freeboy interview
(22/11/96)
"Your mission, Jim, should you choose to accept it, is to come down to our Camden Monarch gig and do an interview after we've played".
Nothing about self-destruction in Jason's message, but then the guitarist and lead singer of Freeboy doesn't really consider his band and self-destruction to be mutually compatible. Rather, he's got their next four singles, three albums and a strategy to be "at the very least the biggest band in Europe, except for the Scorpions" already planned out. The first stages have gone off OK: a couple of compilation appearances, some local press, plenty of zine coverage, Kerrang!, playing at this year's Camden Crawl, interest from John Peel and a self-produced split 7" all augur well for the future. They can see the Scorpions' crown falling into their grasp...but for now, get back down to earth with a bump. Tonight we're in Camden where the streets are paved with indie wannabes and where the bloke who used to sing in the Milltown Brothers still thinks he's a celebrity.

The gig, somewhat predictably given past form, is a stormer. The band are in buoyant mood and it all looks so easy as they blow the support band, Sucker, away within seconds of getting on stage. Freeboy's confidence and enthusiasm combined with a set full of gut-bustingly great pop songs causes dancing to break out. The narrative lyrics with shoutalongaFreeboy choruses and Barrett-esque melodies complement the tunes which are so hook-laden, they'd scare even Peter Pan. The set flies by in what seems like seconds, an adrenaline rush kick in the nuts and their best London gig to date. Headliners Baby Silvertooth take the stage and charisma departs the building, their plodding brand of Stonesy mumblings not really doing anything for anybody. But as Jason says, "when we play with two other bands, they're never worth seeing."

In the bus on the way back to Cambridge, I got to talk to Jason and bass-player Jim, Steve the drummer had left earlier. I engaged my trusty interview machine, The Lazy Journalist (based on a Magic Robot toy, Jason and Jim point the magic robot at one of twelve forms of transport on one side of the board and the robot magically spins round and chooses a Smash Hits question for them. You have to guess the question). The conversation was surreal and touched on topics as diverse and bizarre as names for football shots (Olive Downer and Chippy Minton), Terminator X and Sooty, first talking to and then seducing John Peel, the new Fall LP-ah The Underpant Contract and the fact that everyone thinks the Doors have split up, but in fact they play every night...and they always go on first. Here's some vaguely factual bits:

BMX bike
Jason: they don't affect me taking Paracetomal, so it doesn't affect me...Shall I do another?...I can't get it in the hole...story of my life.
Hovercraft
Jason: Greece.
Me: I heard a theory that it comes from there being 3 blokes in the band.
Jason: No, it wasn't due to us being Cockney barra'boys and not being able to pronounce "Free" or "Three" properly...Next, we like going on trains 'cos we never get the chance.
Train
Jason: Ask Jim.
Jim: You rang me and then you rang Steve.
Jason: That's the complicated answer, the simple one is "ask Jim".
Me: So were you trying hard to get a band together, or did it just happen? Were there any other incarnations of Freeboy?
Jason: I'd tried about 40 people, none fit to call themselves musicians...there were lots of previous incarnations of Freeboy, but none of them worthy of the name, each of them lasted just long enough for me to realise that the people were twats.
Me: Did you gig with any other line-ups?
Jason: One gig with one other line-up and a party. Which doesn't count, 'cos you'd play with your Gran at a party.
Me: I always play with my Gran.
Jason: I heard that rumour.
Me: I started it.
Cable Car
Jason: WOW! This robot is really good. [To the rest of the people in the bus] You can't see what's happening, but it's amazing. [To us] Anyone that's a real Freeboy fan knows that I only like bacon flavour crisps.
Me: Frazzles?
Jason: I like Frazzles, but they dry out the top of your mouth and make it sore. I'd go for Bacon Fries, which you can only get in select pubs, and Hula Hoops..but they're made from dried potato, so they're not real..
Me: So Freeboy are keeping it real?
Jason: Yeah.
Me: I've got to pick you up on the Frazzles though, 'cos I think that being dry is an advantage in a bacon crisp. Usually they're really greasy.
Jason: I can see that you're a man who's only eaten one or two packets of crisps at a time. I have 6 or 7 packs at a time, and if you're going on that kind of crisp Marathon-stroke-Odyssey then you need to be able to last it out. Jim?
Jim: Salt and Vinegar. Any kind.
Jason: Choose a form of transport, it'll be on here.
Jim: Shanks' Pony.
Jason: Horse?
Horse
Jim: A packet of Mentholyptus and loads of wrappers.
Jason: No point asking me 'cos I've got fuck all in my pockets [drops the robot on the floor]. Oh God. He could tell I've got nothing in my pockets, he committed suicide.

[frantic scrabbling around under all the equipment results in the robot's return]
Someone in the bus: He wants to be a Freeboy
Jason: Anyone else got a form of transport?
SitB: Bobsled! Nordic skiing! One-trick pony! Husky!
Jason: Did you say..
Car
Jason: Oh God. I leave it to other people to compare us and describe us, like the bloke who came up to me tonight who I thought wanted to kick my face in and he said "I like the idea, it's a pity you didn't pull it off"...
SitB: He asked Verity for a fight and had a go at Steve's wife
Jason: ...so obviously, that's a man who knows what he's talking about. My influences are interviewers who can't think of original questions, so they just ask the standard things. But obviously that doesn't apply to this board. This board is a genius. I do like the board, for one reason, it's got a handy thing to hold on to....If I was a painter, I'd use this board and hold that rather than cutting off my ear.
Me: That's a design feature.
Jason: I know that, rather than...what do they call it when it's a design fault?
Me: [Pause]
Jason: Is it a design fault?

Freeboy are a band with a driving ambition, they're about to put out their first 7", Freeboy, on "a label that's going to be huuuuge, bigger than Fierce Panda" whose owners think the band are "fucking incredible", they want to emulate the Jam by re-issuing all their singles and getting them all into the Top 50, they play down in London 'cos they know that's the only way to further their career and, most importantly, they've got the songs and enough nous to do things on their own terms. No design faults.

"All the bands in Cambridge apart from us and Stripey are shit and you can print that in really big letters and I don't give a shit if they read it...
..unless they're hard or it's someone I normally recommend and have conveniently forgotten now." -Jason.

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