For the Freaks of Nature, It's All About Raw Fuzz
Songs for Savages by the Freaks of Nature has been a long time in the making. It's been more than a year and two personnel changes since Daniel Shircliff led his band of freaks into the studio to begin recording what would become his band's long-awaited debut. But goddammit if they didn't finally get it done and released on vinyl through Germany's Screaming Apple Records and on CD and cassette on locally run Related Records
“I’m not exactly sure of the exact date we got into the studio, but what we went in and recorded seven songs, and then I sent it around to a couple labels. One label really liked it, but they didn't want to just put out a 45. They wanted a whole album, 12 songs. They said if I could send back 12 songs, they would put out the album, and that's what ended up taking a lot of time. We had to go back into the studio and record and be able to afford to pay for it all before we could send it out. Plus, the label had two releases ahead of us that they were committed to doing. So, yeah, it took a while,” Shircliff says.
It’s ironic that a band like the Freaks of Nature, who seem to play as fast as they can on every song and don’t really have a tune longer than three minutes, took more than a year to record an album because moving slow is just something that none of them seem to be good at. In concert, the band is just absolutely electrifying, every song is a bolt of lightning directed at the crowd.
The group's original drummer, Andrew Jemsek once told me that “no good punk song has ever been longer than two minutes and 30 seconds long. It’s quite obvious that his former bandmates share his sentiments. Jemsek no longer is a member of the band but drummed on Songs for Savages.
Not only is the music fast, it’s raw — raw in the sense that, according to Shircliff, the music gets altered as possible going from studio to hard copy.
“We didn’t try to doctor anything. The record was recorded live one or two takes, basically, per song. It’s as raw as you can get it. We recorded just as it would be recorded in 1966,” Shircliff says. “The goal was to not change anything and make it sound just like we played it. We didn't want to do anything digital. It’s all on tape. We played it live with the whole band in a room. That’s basically what the bands we try to sound like — garage bands from the mid-'60s — did. They all would go into a room and record everything all at once. The guy we recorded with knew how they used to do it and we did it that way. A lot of the stuff we play is from 1966, so we wanted to record it like that.”
Shircliff makes it clear that he isn’t a musical purist who thinks all bands should to record the way the Freaks did. To him and his bandmates, it's simply a nod to the beginnings of punk music. Also noting that one of the selling points of recording that way is that it’s “as cheap as possible.”
“A lot of bands will add a bunch of stuff in post[-production], but it’s not what they used to do. We didn’t add reverb. That’s just how the room sounds. We aren’t Mr. Perfect '60s People or anything like that, but when it comes down to it, that's how we recorded it,” Shircliff says.
Shircliff says that when dealing with vintage equipment and recording techniques, the “fuzz” is an all-important part of the process. None of the Freaks are working with expensive equipment, but they are working with a detailed knowledge of the '60s music they emulate.
“No one in the band plays a $5,000 vintage guitar. I mean, we are a punk band,” says Shircliff. "We know what this music is supposed to sound like, and when it comes to vintage equipment, it’s the fuzz that needs to sound right, the guitar sounds. We listen to a lot of '60s punk, especially me and my guitarist, and he has a very vintage fuzz sound. He knows what that shit is supposed to sound like in each song because there were a million different fuzzes back then, and he knows them all.”
The Freaks of Nature are scheduled to throw a release party for Songs for Savages at ThirdSpace on Saturday, May 16, along with Fathers Day, Button Struggler, Man Hands, Cheri Cheri, and DJ Amy Love.
“We aren't vintage snobs,” Shircliff says. “I really like it. I don’t have a bunch of musical talent, but I figured I could play garage rock. I could be one of the kids. I might be a little older, but I don't care. It’s still what I like. Sometimes I like people screaming at me. Sometimes I like to hear a recording that ain’t that great but the song is pretty good.”
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