I am unsure if I can write a real introduction befitting my adoration of the next band. They are the epitome of fun and positivity. I have witnessed few bands that can bring up the energy level in a room as fast as these guys can, seriously. Badass Band 71 is Free Energy.
On the live front, this band was somewhat of my elusive white buffalo. I attempted to see them multiple times but circumstances always kept me from making the shows. I started to think they would just be a band I would never see live. That all changed when I saw these guys were slated to be at SXSW this year. Without a doubt they were the band I was most excited about seeing. They did not disappoint. The moment the first note was played, the energy in the room skyrocketed. Even people who seemed questionable about liking these guys started to groove, and the room was transformed into an intimate, raging dance party that Free Energy was hosting. Though Paul Sprangers as front man commands the attention of the audience, there is no lack of excitement and energy pouring from Sheridan Fox- Guitar, Nicholas Shuminsky- Drums, Scott Wells- Guitar, or Evan Wells-Bass. They clearly have a blast on stage together, that was apparent both times I saw them at SXSW. The second time, they worked the tiniest stage I had ever seen by hopping up onto the bar and involving audience members who were awkwardly placed in the back of the narrow venue. That second show ranks as one of my top 10 favorite shows ever.
As for the music itself, I no longer remember where I first heard these guys or if someone told me about them. All I know is ‘Bang Pop’ was the first song I heard a few years ago from their first self-titled release, and I’ve been hooked ever since. What makes Free Energy’s tunes so solid is that they take the best sounds from classic rock (which we all know is heavy guitar riffs), pair that with energetic dance beats, and add some of the catchiest hooks you will ever hear. Their lyrics are refreshingly straightforward and touch on topics like change, love, crushes, positivity, letting go and humankind’s never-ending search for happiness. In fact, their songs are so relatable; I dare you to try to find one that you cannot. My personal favorites from their first album include, ‘Bang Pop’, ‘Free Energy’, ‘Dark Trance’ and a slower tune, ‘Wild Winds’. As for their new album, ‘Love Signs’, standouts include ‘Street Survivor’, ‘Jam’, ‘Electric Fever’, and ‘Girls Want Rock’. I could dissect every song they have and write pages about them, but you need to just take a listen. These guys create music that is easy to love, so come groove with me at a show when your addiction sets in.
Free Energy was on tour for a few weeks following SXSW, but Paul was kind enough to take some time to answer some questions for BBB, so read on to find out about love found and love lost, why the name Free Energy and if Free Energy’s Power Hour is making a comeback!
When and why did you start playing?
I started playing piano in elementary school. I hated practicing. I liked writing my own songs or, rather, transcribing the melodies that I heard in my head. I continue to do the same thing today.
What kind of music did you listen to growing up? How does that differ from what you listen to now?
Elementary school was radio pop (Bon Jovi, Robert Palmer, Guns n Roses, Beach Boys, Oldies). High school and college was indie rock. Post-college was my slow descent into classic rock.
Which musicians do you admire? Why?
Bruce Springsteen. David Byrne. Peter Gabriel. The Beastie Boys. Pearl Jam. I feel like these are musicians who found a balance between their lives and their careers. They held onto what is important even through great commercial success. Life informs art, therefore one must strive to know one’s life and it’s essential connection to the natural world before any attempt to “know” art or the outside, material world.
Why the name Free Energy?
Because all good things in life are free. You didn’t pay for the energy that animates your body. You are given it freely. You didn’t pay to be born. It just happened. You don’t pay for the sun, or the wind. Our music and our bodies are vessels for some mysterious universal free energy!! It’s amazing.
Describe your show visually & musically for those who have never been.
Visually, there is movement and kinetic energy ping-ponging across the stage, out into the audience, through the crowd, and then back on stage. This repeats until the end of the show (and often continues long after). Musically there are peaks and valleys. There is loud and soft. There are rockers and there are ballads. There is love found and love lost.
How does your creative process typically work?
Scott and I come up with the seeds of the songs. The band is the rain that makes the seeds grow.
What do you think you biggest break or greatest opportunity has been in your career so far?
Playing The Chris Gethard show. Playing a charter arts high school in Phoenix, AZ on this most recent tour. Having Sheridan Fox join our band to play guitar. Getting to work with Neil Harris and his staff of amazing people.
What has been the biggest challenge for you so far?
Is Free Energy’s Power Hour going to make a comeback?
THANK YOU FOR ASKING! YES! It absolutely is. We have a ton of new characters and skits that are ready to go. It’s possible we’ll start shooting as soon as this summer. I love the power hour.
What are you working on now, and what can we expect from you the rest of this year?
We’re working on a bunch of new songs that will be written and recorded as the full band. I think we’ll record in June/July and have a new single out by the end of summer then get an EP out soon after. We’re on a roll.
Why should people listen to your band? What makes you unique? If your band had a slogan, what would it be?
I don’t have a good reason! / We are fans first, creators second / Don’t Worry Be Happy
If you had the opportunity to change something about the music industry, what would it be?
I don’t think there’s enough bureaucracy. I think there should be more.
One song you never get tired of.
Free Fallin’ – Tom Petty
What is the best live show you have ever gone to?
Capt’n Jazz reunion in Chicago.
Favorite things to do NOT musically related.
Going to UCB. Going see free standup. Going running. Biking.
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be?
If you ran Badass Bands Blog, what is one band you would feature? (Exempting yourselves of course.)
Haim. I’m obsessed with them. Coolest band ever. Addictive songs.
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