Josh Freese is one of the most in-demand drummers around and has worked with Nine Inch Nails, Guns N’ Roses, Devo, Sting, and Good Charlotte to name but a few. He is not, however, a household name, as Freese himself admits. “I work with famous people, but I’m kind of under the radar,” he says. “I’m probably famous to the drummer kid that lives down the street from me, but that’s about it. So I had to get extra creative to hype my record.” And he did. Earlier this year Freese announced on his website that he was offering a number of different packages to potential purchasers of his second solo CD, the punk-pop-infused Since 1972. Many of these deals involved hanging out with the man himself and even some of his collaborators. For $7, for example, you just get a digital download of the album. $50, meanwhile, will buy you a CD/DVD double-disc set, a t-shirt and “thank you” call from Freese during which you can ask him whatever you want (one possible query, suggested by the drummer: “Which one of Sting’s mansions has the comfiest beds?”). Then things start getting weird, and expensive. For $2,500 you can pick three items of clothing from Freese’s closet and go with him and a member of either Devo or the Vandals to the Hollywood Wax Museum. Attractions in the $10,000 package include being taken out to dinner at Roscoe’s Chicken ‘n’ Waffles in Long Beach by Freese and Twiggy Ramirez from Marilyn Manson’s band. Finally, there is the $75,000 package, the purchaser of which will, amongst other things, be allowed to “take shrooms and cruise Hollywood in Danny from Tool’s Lamborghini.” The drummer’s album went on sale yesterday. So this afternoon, EW called Freese to see how things were going.
Where did you get the idea for all this?
I was on the phone with an old friend of mine, a manager called Dan Field, talking about how I was going to make my first record in 8 or 9 years. About 6,000 people bought my first record and it’s been off the radar for a while. And Dan said, “Well, I could look on SoundScan right now and tell you how many you sold last week”. So he goes on and says, “Well last week you sold one. And the week before you sold two. And the week before you sold one.” I was like, “Okay, knock it off.” Then I started laughing and went, “Hey, maybe I should call those people and personally thank them for buying my record.” And Dan was going, “Yeah, you should take them to lunch.” And I went, “How about I show up and given them a drum lesson and a foot massage?” I was actually driving to a Nine Inch Nails rehearsal at the time and I thought, Well, people are doing stuff like that to promote their music. Trent just released this really great package for the superfan to buy where you can get this nice photography book and all this stuff. So I thought, I’m going to do this and get ridiculous!
What about this business about taking ‘shrooms and cruising Hollywood in Danny from Tool’s lambourghini? Did you consult a lawyer? Or, for that matter, Danny from Tool?
I told Danny, “Listen, I want to put your name in this. But no one’s going to buy it because it’s so much money. And if they do buy it, it’s a limited edition of one, and we’ll only do it once.” He said, “Yeah, go ahead.”
I don’t mean to be rude, sir, but if I had a Lamborghini I would not be letting you drive it around while out of your mind on hallucinogens.
I did think, legally, I wonder if I could get any trouble for offering that. But then I thought, Maybe I’m saying that we’re going to take my neighbor’s cat and her name is “ ‘shrooms.” Or we’re going to eat some butter-and-garlic shiitake mushrooms.
Well, good luck explaining that to the judge. So what kind of response have you had from the public?
It’s been great. As soon as we get off the phone I’ve got to get back on the computer. By last night we’d sold quite a few copies of the CD. And I’m tripping now because we’ve got a lot of offers in on some of the more expensive packages, which I didn’t expect to happen. My girlfriend and I have been scared about this release for different reasons. I’ve been scared that no one’s going to buy any of them. And she’s scared that they’re all going to sell and we’re going to have strangers in our house picking through my closet and I’m going to have to give tours of Disneyland and back rubs and drum lessons. I’ve had about five or six people that are interested in the $75,000 package. And they look like serious emails. Now we need to do a background check on them.
The $75,000 package also includes a meal of raw lasagne with Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck and his wife. Why the hell would anyone want to eat that?
I don’t know. They’re into weird food. Robin was like, “Oh yeah, my wife can make raw lasagne.” I didn’t even ask what it was.
So which of Sting’s mansions does have the comfiest beds?
I’m going to have to go with his estate in Tuscany, Italy. To be honest, I’ve been to a bunch of his homes around the world, but I’ve only slept in two of them. But yeah, I’ll go with the Italian spread over the English Tudor mansion.
Is the latter a bit substandard?
No, it’s gorgeous!