Recently I attend an intense jam session and had the chance to sit down to talk with Montreal's own Freakency.
Together for almost 2 years now this four member band owes much of its existence to strange twists of fate. Lead singer, FreakyNat was literally picked out of the crowd on the dance floor by original member and guitarist Gilles. A year later the band found itself without a bassist. In complaining to a friendly bartender about the situation, Nat found the bassist she was looking for and Dave hoped on the Freakency band wagon, joining Freakynat(vocals), Frak (Drums), and Gilles (guitar) to complete the band.
A highly skilled group of musicians, Freakency writes and records all its own music collaboratively. Everyone was adamant about this process and how important it is to them that each member is a part of it and that no idea is ever rejected. To them a good band equates to a band with no restrictions.
What makes this shared creative process even more impressive are the highly diverse influences and interests which each member brings to the table. Gilles, who is an Engineer by day, says his influences include artists like John Zorn, Sonic Youth and John McLaughlin. For Frak, a well known web page and graphic designer, John Zorn hits home as well but also Napalm Death, and Guy Nadon. For Dave, a German automobile specialist Mechanic, he says he loves melodic music and that his influences are admittedly more from guitar than bass including everything from Memphis Jazz to 1980s metal. FreakyNat, who is a 9-5er and tattoo artist, says that in 10 years she'll likely be listening to today's music as right now she's stuck on the music of the 80s and 90s. For her Peter Murphy, David Bowie, Steven Tyler, Velvet Underground and Rita Mitsco all hit an inspirational note.
Somehow these distinct aspects combine with unique samples and programming in Freakency's music to create something completely new: Freak Core, as they call it, touching on elements from goth, punk, metal, techno and more. The music is, as is their stage show, a combination of unusual and unexpected elements that explore the freakish and bizarre, but that work so well they create an experience that is difficult to put into words.
Both their music and live show are highly sexually charged. FreakyNat, who writes the lyrics, explains that she didn't want to sing about love all the time. Not everyone can relate to that; but, everyone can relate to sex on some level. And as for the "blood and guts" that also seem to pop up? Well she chops that up to a group of non-violent people using their music as an outlet: "Psycho Billy without the Billy" as she says.
As for the name of the band and seeming obsession with the 'freak' aspect of nature and society, FreakyNat pipes up to explain that it all comes down to an innate love and interest that she has in things that are different from the norm. As for the sideshow, which includes a beer drinking, toast throwing nurse, a masked, thong wearing man yielding a 6 foot penis and a topless dancer, that's all about offering up the whole package, a complete show that is interesting beyond the music, something which Nat is intent on since that is what she appreciates in shows she sees.
Freakency is serious about their music; but, is also out to have a good time and it shows. Often dressed in matching costumes in their trademark red, black and white, the band says it prefers a non-traditional set up on stage with all four playing in a row where they can easily interact with each other and the audience, harking back to the importance placed on equality within the band. Interaction with the audience is key to their performance, especially when the stage show gets involved, but Freakency also plays its part on the other side of the stage by supporting their fellow musicians. This was evident at the recent Emergenza Festival where band members cheered on fellow competitors and encouraged younger musicians. "What goes around comes around," says Nat, "everyone needs support."
What does the future hold for Freakency? Well Frak would like to see them do a few songs in French, and FreakyNat, who prefers to express herself in English, despite it being her second language, says it is something she'll work on. For the band as a whole their goal is to continually improve and keep re-inventing themselves all while enjoying the music, friendship and having a blast on stage, which is a highlight for all four members.
Freakency is releasing a new EP entitled "Freak's Unite" with a live show this Sunday, May 2nd at Café Chaos' Spooky Boogie Nights. I was lucky enough to get a sneak peak at the tracks. As Gilles explained, in recording the band tries to evoke the same feeling and sound as they have live and I must say they've done well in accomplishing this, I highly encourage everyone to come out and pick up a copy. There will be a movie beginning at 8pm and then the fun will really begin with a live performance! Cover is FREE so there's no reason not to come out to play with the Freaks.
'Freaks Unite' EP Release Party – Café Chaos 2031 St. Denis, # 844-1301 – FREE – 8pm