Freedom Club is a studio based, lo-fi collaboration between two Gold Coast musicians, Ben Simpson, who fronts gritty rockers Chavez Cartel and producer and musician Jake Johnson (aka Burning Jacobs Ladder).
The duo actually first met at a festival in Spain prior to their musical beginnings and they’ve just dropped their debut track, ‘As Life Would Have It’, a tambourine laced neo-psych jangle that channels somewhat of a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club trip. It was mastered by the renowned Govinda Doyle and is a homage to Ben’s baby daughter and the wonderment that her birth brought to this first-time dad.
Recently we had a chat with Ben Simpson to find out the background story to the projects formation, those neo-psych influences and what’s in store for the guys moving forward.
You guys certainly have an interesting background story – were you aware of each other’s bands prior to randomly meeting at a festival in Spain? And when did you decide to collaborate musically?
When we met neither of our current bands existed. The only thing we were doing with music was going out and enjoying it. Fast forward a few years and we’re living in the same suburb (Burleigh). We had a few jams a couple of years ago and we got a few songs going, but it sort of fizzled out. It’s hard enough driving one project, never mind two, but then COVID hit and we got our heads together again. This project’s really raw and pure. It’s just two mates at a computer with a couple of mics, a couple of guitars and a keyboard. It’s all lo-fi and all done at home and as it stands we aren’t a live act.
To these ears your debut track, ‘As Life Would Have It’, channels somewhat of a neo-psychedelic vibe, touching on the hazier side of bands like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Is this indicative of the vibe of your other material? And who are a few of your musical influences and touch points?
You could possibly have the best ears on the Coast – I’d like to have a look at them some time : ) Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (BRMC) are the band who we’ve based our friendship on through the years. They’re our gods, they’re the ones that blow us away and they’re the ones who made us wanna be in bands. We have in-depth talks about them once a week. Brian Jonestown Massacre (BJM) are massive for us too, we both listen to them on a daily basis, they’ve got so much material that you’re pretty much strapped in for life! So yeah you’re bang on the money they’re our influences. We’re into Mark Lanegan too.
What’s in store for you guys for the rest of 2020 and beyond?
We’re not working on anything else for Freedom Club at the moment but we do have a lot happening. I recorded a live set with my band (Chavez Cartel) last week down at Studio One16 in Burleigh, so the video guys are doing their thing with the footage as we speak and that’ll be put out on our socials soon.
We’re gonna release the recordings as some kind live album too – maybe chuck a couple of bonus demos on there at the end. ‘Quarantine Sessions’ is the running title of that project – there’s some mint new songs on there so we’re excited to get them out. And Jake (Burning Jacobs Ladder) has got his debut single coming out soon, he’s in the process of scheduling his PR campaign for that. I think he’s leading with a song called ‘7th Fever Of My Mind’ which is pretty BJM inspired as well, but a bit more electric and fresh. I think it’s got a good chance of getting some rotation, it’s a very cool, catchy song.
As Ben alluded to, Freedom Club is currently very much a lo-fi studio project, however his main band, Chavez Cartel, are scheduled to play a show at the Woolly Mammoth in Brisbane on 15 August.