Joseph Erik Montano and Dane Rousay of the Freebies
It’s difficult to make music a physical experience, to give a body to ideas expressed in sound. Vinyl plants do it by pressing albums onto 180 gram and, recently, EDM has granted pop a new texture, pumping untested levels of low frequencies into its audiences. But to make music that considers the pain and pleasures of living in the flesh, while scratching and shredding its way into those goosebump feelings—that’s a tough game.
“I've always been kind of obsessed with the body,” says Joseph Erik Montano, guitarist and singer of the Freebies. “Whenever I write, I'm intrigued by weird or gross images of the body. Those to me feel more organic. So, if I can do that with the words and the music that's where I lead, generally. Some people focus on nature, or stupid things like that. I like physical images.”
On the Freebies self-titled debut EP, physicality dominates in both rock and noise forms. On the noise opener, “Masturbating in a Hostel (Is a Beautiful Thing),” Montano begins with some dark, pedal-bent and delay-decayed chords before opening up into a field of scratches and tense noise. If this is the feeling of jerking it in a hostel, I’ll do my masturbating at home, thank you.
From here, the Freebies rein it in for “I’ll Destroy Everything,” a more traditional indie rock tune. “I love pop music and I love noise,” says Montano. “Noise is another element of music that should be thrown in a mix, it's something that a lot of people leave out. I wanted to be able to be those two things, to hopefully make them work together.”
Joseph Erik Montano and Dane Rousay
Drummer Dane Rousay and Montano successfully cover this spectrum, crossing the borders of pop and noise on their EP. But when in pop territory, the duo isn’t afraid to experiment. On “I’ll Destroy Everything,” the Freebies cut in and out of time, taking advantage of having only two musicians. “Both of us got to the point where we could communicate and let things slow down, fall apart and pick things back up,” says Montano. On the song’s refrain, as Montano sings of the corrosion of body and mind, his voice takes a long and meandering fall down the melody, slowing down and widening out at the bottom.
“I’ll Destroy Everything” also betrays the influence of Montano’s (and formerly Rousay’s) other band, SA orchestral pop outfit Deer Vibes, in which Montano plays viola. Horn lines, via Analicia Rodriguez, play with Montano’s singing as the harmonies manipulate time.
“On some of the horn parts we actually played out of time, so it crosses over,” says Montano. “I like stuff like that, the push and pull of rhythm and harmony clashing into each other.”
For “Who The Fuck Are (The Freebies),” the physical becomes animal, with Montano and Rousay spazzing into a very violent, very noisy jam. As Rousay pounds the drums with agitated fills, Montano howls at full intensity, in a timbre not normally associated with the human voice. “I wanted it to be the spirit of offense and abrasiveness and a ‘fuck you’ kind of attitude," says Montano. “And that's how I wanted it to sound too. I like things to sound offensive or abrasive.”
The Freebies EP Release feat. Advance Cassette, the Beers and ANTS
Free ($5 for minors)
9pm Thurs, Aug 14
2718 N St. Mary's