St. Louis Music Press contributor Christopher Davis interviews the band "FreedomAndForgiven" on Sunday, August 14th of 2011. This is part our coverage series, "Rock U Fest 2011: Artist Spotlight".
Transcribe: (Actual link to article): http://stlmusicpress.com/news/?p=6134
St Louis band FreedomAndForgiven will be performing at Rock U Fest at the Atomic Cowboy in St Louis on September 24, 2011. Rock U Fest is an all-ages event, lasting twelve hours, that is dedicated to promoting unity in the Saint Louis rock-n-roll community, and will feature three stages of rock music simultaneously. The festival’s attendees and artists will range in various age groups, ethnicities, backgrounds, belief systems and lifestyles, not to mention genres of rock.
Check out the conversation below as St Louis Music Press interviewer Christopher Davis talked with FreedomAndForgiven:
Christopher: ...see what happens.
Nick: Alright, go ahead, man.
Christopher: Alright, I'm sitting here on the phone with Nick from the group FreedomAndForgiven. Ah, Nick, how's it going man?
Nick: It's going pretty decent. Going pretty decent. I'm getting things together, getting ready for Rock U Fest.
Christopher: Awesome, awesome.
Nick: So, I can't wait for that to come and I'm working on stuff for the upcoming album that coming out at Rock U Fest.
Christopher: Excellent, man. So, ah, can you tell me a little bit about the origin of FreedomAndForgiven?
Nick: Ah, it's actually kind of a messed up origin, I've been playing guitar since I was five. And then, uh, I burnt both my hands real bad in a couple freak accidents. Then I had to take a couple years break from playing guitar. Got into producing trance, techno, all the electronic music and I finally got the feeling back in my hands to start playing guitar again. I went through some bands and I just got tired of a lot of the drama, so I just decided to do something a bit different, and all trance and techno producers just then run lead guitars over it. Or rock guitars along with it, and so, you know just start synthesizers over it loaded with the guitar too. So, it came out ya know, you'll see it is just kind of a creative idea that I came up with and hopefully people like it. You know, but it's not for everybody, so...
Christopher: Okay, so how long have you been uh, making music under the name Freedom And Forgiven? Is this something that you've been, uh?...
Nick: Um, since 2005 actually. I released my first FreedomAndForgiven album in 2005. Um, I released one last year, which ah... that album actually there was a lot of issues with that album. I'm very dissatisfied with that album. Ah, the album that is coming out on the 24th is awesome. It's one that I'm very, very stoked on it. It's a remix, a lot of remixes off my first and second album. Um, they're a lot more intense, so... Which, ah, that would be the new album is actually entitled "Return To The Grave".
Christopher: Okay, well, that's kind of going into my next question here. I was gonna ask ya, I was gonna tell ya, I understand that you just finished a new album and I was gonna ask you when and where people can check it out? And or get their hands on it? Is there anywhere that you have any samples of it?
Nick: I have it both on the website, www.freedomandforgiven.net
Nick: And you can find FreedomAndForgiven on Reverbnation.
Nick: Um, and I also have FreedomAndForgiven also on facebook. You can check out the stuff on there. The first three or four songs, I'm uploading more than that, but the first three or four songs on there are all off the new album. Um, I have a mixture of some faster-paced songs and some more mellow ones. Ah, some of them are more "chill out" and then ones that have got more, like hardcore synthesizers and drums to them. Then the bass are like rave, but have got fast-paced, hard rock guitar running over them.
Nick: And the more mellow are like alternative style guitar over, like, house music.
Christopher: Cool, man. So, um, I was gonna ask you next what's your ideal make up for FreedomAndForgiven? Like in regards to members, ah, do you plan to keep things the way they are from now on or? Like, what's your preference on that idea?
Nick: I don't do vocals, I had surgery on my throat and everything, my voice goes in and out. So, I don't do vocals.
Christopher: Oh, okay.
Nick: I like to collaborating with people on a lot of vocals, the programming part I like doing myself, I've got a lot of time on my hands and I spend a lot time in front of the computer and on the guitar. So, that I keep to myself, as FreedomAndForgiven soley. But working with people on lyrics, ah, like at Rock U Fest there is gonna be two different artists that are gonna be doing songs with me. Ah, Smokey "The Nerd" and Lil Hitta are both rappers, but they both do a couple songs with me. The programming and all that wise, I like to keep myself, but I'm very open and enjoy collaborating with people on vocals on my songs. I know there's ah, I'm also looking at a couple people that want me to do the production with FreedomAndForgiven and they want me to create a song, for them to do their vocals over.
Christopher: Well, cool, man. That's good, man. That's good to hear. Um, can you tell our readers at the St. Louis Music Press what kinds of topics inspire you? Ah, whether that be, I mean... I know you don't particularly, like you said, you don't write the lyrics... But I mean, even sonically, what kind of stuff inspires you? Like what kind of topics or feelings or thoughts?
Nick: Um, I've grown up a very, very messed up life. Like I have a page on my actual website called "Motivation" and it goes through part of my life's story. Um, part of it, ya know my Dad was killed when I was a teenager. I lost my best friend two months after that. I'm the last surviving band member of my first band and, ya know I had a lot of bad stuff go on, a bad car accident. A lot of stuff and ya know, there has been a lot of drama in my life. And my one thing is, with my music ya know, not only do I want people to like feel good about it. But, usually it touches people and when they read the story behind the song it just gives them the idea that they're not alone. Because I mean, I usually have crap going on, like there's no tomorrow and you feel all by yourself. But if someone just popped in one of my tracks and goes I know, ya know it's okay, there's someone who had been through worse and they made it through. I can make it through. Ya know, that satisfies me, a lot of it is more spiritual or emotional reaching out. You know? Like I got some songs that just put you in a better mood, it makes you think about things, when I write music I get a mental picture of what I want. Ya know, the person to feel, ya know what I want the song to be. It starts with the mental picture, ya know, and then it goes from there. There's a song, one of the new songs, the remix of it. "Those days" I just put up the remix of it. It's about going back to the mental picture of the song, ya know when you were a kid everything was care free, you didn't have bills to worry about. You weren't worried about making your car payment, rent, nothing. You just worried about smiling and having fun and ya know, blue skies and green grass. And it's just like, it helps bring people back to that mode, so they're not always in that go-go-go mode. Because society, now-a-days we never stop, we never breathe; we never take a break. It's just to help people get past stuff and help get people in a different state, open their mind up and just kinda give them something a little different there.
Christopher: Okay, yeah, I think I know what you mean by that. Um, it sounds like you have had a lot of things that you have had to overcome and you are working on overcoming, ya know just like everybody else. I mean, everybody's story is is unique to them and themselves only. Um, ya know, I appreciate your candor and your honesty and ya know the brevity of presenting your story. Not all artists do that and ya know, I find that to be refreshing and I appreciate the approach that you take to your music. Um...
Nick: Well, thank you, I do appreciate it. Well, like, that's my main thing behind it. Honest to goodness, if I can put one person, with one song, in the... Ya know, just make that one person feel better, then I've done my job. Ya know, that's just all it takes. Knowing that one person will say,"Wow, this song really moved me." Ah, you know, that's all it takes and I'm fully satisfied.
Christopher: Yeah, I can understand that completely, man. So, you were talking about earlier about the new album, what's the name of the new album?
Nick: The new album is called,"Return To The Grave". Um, my second album was "Traipsing The Grave". Um, like I said, I was very... That track didn't turn out like I really wanted it to. There was a lot of flaws and stuff, it became, it was very rushed album. Due to time constraints and other stuff. So, pretty much it's a remix of almost every single track off of there. Ah, the new cd and then a couple of old tracks of my first album remix. So, I decided to have a "Return To The Grave", ya know? I'm going back and digging up all of these old tracks, ya know, go ahead and go and return it to the grave and redo it. But, it's turned out a lot better. I really love working on the new album. The new album has a lot fuller sound, more um, a lot more overlays. I normally only double or triple track guitars and double track vocals, Now we're doing like, five overlays of guitars, six, seven or eight overlays of vocals on the songs. If they have vocals, I mean it's just a whole lot more, production wise that's going on with too. Which is going to make it sound a whole heck of a lot better.
Christopher: Excellent, man. Yeah, it sounds like, ah... You know, you already mentioned the fact that you weren't completely happy with the production end of it before and it's nice that you can go back to that now. And ya know, not so much reinvent the wheel, per say. But, make it the way it what meant to sound like. Ya know, the way you imagined it and even, maybe a little bit better. Ya know? Over time. Ya know, you give it that time to soak...
Nick: Yeah, well like on "Traipsing The Grave", I had done all of the programming the synthesizers, all that myself. And I said,"All right, this time I'm only going to worry about drums and my guitar." Programming the drums and worrying about doing the guitars and stuff, besides that, I'll bring someone in to do the synthesizers and stuff. Well, by the time the album was done, ya know I went ahead and released it. Because, I had a release date, ya know? Ah, I'm in the process of starting a label, I'm getting signed with a label and everything. But, I had to release it. It was the first time that I had ever let anybody else do synthesizers for me, or program synthesizers for me and it just was not what I had in my head as an idea. It was a lot more mellow and a lot more ambient than... I didn't carry across as much as I wanted. So, I decided this time that under the label and everything, with the label reinforcement and backing, how I was just going to do it as my first cd under the label.
Christopher: Okay. Um, so can you tell me a little about your influences, in regards to... Ya know, what people might hear in FreedomAndForgiven?
Nick: Um, I have very odd influences. Um, outside of FreedomAndForgiven. I'm a flamenco and classical guitarist. So, um, in some parts you will hear a lot more classical, flamenco style finger-picking. I don't use guitar pics, I use my finger-nails at all times. Um, also I love the old school Randy Rhoads. Randy Rhoads and Steve Vai are two of my biggest guitar influences, so when it comes to "chugging", ya know... Sometimes I chug like that. I get it from that. And Robert Johnson, I have some songs that are very blues. Robert Johnson and B.B. King are two of my huge influences. And, of course, Stevie Ray Vaughan. If you play guitar, you gotta have Stevie Ray Vaughan as an influence, so. But, yeah, those are my influences. I mix the two, in bits and pieces, but I don't try to mimic anybody on guitar. I want to be my own person, like I have my own four by twelve cabs and I don't use preset effects or anything, everything I have my own sound. My influences will bleed in, but they know I'm not trying to be a cookie-cutter shape of my influences.
Christopher: Okay. So, it sounds to me like, ya know... You've got a pretty broad spectrum of stuff that you're influenced by. Um, as far as like artists that are along the lines of stuff that you do, what you say are your influences?
Nick: Along the lines of what I do? Oh, um, the electro-rock scene is really, really, really just now starting to come around. Um, there's a couple of artists that... My brain's fried right now, um, there's a couple artists who have come out with electro-rock before me. I forgot, I can't think of the band's name. They actually have a song called,"Electro-rock" I'd have to find it on YouTube. Ah, and they got a six-track album on I-tunes, um... I actually was looking up the definition for "Electro-rock" on Wikipedia and it sent me to that YouTube video and just off of the top of my head, I cannot remember their name. So...
Christopher: Yeah, I just went on your Facebook page, 'cause I know sometimes they will have influences and I'm looking at it and you mention a couple/few of them. Let's see, it says Marty Friedman, Tiesto, Mylo, Steve Vai, Paul Oakenfold and John B.
Nick: Yeah, Paul Oakenfold, one of the things about him is if you listen to his "Bunkka" CD Album. Ah, the song,"Ready Steady Go" it was actually in the "Bourne Identity". It was in the car chase scene.
Nick: He actually, kinda started bringing in the guitar into electronic music. And then John B., who does drum and bass, um... Brings it in quite a bit too. And what I did was took it a step further and it's fully throughout, so. But if you listen to like John B. "Stalking You" on Myspace or, ah, he used to do "Buckin' On The Dance Floor" and he really brings in guitar on those. But I just took it to the next level with what I do and just make sure the guitar is there from beginning to end and like I said, I do not run a lead or arpeggio, I run in some pretty hard fork-riffs.
Christopher: Oh, okay. So, what types of venues do you usually play at or can you give me some examples of where you've played at in the form of FreedomAndForgiven?
Nick: Um, right now I've played with smaller. Sci-Fi Lounge, Way Out Club, um... *Laughs* This show at the Way Out Club, it ended up where I had to get stomach surgery five days later and, ah... So, I was out for a bit. Did a couple of shows at the Sci-Fi Lounge. I've been keeping kinda low right now, so I can finish everything for this album. I was do for the Way Out Club under FreedomAndForgiven last weekend, but I was actually in the hospital. Um, normally, though what's different about my shows is you go and you see one person and they are playing as a band with their acoustic guitar. Ah, what makes me stand out a bit is that I have laser lights, LED lights and fog machines going and everything is sound reactive.
Christopher: Awesome. Yeah, that definitely adds to the live show tremendously.
Nick: Yeah, the Way Out Club is a small club. It's not the hugest club, but the owner there is awesome, they'll kill the stage lights for me so you can see all my lights and the fog machines running perfectly. Bob, the owner and Sherri, they have no problem with me doing it. The sound guy there is real cool, um, being a person act... It's kinda hard to get into Fubar, sometimes, ya know... Depending on who all you're working with and what tickets you gotta sell and so...
Christopher: Right, yeah...
Nick: So, and of course, but Rock U Fest is gonna be an event. But, I can't wait to get there and it's gonna be, if you're going you'll see something a lot different than they normally hear. Um, I know that electronic music is big on East and West coast, it's not real big in the Mid-West. But, I seriously think that with the spin I put on it that people will actually be shocked and actually like what's going on. It's music you can dance to, music you can head-band to and music that you can just move your body to. It's all combined into one. I mean, so...
Christopher: Well, it sounds like it's gonna be up a lot of people's alleys, man. That'll be interesting to be in attendance there. While we're on the subject of that, it kind of leads me to one of my questions that I was going to ask you, but I kinda strayed of off things. Um, so, I mean besides releasing your new album... Which you will be dropping at Rock U Fest. What else do you find to be exciting about the whole idea of the event?
Nick: I love performing live and I know there is gonna be a lot of people there and just playing in front of people... I've played in front of you know maybe thirty people, I've played in front of a thousand people, every time dude... I'm normally just very shy, big very quiet, shy... But give me a guitar, strap it on, let's party and I love getting on stage and performing. You know? It's awesome, just bring the music and give music, just bring it out and give it out there. So, that's my huge thing. And there's so many awesome bands that are gonna be playing there, I'm gonna be there all day because it's not just, yeah I get to play. There is gonna be a lot of awesome bands playing that day. I mean, I could just go through the list and ya know, it's like ninety-nine point nine percent of them I want to see. So... *Laughs*
Christopher: Well, cool. Yeah, I think it's one of those things, it's like even... It's gonna be one of things sometimes like on the different stages, it's gonna be hard to make a choice, like where to go. You know?
Nick: Exactly, exactly...
Christopher: I'll have to... I'll have to go over here for like, fifteen minutes. Then, I'll have to go over here for like, fifteen minutes...
Nick: And the list is growing and I think, I may have to go on at the same time as them... Wow, they are playing too? Man, I need time to warm up, I'm not gonna warm up before my set, because I will be to busy watching people.
Christopher: Well, cool...
Nick: Yeah, I think it's awesome though that the idea came up for Rock U Fest to get the rock scene to support each other because unfortunately, St. Louis has a big rock scene but... A lot of times they are not supportive of each other as they are more worried about themselves and not networking and anything else. But, one of the best things that we can do as musicians is network and ya know, get together. It helps make the scene better and it'll help us better to have everybody just getting along better together.
Christopher: Yeah, I agree, man. So, um, wrapping things up. Like, do you have anything else that you would like to let the readers of the ST. Louis Music Press know and just the people that happen to stumble onto the site, in regards to the festival and your band in particular? Is there like anything else that you want to get across while we have this opportunity?
Nick: Well, if you want to swing by, you can check out the website. Again the website is www.freedomandforgiven.net Um, I am signed with a small, local label. Ya know, if you are looking for a different artist, I am the only non-rap artist that they have right now without an album released.
Christopher: Can, uh?
Nick: The label's name is Mohawk Music.
Christopher: Okay, that is what I was going to ask you.
Nick: Ah, yeah, that's an up and coming label. I know they have multiple artists signed and are working on the albums for them now. The albums drop in the Spring because the major labels drop in the Fall, normally. But, just swing by and check out the music and if you're having a bad day, swing by freedomandforgiven.net and read the motivation page. Ya know, it'll give you a different perspective on life and kinda open your eyes up to some different stuff and get you to see things in a little bit of a different light.
Christopher: Well, awesome, man. I appreciate you sharing your time and your thoughts with me and with everybody today. It's much appreciated, I'm really looking forward to Rock U Fest and ya know, catching some of your set. Man. Uh, and ya know, I hope your cd does really well at the event, I wish you the best.
Nick: Oh, thank you, I appreciate it. Man, I can't wait to see you guys there either. I know it's just going to be an awesome show. A totally awesome show for everybody and a really cool event. I cannot wait.
Christopher: Well, cool, man. I am glad that we had this time to talk and ya know, the best of luck to you, like I said and I will see you at the fest. Man.
Nick: Alright, sounds good, man. Out.
*Check out FreedomAndForgiven online at:
(Written by Christopher Davis of Ockum's Razor.)
of , which is