Just prior to the starting collapse of the music industry as we know it about 15 years ago or so, our music community got to sneak a few acts in the door before all hell broke loose.
As some of you may remember, toward the end of the '90s we had a couple of shots. Unfortunately, the lack of follow through on some of those shots (Rustic Overtones, As Fast As, 6Gig) was no fault of their own. After these bands got signed and found a groove, their record labels started changing and folding left and right, keeping our boys and girls from making a big deserving dent in the music world. Our bands got themselves there with great records and fantastic music only to see the entire music game change thanks to fiber optic network wires and clouds. Oh, and people starting to de-value music. Can’t forget that.
Into the 2000s, as the world started to download like their life depended on it, one more gang of young musicians from York got a quick go at it: Jeremiah Freed, a five-man rock band who played like they just rolled out of a studio in Muscle Shoals 45 years ago. This is a band who might have dared you on any given night to yell “Freebird” at a show of theirs and then would wipe that fake-ass smile off your face by blowing you away with their rendition. So much that you’d actually come to like the song and not use it to heckle anyone with again.
Signing a classic rock-inspired band of 19- and 20-year-olds from Maine to a major record label in 2001 (minutes prior to the time of the emo and Warped Tour-ish phase) might still seem like a chancy move. But a label heard great songs, a supremely gifted guitar player and recognized the favorable response to this band’s regional success. That label bit down, breathed in the weed off the band’s clothes, and took a shot.
Even though they made a go at it, played all around this great country of ours and laid out a big-time debut record, the Jeremiah Freed shot unfortunately didn’t last very long. Major labels aren’t ones to cuddle afterward. They hump and then throw on their black t-shirt and walk out the door if something’s not succeeding quick enough. They didn’t give Freed the proper development time, but that’s really been the way for too long with most big labels. Unfortunate for them, too, because just after their departure with the Universal Republic in 2002, Jeremiah Freed made their best music. Well, to date, back then.
I’ve been catching up a lot lately with an ace of a human being and the bassist from Jeremiah Freed, Matt Cosby. Now a super talented photographer clicking wonderful sights and people from coast to coast, Matt had something to play me toward the end of last Summer. It was the rough demos of new music from Jeremiah Freed. It was damn tasty too. Even in rough demo form. Seems the fellas are ready for a 2017 return of sorts.
This summer, the band (with Andy Cosby on drums, replacing original drummer Kerry Ryan) will release a collection of brand new music. Regardless of the state of the industry, Freed just wanted to make and release new music. They aren’t doing it with silly expectations or specific goals. It’s just a band getting back together to make great music again, at this particular stage in their lives. As years matured and strengthened these guys as people, surely the sweet soulfulness of their brand of rock has ripened as well.
In my own ongoing series, stuck between the titles of, “I Once Caught A Fish This Big...” Or “Have I Got a Story For You”; Matt Cosby remembers a crazy moment (and the three days that followed) when the head of one of the biggest record labels in the world called during band practice.
This past March marks the 15th anniversary of our major label debut. With new music coming out this summer, it's fun to think back to the time when things really started to really pick up for us.
We used to practice in our singer Joe Smith's mom's basement. She would always flick the lights on and off if we were playing too loud or if she had extra food in her fridge that she needed us to eat before it went bad.
So it's a Friday afternoon and we're rehearsing and the lights flick on and off. We ask if we should turn down our amps and she yells down to us. "Ummm, there's this guy on the phone and he says he's the president of Universal Records, he wants to talk with all of you." We run up and it's Monte Lipman, President of Universal Republic Records. He tells us he's been listening to our music all week and he thinks we have a hit record. He requests we drive to NYC on Monday morning to sign a deal. "Bring five pens, our lawyers are already drawing up the contract," he said.
By the time Monday rolled around, pretty much every major label had heard that the president of Universal had called these five kids in York, Maine, and offered them a deal without even a showcase. So our manager lined up meetings with all the big labels and a bidding war broke out that day.
After much deliberation, we ended up signing with Monte and Universal! We went from practicing in a basement in Maine on Friday to signing a big deal and discussing who would produce and mix our record in a high rise in Manhattan on Monday.
Follow Matt’s photography at mattcosby.com and Jeremiah Freed as they gear up for their new release. www.facebook.com/