Part 2 of our interview with Chris Jay and Dan Clark of Army of Freshmen.
When making the record the band announced they would be running a pledge campaign. This campaign saw fans, friends and family donating what they could to help fund the album. Aside from studio updates, there was another offering for those who pledged in the shape of an acoustic EP entitled 'Camp-fire Classics.'
“It's funny, I have already forgotten that that exists.” Chris admits “I went on Wikipedia recently and I went to our page, and it's not in there on our discography. A kid was like 'dude where do I get that?' and I'm like holy shit we made...”
“An acoustic EP, yeah.” Dan nods.
“We did it so quick. We just went to a buddies. Usually when we record we get ready and we get pre-production, we go to a studio in LA and it's a real process. We just went to a local friend's studio and sort of just recorded it.”
“Just in like, one day.”
“Yeah and it came out really, really good. Basically the way the pledge worked, was you had to give everybody something that was a digital release the minute the pledge ends. So our idea was to come up with an acoustic EP, because we knew the record wouldn't be ready at that point. So we made this acoustic thing and I think it came out great. Its one of those things actually I was going to talk to Dan when we get back, that we need to put it up on iTunes now that it's out because its part of our discography. Its something we recorded, and I actually think its a real nice piece. Because we did the songs a little different. We did like a shit kicking version of at the end of the day, Dan played accordion.”
“I put a little honky tonk into the sound.”
“But only the pledge people heard it. Like, it's not out there.”
It's something to definitely look out for. We at Cult-Following are itching to get our hands on it (editors note: we may or may not be partial to honky tonk). Now one thing that was picked up on was Chris checking Wikipedia. Curious hats firmly in place, we wondered if he ever liked to go on and mess with people?
“No, no no no.” he shakes his head before explaining “I like to go on there quite a lot. That's my go to website at night when I'm going to sleep, I will just get in the Wikipedia wormhole.”
“He reads about Army of Freshmen.” Dan chuckles
“Yeah, anything. I'll just go everywhere, I'll just float. I'll be looking up obscure actors from the 20s at 2 in the morning, and like I need to go to sleep. I think its one of the great websites of all time.”
Do you never feel the need to go on and put some random strange fact about yourselves?
“Well they've cracked down on that stuff a little bit.” Dan points out
“Yeah they've tightened the leash on that stuff a lot. But it blows my mind that anybody can edit that yet its so factual for the most part. You would think that people would go on there, and you would think it would just be every site. Like kids just all day like [editing] you know?” Chris laughs “That's what I would do.”
“Don't give him any ideas!” Dan adds, with a hint of a groan
Back on track, and still very much intrigued by the idea of acoustic versions of various songs, would there be any acoustic version played at a show?
“No,” Chris states “We can, we have played acoustic before, but something like this is so short there's just not enough time to work it in. We kind of just want to rock it out. You kind of see it a lot with bands that get bigger. If we had a huge fan base I could totally see us like 'okay we're going to do an extra show in London,' and play a place this [The Waterfront] size and do an acoustic [set] but you really have to have the demand for that. So lets say if 100 people come tonight for instance, if there's only 20 of them that would really give a shit about seeing an acoustic show, it doesn't really add up to like 'secret acoustic show for the 10 of you that care!'”
We can only hope. Aside from these festival shows and the record, what else has been happening in the world of Freshmen?
“We have been in terms of band stuff ,we've been completely quiet to be totally honest.” Chris admits “Just kind of chilled out the beginning of this year a for a little bit. I wouldn't say took a break by any stretch of the imagination, but we kind of took a little bit of a break.”
“Yeah,” Dan adds “We settled down for the holidays anyway, and its kind of lasted all of December.”
“We're hoping that's its going to get busier, do the best that we can. We're going to do a couple of local shows this summer. And again we really want to come back here towards the end of the year, but it means it'll be something that makes sense. We've got that going on. I think there's a lot of just little random stuff, I've got a list of stuff that I've been meaning to do. Like we need to submit for this or submit for that.”
“Saw on twitter we're playing the Little Rock Picnic at Bryant Park.” Dan points out with a slight shrug
“I saw that yeah. We got a big booking at a gig called the Local Rock Picnic so you can, it can show we were at Download last summer, Local Rock Picnic this summer. Fall from grace.” Chris laughs shaking his head “No but we're definitely staying active to the best of our ability. I just want to continue to work the record, I want to make things I want to do this year. If I had two goals it would be to come back here towards the end of the year, and make another video. I think we make great videos. Our videos do very well, they're very popular for the most part, so I think we're going to make another video. But I think the big question will be is for what song? Because there's a couple of songs that I think would make great videos, but is it the right song? Like, what's the next song that we really want to try and get a lot of people to hear?”
Recalling last time about the concept for Concrete hope, we wondered if that was still an option?
“Oh wow we told you about that?” Chris asks slightly surprised “That was the first idea for being a video. Before we had all the tunes written was to do like a red-headed, snot nose kid driving around on a big wheel while concrete hope played. That was a cheap video, but we got a couple of bucks so we were able to do a more bigger budget bank robbery. But if not it would have been a kid driving a big wheel.” he turns to Dan “That could be a cheap one-off video though. I think like just the kid driving a big wheel, you know giving the finger to the mail man. Just like going through the neighbourhood, one shot like continuous shot.”
A few days before sitting down with the guys, it came to our attention that Chris and Aaron are working on something together.
“Yeah Aaron and I are working on a screenplay for a raunchy comedy guy movie,” Chris tells us “That's the only phase that its in right now. But we definitely want to take it to the next level, but that's branching out in a couple of other things like that. Aaron and I have a cartoon show that we've been working on for a long time that we hope to finally animate a small pilot for this year, you know we'd kind of like to get some people to help with the script. There's a lot of ideas like that always floating around, but its just having the time to put into them. But it's definitely some thing that we'd like to do for sure. I've always wanted to make a movie and just do cool stuff like sneak an army of freshmen poster in the kids bedroom, write the theme song for it because then all of a sudden you know we make a movie, every single song is an Army of Freshmen song. We get Owen to score the movie, then you know you get it on TV, and then its just residual city you know? And you just blanket it with your own shit.”
There are quite a few people who do that aren't there?
“Yeah, everything is so TV driven now.” nods Chris “TV and film, and with Netflicks and Hulu. That's how people really get exposure. The band we're playing with in London The Aquabats, have had a whole new lease on life because the lead singer created a cartoon.”
“Well not a cartoon,” Dan confirms ”A kids show.”
“And then that meant that someone gave him the money to fund the TV show, and the band that he's literally been trying to fund...”
“For about 15 years.”
“15-20 years. And never could do it. Comes up with a kids show idea and suddenly his band has a whole new lease.”
So aside from the list, the film, cartoon, the record and possibly messing with Wikipedia – what's next?
“Whats next?” Chris asks, “Honestly, for me right now...”
“Sound check!” Dan states laughing
“Yeah the sound check!” Chris joins in “As soon as we're done talking to you, sound check.”
Army of Freshmen's fifth studio album 'Happy To Be Alive' is available now!