Ryan Adams wears his heart on his sleeve, along with many, many patches. That’s why we love the alt-country mainstay—his jean-jacketed earnestness is the main driver behind the rollicking “New York, New York,” the punchy “Do You Still Love Me?,” and even his tender take on Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood.” Adams is nothing without his honesty; it’s a cornerstone of everything he does.
But sometimes, his honesty gets him in trouble.
And mostly, it’s on Twitter. Most of the time, he uses the medium to retweet adorable videos of lions and trade pleasantries with John Mayer. But like so many of us, Adams drops his filter on Twitter, and that can get him in some major trouble. What kind of trouble? We’re glad you asked.
His public blowout with Father John Misty
Though the spat between Father John Misty and Ryan Adams has bubbled up in recent days, the feud actually originates in 2016, when J. Tillman released a spoof of Adams’ 1989 covers album. “I was taking this dude to task for what I saw as a grotesque stunt and matching it with another grotesque stunt,” Tillman told Rolling Stone at the time. Ouch.
That, of course, didn’t go unnoticed by Adams. (Things never do.) In reaction to Tillman’s appearance on Austin City Limits, Adams took to Twitter to savage “Elton Josh” himself, noting that Tillman sounds “like shit Elton John but if he was just sitting in a corner staring at his hands on LSD.”
I mean, he’s not entirely wrong. But still.
A full-blow spat ensued, prompting some gossip-minded fans to suggest that the Tillman-Adams beef led Jenny Lewis—a known Adams buddy—to cancel an upcoming show with Father John Misty. To his credit, Adams deleted his tweets, and, on Instagram, chalked it up to having a bad day. But hey, his cat is freaking adorable—but more on that later.
I'm human & I have bad days. It happens. I apologize.
I took a deep breath & remembered I can always do better
Forgiveness & Peace
& Magic pic.twitter.com/a106P8ACt1
— Ryan Adams (@TheRyanAdams) August 19, 2017
That time he dragged The Strokes
Ryan Adams was a key figure in NYC’s early aughts indie-rock explosion. But if there’s a band that’s arguably more important than Adams—sorry Ryan—it’s The Strokes, a band who were iconic to the era’s three-car garage rock. But if you thought Julian Casablancas was pals with Adams, think again.
In Lizzy Goodman’s chronicle of the era, Meet Me in the Bathroom, Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. alleges that Adams was a “bad influence” on the band, providing them with heroin. It’s a charge that Adams disputed saucily, retorting with “I should’ve forced them to get addicted to writing better songs. Too bad @thekillers did it for them.” Listen: We never said Adams wasn’t funny.
But the barbs didn’t stop there. In fact, he took to bashing Casablancas and Hammond directly.
The Strokes took the high road. But Adams, after landing a few cringeworthy jabs—including “what’s he going to do, sit on me?,” a body-shaming tweet aimed at Casablancas—eventually backed down. And on the fat-shaming tweets: First, lasagna is awesome. Second, the thickening comes for all of us, my friend.
When he compared Alt-J to common pests
On festival stages, most musicians smarmily thank the other bands on the bill. Ryan Adams, however, is not most musicians. At Lisbon’s NOS Alive, he loudly—and very publicly—expressed his dislike for weirdo-pop act Alt-J, who were co-headlining the festival. According to NME, he compared the British act to a “mosquito bite,” and said “if you ignore it it’ll go away.”
Then, he added: “No, no. I’m joking. I love Nickelodeon, it’s a great channel.”
Not everyone was pleased. Benjamin Booker, who was also on the NOS Alive bill, took to Facebook to clap back at Adams, making his opinion clear in three words: “FUCK. RYAN. ADAMS.” Here’s what he dropped on Facebook, before eventually rescinding his words.
So, how did Adams react on Twitter? Well, false alarm, here: He actually didn’t. At the time, he only used Twitter to praise Royal Blood’s set at NOS Alive.
Thank you BUT… You cats tore that place apart. Fucking amazing!!! https://t.co/nHbNFdrVm9
— Ryan Adams (@TheRyanAdams) July 7, 2017
Well, that was oddly friendly.
His Chelsea Clinton-induced, Satan hailing freakout
One thing we’ve learned from this spat: Ryan Adams loves Lucifer. After Chelsea Clinton compared Confederate monuments to statues to Lucifer—Confederates rebelled against the U.S., went her rationale, just as Satan rebelled against God—Adams took exception. Not to her characterization of Southern rebels, but to her depiction of the Deceiver.
Next, he went on a tirade that the Washington Post‘s Gene Park described as “Lucifer-splaining.”
Alt-country star Ryan Adams is Lucifer-splaining to the former first daughter of the US who was speaking on alt-right and statues. ☠️☠️☠️☠️ pic.twitter.com/mzhqC2DqI8
— Gene Park (@GenePark) August 18, 2017
Adams, it seems, was just defending his dude Lucifer. We can’t fault him for that (even if religious Twitter certainly did). FYI, he’s also down with witches who oppose white supremacy, which is also a cause we’re totally behind.
WHAT IF YOU WERE JUST LUCKY TO BE ALIVE ON THIS PLANET?
WHAT IF? pic.twitter.com/6k4q7oUYaG
— Ryan Adams (@TheRyanAdams) August 19, 2017
The tirade that made a photographer delete his account
Adams has a strict no-flash-photography rule at his shows. It’s not for vanity’s sake, either: Rather, he has Meniere’s disease, and he’s been dealing with ocular migraines, vertigo and other symptoms for years. Adams hasn’t been shy about it either, once telling a fan who shot him using flash that “it feels like you took a lightsaber and you sliced my brain in half.”
Here, via Exclaim!, is footage of his interaction with the fan.
So, um, flash forward to last January, when Floridian photographer Joe Sale used flash to capture an Adams show. The photographer claimed he used the flash from more than 2,000 feet away. Adams, for his part, didn’t care, calling him a “fucking asshole” on Twitter.
No, asshole. It says NO FLASH! Because I have MENIERES DISEASE and have SEIZURES!!!! Ok, Ansel Adams? https://t.co/mChzgBQce9
— Ryan Adams (@TheRyanAdams) March 13, 2017
Adams, according to the Tampa Bay Times, blocked Sale. Sale blocked Adams. And the photographer continued to exchange jabs with Adams’ fanbase. Sale eventually slightly conceded, though he maintained his flash caused no harm, before deleting his Twitter account. Point: Adams.
The time he rescued a kitten
Ryan Adams loves cats. Like, really, really loves cats. He has three of ’em, named Theo, Agnes and Vincent. He once tweeted that all his songs are about cats. He once interviewed Lil Bub. His Instagram is filled with cats, cats and more cats. So, it should come as no surprise that Adams once used his incessant Twitter power to save an abandoned cemetery cat in New Zealand.
First, he tweeted an encounter with this handsome jerk.
Please any local cat rescue in Auckland, there's a little black kitten Symonds & Grafton- in Cemetery. Abandoned. pic.twitter.com/EwgILWC0JJ
— Ryan Adams (@TheRyanAdams) July 13, 2015
Next, Adams fed the cat, and called on his Twitter fans for help. He called for a cat carrier for the cat—who was friendly, but couldn’t be carried out in someone’s arms—and, along with a helpful volunteer named Rob Isaac, used his “calling to cats” voice to locate the kitten. After a few missteps, including a run-in with possum, Isaac managed to get the cat. And by that time, #cemetarycat was trending on Twitter, all thanks to Adams’ efforts.
Most rock stars would be cruising in their limousine right now. @TheRyanAdams rescues lost cats. How great is that guy, seriously.
— Rob Isaac (@rmi) July 14, 2015
Indeed, while Adams can be incendiary and outspoken on Twitter, he also uses it for good. And for cats.