Thursday, July 15, 2010

Music: Free Energy

It’s summer and it’s damn hot outside. This is the time to have a barbeque and enjoy some afternoon drinking or throw a party on a roof somewhere. Free Energy is your soundtrack for these occasions. The band, who signed to DFA where James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem produced their debut album Stuck On Nothing,is shameless rock and roll – powerful riffs, pump up lyrics, and songs that are catchy as hell.

The opening song on the album, also titled “Free Energy”, opens with the lyrics, “We’re breaking out this time / making out with the wind.” You know what you’re in for. “All I Know” features T. Rexian strings and the type of touching swagger that Marc Bolan would be proud of.

“Hope Child” opens with the strong, distorted chords you have come to expect at this point in the album. What makes the song stand out is the surprising affect it had on me when it slowed down – the repeated refrain “You’re not alone” hits because it’s a break in the music, but it’s also one of the few spots of inspirational vulnerability on the album. Free Energy is not breaking any new ground with their sound, but they’re fun - “Bang Pop” has a chorus meant for a road trip sing-along (a la the beginning of That 70's Show).

Beware of seeing them live because they will melt your face right off. Some people think that rock and roll is dead; if that’s true, then Free Energy is the zombie president that rules all because it looks so goddamn human. Lead singer Paul Sprangers discusses muscles and girls below.

Have you seen, heard, or read anything that you would like to recommend to our readers (film, art, music, literature)?

I just read Utopia or Oblivion by Buckminster Fuller. It's pretty incredible. He warns of the dangers of over-specification in one's education, like how modern universities push students to narrow their focus of study on very particular subjects, instead of promoting what he calls comprehensive learning-where one is encouraged to see how all disciplines and facets of education are connected and necessarily linked. The other thing is--he believes in the survival of humanity. He believes that war, i.e. the extreme manifestation of human fear, is based on a once-justifiable but now antiquated notion that there is a lack of resources (food, water, shelter) for all humans. He argues that with modern industrialization we have solved this problem, but have yet to dismantle the fossilized systems (government, organized religion) that now stand in the way of our collective growth.

Why DFA?

Why not?

What was it like working with James Murphy?

Really incredible. It was the first time we collaborated with someone who we really could trust and lean on. He pushed us and he made us take our ideas more seriously--and at a certain point, as a producer, it didn't matter to him what we played as much as that we just commit to the playing and expression of our music--as a producer he wanted to hear our ideas expressed clearly and deliberately. This idea seems simple now, but it was pretty enlightening.

What is your songwriting process like?

Scott [Wells, lead guitar] and I write songs apart and together. We demo songs apart and together. We add stuff to each others demos. We sit and work out melodies together. We talk about music. We let ideas digest and grow at their own pace. We tend to our ideas and songs like cosmic gardeners.

Working on anything else?

My biceps. My attitude. Hanging out with cute girls.

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