Take all of your dad’s old sayings, throw on a drum loop, bang out a riff, make some noise, mash it all together, hit record, play live, repeat.
If all steps are done correctly, you’re a freak.
Providence art/noise/eclectica duo FreakBag has made a name for themselves over the past two years playing live every chance they get in state, out of state, wherever the freaks are. With a brash yet cleansing simplicity to their Fat Piggy EP, FreakBag offers a collection of sayings, turns of phrase, blips, scratches, riffs, and lo-fi drum machines that remains something altogether refreshingly different. Not trying to be anything other than itself, FreakBag works to make themselves an entity built for experience over studio sounds.
“I think what is most liberating is...not being tied to any one particular sound,” says FreakBag instrumentalist Johnny Sneeze. “Personally, I get tired of hearing anything that always stays the same, so I like being in a band like FreakBag where we have the creative room to do whatever we feel like.”
The shouted-spoken words of each song hit in sometimes poignant, sometimes absurd ways that, coupled with spastic loops of music, sound, and anarchic guitars, plays out in my mind the same way a novel by Hunter S. Thompson, Sylvia Plath, or Jack Kerouac reads. With a tongue-in-cheek worldliness and artistic edge, one of these songs could very well be an American representative on a Putumayo Presents compilation.
“I write mostly all the lyrics. Usually things I find funny, or word combinations that make me laugh,” says singer and lyricist Hana Ko. “With the first EP, the lyrics were mostly made up of catchphrases from my dad, or bizarre things my mom would sing to me as a kid. I reworked them to fit into our songs. With the new EP, the words are pretty descriptive of situations I’ve been in or some dark/ odd interactions I’ve had. The repetition is something I think helps paint the mental images I’m going for.”
With the same attitude and sentiment of Bjork or Lou Reed, FreakBag makes an impact without seeming to try. To listen to Fat Piggy is to take journey. Different words stand out, different soundscapes resonate, and it’s over so quickly, leaving you with the echoing words “one of these days you’re going to wake up dead.”
For the intended FreakBag experience, they are meant to be engaged, not heard.
“We are 100 percent a live band first and foremost,” says Hana. “Most of the reason we started FreakBag was so that we could play shows! It’s way more about the experience and performance for us, the actual tunes being secondary. I think it’s about being in the moment and feeling that raw energy.”
With a simple formula (or anti-formula) of songwriting and recording on their Fat Piggy EP, FreakBag has made their way back to their friend Joe Bazydlo’s studio in Connecticut, affectionately called “The Cigarette Factory,” to repeat the process for their upcoming EP.
“I’m not sure if there really is a whole lot to the creative process [laughs]. We usually go into our practice space and start playing something, and it works most of the time,” says Johnny. “That spontaneity is something that we like to bring to our love shows. There are a good amount of our songs that have a level of improvisation in them.”
FreakBag is made up of Hana Ko and Johnny Sneeze at the moment. You can find the new album on their Bandcamp page or pick up a tape at a live show. Keep an eye out for the upcoming EP in the coming months.