Thursday, August 03, 2006

Go Tell The Spartans.....A Moment With Skidd Freeman

While he's been at the helm of a home studio for 15 yrs or so, I only just recently heard-& fell under the spell- of Skidd Freeman. Maybe you know him, maybe you don't. Chances are, if you ain't a personal friend of the man or scourerin the record 'n second hand shops in East Lansing, MI, then this is a whole new ballgame. Seemingly a recluse-to me anyway, the few emails I sent weren't bounced back, they just wasn't acknowledged at all-Skidd Freeman's "discography" remains a mystery. I hear tell've cassette's, cdr's & whatnot, but never have they crossed my field of vision. He cut a couple've 7" 45's in the early 90's ('1969*'/'Poor Little Suzie' & 'Fell Through The Cracks'/'Gimme A Taste') that are flat out 2 of the most barkinest, howlin screamers to come outta that-or any other-decade. He packs all the raw crunch 'n spastic whoop as the savant avatars of the 1 man band genre-Hasil Adkins & Legendary Stardust Cowboy-while at the same time, heavily blurrin the lines between any of the obscure tree toppers you'd care to name on/in/between the Back From The Grave & Killed By Death comps.
So's I mentioned I'd picked up these 45's to Bryan Ramirez (formerly of Universal Indians, currently Ex-Cocaine, mainman at & he tell's me he did an interview w/Skidd Freeman 5 years ago. And bein from them parts hisself, he knew all too well the self taught genius & distant nature of the man. Anyway, Bryan decided to mail him some basic questions back then & Skidd responded by answerin them on a cassette & sendin them back. Bryan transcibed'em verbatim & here it is. Now while it don't dot all the i' & cross all the t's of the man's life 'n work, it's still more than I knew before. You too! I wonder, with all them cherries & blueberries aboundin up there in Michigan, can he bake a pie? Much thanks to Bryan Ramirez & Brian Turner for makin this possible.

Skidd Freeman 7/23/01

How long have you been doing Skidd Freeman material?

A: I think about since ’88-’89 right about in there. I didn’t have much money back then so it took me a year or two to get the right equipment to record. That’s about the time I got the 4-track. I’ve been writing songs since I was probably about 12 or 14 years old.

Name the 3 most important events in music history:

A: I suppose in the rock music history, I would think it would be Elvis cuz he kinda showed what you could do blending a bunch of influences together and making something new out of it. Hendrix for what he did to the guitar and showing people what you can do with the guitar. And I think probably when home recording studio equipment became cheaper and accessible to people, I think that changed things a lot because people have been doing their home recordings and it showed that you didn’t need a bunch of money or even talent to try to make music.

How about a discography?

A: It’s hard for me to remember. I put out a bunch of tapes but I don’t think it was til about 1992 or ’94 when I put out a full length cassette called “More Songs”. Then I really hit my stride, I think that one was pretty good. Then after that I took a little bit of a break for a few years, then I think the next one was “Mid-Life Crisis” which I believe is just an EP and since then there’s been a “Monkey” EP and “Redemption” EP. And I have 2 vinyl 7 inches floating around somewhere and those are from the early ‘90’s. I haven’t done any vinyl since then. I’ve put out quite a few tapes. It’s hard to remember all of them but most of them were before I released “More Songs” weren’t that great anyway.

What musicians help shape your sound?

A: A lot of people. I learned guitar from listening to BB King. A lot of punk stuff like Stooges and Sex Pistols. Alice Cooper, a lot of Detroit stuff: Mitch Ryder. And then the newer stuff like Nine Inch Nails (?) and some of the industrial stuff. But everything influences you, I know that’s a quiche but it’s true.

We see Skidd Freeman tapes and records, why not Skidd Freeman live?

A: It really wasn’t planned that way but I thought of playing live but so far it hasn’t been that important to me. Maybe someday. When I think about putting a band together I start thinking; “Yeah, it’s a good idea.” I usually just end up writing more songs and doing some recording. I’ve been in bands before but it never really seemed very productive. I put a lot of time into practicing and things like that and it never really panned out too good. But maybe someday.

Give me some personal musical philosophy, anything at all:

A: Don’t worry about trends or what’s popular. Listen to everything, though. Steal what you can, little bits and pieces. Try to be honest, but keep your songs short, say what you gotta say and try to get out because when I first started recording my songs it used to go on for a long time, partly because I was just so excited to be recording that I would just keep jamming and playing and playing and I would have these 7 and 8 minute songs, it became a little self-indulgent. Be honest and keep it short.

You’re Michigan’s biggest mystery and I’m not sure if it’s stupid to ask why?

A: No, it’s not stupid to ask why. That wasn’t really planned at first either. I was kinda shy at first and I was playing in other bands but then I started recording my own stuff and the bands weren’t getting out of the garage or basement anyway. And then after a wile I started enjoying this kind of alter-ego, secret identity thing going on because I would play people music and not tell them it was me and for some reason I got a charge out of that. And because I haven’t played live, I haven’t seen the need for self-promotion and let everybody know who I am and what I look like. Besides I don’t think it really matters, it’s not relevant to the music. I don’t know, it kind of happened by accident and then I just kept running with it, I just kind of went out of my way after a while and stayed a mystery. For some reason, maybe it’s from reading comic books or something, I just thought it was funny being a big secret. I don’t know what I’ll do playing live, wear a mask or some Kiss make-up.

*(Not a Stooges cover if that's what you was wonderin)

Try writing Skidd Freeman at: Bad Productions, POB 4281, East Lansing, MI 48826

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