Josh Freese has played drums in some of your favorite bands. He has manned the drums for The Vandals, Nine Inch Nails, A Perfect Circle, Guns and Roses (version 2.0), Devo, Weezer and Sting to name a few. In 2009 Josh released a solo disc called Since 1972. Freese released the disc with a unique marketing plan. Josh had an 11-tiered pricing plan for his solo disc that ranged from $7.00 to $75,000 (http://joshfreese.com/buynow/20000/)! If you bought some of the more expensive packages you would not only get the disc but depending on the price, you would get a private tour of Disneyland, have Josh sit in with your band, do lunch at Sizzler or PF Chang’s; an original song would be written about you the buyer, you would be able to take possession of Freese’s used Volvo station wagon and you would get the chance to have a miniature golf outing with Josh, Maynard James Keenan (Tool/A Perfect Circle) and Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh.
Believe it or not, Josh sold quite a few of his specially tiered packages. While the $75,000 package is still available, Freese sold the $20,000 package, all of the $5000 packages and multiple $500, $1000 and $2500 packages. All 25 of the $250 packages that included a meal with Josh sold out within 24 hours of them going on sale. Freese is getting ready to release a follow up EP entitled My New Friends. While on tour with Paramore in Brazil, Josh chatted about his solo discs and the new friends he has made because of them.
David Carr: Josh how long have you been playing drums?
Josh Freese: I started playing drums when I was 8. I have been playing professionally since I was 12 years old. My first gig was playing in a cover band at Disneyland.
David Carr: Considering you have played in so many bands over the years, which band would you say you have had the most fun with in the studio?
Josh Freese: I would have to say both A Perfect Circle and The Vandals. Both of those bands are like home for me. Do I have fun being in the studio with Cher or Avirl Lavigne? Its ok, but I have no personal connection with them. I have been with A Perfect Circle and The Vandals for a long time so those bands are like family to me.
David Carr: Which band do you have the most fun with on the road?
Josh Freese: On tour it’s a different story. You’re away from your family and friends — you need to be with a group of people you really like. They are all very different experiences. I like touring with The Vandals because again they are like my family. I like touring with Devo because I have been a huge fan of theirs over the years and they are crazy! Weezer are a bunch of really nice guys and they are fun to play with. I liked going on tour with Nine Inch Nails because those live shows were incredible.
David Carr: What inspired you to write/record a solo record?
Josh Freese: I have been writing songs and singing since I was a teenager. Technically, My New Friends is actually my fourth solo record. I released my first EP under the name Princess. In 2000 I released a disc called The Notorious One Man Orgy on Kung Fu Records (The Vandals’ label). Nine years later, Since 1972 came out and on April 1st My New Friends will be released.
David Carr: So what is this record about?
Josh Freese: It’s actually about the four guys who bought my last disc! Seriously! They bought the package that included me writing a song about them! The EP is five songs about the four guys who bought that particular tiered package.
David Carr: Do you play all the instruments? What kind of music would you say the disc represents? is it punk? Is it hard rock?
Josh Freese: I’m doing everything on the disc. For the most part it’s a melodic rock and roll album. It’s got elements of punk and pop and straight up rock and roll.
David Carr: As funny as this concept is, (and believe me people when I say this is damn funny) it sounds like you really spent some time on the songs.
Josh Freese: I know the concept is funny but I took the music seriously. I really put a lot of work into these songs. I spent a lot of time on them. There is even a video now on You Tube for one of the new songs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLETc89ZQm8
David Carr: How did you come up with the idea for the tiered system to market Since 1972?
Josh Freese: I was working on Since 1972 and I was talking to my manager. I was trying to decide if I should just put the record out myself or if I should find a label to put it out. He basically said we should see how my last solo record was selling. He goes on to SoundScan and starts telling me that this week I sold one copy of my record. Last week I sold no copies of my record. The week before that I sold one copy, and so on. After I told him to stop making fun of me I said that I should actually find out who bought my record, call them up and thank them. We then started riffing about all kinds of stuff I should do with them like take them to Disneyland, or go to lunch with them. During this same time I was rehearsing with Nine Inch Nails. At that time, Trent Reznor had created a tiered system of how to purchase his latest disc. It ranged from $50 to $100 to $300. The most expensive version of the disc looked like something you could put on your coffee table. I thought that I could do the same thing but it would just be a bit crazier. I just had a feeling that people would get a kick out of it. I wanted to see if I could get people talking about it. The experiment was a success and I am proud of it!
David Carr: I assume people have gone from laughing at the idea to being impressed that you were actually able to sell these packages and that you were following through on all of your promises.
Josh Freese: I remember going on the Kevin and Bean show on KROQ and after the interview being introduced to the woman in charge of marketing for them. She was just stunned at the idea and that I was pulling it off. She just said, “you nailed it”. I was on the phone with Adrian Young from No Doubt and he happened to ask me what I had been up to on this particular day. I told him that I had just come from two back to back lunches at Sizzler. When I explained why he just started laughing. He could not believe I was really doing it. One of the guys actually flew in from Florida to get his disc/package. I felt bad about just giving him his care package since he had flown here, so I asked him if he would also be interested in going to the Bamboozle show with me since The Vandals were going to be playing there. I told him he could sit on the side of the stage and he thought that would be great. I also brought him with me to a recording studio where I was doing some work with Slash. It actually became a lot of work to coordinate the miniature golf with Mark and Maynard but it was worth it.
David Carr: How did your wife react to all of this?
Josh Freese: She was a little freaked out at first but she was a really good sport about it.
David Carr: Will you be doing the same type of system for My New Friends?
Josh Freese: I am coming up with some of the ideas as we speak. It will not be as intense as the last one. I had to find the time to do all of that stuff and it was pretty hectic. There were a lot of lunches at PF Chang’s! This time around I will do it on a smaller scale.
David Carr: Has this experience motivated you to try your hand at marketing for other bands/artists?
Josh Freese: Not really. People have asked me about it or joked around about that. I actually had one guy buy one of the packages and he had no idea who I was. He asked me during lunch (probably at PF Chang’s) what band I was in. I found out later that his boss had paid for the disc/package and sent him to find out about how I came up with my marketing strategy. I guess he was going to be putting out his own tequila and wanted to pick my brain!
David Carr: Excellent! So your solo disc drops April 1st but you won’t be touring for it. Who will you be touring with this year?
Josh Freese: I am doing three weeks with Paramore and then I will be on the road with Devo. After that, I will join Weezer on tour this summer.
Try and catch Josh Freese with any and all of the bands he plays in this year and do yourself a favor and Pick up My New Friends. When you get the disc, make sure you order the cheese bread at the Sizzler salad bar!