By NEIL MATTSON // A remembrance for Trio Flux drummer Adam Ochshorn by the group’s guitarist.
Adam was lost climbing in Northern Washington over Thanksgiving weekend. Experienced rescue teams using all available resources, including helicopters, were unable to find him, and they gave up the search when they realized that he could not have survived. Follow the link to read this obituary.
I never climbed with Adam. I watched with interest when he staged his expeditions, maneuvering myself, with guitar and amp, through the piles of climbing and camping gear in his garage. We planned rehearsals around his adventures. I enjoyed the many joyful pictures posted by him and his hiking companions on Facebook. Trio Flux played gigs on the backend of weekend summits, or he’d head out on a trip after a show, sometimes the same night.
My adventure with Adam was of a different nature. We taught and played music together. I met Adam in 2008 when he was hired to team drums at the company where I worked. As the new teacher, Adam was called on to give a presentation at the spring recital. Fearless, he did twenty minutes of solo drums, with a little talking nestled between each demonstration. His charisma, warmth, smile—it was really easy to like this guy.
I was impressed hearing Adam play that day. His playing was energetic and joyful. I don’t think I knew exactly why then, but reflecting now, I know I was drawn to the genuineness of his musical personality, and I heard in his playing influences that we shared: Billy Cobham, Mike Clark, even John Bonham. I introduced myself at that recital and shortly thereafter called him to play at a jam session I had been hosting at Proper Eats in St. John’s, Portland.
That was the beginning of my adventure with Adam Ochshorn. The climb for me was starting my own group and finding my voice as a writer and a player. I had played and led hundreds of gigs back in Detroit, and some in Portland, but having a regularly rehearsing band with like-minded musicians was a first.
Adam guided the process from the beginning. Drawing on his experience from his days touring the East Coast with his band, Oshe, he knew what he wanted to sound like, and that showed the band our path to finding our sound.
Trio Flux was a laboratory for my musical growth over the past seven years. We challenged each other to learn difficult material but supported each other’s unique contribution to the whole. My sound and equipment has been completely overhauled from then to now. I remember calling Adam from the guitar shop, asking him which phaser pedal to buy. The evolution of my sound over the past seven years is a tribute to Adam’s influence on me.
The band started out playing exclusively my tunes. Gradually a shift occurred in our writing process—we began arranging new tunes of mine collaboratively. Then Adam wrote a few tunes, and then more, and more. At our last gig at Jimmy Mak’s in October of this past year, we played almost an entire set of Adam’s tunes. And his most recent writing, more so than mine, I believe, truly represents the evolved sound of Trio Flux.
I learned so much from Adam. Be fearless. Find your voice. Put people first. Don’t sweat the small stuff. These were lessons taught by example, in simply how he lived his life. I am heartbroken for his family and loved ones, but especially his students. Adam taught with humor and love, and I witnessed that firsthand when we teamed up to coach rock bands. One of those students,
Sharon LaCroix, said,“Adam taught me everything I know about being a musician. I had never played, never even tried to learn, any music until Adam became my drum teacher. Adam inspired me about the passion and energy and endurance and joy of being a drummer. I miss him so."
Adam’s first love was climbing. But I knew Adam as a musician, teacher, and extraordinarily passionate human being. I count myself lucky for the time I got to know him.
Miss you, buddy.