Though the lineup certainly has changed a few times over the course of its five-decade career, The Freeze is still performing and preparing to record a new album.
"We are supposed to be recording in July with Jason Newsted from Metallica producing and engineering," says founder, frontman, and only remaining original Clif Hanger. "There will be an album. Whether I'm going to be happy with it or not remains to be seen."
The album is not the only move the seminal Cape Cod-founded, Phoenix-based punks have made in 2014. They also took on a new drummer, Aaron Hjalmarson of The Haymarket Squares, North Brother Island, Manual Sex Drive, and Travis James and the Acrimonious Assembly of Arsonists.
"He's really talented for his age, I can't believe he's only 14," Hanger says jokingly about the 21-year-old drummer.
Hjalmarson and Hanger are joined by Eric "Molusk" DeWolf of The Complainiacs on bass, Zach Carmichael on rhythm guitar, and D.B. on lead guitar, a lineup that also has a May 25 date at Punk Rock Bowling music festival in Las Vegas. But before the band heads out, it will testing its mettle with a show in the Valley on April 25. With the show just under a week away Hanger, who can sometimes be found panhandling along the Interstate 17 in Peoria, sat down for a chat with Up on the Sun.
Clif Hanger: You want me to proofread this for you? I haven't misspelled a word in 19 years.
Up on the Sun: We do okay. When someone calls The Freeze a seminal punk band, what does that mean to you?
It means we've probably been around for too long. Seminal bands are usually bands that have been around too long, to me. It means, "Why don't you retire, you old fuck?" That's what it means to me, and I usually agree with them when they say it about other bands.
So you don't agree in your case, you don't think you should retire?
I don't know. Should I? We'll see on the new album. We have to write new songs for it, and it's the first time since 1999 that we have had to write a full album's worth of song material. If I struggle and if I start repeating myself lyrically, especially, and topically, then it's time to give it up because I made a promise to myself a long time ago -- I'm not going to replicate anything I've written in the past. If I can't come up with new [ideas], I'll just lay it down.
How does a band maintain prominence for 30 years?
We've never really reached any peak, I don't think, so we haven't really had too far to fall when we have fallen. We never signed a major label deal and had to go back to square one. It's just been a slow rise, and that's been to our advantage and disadvantage, but overall advantage. Why did you decide to go back to school after experiencing moderate success with the band?
I didn't go back until I was 36, mainly because I was one class away from getting my associate's degree, and that one class was oral communication. I had a fear of getting in front of people, and I had to go to counseling. But I got over it by getting on Klonopin, and since I've been on that, I've had no fear whatsoever of getting in front people or giving speeches or whatever. I don't care if the crowd hates what I have to say or likes it . . . From then on, I just went right through until I got a bachelor's degree in human services. I was accepted to Boston University with a 2.7 grade point average, and then I got busted. I was getting meth sent to me; I was dealing meth for a while back home. I had been for about 20 years. No problem doing it, dealt to a small circle of friends; then, an informant entered the picture. Someone I know very well, no names on that one, and one day I went to pick up what I knew I shouldn't have gone to pick up at my P.O. box and 16 undercovers came out of nowhere. I led them on a chase, and luckily it was a wet Saturday morning where they couldn't catch me because there was too much traffic, and I was weaving around and I sprinkled the ounce I had slowly out the window for like a two-mile stretch. I made it back to my apartment, and I knew I was all done, and I got out of my car and knelt down on the ground with my hands behind my head, and cop cars come pulling up --16 of them in the yard where I was standing. My parents were there, and the first cop came up and kicked me in the back of the head and knocks me to the ground, grinds my face in the gravel, puts a gun to my head, and says, "Move, motherfucker. We can end this now."
If you could have done anything differently as far as the band, the meth, or anything else would you?
I wish I was more in tune with where the money went. Because I've never really seen a penny from the band in the 30-plus years we've been together. There has been money made by somebody and I have a pretty good idea, at this point, who made it, who took it, and why I didn't get it. I just probably would have hired a better manager at the time, maybe.
Why do you light new members of The Freeze on fire?
I light myself on fire. Why not? It's fun.
The Freeze is scheduled to perform Friday, April 25, at Pub Rock in Scottsdale.
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