EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: You Can Thank Craigslist for Freelance Whales
Just twelve hours after performing for a sold-out crowd at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, Kevin Read, guitarist for New York band Freelance Whales chatted with The Owl Mag, giving us the deets on the possibility of a new album (did he really say bluegrass?) for 2011, Coachella, and being compared to other musicians.
The Owl Mag: How was it playing at the legendary Troubadour in Hollywood?
Kevin Read: I thought it was great. I really like the set up. Unfortunately, at the very end my amp actually broke. A couple days ago something happened to it and then it just finally lead up to breaking on the last song that I used it on. But other than that I thought it was a great show, playing there was great. Just the way the set up is, it’s a really cool way to approach a venue.
The Owl Mag: For those just now becoming familiar with Freelance Whales can you give us a bit of background on how the five of you came together as a group?
Kevin Read: A little over two years ago Judah had started Freelance Whales, he had a couple songs demo’d out and he put them on Craigslist. I was looking into bands at the same time, I put an ad out, and he put an ad out, and he saw my ad and contacted me about it. I went over to his house a day later and we had a long discussion and played music together a little bit. That’s how I was in the band. Over a period of a month and a half maybe two months we got all the numbers, we went through maybe two or three people. We got the 5 of us probably after a month and a half maybe closer to two months of rehearsal. So the majority of us were on Craigslist and Jake, who plays drums, he was a friend with Jeremy who produced our album and he told Judah, and Judah and Jake got in touch with each other and that’s how Jake became a part of the band.
The Owl Mag: Your debut album, Weathervanes has had quite an epic year with “Generator ^ First Floor” being featured on not only a Twitter commercial but also on a car commercial. Now that your first year of touring is winding down, how would you describe 2010?
Kevin Read: It was pretty fun, kind of busy. But that’s good though. That’s better than not being busy. We did a lot of U.S. tours. Got to tour all over the country. Yeah the TV thing, the car commercial, the Twitter commercial, some of us saw it, I know Jake said he saw it during the World Series. Those kinds of things just kind of happen without us even seeing it we just know it’s going to happen. We started touring in October of 2009 since then I think we’ve toured close to 8 months of the year and yeah, so we’ve been pretty busy.
The Owl Mag: How does Freelance Whales feel about being compared to other bands such as The Postal Service or Sufjan Stevens?
Kevin Read: I guess it all depends on the individual, for me personally I kind of look at it as you have to get your influences somewhere. Some people say “you sound a lot like them” you know, I think it could be the way the influences have found themselves within the music. And then Judah’s voice sounds kind of similar to Ben Gibbard’s so those things are kind of natural. I don’t think anything harsh about when people say compare us, it’s just natural to relate things to other things. As for sounding like other bands eventually when you break everything down everything sounds a lot a like. It’s all there, everything is influenced by everything else so I don’t find it to be offensive when people make those kinds of comparisons.
The Owl Mag: I know there was a time that you played on the streets and in the subways of New York City. Now that Freelance Whales has gained more exposure do you still do these acoustic performances?
Kevin Read: By the time we get home from a tour we’re kind of a little tired, would be the best way to explain it. We get burned out because we’re away from home and constantly on the run. And then time is always against us. Eventually after a month and a half you get burned out from that so we haven’t done any subway performances. And obviously we’re not in NY the majority of the year and when we go home our plans are around trying to rehearse and keep ourselves sharp and work on new music. When everything is broken down the amount of time we have to do those kind of subway performances is really almost non-existent. It’s a bummer they’re really fun, it’s an unpredictability seeing what’s going to happen out there. They also are great for staying sharp during the time off. But right now we’re just really busy. We still do acoustic performances, radio and other things, sometimes really small venues. We do acoustic sets. They definitely don’t carry the same power and energy but it’s a different aspect, it’s more about the blending and the instrumentation being softer and mixing together at that level. It’s really cool.
The Owl Mag: Have you thought about the possibility of putting out an acoustic album?
Kevin Read: We’ve kind of thought about it. We haven’t really talked more about that sort of angle. There was one point we were talking about putting out a complete bluegrass album for fun because a lot of the instruments we have are mandolin, banjo, acoustic guitar, harmonium. Harmonium wouldn’t be I guess so much bluegrass instrument but a lot of people are really into bluegrass. We thought it would be fun to do that.
The Owl Mag: Your new single “Enzymes” was released just a couple weeks ago and then last night you performed two other songs that I was personally unfamiliar with. Does this mean that we will be seeing a new album in 2011?
Kevin Read: I guess that’s the goal, yeah, hopefully. Who knows what’s really going to happen I think we want to so that’s what we’re going to push for. Um yeah, “Enzymes”, yeah there’s another song we released and we performed it last night called “Day Off” and then another song is we did is called “Footprints” it’s really in the beginning stages of that song. We’re still hashing out a lot of ideas trying to make it sound good to perform it live. There’s a lot of tweaking we have to do. But who knows about the next album maybe, it all depends.
The Owl Mag: Do you think there is any possibility we’ll be seeing Freelance Whales at Coachella in 2011?
Kevin Read: Oh, I haven’t heard anything. That would be awesome.