November 17, 2007
interview and photos by Scott Preston
I had the pleasure to sit down with local funk master, Freekbass and asked him a few questions:
Scott: how did you end up wanting to pick up the bass and play funk?
Freekbass: I started off as a drummer, and then moved over to guitar, so bass ended up being the most comfortable and natural place for me I think. When I was playing guitar I always felt drawn to the bass by both its sound and feel. On top of the tones, I like the physical “chunkiness” of the actual instrument. I always felt like I might break the guitar. I also like with bass you have to work for the note. I keep my action on the medium-high side, so it can be like pulling a bow and arrow at times.
As far as playing funk, a big part of that is from growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio. I always remember hearing it when I was a little kid. A lot of my friends were listening to Nirvana and Soundgarden, but I was feeling Bootsy, Zapp, and Midnight Star who were all from the Greater Cincinnati area and Dayton.
Scott: Who did you listen to growing up?
Freekbass: Stanley Clarke, Jaco, Rush, David Bowie, Talking Heads, Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, Larry Graham, Bootsy, Queen. The list could go on and on…
Scott: I know you have worked a lot with Bootsy Collins, whats it like working with him and how did him being so involved with your music come about?
Freekbass: That is a relationship that gets more special with time, and when I step back sometimes and look at it, it still seems very surreal to me. To make a long story short, I came and played bass on a track that Bootsy was producing and engineering, and guess he was digging my approach to playing. We started writing songs together, and he started showing me how to make records which was so above and beyond what I ever expected. Bootsy is from the school of “teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime”.
Scott: How was your experience playing in the group Shag in the mid 90’s?
Freekbass: That is where I cut my teeth on being on the road and in the studio, and learning how to play for new crowds in new cities each night. Up to that point, I had mostly just played around Cincy. Playing with Shag gave me the musical and life experiences to be able to do what I am doing today. Plus I made some lifelong friends out of it which is always a good thing.
Scott: I see that you made a video for the Cincinnati Reds, how did that come about?
Freekbass: I am a obnoxiously huge Reds fan, so this was a dream come true. Dave Storm had asked me to write a song for the Cincinati Reds CD he was producing, “Clutch Hits”. It was a no brainer, so I thought the most obvious thing for me to write about was growing up and being a Reds fan (i.e. the title “Reds Fan”). The song practically wrote itself. Even the main bassline came pretty quick after I got off the phone with David. After the CD was out for a couple of months, David asked me if (along with video co-producer Russ Jenisch) if I would like to shoot a video down at Great American Ballpark. We actually shot it before and during a game all over Great American and in The Reds Hall Of Fame. I just got to dress up and act like a nut, which is real easy for me, and those guys, along with the Gapper, Mr.Red, and The MDX Reds Cheerleaders did all of the hard work. It was a blast to film, and they show it down at the games at Great American which is a trip. I got to throw out the first pitch at a game last season too which still does not seem real.
Redsfest 2007 is in a couple of weeks at Duke Energy Center in Cincinnati (Dec.7 & 8), and the Reds are having me be The Grand Marshall of Reds Nation when the doors open leading into us playing a concert at the event. It is going to be what it would be like if Willy Wonka was a Reds fan. It should be a real fun one.
Scott: Is there a place you want to play or somebody you would like to play with that you haven’t yet?
Freekbass: I would love to have Dr.Dre produce a Freekbass track or two. And would love to play on Austin City Limits…love that show.
Scott: Have you ever performed outside the United States?
Freekbass: Not with Freekbass, but when I was a youngin’ I played in The Ukraine, and a couple of gigs in the UK.
Upcoming Freekbass Tour Dates:
November 21 : 20th Century Theatre / Cincinnati, OH
*with SHAG, and Animal Crackers
*Hosted by Bootsy & Patti Collins
November 23 : Winchester Music Hall / Cleveland, OH
November 30 : Hangar 9 / Carbondale, IL
December 7 : Redsfest 2007- Duke Energy Center / Cincinnati, OH
INFO & Tickets : REDSFEST 2007
December 31 : Peach’s / Yellow Springs, OH
*New Year’s EVE!
Visit the Freekbass website for more details – www.freekbass.com