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July 18, 2019

Keeping It Cool… and Dual

From the apocalypse to NOLA, Tree Adams provides the soundtrack.

Dinah Eng
  • Ian Spanier

Composing music for two very different shows is all in a day's work for Tree Adams, who scores both The CW's The 100 and CBS's NCIS: New Orleans.

He tackles one show in the morning, takes a break for tae kwon do, then works on the other in the afternoon.

For The 100 — a post-apocalyptic sci-fi drama that's been renewed for a seventh season — he creates a pulsing, contemporary sound. NCIS: New Orleans — the military-police procedural that will return for a sixth season — naturally features New Orleans–style jazz with horns, bass and guitar.

"Part of storytelling in music is looking for how you can incorporate what you're hearing with what you're seeing," Adams says. "I go to New Orleans periodically and may be on a cable car that's got a humming and a rhythm to it. Those sounds have ended up in all kinds of scenes on the show."

Adams comes from a musical family. His father was a drummer in the '60s rock band Country Joe and the Fish, his grandfather was a classical violinist and his grandmother a classical pianist.

"I was forced to play classical music when I was little," Adams says. "Picking up a guitar was my way of rebelling."

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, he went on the road with a rock band called the Hatters, which released several records on Atlantic. Ten years later, he got the opportunity to write an end title song for a film. It wasn't used, but he was hooked. In 1998, he moved to L.A. and began composing for series such as Californication, Perception and Sirens.

Adams has other creative outlets, including Duskriders, a digital graphic novel series he created and cowrites. It is available, along with its soundtrack, on

Warner Bros./Water Tower has released three soundtracks of his music for The 100.

And he's appeared in an episode of NCIS: New Orleans, playing guitar and singing in a band with star Scott Bakula, George Porter (the Meters), Cyril Neville (the Neville Brothers) and Jeffery "Jellybean" Alexander. Adams, of course, wrote "Put Some Sauce on It," the song they performed. "Now that was cool," he says. "It was like playing in an all-star band."

This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 7, 2019

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