Yesterday, CoS’ Allison Franks offered her take on Freezepop’s performance in Richmond this past Thursday, but that was only part one of her evening. Before the show, she had a chance to sit down with the Boston outfit’s frontlady, Liz Enthusiasm, aka Jussi Gamache, for a discussion on a wide array of topics…
CoS: Your latest album Future Future Future Perfect really took Freezepop in a new direction, sound wise. Any specific reasons why the album turned out so dark?
Liz Enthusiasm: Yeah, I dont think there was any specific reason for that or anything, it was just kind of a natural progression. There was a big jump in between the 1st and 2nd albums too, so. Its one of those things that kind of seems like a big thing for us, but if you look at the difference between the 1st and 3rd albums, yeah thats kind of like a big shift, but once you take the 2nd album into consideration it connects the dots, I guess. So yeah, there wasnt a real reason. The boys write the music and stuff, so it was just sort of what they were interested in doing really.
CoS: Now that you are signed with Cordless, do you think the band will start whipping out more records and start treating Freezepop as a full time job?
L.E.: Thats a tough one, yeah. Were sort of at the point now where we are about to renew our contract and we are pretty notoriously slow. We are actually going to put out an E.P. with them in a couple of weeks, but other than that we sort of started writing new stuff and its still really slow going. We arent going to do it full time, just cause I mean the Duke has a full time plus job that hes not about to leave because he actually really enjoys it and Sean and I hold freelance and we also really like doing that. To do this band full time, we would have to be touring for probably like six months out of the year, just cause there is no money in putting out albums or anything like that. So, wed have to be on the road like a lot, a lot more than we are right now and its tough. I mean we have fun on the road, but we try to do it where we are out for like two weeks at a time, maximum. And then we have to get home to our pets and our friends and you know, just our regular lives.
CoS: Sorry if that was brash, how are things coming along with your graphic design work these days?
L.E.: Its good. Its definitely on the back burner sometimes when Im doing the music stuff, but I really like freelancing because it gives me the freedom to go on the road for a couple of weeks and then come back and start doing that stuff again. So yeah, its fun. I like it, its a good balance.
CoS: Your music has been popping up a lot in video games lately, any reason for that?
L.E.: Yes, it has! The Duke actually works at a video game company so we sort of had years and years ago, before Guitar Hero and everything, and they were putting out smaller games, and they needed music for it. He was hired to write music and then its like well put some Freezepop songs in there. It was definitely one of these things where we should do this and he kind of pestered the right people and they were like Alright, alright. And the response to it was so good that we were able to keep doing it and then we had the opportunity to be in Guitar Hero. Nobody really knew the game was going to be quite so huge, so it was pretty lucky I guess.
CoS: You are talking about Harmonix right?
L.E.: Harmonix, yeah. So, it was sort of the right place at the right time kind of thing, cause now it would be pretty impossible for an unsigned, independent band to get into these games.
CoS: Are there any particular games (of any genre) youd like to see your music featured in?
L.E.: I dont know, I mean the thing is I dont even know that much about games, personally. We do like to branch out and be featured in different kinds of games, but the music ones are kind of the more obvious fit for us.
CoS: And how much of your fanbase do you think discovered Freezepop this way?
L.E.: A lot, like I would guess probably around 75%, I would think. Most of them are from Guitar Hero II, but then there are also old schoolers. Now its sort of a point of pride, people being like Ive known about you since Frequency, you know and so those are the old schoolers.
CoS: Ive noticed that you have a way of writing fun and flirty lyrics that are quite hilarious and cynical at times. How do you come up with this stuff? Are you drawing from any particular influences?
L.E.: Sometimes they are true stories, sometimes theyre fictional and sometimes its a phrase that I kind of find funny and decide to write a song around that. Yeah, it kind of comes from all over the place. I wish I had some kind of formula cause then it would actually be really easy to write more songs, but its actually really hard. Thats why it takes us three years between albums. Its tough to find the inspiration and kind of make it sound like a Freezepop song without making it be a cliché Freezepop song. So yeah, its kind of a balancing act.
CoS: Whats so great about your music is how happy it makes you feel afterwards. Is this something you keep in mind while recording or is the outcome completely accidental?
L.E.: Lyrically, Im just not really a sad person. We try to kind of keep it light-hearted and funny without being kind of overtly jokey. Ive kind of learned over the years, like some of the stuff on the first album, I kind of got sick of performing after awhile cause you can only hear a certain joke so many times before its like Oh, a song about robots, ok, ha-ha thats cute whatever. So, yeah now we are trying to keep it like not new, but something kind of new I guess.
CoS: Is there a funny story behind Do You Like My Wang? I take it the Duke was behind that one.
L.E.: Yeah, the Duke is behind that one. I dont know actually. Yeah, I wish I knew. I know he sort of wrote it as part two to Chess King, so that was kind of his thinking. I dont know if its based on a true story at all, but there it is. I dont know.
CoS: What is it like being the only girl in the band? Do you ever feel forced to objectify yourself in any way?
L.E.: No, not really. Its not like Im in a band with like 10 dudes or anything. The dudes arent very fancy dudes or anything, we hang out, we have a good time. I mean in certain photos its like Im standing in the middle and thats just kind of how it is you know, but I think its more cause Im the singer, as opposed to me being a girl specifically.
CoS: How did you manage to get your very own signature lipstick by Camp Cosmetics? Thats like every girls dream!
L.E.: Yeah! I know, right! This guy who owns a cosmetics company in Chicago, hes like a make up artist and he has his own line, right, and some friend told him about us and hes like Oh my god. I love you! And so we corresponded a little bit and then he was like I want to make you guys lipstick and I was like this is so perfect, cause Ive been kind of looking for my perfect hot pink for awhile and then hes offering to make whatever color I want, which is so great. So yeah, he made it for us. We kind of sent back and forth samples for a little while and then he got it perfect and I was like, Thats it, thats great. I finally got to meet him actually earlier this year, when we played in Chicago and it was awesome. He brought me a lot of makeup and I was like This is fantastic! It was really lucky and I was like, This is why I joined a band! This is great.
CoS: In every Freezepop photo, all of you look utterly fabulous. Are you more of a designer-only or vintage kind of gal?
L.E.: Oh, I definitely mix it up. I like vintage a lot and I cant really afford fancy designer stuff. Honestly, a lot of stuff we get from H&M or even Target sometimes. Yeah, Im definitely not afraid of shopping at the mall. I like shopping at the mall, a lot in fact, but I also like vintage stuff just cause then you can have something that not everybody else in the world has. So yeah, I mix it up, but I mean we like wearing fancy clothes and things, cause we are sort of from that whole school of glamorous pop stars. Its kind of evolved a little bit over the years, but its fun. Back when I joined the band I was like, Oh, itd be fun to dress up fancy and play some shows and you know that was about my expectations at the time. I didnt know it was going to be quite this big.
CoS: What impulses fuel your work? (Dont be afraid to say anything silly either, like the scent of gasoline or something).
L.E.: Oh, I dont like the scent of gasoline. I like the scent of chlorine, though! Chlorine, thats a good smell. Um, what else .sugar, getting hopped up on sugar, thats a good thing. Yeah, I dont know playing with my dog, bright colors, orange, pink. Yeah, I dont know.
CoS: Given the bands eclectic taste in equipment, how would you say this affects the stage setup for your performances? Do you have to rely on previously recorded material?
L.E.: Well the keytars were actually, I mean the boys used to use a lot of other bigger keytars, I mean keyboards on stands. We started using the keytars just cause they could run around more and it just made for a more interesting show. Like the live setup is actually pretty different from the studio setup cause the boys each have like a million billion keyboards. And we dont use the QY70 that much anymore that was more for like when we do the old songs.
Oh, so the Duke isnt touring with us right now cause hes kind of stuck in Boston at his day job. So, we have a rotating cast sort of, Seth Demastus Kennedy is sort of like our permanent fill-in kind of guy. Hes toured with us, pretty much like on and off for the past four years or so, but pretty steadily for the past year. And right now we are also touring with this other band, Boy in Static, and so they kind of jump in and switch out on different songs with us as well. So, yeah the Duke is stuck in Boston and he cant really take much time off now so we are sort of forced with the decision of like, well we could tour without him or we could just not tour for more than one week intervals. Its tough to fill his shoes, but Seth has done a very lovely job of it.
There was a point to all this, oh yeah, so my whole original point was that we dont use the QY70 that much anymore. Its one of these things were like everything we bring we have to carry with us, so theres definitely like an impetus to pack light. If we play a Boston show, the boysll bring out more keyboards and sometimes the Duke brings his Theremin, its pretty exciting. This is sort of our set up right now, its pretty easy, weve got a couple keytars, some drum pads and thats pretty much it.
CoS: Are you comfortable with the level of success that the band has built for itself? Are there times when you wish you could go back to playing at really small intimate venues?
L.E.: Well, like I was saying its definitely a lot more than what I had anticipated upon joining the band. I just kind of joined it as a fluke, cause I thought it sounded fun. As weve gotten more and more exposure, its been like Oh wow this is kind of cool, lets keep doing it and see how much further we get. So, its almost like a little game in that respect. Im pretty happy with it. Obviously, we want to sort of keep pushing and see what more we can do, but yeah, Im pretty happy with it. I was never set out for world domination or anything like that and we are very much a niche sort of band. Not everybody is going to like us and I think the thing we are really happy about is that the people that do like us, like our fans are really super hardcore about it. We are not the kind of band to have casual fans, the ones who like us really, really like us, which is nice.
And we could do that if we wanted to, like well still play parties and stuff, yeah like once in awhile and its fun. I think the weird thing for us is like a couple times a year well play at a convention or something, like we played at PAX in Seattle a couple months back and that was a huge, huge event. It was like we were famous for a couple days. It was seriously, insane. And the show we played was like 5,000 people and it was just so much bigger than were used to. It was novel, it was really fun, but it was just so outside of our normal everyday way of being. So, I think we are in a good position right now. We can actually get decent-ish shows and we have a booking agent and a manager now, so we arent doing everything ourselves. We are pretty happy with where we are at right now.
CoS: If you were given the opportunity to meet anyone (alive or dead), who would it be and why?
L.E.: Simon Le Bon from Duran Duran because I have a humongous crush on him. There it is.
CoS: You sound like you had that one planned out.
L.E.: Well we have been listening to Duran Duran in the car all day anyways, so. Ive just had a crush on him forever and I still have not yet gotten to meet him. So, maybe one of these days
CoS: So, whats next? Are there any last minute plans before 09?
L.E.: Well, the E.P. is going to come out in a couple of weeks. Its mostly remixes of Frontload and also a couple other remixes, a new song, an acoustic version of Plastic Stars, its kind of like a weird mix of things. And theres gonna be a video for Frontload coming out with it too. Yeah, so this tour lasts for like another week or something and we dont really have anything else big booked beyond that. I think we are just going to sort of hang out at home for a little while and try and write new stuff. At a week and a half we kind of hit the wall and were like, Im ready to go home now. We like touring for short little burps at a time. It really kicks your ass after awhile you know? You are just like, Oh my god another show, Im so tired.
CoS: What can we expect from your performance later tonight? Will there be any special surprises?
L.E.: We try to do a sort of mix of old stuff and new stuff. We just want it to be a fun thing, so we just hope the people dance. When the audience dances a lot it makes our job easier cause we really kind of feed off that energy, so yeah, itll be fun. Well have people kind of switching in and out, yeah.