibly even become the theme song to the upcoming second season of Spike TV’s The Ultimate Fighter. MMA Weekly’s Mick Hammond spoke to Adema drummer and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fanatic Kris Kohls about MMA, the band’s new album, and Kris’ connection to the legendary Gracie family.
MMA Weekly: First off Kris tell us about the song “Enter the Cage.” The lyrics are obviously inspired by the UFC and their trademark Octagon. How did the idea come up to include a song like this on the new album Planets?
Kris Kohls: I’ve always been into martial arts, MMA, and especially the UFC. From the beginning watching Royce Gracie in the first shows I became a huge fan of what he did. I’ve been training in BJJ for about three years and have a blue belt from Rorion Gracie. I’ve done competitions and love everything about BJJ. So basically the song came about from my love of the martial arts. It’s about getting into the cage, what a fighter must do, it’s about mastering his fears and overcoming. You know eventually, even at 33 years old, I want to have a cage fight someday. I know some people want to jump out of airplanes, drive fast cars, but I want to cage fight (laughs).
MMA Weekly: Are your bandmates (vocalist Luke Caraccioli, bassist Dave De Roo, and guitarst Tim Fluckey) into MMA and the UFC as well?
Kris Kohls: The thing with the rest of the band is they get sick of me talking BJJ all the time and taking their backs and choking them (laughs). They’re fans of the UFC, that’s basically all we watch when we are touring. Either on the bus or at the hotel I’m usually watching the UFC or instructional videos. They are aware of the styles and they recognize grappling, they know what an armbar is, what a rear naked choke is from being around me, but none of them train. Actually the opening band out with us touring right now I’m teaching them submission wrestling.
MMA Weekly: You mentioned watching Royce Gracie in the early UFCs and you’ve trained under Rorion Gracie, what is it about BJJ that got you hooked?
Kris Kohls: I remember seeing Royce fight Kimo at UFC 3, it blew my mind and I instantly became big fan of Royce. The whole reality it’s a proven fact that BJJ gives a smaller opponent a true chance at all times is what really got me into it. Seeing Royce control bigger guys and tapping them out was unbelievable. Growing up watching kung fu and Bruce Lee movies it seems like that’s the goal, you want to be the Zen Master beating your opponent with all those fancy punches and kicks, but in reality it’s different. With BJJ you have a real fighting chance as long as you’re awake and not sleeping (laughs). To me BJJ is the most effective style of martial arts, period.
Because of Royce I started studying in 2002 after touring on Ozzfest all summer. One day I just realized it’s something I wanted to learn and that clicked. I was living in San Pedro at the time and I drove by the Gracie Academy and went in and started from there. I tend to be obsessive-compulsive about things so I was training 6 days a week for nine months, I became really addicted to it and it changed my life. I stopped drinking and my mindset out on the road changed. Instead of partying, the main thing on my mind is “Where is the next BJJ school?” so I can roll. Before it was a hobby and now it’s an obsession. I’ve already competed in the Pan-Ams, Copa Pacifica, and have won tournaments. I take it very seriously and I still have a long way to go, I would love to eventually get my black belt.
MMA Weekly: Getting back to the song “Enter the Cage,” I understand that your management is looking to get the song featured on the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter. Tell us what it would be like if that could happen for you?
Kris Kohls: That would be huge, it would be a total dream come true at this point, obviously getting our song out to them would be huge. It’s so cool because I just heard they are submitting song to UFC and if everything goes well maybe it could be the theme song for the TV show. I have trained with Eddy Bravo, he’s a good buddy of mine, and he loves the song. We’ve played it for Joe Rogan and he loves it too and we’re hoping we can get it played for Dana (White, UFC President). The song was definitely written for the UFC, it’s premier cage fighting organization in the world. I’m really hoping it happens. Everything going on with the UFC right now is amazing, the sport is getting bigger and more popular, you know it’s best sport in the world.
MMA Weekly: I understand you guys just got back from Iraq and you had the opportunity to roll with some of the unarmed combat instructors over there, tell us what that was like and how you did against the soldiers?
Kris Kohls: I did, I rolled with the instructors over there and it was awesome. We had such a great time over there; it was a real highlight of my life for me. I went to a gym in Iraq with an MP named Trinity because we had armed guard go with us and fallow us around everywhere to keep us safe. At the gym they mats laid out and literally 30 troops in gym watching us grapple so it felt like a tournament. I tapped both of the instructors three times, so I can at least say I was undefeated in Iraq (laughs).
MMA Weekly: To kind of get off subject for a moment, I know the war over there a very important subject to people here in the States. Can you give us an idea of what it was like being with the troops in Iraq?
Kris Kohls: This may be hard for people to understand but we became instant brothers and sisters over there. Before I went over there I wasn’t sure what to expect or what my view on war really was. Now that I’ve been over there I think no matter your view is of it; you have to respect soldiers and everyone over there. In our visit over there they made us feel great, welcome, and safe. It’s crazy, at the base we were at in Mazul you could hear mortars going off not too far from where we are sitting. We were literally from stone’s throw away from where things were happening. The show we played over there is the most meaningful to me of my time in the band. Hanging with the soldiers was just so unbelievable. They were totally thankful for that one hour we played because they got to forget about their worries and enjoy themselves. To us, performing, it’s our job, we love it, we play rock shows to have a good time, but that experience over there just made it so much more meaningful.
MMA Weekly: Let’s talk about your band Adema right now. Your third album Planets was just released and it’s a time of renewal for the band. You’ve got a new album, a new singer, and a new label, tell us how Adema circa 2005 is compared to the past.
Kris Kohls: It feels great, we are a much better, stronger band now. We get along great and we’ve been having blast on the road. We’re better on stage now than ever before and having a great time out there performing. The only thing is missing is it’s hard to find places to train while on tour (laughs). Both of the changes, singer and label, have been for the better, one hundred percent.
MMA Weekly: Tell us about your change in record label and how that’s effected the band.
Kris Kohls: We were on a major label (Arista) and now on an independent label (Earache). To be honest, being on an independent is so much better. They let us produce our own record with the help of Nick Forcillo; we never could do that on a major label. Earache had faith in us; they let us make the record we wanted to make, that’s the cool thing about them. The biggest thing is communication, with this label I can call the main guy with the company whenever I want. When you need something to get done it gets done; you don’t have to talk to 20 people like we did on a major.
MMA Weekly: Planets is the first release with your new singer Luke (who replaced Mark Chavez, half-brother of Korn’s vocalist Jonathan Davis), what’s it like having him in the band?
Kris Kohls: Our new singer Luke is awesome. He was a marine for five years and is the main reason we went to Iraq. I’ve been getting him into BJJ and he’s letting me show him some stuff. He’s a great singer, a great person, and we have great chemistry as friends and musicians. We all rock hard every night because we want to do our best. It’s because of the other three guys’ energy that makes me want to go play my heart out. We’re more energetic live now than we ever were before.
MMA Weekly: Before we go, I’ve got one last MMA question for you. It was announced recently BJ Penn will be facing off against Renzo Gracie at Rumble on the Rock. To steal a line from Pardon the Interruption, who ya got?
Kris Kohls: Oh man that’s a tough one to answer. That’s going to be a really tough fight. I’m a huge Gracie fan and a huge BJ fan, his BJJ is amazing, but I’m going to have to say Renzo. I saw him at Abu Dhabi and he looked good. You know Renzo is always in there to fight hard and when he’s healthy and in shape Renzo is as good anybody.
MMA Weekly: Thanks a lot for taking the time off your touring schedule for the interview Kris. As we close out the interview is there anything you’d like to say?
Kris Kohls: I want to make sure to mention Matt Baker, he’s been a great teacher to me over the last few years. I started out with the Gracies and got my blue belt but now that I’m back in Bakersfield I’ve been training the last couple years at Bakersfield Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with Matt. He’s a brown belt under Jean-Jacques Machado and hopefully with his help I can get my purple belt within the next year or so. I’d like to be the first rock musician to fight in the UFC someday, so hopefully we can make that happen. I want to tell everyone to go check out our new album Planets. Along with “Enter the Cage” there’s a song on the album called “Bad Triangle” that’s about being caught in a triangle choke. Thanks to everyone for supporting Adema, long live MMA and Rock & Roll.
For more information on Adema, their new album Planets, and tour dates please go to www.ademaonline.com or www.earache.com for all the details.