Live & Direct with Freedy Johnston

“This song’s not about Taylor Swift.” That’s how Freedy Johnston started his Live and Direct studio session at WYEP. This rocker from Kansas swung by on August 20th to talk to Joey Spehar, who mentioned Freedy’s hat. Freedy has a hat named after him by the Gooran Hat Company, which he decided to wear into the station. “It’s the high point of my life so far… I hope to have a pair of boots named after me next.”

“I’ve been working on my new record Neon Repairman. And honestly, I’m making it on my own dime, so its taking a little while, but its just about done. It is being mixed.” Freedy hopes to do a bit of crowdfunding for the next tour, but he won’t start that campaign until he releases the album. “So people know what they’re paying for,” Freedy says. “I love working on songs. It’s not even work. I know it sounds like a cliché, but this is just fun.”

Joey mentioned Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines, and how it was possibly ripped off Marvin Gaye, and wondered if anyone had ever ripped off a Freedy song. “I did a song called “Coffee Coffee Coffee”, a cover of a Dave Deadly song, and I heard my specifically different version being used on a Target coffee commercial. That sounds like sour grapes doesn’t it? Kinda does. But that’s pretty much how songs are written. By emulating and borderline copying your favorite music. The old cliché is, ‘the good ones borrow, the great ones steal.’” This is actually pretty important to Freedy whenever he’s writing new material. “Whenever I’m writing a song I try to think ‘Is there anything that this is ripping off?’ It’s my first question actually.”

Recently, Freedy Johnston completed a tour with The Shinolas, Sid Straw, and Chris Collingswood (Fountains of Wayne), but Freedy says he has a huge list of artists he’d love to work with, or even just meet. “I’d like to meet Tom Petty some day. Wouldn’t be a big deal to him. He’d probably say ‘Where’s my car? Are you the valet guy?’”

Joey asked Freedy what he thinks success means in the modern age, where radio might not have as much influence as it used to. “Success doesn’t mean anything to me. I’m still doing it. I still go down the road, and come see you guys. Everybody wants to be able to buy an extra pair of sunglasses, or pay for health insurance and stuff.” Ultimately, Freedy thinks he’s successful, but there is a difference in how music is released. “It’s about getting a song licensed or placed. I hate to use those two words, but that’s how it is now. My person who lobbies the songs to film people is maybe more important maybe than the independent radio promoter. I just wanna say I’m really happy to be doing this. That’s what I really mean.”

“Without the house concert, you wont make it.” Freedy gives advice to upcoming and future musicians. “Don’t do it, kid! Unless you really can’t stop. I did it, but I can’t stop. I wouldn’t stop.” Freedy likes reaching out to other songwriters to do some cowrites, which he says is also important. “Since I work on my song, I’m not the listener. I’m a music fan, but I really want to get away when I’m writing,” Freedy admits. When he’s writing, he likes to read more than listen to new music. Another thing that impresses Freedy is how easily a college kid in a dorm room can buy equipment and “make a masterpiece”.

Listen to Freedy Johnston’s Live and Direct session to learn more about hats, and hear the saddest song he’s ever written.

Set List:

1) Don't Fall In Love With A Beautiful Girl

2) This Perfect World

3) Remember Me

4) A Little Bit of Something Wrong