Interview: Freelance Whales

Killing the Cabinet interview with Chuck Criss of Freelance Whales

Diluvia reminds me of a 4 year relationship. The contributions seem wide and far. What surprised you most about this record upon completing it?

CC:  Diluvia is the first time there was more than one songwriter in the process.   It’s something we had never done before, and we weren’t sure what to expect.  We had songs from newer songwriters like “Spitting Image” by Doris or “Follow Through” by me and it took us a bit of time to mold those songs so that they could fit into a larger consciousness of an album.  I think the biggest surprise was how all the songs came out sounding like they came from one mind.

“Follow Through” seems to carve light out of some of the darkness, is this song based on real-life events?

CC:  The first line of “Follow Through” actually references the TV series Battlestar Gallactica.  The song itself is not directly about Battlestar Gallactica, but we were pretty into the show when writing the record.  There’s a lot of great human storytelling on that show.  In particular, we grasped onto the question the show raises about what it means to be an emotional being and what free will us  The song is ultimately about making choices to commit to another person, which I would say is definitely based on real-life events, even if it’s expressed through the language of a fictional TV show.

Is there something that Freelance Whales does collectively outside of band activities? 

CC:  I’m sure every touring band says this, but we love to eat.  We sometimes even plan places to eat in advance when looking at the routing for upcoming tours.  Whatever the regional fare is, we’re all about it.

With the unwelcoming visit from hurricane Sandy, you had to postpone a few hometown shows.  Besides rescheduling, did you encounter any other mishaps from Sandy?

CC:  We ironically made a record called “Diluvia”,  with a picture of a flooded city on the cover, and sure enough, we had to postpone a show in our hometown because of a flood.  We luckily made it out OK with all of our apartments and gear, but the Hoboken path train station is still destroyed.  Our rehearsal space is out in Hoboken, so we haven’t been able to get out there to rehearse.

We saw you a few years ago in Boston opening for The Shout Out Louds.  Playing songs from Weatheravanes, the magnificent darkness flooded throughout the venue captivating the audience.  With your newest album being generally less about those in the afterlife, how do you think your music comes across during live shows?

CC:  The focus of our current shows has revolved around all the Diluvia material, which I think comes across as even more orchestral than before, being as we have added a sixth touring member who plays horns.   We’ve kind of pulled the Weathervanes material into the “Diluvia” world for this tour, which adds some extra hugeness to the older stuff.

Having the ironic pleasure of listening to your first album while reading Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book I was surrounded with the lighthearted and friendly nature of ghosts.   Have there been other accounts via fans connecting to Weathervanes in ways ironic or mysterious?

CC:  We’ve seen a lot of wedding videos people make where “Generator 2nd Floor” is used as the background music, which is ironic because it is a funeral song.  We sought to make a record that balanced light and dark themes, and the fact that people react to the song in that way (other fans have told us they want that song played at their funeral) is really interesting to hear.

As a band, you appeared on the MTV’s The Inbetweeners episode recently.  How did this come about?  Do you have secret dreams of being actors (and an actress)?

CC:  As far as I know, those involved in making the show were fans of the band.  They were already using our music in some earlier episodes and asked us if we wanted to be the prom band.  It seemed fun to do, and everyone who worked on the show were super cool and funny.  Some of us might have acting dreams, but we should probably stick to what were good at.

Are you a vinyl, cd, digital or streaming band? What new artist do all of you listen to in the van without argument?

CC:  Vinyl will always sound the best, but you can’t exactly play vinyl in the van.  We have pretty divisive music taste, but we have a rule that whoever is driving picks the music.  On our last tour, we listened to Tame Impala’s new record constantly.  Pretty hard to argue with that one.

 We work with a lot of emerging artists, if you could give them one word of warning about the music industry what would you say to them? If you could rewind time, what would you tell yourself before Freelance Whales started back in 2008?

CC:   We did our first national tour without a tour manager and a crappy van.  If I traveled back in time I’d tell us not to buy that van, it’s a lemon!  It’s broken down three times! Don’t drive it across the country!


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