Rock ‘N’ Roll is all about heart and being honest over the type of music that you want to convey. It has to be special, honest and straight to the point, which is what Guy Freedom has done with his recent Hard Rock album, American Made. A self-made body of work that has very solid tracks and shows the man himself playing all the instruments and doing all the vocals in a 4-track.
I had the opportunity of doing an interview with the musician and we discussed multiple topics involving his influences, his work and a lot more.
First and foremost, I would like to thank you for doing this interview. It’s a pleasure to have you here!
You’re very welcome and thank you as well! It’s a pleasure to be able to do this interview with you!
Starting from the beginning: How did you get into music? Who were your biggest influences?
I originally started playing music when I was a kid in school. I played the trumpet for a year and then switched to the tuba and played it until I graduated high school. When I was a teenager I heard AC/DC and that changed everything for me. I started playing guitar simply because I wanted to learn how to play their songs. Then I heard Metallica and Iron Maiden and it was like hearing AC/DC for the first time, I was blown away. For me those three bands were the game changers. After high school I put down the tuba and played guitar in rock bands. Maybe I would’ve kept playing the tuba if I could’ve made it sound like a guitar.
In your new album, American Made, you played all instruments and did vocals. How was the process of learning how to sing and play all these instruments?
Honestly I’m still learning as I go. It’s always challenging for me, but it is a little easier to do than it was a couple years ago. I use a click track when I record and that’s how I’m able to keep everything together. I felt much more comfortable with the performing side of things going into this album than the other two. But engineering it and mixing everything took a while for me on this one. I feel it did turn out quite a bit better than the other ones but I needed the experience of making the first two to get to this one. The biggest challenge was using a 4 track to record everything. After I bounced the rhythm tracks I had to get all the vocals, lead guitars and drum fills on 2 tracks. I layered the guitar throughout the entire album and there are many sections on the album with 4 different guitar parts going at the same time. After the guitars and vocals I would have these small blank spots on those tracks to try and fit in a drum fill. This was the first album where recording it was more challenging for me than playing it.
As a composer, how does knowing each instrument influence the way you write songs?
A lot of times I hear an idea in my head and I’ll sit down with an instrument until I can get it worked out right. Other times I just sit down and play the guitar and something comes out that I really like. I generally build the bass and drum parts based around what I’m playing on the guitar. Usually I’ll have a pretty good idea in my head of what I wanna do before I sit down with an instrument. I’m a guitar player at heart and that’s usually the first instrument I use to come up with the arrangement of a song.
The album has a very organic sound. It feels raw and natural, which I mean as a good thing. Was that by designed?
Yes, the best I could with what I had to work with. Nowadays computer programs and vocal enhancement programs are just so common in music. I wanted the album to have more of a classic feel, like a group of musicians cranking the amps up to 11. I wanted to make a rock album like bands used to make. I love the sound of all those classic bands, and I was really setting out to make a new classic sounding album. I wanted the songs to have a nice warm, full and powerful feel so I only kept the distortion setting on the amp at about 70%. I also like to use a hollow body guitar, which for me with the rhythm helps to get that warmth in my tone. I just wanted to keep the bass and drums driving, the guitar and vocals screaming and give em’ the dogs balls.
What was the concept behind American Made? Did you have any particular idea of what you wanted to do beforehand or the songs poured out of you naturally?
This was the first project I’ve done where I did have a good idea of what I wanted to achieve going into it. I spent the last couple years learning as I go, but now I’m familiar with my equipment and defined my recording process. I knew I wanted to make an album that had the raw power of an AC/DC or Mötörhead album but with dual lead guitars like you would hear on Iron Maiden or Eagles albums. On all the songs except Take me back to the D.P.R.K. and Dressed to Kill I played with one guitar in standard tuning and the other in a drop D tuning. And on all of the songs I would play one rhythm guitar in a bar chord and the other in an open chord to let the strings ring. My only plan for the drums and bass was keep it tight in the pocket. And with the vocals do my best to try and match the feel of the guitar.
Considering that you played all instruments and did vocals, are there any chance of you doing any concerts with a support band in the near future?
If things could work towards that it would be a blast. I work the night shift at a factory and supporting my family is my number one priority. So right now it’s very difficult to think of how I could make that happen. I’m not an unplugged kinda guy and I don’t have any interest in doing solo acoustical performances, I wanna rock out! So if I’m lucky enough to ever take this live it will most definitely be with a band. It would be something to take this live with a 3 guitar army. A tight, powerful rhythm section with dual lead guitars.
I’m fortunate enough to live in today’s internet age where I can release my music world wide right out of my basement. I don’t have any plans of performing live right now but maybe one day that can change. I have always thought it would incredible to do the Live in North Korea album.
Are you already planning another album? If so, what can you tell us about it?
I had enough ideas for another albums worth of material while I was mixing American Made. I’m planning to upgrade to an 8 track before I start recording the next album. I would like to increase my production and build off of what I did on American Made. I’ve been working on the arrangements for the new songs and installing phase switches on my Strat to see what type of new tones I can come up with. My plan is to start recording the album this winter. I really liked how the standard and drop tuning together sounded and I plan to do more of that on the next album.
While listening to the album, I thought that your guitar playing was one of the biggest highlights. Would you say that this is the instrument where you feel more comfortable?
To be honest it’s the only thing I feel comfortable doing. I’ve only been playing bass and drums for a couple years now and I still feel very green in those roles. I’m not very comfortable singing either, but I’ve been able to learn what I can pull off well singing so I just stay there with it. I’ve had a much more positive reception to the vocals though than I thought I would. I feel like the drums, bass and vocals are just support for my guitar playing. I am definitely much more comfortable building everything around the guitar. I think of guys like Prince, Paul McCartney and Dave Grohl and just wish I could be half as good as those guys. I feel like I’m not even in the same league as them, but I do push myself to constantly improve at everything.
What about playing all the instruments? Is this something you want to keep doing in the foreseeable future?
Only if I have to, I would much prefer to have a band. I’m just a guitarist without a band. Originally I wanted a drummer and a bass player that could do vocals with me. It would be a lot of fun to write and record with a group, and sometimes I do miss working with people. There are a lot of times where I wish I had a group and all I had to do was play the guitar. But I don’t dwell on those thoughts; I just stay focused on what I need to do. It would be pretty incredible though to get to record in a studio with an actual band. But with my work schedule I’m probably going to be on my own for a while.
One last question: What inspires you to make music?
My family is my biggest inspiration these days. A guitar amplifier for Father’s Day is what got me doing this again. My wife has been my biggest supporter and without her I don’t know if I would be doing this. These days I have that same passion when I sit down and play my guitar that I had when I was younger, and it took my family to help me find it again.
Thank you so much for this interview, Guy! A last message for our readers? Where can we follow you on social media?
You can follow me on Instagram:
Thank you again for the opportunity to have this interview with you!