Freebase - Interview
Posted by Guest Writer on Fri, 11 May 2012.
Freebase, a crossover hardcore band, were founded in August 1995 by vocalist Mark Fieldhouse and guitarist Nick Lovell. After playing their first ever show - supporting punk legends, G.B.H. in 1996 - they released their first recording, the 'England' demo, consisting of four brutally heavy, aggressive metalcore tracks. The response from the underground, not to mention the national and international metal, punk and hardcore scenes, was overwhelming.
It's an impressive introduction, but even more impressive is how their music has seemingly crossed generations. One of our editors, Rory, is in his own metalcore band, and given his age, and how long Freebase have been away, you would have expected something of a "null response", but actually, the opposite was true. As soon as an email had been sent out looking for some of our editors to cover Freebase, our inboxes were jammed with people volunteering. Lucy spoke to Mark Fieldhouse to find out more, whilst Rory is as we speak, working on a review of Freebase's latest release.
Having formed in 1995, how much do you think you have changed, as people, since the very beginning? Are there any particular lessons that you've learnt and will never forget?
Well, I can say I have grown up a lot, and don't take anything in life for granted now! I have seen a lot happen, and in the 10 years Freebase was on 'hiatus' I saw a lot of change in the music industry. Bearing in mind Nick (guitarist) is the only other Freebase member of old in this re-formation, it's quite hard for me to speak for him. Maybe we both take a more relaxed view on things now??? As far as lessons learned... well, life is an experience, I actually don't regret any of my past. I suppose all I can really say is that old chestnut 'older is wiser' !!! Ha Ha
You disappeared from the music scene for quite a while- What were each of you doing during this time and what started the decision to reform?
I was around at gigs in the U.K. and Europe. I was still drinking with a lot of bands and industry people, but I just chose not to be involved in my own band. I needed a well earned break. I kinda hid away a bit... Me and Nick parted ways quite acrimoniously about a year and a half before Freebase went on hiatus, he moved away from the town and had a family, and Freebase was just due to start a new Cd and I had enough by then, so decided to take a break myself. I can't really remember what else happened with the other guys, we were extremely burnt out, victims of our own lifestyles. I think I would be dead by now if I had not taken a break when I did! I still speak with most of the other Freebase members , but when I decided I needed a break I focused on other things, I started a family and now have a beautiful 7 year old daughter. When I was married we went away on a lot of holidays, and I really had time to get into a passion of biking, which I still love today. When we re-formed I hadn't spoken with Nick for nearly 10 years! The actual reformation came about as I was gaining an interest in fronting a band again, I was wanting to do it again. I was divorced and free!!! Ha ha. I was probably considering it for a good 8 months before it happened, and I had discussed doing something with Ryan (Assert) so the fire was burning... and when I was told we could play Download 2012 I thought 'OOOooops better get a band together'. Ian was also doing research for his book, so it all kinda fell into place and seemed right.
With Mark and Nick being in the original line-up, how did you manage to recruit the new members?
All of this band have been mates for nearly 15 years. Freebase played many many gigs with Stampin Ground in the UK and Europe, so we knew each other pretty well, and we toured with Assert on many occasions also so same there really. When it came to reforming Freebase I knew it had to be a strong line up, I tried to think of who I would really like to have in Freebase if there were no restrictions at all - funnily enough it was this line up exactly! I had always talked with Ryan about doing something, so he was always in the picture, and I asked Ian first if he was up for it (we'd been talking about his up-coming book), luckily he took about 2 seconds to tell me he was in! Ian actually suggested Ade (both being from Stampin Ground) so the foundations were set, Ian approached Ade, who was my first choice as drummer, whilst I had the job of making contact with Nick again... Ha Ha. Actually it all fell into place pretty quickly and with little effort at all, maybe it was natural? Like I said, we had all been in bands that had toured Europe hard, we had all had record deals, we had all worked our nuts off D.I.Y. also, and we weren't naive kids.
In your opinion, what are the main differences between the band back in '95 and now both in music and personalities?
Back then we were a drunken out of control party!!! But we worked hard. Now, well... we all have families and children (except Ade), we all have important responsibilities and we have to plan carefully what we are going to do with Freebase. We are not desperate to be out touring all the time now though. We have a lot going on in our private lives, so we intend to make the Freebase gigs very special. Personality wise, it has to be fun for us all
Do you have a motto, rule or saying that you like to try and live by? If so, what does it mean and where did it come from?
My Life. My Rules! The title of our 2nd CD. Freebase isn't a political band at all. We are not pushing our views or beliefs onto anyone. We are all different characters in this band, but we respect each others politics / eating and drinking habits / lifestyles etc. We just wanna make some good music now, and play some great gigs. Freebase always had a reputation for booze / drugs / trouble etc, so if someone like Ian (who doesn't drink etc) can be involved, that goes to show we aren't unreasonable guys. Just enjoy your life to the max, have fun, but don't hurt anyone along the way.
As musicians, do you have any music theory training, or do you tend to write what sounds good rather than using theory?
We just write what we feel. I don't think anyone in this line up has had any music theory. Possibly not even any music lessons? When we wrote the 2 new songs for the e.p. we did so quite easily and to no formula. We just bounced off each other.
To somebody who has only heard your much older music, how would you describe your musical development?
The overall feel is not much different. It's still a very 'gung ho' band. But we have tried to use and benefit from Ade, Ryan, and Ian's experience and skills. We tried to tighten the sound but not change it in anyway. One thing I was very keen to do was not churn out more Stampin Ground metalcore as most would expect with Ian and Ade's involvement.
Obviously you will have played a lot of places with a lot of people, but do you have a specific gig that you remember as being the best or the most fun?
There are many. I always loved the tours we did of Ireland, we have many friends there, and are really looking forward to our return there September. The European Hardcore Party festivals (in Holland) were always great to play, and we played 2 of them, and I was with Stampin Ground crewing on one also. The very first Bloodstock festival was also great. Actually we were always having great fun when we toured. Most of the memories were really good.
How about the most challenging gig?
There were a few, but take the highs with the lows... we were probably drunk!!! I always tried not to focus on the positive and don't remember to many bad things actually. Life is definitely too short.
Finally, what are your opinions on illegally downloading music? What about people illegally downloading your music but paying to see you perform?
Downloading music... well we are not Metallica, and we aren't going to make millions. I am not doing Freebase for money. If we make some then great, but I don't even worry about people illegally downloading. Obviously it would be nice to sell loads of our stuff, but you will never stomp out downloading. The real die hards will buy anyway. I know plenty of people who download, if I have the money I buy the Cds etc, but to be honest I can't afford all I want, so I see why people do it. I would much rather play to busy gigs and have fun, that is much more important to me than selling music. The day it becomes a task again is the day I will take another break...
Interview by Lucy Siddons