Fearless Freep with Action Makes at Sneaky Dee's (431 College), tonight (Thursday, August 21) .$5. 416-603-3090. Rating: NNNNN
fearless freep, fearless freep. it's been driving me nuts ever since I heard of the Montreal-based indie rock outfit. I've heard that name before (kind of like when I first heard of Brundlefly). "Do you ever watch Bugs Bunny?" asks guitar man and vocalist Robert John Stephens.
Why, yes. I do.
"Do you remember the episode when some guy is supposed to dive into a glass of water but he doesn't show up?"
Yes! That's right! Fearless Freep.
"So," continues Stephens, "Yosemite Sam tries to make Bugs Bunny do it, but the tables get turned."
Stephens took the name from Looney Toons and built a character around it.
"He's a guy who wants to be a superhero, so he does things like set fires just so he can be there to put them out. There's a name for the disorder, but I forget what it is. It's similar to Munchausen's syndrome by proxy (when a mother harms her child so she can be seen as suffering and heroic)."
The cover art for the Fearless Freep's third disc, Go Cry, depicts a distraught Freep sitting on his car, chain-smoking and hard drinking, as a city is destroyed behind him.
"He's depressed because he doesn't have any real powers," explains Stephens. "The people of the town have come to believe in him, but when a real disaster happens all he can do is run."
Not that the songs on Go Cry necessarily relate to the character. Stephens and his two recently hired band members (it was mostly a solo project before), Craig "Slappy Tits" Silverman (percussion) and Jeff Louch (bass, piano), have created a real purdy collection of lo-fi indie rock tunes, ranging from a slow burn to more rocking numbers.
The Freep could stand to crank it up just a notch, really let 'er rip, but for the most part this is a good record with fine harmonies and well-crafted tunes. Très sensitive, with a dose of grit and traces of a Lou Barlow aesthetic.
The whole thing was made possible by the good folks at 24. Last year, one of the Freep's tunes, It's All Good, was featured on the hit TV series.
"We actually have the people at Soundscapes (the Toronto record store) to thank for that," says Stephens. "Apparently, one of the producers went in there asking if they had anything good for a new television series, and the girl behind the counter sold him our record. I wish I knew who she was."
The song was featured for about two and a half minutes as background music. Stephens won't tell me how much he was paid, but says, "We got enough money to pay for the recording, packaging and manufacturing of a thousand copies of Go Cry. They must spend about a million dollars per episode on music alone."
That's crazy, I observe.
"It's stupid," he agrees.
All hail the mighty stupidity.