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Interviews: Dexter Freebish

live photo of Dexter Freebish singer Kyle copyright Janet Reid

Dexter Freebish: Interview with Kyle
October 2000
by: Lauren Jonik (lauren@soundaffects.net)

When the passion to touch others through creativity blends with the power of focus, imagination, hard work and belief, something happens: life opens up and the opportunities to live your dreams arise. Between catchy, expressive lyrics and swirling, fluid melodies lies the heart of Dexter Freebish, the Austin, TX based band whose Capitol Records debut cd, A Life of Saturdays, was released in late September of 2000. With their award-winning single, Leaving Town, getting nation-wide airplay, the band recently embarked on their first tour.

While on the road with bands such as Nine Days and Sister Hazel, Dexter Freebish has been getting a chance to hone their skills and bring their music to audiences far and wide. "Playing in front of people all the time is just a great feeling," says Kyle, the band's lead singer. Whether performing at a radio show in Charleston, South Carolina for a crowd of fifteen thousand or playing to a small, intimate crowd of about fifty in Memphis, Tennessee the next night, the band's work ethic remains the same: put on a good show. "We love to play and we always have the same energy. . . even if it's for fifty people, we want all of those fifty people to leave and like Dexter Freebish--- and tell their friends." Songs from A Life of Saturdays like their single Leaving Town, which fans have been singing along with, My Madonna, and Spotlight have been getting the most enthusiastic audience reaction. But, a song not on the album called Pretty People is also one that concert-goers are especially responsive to.

While bands often make it look almost effortless, there is much more to putting on a show than meets the eye. The hours of practice and time spent perfecting their sound lays the foundation for what you see on stage on any given night. In order to prepare for a show, after the soundcheck is completed, Kyle spends some time alone visualizing how he wants the show to be. "I go through the set and think about where we're at and what I might want to talk about and what's going on . . . just be a real person on stage." While Kyle's favorite part is playing live, for some of the other members of Dexter Freebish, who include Chris Lowe on bass and vocals, Scott Romig on guitar and keys, Charles Martin on lead guitar and vocals and Rob Schilz on drums, the writing and recording process is the highlight. It is through each member contributing something different and significant that allows them to balance and complement each other. Everyone playing an integral part creates a tangible flow to individual songs, as well as a seamlessness to the entire album. There is both motion and emotion captured and set free within the span of musical moments.

Creating an album that would offer a variety of moods and melodies, while maintaining a vivid, textural continuity, was achieved by definite design. Looking to such classic albums that stand the test of time, like Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon or U2's The Unforgettable Fire, Dexter Freebish was inspired to give attention to the even smallest details like the order of the songs and the way they were mastered together. "It was a very concerted effort to make an album that did have a flow to it, a certain rhythm," explains Kyle.

This ability to create both unity and individuality in the space of the eleven songs on A Life of Saturdays translates into the smaller worlds encompassed in each song itself. Like their namesake, the former Dexter Freebish rollercoaster at Astroworld, in Houston, Texas that some of the band members rode as children, their music is capable of taking you on an exhilarating ride, complete with smooth ups and downs. "That is kind of the fun of the album," Kyle says, "you can listen to it and it has peaks and valleys and if you are in a certain mood, you can just go straight to that song." But, this is a ride that is also a journey.

Everyone has their own circumstances and stories, but the ways in which we grow and the palette of emotions that we feel as human beings are more alike than unalike. What fuels a fire may differ from person to person, but the sensation of heat while walking across the coals of life's experiences remains the same. Lyrically, Dexter Freebish embraces themes that are universal. Leaving Town, their current single co-written by Kyle, Chris Lowe and Scott Romig, was inspired by a girl who talked about moving to Los Angeles or New York to find success. "To me, you can make it wherever you want, you make the best of wherever you're at, and being some place doesn't mean that you're going to be happy or succeed, " says Kyle. Ultimately, any path we choose provides a chance to travel the world within and to grow as a person.

Sometimes, the simplest decision can plant seeds that blossom in ways beyond our wildest dreams. When Dexter Freebish first wrote Leaving Town, they didn't know how far it would lead them. After getting a demo deal with MCA Records, they recorded Leaving Town, which MCA then decided wasn't for them. But, like the old saying, when one door closes, another one opens. Dexter Freebish began passing the demo of the song out to anyone they knew in the music business and decided to enter it in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, which was sponsored by EMI Music Publishing, Maxell, and Yamaha. What happened next set them on course for their slow and steady ascent. "That contest was such a catalyst for us as a band," says Kyle. A month or so after finding out that they had made it to the top twenty-five of the Pop/Rock Category, they won the top place in that category. But, that was to be only the beginning. Leaving Town attracted the acclaim of more than 60 celebrity voters in the Contest, when people such as Elton John, Foo Fighters, Paula Cole, Barenaked Ladies and Wyclef Jean chose it as Song of The Year. It was especially an honor for the band, because their song was selected by other respected songwriters. "The way it made people look at our music completely changed our lives," says Kyle.

A willingness to grow through their art as writers and musicians--- and also as people--- enables Dexter Freebish to write strong, solid songs and to continue to explore their craft. When asked what the keys to success in writing are, Kyle said that it comes from listening to constructive criticism and learning from it, finding your own strong points, and never being satisfied. "Every line in a song counts and every line can be better." It may even take years to find a perfect word or phrase, but you know it when it comes. The process is specific to each song, but usually the melody comes first and the rest of the song is built around it. Taking inspiration from experiences and events in real life, most of the songs on A Life of Saturdays were co-written.

Destiny had a hand in the beginnings of Dexter Freebish seven years ago. Having recently moved from Houston to Austin, Kyle answered an ad in the newspaper for a band. What started out as a fun thing to do evolved into something much more. As they began writing and playing live in the Austin, Houston and Dallas areas, Kyle discovered his love for affecting people in a positive way through his music. "I want to be a positive influence." Although the formation of the band was gradual, they have been a solid unit with the five members: Chris, Scott, Rob, Charles and Kyle, for about four years.

Supported by the foundation of hard work, talent and skill, destiny continues to guide Dexter Freebish to greater opportunities to reach people with their music. They recently were invited personally by Yoko Ono to play at the opening of the new exhibit honoring John Lennon's life and work at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. "The John Lennon Songwriting Contest is something that has been coming back to help us again and again."

Filming the video for Leaving Town outside of Los Angeles, in Saugus, California, was a special experience for Dexter Freebish. "It was so surreal, we're so blessed to get to do what we do and it was just an awesome experience." The director of the video, Nancy Bardawail, who has worked on videos for the Goo Goo Dolls and Veruca Salt, encouraged Dexter Freebish's creative input into the making of the video. "We learned a lot and we look forward to doing some more, because they're really fun."

"I wanna swim the deepest ocean, be poetry in motion . . ." sings Kyle in the title track, A Life of Saturdays. Blending high energy into layers of depth and substance, Dexter Freebish has a clear collective vision for what they hope to do in the future. "I want Dexter Freebish to be known as a rock and roll band," says Kyle. But, most of all, they hope to continue enjoying the moment, touching people with their music and having a positive impact on the world. Success isn't defined by fame and fortune, but by what you do with the talents and opportunities you're given. "Success is doing something worthy."


http://www.dexterfreebish.com
http://www.nine-days.com
http://www.sisterhazel.com
http://www.pinkfloyd.com
http://www.u2.com
http://www.hollywoodandvine.com
http://www.jlsc.com


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