With their next album set to drop October 9th, Freelance Whales reminisces about busking on the streets of NYC and what it’s like to play major festivals.
A few years ago you may have seen this group of musicians playing on the bustling streets of NYC on your way to work. Now they’ve signed to a label and are touring around the world for a sea of fans that pay to see them without having to aim for their guitar case. Freelance Whales not only attract bigger crowds; their sound is bigger as well. Their first album, which garnered the attention of Entertainment Weekly and Spin, was released three years ago, so a lot has changed for the band musically since then. We had a chance to sit down with the band at this year’s Osheaga to talk about what’s next as their sophomore album Diluvia is set to come out October 9th.
Playboy.com: How is your sophomore LP coming along?
Judah Dadone: It’s done! We actually recorded it in the late winter with producer Shane Stoneback, who has worked with bands like Vampire Weekend, Cults and Sleigh Bells. We met him a few months earlier after sending him some demos we had been working on. He took a liking to it and really wanted to help us take our new sound somewhere. So we did the record in two months and now it’s done. It’s weird; it felt like it went slowly, but now looking back on it all it went by really fast.
Playboy.com: Were there any new instruments you hadn’t worked with previously on Diluvia?
Chuck Criss: Yeah, a ton of new instruments actually: trumpets; organs; synthesizers that we hadn’t worked with before, like analog, and also a Chinese Synth, which was pretty cool too. Samplers which we used as pedals…Shane also had a ton of instruments in his studio we hadn’t even seen before, so it was pretty cool to get them all on the record.
Dadone: We could use all of the same instruments and alter the sound through technique, but utilizing all of these new pieces made it feel like a different sensation. Our first record felt small and enclosed; the songs feel like they’re taking place in small rooms in a house. With our next record I think it feels a lot more spatial, with a lot of swirling electronic sounds, as if it’s shot into the stratosphere, taking up a lot more atmospheric space.
Playboy.com: You guys used to play on the streets of NYC, and now you’re playing major festivals. Is it something that you miss?
Kevin Read: I definitely miss playing the subway; with festivals it’s a totally different being. It’s a lot of fun, but most of the time you get on the stage and you’re in a rush to get everything plugged in and be sure the sound is all right before you start playing. It’s really stressful. With the subway, it was way more relaxing. A lot of interesting people would come up and talk to you; it was more of a communal thing where this is sort of like a race.
Dadone: The early music we were creating was really suited for that setting, but I think the stuff that we’ve made since then would feel like we’d be forcing it in that mold if we would attempt to play in a subway. It would be a fun experiment, but it was just so natural; now it would be a chore to make it fit.
Playboy.com: Because you have so many pieces in the band, you guys are hit with a lot of people saying you sound like others.
Doris Cellar: I feel for the new record, it’s something I could only hope for because I feel like it’s so true to my heart — it’s something that doesn’t sound like anything I’ve ever heard. So I hope people feel the same way.
Dadone: With the first record I can say, “Yeah, it does make sense that people would make certain comparisons.” I think we have learned a lot of moves from bands like Broken Social Scene and Stars, but with this new record I can say there’s not much of it that [feels] like anything else I’ve ever heard before. That’s something I’m really proud of. With music, the first thing you have to do is make something pleasant, and secondly you have to make a piece that will challenge or give them something they don’t have already.