Josh Freese Hot Licks
While Josh Freese clearly has chops, he has two other much more important qualities that keep getting him hired time and time again – groove and taste. He knows when to be aggressive and when to make like Ringo, by unobtrusively supporting the song and staying out of its way. He even often manages to do both at the same time. Groove is the rule here. These song excerpts from various sessions prove it.
“My Brother is Gay” from Internet Dating Superstuds by The Vandals
The punk group, The Vandals, show a completely different side of Freese’s drumming. His approach to these tunes can be described as angry, primal, simple, and fast. Most of the tunes are under three minutes on this disc and he plays a variety of complementary power punk grooves. On “My Brother Is Gay” he bashes out a simple and quick tom-tom bass drum barrage throughout the verses and then moves his right hand to his crash cymbal for the choruses. Simple, but it fits the tune perfectly.
“Can’t Change Me” from Euphoria Morning by Chris Cornell
Chris Cornell’s solo album Euphoria Morning features Josh Freese playing a number of cool drum parts that cleverly support the songs. In the song “Can’t Change Me,” he plays an odd time tom-tom groove in 15/8 during the Middle Eastern flavored intro and at several other points of the tune. During the choruses he plays a similar tom groove but at this point it’s in 12/8. During the verses and the rest of the song he plays a simpler hi-hat groove that’s unobtrusive and works easily.
“Bring Me to Life” from Fallen by Evanescence
Evanescence’s debut Fallen features Freese’s unique stamp on every track. The first single, “Bring Me to Life,” has a two-bar pattern in the verse that feels semi-polyrhythmic, which proves that you don’t have to play something dumb for a song destined for radio. The bass drum plays a shuffle pattern under the snare backbeat up to beat 4 of the first measure, where it shifts an eighth-note later and continues the pattern over the bar line. Freese plays the chorus groove on his ride cymbal giving the sections a little lift and then plays a related half-time beat on his ride cymbal in the bridge, crashing with the snare to emphasize the laidback feel.
“Emotionless” from The Young and The Hopeless by Good Charlotte
We see another side of Freese’s tasteful playing on Good Charlotte’s “Emotionless” – an introspective shoe-gazing ballad. Freese keeps this slow tempo interesting by playing brushes on his snare for the verses with a syncopated accent on the ah of 1 with his kick and the & of 2 on the snare. On the chorus he offers a simple Manchester/boogaloo groove on the ride.
“All In Wait” and “Control It” from Shadow Zone by Static-X
Static-X’s music is heavy rock with industrial overtones. Freese plays a driving double-bass groove in the verse of the song “All In Wait,” which happens later in the song, kicking the intensity up a notch. The intro to the song “Control It” features a syncopated rhythm with choked cymbal crashes that culminates with an unexpected bass drum ruff to a snare hit on the and of 3 in the fourth measure. The syncopated two-handed sixteenth-note groove that Freese plays also has with a kick on the & of 3 every four bars that cleverly kicks the rhythm guitar parts.
“Gravity” from Thirteenth Step by A Perfect Circle
This tune is another example of Freese’s subtle approach to odd time signatures. Rather than hit you over the head with the oddness of the meter, he flows with it. If you aren’t counting you might not notice most of the song is in 7/4. The hi-hat part in the verse is reminiscent of Danny Carey, and adds another layer of interest to the groove. The bridge offers more time signature changes with a section in 3/4 followed by a couple of measures in 6/4 that just feel right.