Touring in support of their new album “Everybody’s Feelin’ Real” which was produced by Duane Lundy (My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, Ben Sollee) and featuring contributions from members of Bootsy’s Rubberband, Parliament-Funkadelic and Trey Anastasio Band, Freekbass & The Bump Assembly will have the dance party jumping on the night before New Year’s Eve.
With organic, bass-centric sounds mixing with forward-looking soundscapes, “Everybody’s Feelin’ Real” finds Freekbass bridging the gap between classic funk and the future of the groove. Inspired by the inventiveness and massive sonics of David Bowie, the ten-songs on Everybody’s Feelin’ Real celebrate a sound while simultaneously pushing the envelope of what it is and what it can be. Funk is only a part of it.
HYPE: How’s your night been?
Freekbass: It’s been great, man. I just did this podcast with this pretty cool guitar radio show. They’re digging on music on the manufacturing side of things out of Austin, TX. It was nice.
HYPE: Awesome, gonna have to check that out. You want to just hop right in to this?
Freekbass: Yeah. I’m ready whenever you are.
HYPE: Cool. Why don’t you go ahead and tell me about tour so far?
Freekbass: We just released an album a few months ago called “Everybody’s Feelin’ Real.” We’ve been trying to gradually ramp it up. We started off right when the album dropped. We went out for about three weeks with Particle. They were relaunching their thing too, at the same time. Now, we’re going out as winter months go on, doing obviously more club dates and also jumping on some festivals where we can. Trying to spread the word of the funk to everybody that’ll come and listen.
HYPE: Tell me a little bit about the recording process for “Everybody’s Feelin’ Real”. You guys recorded with Duane Lundy?
Freekbass: Yeah, Duane’s just incredible. He’s worked with some great people. Works a lot with Jim James from My Morning Jacket. He did a bunch of stuff with Ben Sollee, definitely from the analog world of music. You want to have a Floyd Rose sound, he doesn’t try to simulate it. He was so good when we first started doing my album, he asked me “what are you trying to achieve”; what do you want? I said, I want to get that same feeling I had when I would hear Stevie Wonder’s “Talking Book” or “Maggot Brain” by Funkadelic or “There’s a Riot Goin’ On” by Sly and the Family Stone. He told me if you want to have that kind of vibe on the album, we needed to record it like those albums were recorded. We sat up in the studio, and played everything live as a unit. If someone messed up in the unit, we didn’t overdub, we started over again and started right fresh on the track. I had my bass and my bass amp, cranked it loud, like it was live. A lot of times when you’re in the studio, it seems like they’ll have your amp on 2, and be like, OK, play it just like you do, make it sound just like you do live. You’re like, how do I can do that? You know what I’m saying? The feeling that we’ve captured on the album is going to far exceed anything Ive done anyways. It’s just been great. We had so many great guest collobartors. Jennifer Hartswick of Trey Anastasio Band came in to do a bunch of tracks. She did some amazing horn work on the album. It’s the first album, every album that comes out, obviously, it’s your new baby, but this is the one that I really feel good about. It’s not bullshit too; and I’m not saying that to say, “hey, I’m so great.” It’s more interpretive, sonically. I really like the way it’s mixed and the tones that are coming out of it. It feels really good to go out, play it and tour. That was another thing, too, was with Daune’s help, we tried to capture the way we sound live, and not try to make it. When you play live, its totally different than in the studio. Every time your in the studio, there’s always that temptation to keep overdubbing and overdubbing and making it bigger, but then live, you can’t really reproduce that. There’s a song on the album thats just bass, drums and vocals. That’s it. It’s been translating really well live, too, I think, because we’re able to reproduce these sounds very well live.
HYPE: Could you tell me a little bit about the David Bowie influence going on in the album?
Freekbass: Well, I’m a huge Bowie fan. Besides the obvious thing of Bowie always recreating himself in almost every album that he did in his whole career. Besides the visuals of him simply looking different, the thing I always thought was so great about Bowie is that no matter stylistically, whatever he did still sounds like Bowie, whether he was doing funk or rock or experimental or avant gard stuff, it all still sounded like Bowie. You’d say, oh, that’s Bowie the second you hear it. As a song writer and as a performer, that’s one of the things things that I’m always trying to emulate. Whether I’m doing something that’s more country sound, more rock sound, whatever, it’s still like, I want people to think and say “oh, yeah, that’s Freekbass playing.” On the production side, going back to the Duane Lundy example, a lot of the albums we’re using for references, like Bowie’s “Scary monsters” and “Heroes” and stuff like that, sonically, those albums were pretty avant gard albums that somehow ended up still getting on the pop charts, which is mind blowing. How dissident his stuff was, but they still were hit songs.
HYPE: Before this interview, I was going through some questions that I wanted to ask you and I saw a lot of people asking the same questions. So I’m going to ask you something now I don’t think you’ve ever been asked before.
Freekbass: OK, go for it. And yeah, you’re right. I do get that. That’s a lot of that good bio stuff.
HYPE: I want you to imagine for a second, that you could right now, at this very moment, go back in time. You could go back to when you were working in that music shop. You’ve got your first bass guitar on layaway. You could tell yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Freekbass: Wow, that’s an awesome question.
HYPE: Yeah, that question has been years in the making.
Freekbass: Wow. I guess probably, this is going to sound ultra cliché, but don’t try to play to what people think you should be, or what you think people will necessarily like. Whatever moves you, play that. That’s why, not to pull the whole album into it, but over the last couple of years, especially since the album came out that I’ve really felt comfortable in my own skin. Whether you love it or you absolutely are repulsed by what I do, this is who I am, and this is what I do. That’s what makes people come to my shows . I would tell that 12 or 13 year-old boy, if something’s really cool, don’t try to feel like you have to try to play to that, become that, if that’s what you want. If you’re going to be a funk bass player, be the funk bass player. If you’re going to go up there and look crazy on stage and jump around and be silly sometimes, if you’re honestly feeling that way, then be that way. Don’t feel like oh, I’ve got to be this person or I’ve got to try to be more like this person acts on the scene or whatever. I hope that answered your question.
HYPE: I think it definitely did. I like how you brought up the album too, it seems like you’re at that fruition point where you are playing the music you really want to play.
Freekbass: Definitely. I’ve gone through a lot. I’ve got a group we play occasionally too, Headtronics, its a project with DJ Logic and Steve Mullet, which is more on the electronic side of stuff. I loved that I did all that stuff, but this music now definitely makes me feel like I can take a deep breath. It’s me. I’m me, now, and for better or worse, this is who I am.
HYPE: I want to ask you, now that the album’s out, what would you say are your goals?
Freekbass: I love being on the road. I love touring. We’re already starting to write the next album. So basically, I guess my immediate goals in the near future is to continue to tour more, as much as possible, and in as many places as possible, for as many people as possible. I’ve been really lucky to be able to work with some amazingly talented people. I always feel incredibly blessed by that and to be able to keep doing that, while finding that magical muse amongst people is incredible. Performing is not just necessarily the people that you’re performing on stage with, I almost feel like the audience is part of the band too. They become part of the music. In each different environment, it’s like you’re playing with a different band every night, when you’re playing in front of a different audience every night. The audience is part of the band. That’s one of the exciting things about touring. Just more and more touring as much as possible, for as many different types of people as possible.
HYPE: Awesome. That’s it for my questions. I do have one more thought that I want to touch on. Are there any bassists that you’re keeping your eyes and ears on?
Freekbass: Bass players in particular or just musicians in particular?
HYPE: Bass players in particular.
Freekbass: Bass players, wow. There’s so many bass players that I’m enamored of and in love with their style, but I’ve always been more of a collective of how this bass player plays with this group or a person’s individual style. We just got done doing a bunch of dates with The Nth Power last week, that band. They’re getting such a great buzz right now and they should, because they’re just so, the way they play, they kick ass. It’s not just one individual person in that band. It’s All of them individually that are incredibly talented, but it’s the way that they come together as a unit that makes The Nth Power what it is.
HYPE: I totally agree.
Freekbass: Yeah, exactly. In terms of bass players, it’s more about sounds and creating landscapes in terms of sound. One of my biggest influences as a bass player, is actually not a bass player. It’s Bernie Worrell.
HYPE: Oh, wow, he’s really incredible.
Freekbass: Yeah, Bernie and I have played together a lot and I have loved all the stuff he’s done with P-Funk and Talking Heads. All the stuff he did, a lot of the times he was playing the bass lines on the keyboards. There’s a magazine out of England called Bass Guitar Magazine. About a year ago, they had me list my top 5 or top 10 bass players and why I liked them. I think one of them I wrote on there was Bernie. I said, I know technically he’s not a bass player, but he thinks like a bass player. That’s a huge influence to me as a musician and even as a person. He’s a wonderful human being on top of that. Even though Bernie’s not a new comer to the scene, I’m always keeping my eye on what he’s doing. He’s always doing something new and ground breaking.
HYPE: Oh, yeah, definitely. I was surprised to hear that, everything I read, is like, oh Freekbass and Bootsy Collins, Freekbass and Bootsy, so I think it’s awesome to hear about Bernie’s influence on you. He is simply incredible and He’s still out there doing his thing.
Freekbass: Yeah. That’s the thing about him and Bootsy, and even George Clinton, that a lot of their contemporaries now are doing the casinos and the oldies tours and that kind of stuff. Those guys are still cutting records like it’s 1967. You go to a George Clinton show, and it’s all kids. They know that they’re still as edgy now as they were 20, 30 years ago. Which I think is awesome.
For more information, music and tour dates visit Freekbass.com