As we approach the end of 2010 and I consider the bands, albums, and events that made an impact on me, certain names leap to the front on my mind. Free Energy and their debut album "Stuck On Nothing" are definitely on my "Best of" list. They were a breath of fresh air in an all too often "samey" landscape of "buzz" bands. The Philadelphia-based band rose out of the ashes of Hockey Night and combined hook-laden, heartfelt, and melody rich compositions while showcasing an appreciation for a by-gone era. They unabashedly celebrated and helped to usher in the return of "Power-Pop". For that I am truly grateful, as I was to have a chance to ask singer Paul Sprangers a few questions recently. Below is the interview that followed and some video of the singles off their aforementioned Astralwerks/DFA release from earlier in the year. Even more below, is a separate blog post about "The Free Energy Power Hour". This is a band that will soon be on the tip of everyone's tongue...
Free Energy singer Paul Sprangers
So 2010 has been a really BIG year for Free Energy, with the release of your full-length debut Stuck On Nothing and near constant touring, what sticks out as the most surprising moment or event of the year for the band?
Being picked to open for Weezer was definitely shocking! Like, Rivers Cuomo knows about us? That, to me, is crazy. The best events of the year, by far, was touring with Titus Andronicus, Mates of State, and Foreign Born, along with the amazing support bands like Miniature Tigers and Drink Up Buttercup. To meet and travel and perform which such grounded, talented people is a real joy, and makes for a perpetually inspired life.
In the interest of balance, what was the one thing you'd most like to forget ever happened?
I learn from everything that happens in my life, good and bad. But, heartbreak is something I'd like to forget. It's hard to move on when you can't let go. I'm still trying to let go.
What does being based in Philadelphia offer the band that New York or Los Angeles doesn't? Or, how has Philly infused itself into Free Energy's DNA?
Philly is so much more laid back. It's "neighborhoody". It's alive and has personality. You can ride your bike across the city in 20 minutes. It is home to the finest Ben Franklin re-enactors in the world. Philly is the place that we launched our live band from, and we have had incredible support from our friends, family, radio stations, bars, clubs, djs, and promoters. We've met incredible people working in all parts of the city and they all have been an integral part of this band taking off.
Live, Free Energy really lives up to its name. Your performances seem to recall a period in music when live shows were less reverent and more fun. What are some of the bands influences or models in the "live arena"?
Everything...Bon Jovi, Michael Jackson, Daft Punk, definitely the
Rolling Stones, and Queen. Queen is huge!
The boys in repose...
A lot of critics and bloggers like to describe your sound, how would you describe the band's sound?
Melodies and love. Dream sounds.
I see you have some shows coming up with Weezer opening for part of their "Memories Tour". What does that kind of exposure mean for Free Energy?
Ha! See my answer above...I think the exposure is really good-because I think a lot of Weezer fans will like Free Energy. "The Blue Album" and Pinkerton changed my life.
"The Free Energy Power Hour" is one of the best marketing/promo pieces I have ever seen. The band's personality and sense of humor really are endearing and entertaining, whose idea was that (I'm thinking "Corn and Peas") and how did the various bits come together?
Thank you! That means a lot. We're not sure if people even know it exists?
It was our idea. We come up with a lot of ideas and characters in the van...it's like a mini-writing room. When the label asked us to make an "Epk" (electronic press kit) I suggested we develop our ideas and make a "show". I started fleshing out some of the bits and scripted them with our friend Ben Nabors who produced it (along with the "Bang Pop" and "Free Energy" videos).
"Corn and Peas" is just a bit that Evan and I mess with a lot. It's like
the world's shittiest comedy team. Like a shittier Penn and Teller or
How important is having a presence on YouTube or being "viral" in some capacity to an up and coming band in today's music scene?
Well, we haven't had anything go "viral". I guess it can help get you attention, but it can also make things feel very transient, whether it's a band or a person or whatever. YouTube is amazing, and we love watching shit on YouTube. But I don't think people should work to make viral stuff. You should make what you are passionate about first and it will find its place in the world. Not everything or everyone should go "viral".
With 2011 just around the corner, what does Free Energy hope to accomplish in the New Year? Is a new album in the works?
New album is heavy in the works. We have a LOT of demos, and we're going to make a ton more in January and February. The New Year will be mainly spent staying hidden, so people don't get sick of hearing about goddamn Free Energy, and, making a record that is going to be light years beyond Stuck On Nothing.
Any resolutions you guys have been considering adopting?
Never count your chickens before they've hatched.
Rock and Roll High School indeed!
"Ridiculous but Necessary Questions"
What is your favorite cheese? Muenster
Thin Lizzy or Journey?Thin Lizzy (no contest)
Beverley Hills 90210 or Gossip Girl? 90210 (never seen Gossip Girl)