Josh Freese celebrates 'My New Friends' with songs generated by zany marketing campaign
The versatile musician, who is practically a one-man band on his new EP, “My New Friends,” became a virtual one-man, new-model army to combat the music business’s ills with a wildly inventive, and remarkably successful, self-generated marketing and promotion campaign for his 2009 album, “Since 1972.”
You may recall that one because the Long Beach drummer par excellence for Nine Inch Nails, Devo, Weezer, the Vandals and A Perfect Circle and the in-studio go-to guy for countless other bands and solo artists (has any other musician on the planet recorded with Trent Reznor, Mark Mothersbaugh and Michael Buble?) cooked up a wacky multitiered marketing scheme to sell his self-produced album.
The offers ran from the ordinary ($15 for a CD and a download) to the nutty ($2,500 for a drum lesson or a foot massage, a visit to the Wax Museum with a member of the Vandals or Devo and your choice of three clothing items from his closet) to the truly ridiculous (a $75,000 package for which Freese promised to write and record a five-song EP about the buyer, join the buyer’s band — if he or she had one — and tour with it, then take him or her to a flying trapeze lesson with his former NIN bandmate Robin Finck).
Nobody bit at the $75K level, but he did get a taker for a $20,000 package in which a teenage fan from Florida came out and spent a couple of days hanging out with Freese and some of his rock star pals. He’s also the subject of “All the Way From F.L.A.,” one of the songs on “My New Friends,” which is Freese’s payback to his most generous underwriters on the previous album.
This time, he’s reining himself in a bit, he said over lunch at a neighborhood cafe in Long Beach — decidedly not a P.F. Chang’s, where he ate more than two dozen meals after fans gobbled up his $250 premium package that included dining out with him at the chain.
“People are expecting me to do the same thing for the rest of my life,” Freese, 38, said, “but I think it will be a lot simpler this time. I might keep doing it if that’s all I was doing and didn’t have four kids and wasn’t playing drums in a billion bands. It was a lot of work, but it was my idea. So once I made my bed, I had to sleep in it.”
The new songs — mostly catchy pop-punk numbers also including “You and Me and the Tuba Tree,” “See You in 2010,” “The Best That I could Do” and “NY Style Eddie” — are now up on Amazon and iTunes, and the physical CD comes out on Friday, going off the record industry’s usual Tuesday release day cycle to take advantage of putting a record out on April 1: April Fool’s Day.
It’s no joke, although he said he’s toying with the idea of showing up in a couple of select locations and selling records directly to fans out of the back of his car, just to keep the good-natured spirit that permeates his songs going.
He decided on the EP format to get the songs out more quickly.
“It was nine years between my first solo album and the second one,” he said. “I didn’t want it to take that long, and I didn’t want anyone thinking I was pulling a fast one. I didn’t want anyone going, ‘Hey, didn’t I send you some money to write a song about me six years ago?’ ”
In addition to the songs he wrote about the contributors he’s made three videos and plans to do a fourth about a supporter who didn’t actually pitch in at $5,000 level that included the video premium.
Freese found he truly enjoyed putting music videos together and looked at it as a new creative outlet for him. “It’s great for me to have something I can get excited about besides music and my kids.”
Still, despite backing off the 11 price points he whipped up for “Since 1972,” Freese apparently can’t resist thinking outside the box. He’s contemplating drafting one particular musician pal to sign on so he can put out the offer of a manicure-pedicure package with a famous heavy metal star — an idea his wife came up with.
“I don’t know if he’ll think a mani-pedi is too sissy,” he said, “but I think it’d be great.”
-- Randy Lewis
Photo: Josh Freese. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times