Last week, just ahead of today’s release of Last In Line‘s second album, ‘Last In Line II’, I sat down to chat with vocalist Andrew Freeman. We talked about the new album, the band, the industry, his career, the Music Modernization Act, the Grammys and how they left Vinnie Paul out of the memoriam. We had a great conversation and he was extremely candid. It’s always great to have these conversations and I hope you learn something new about this incredible artist and the music he is making!
Interview With Andrew Freeman – Last In Line:
Diane Webb for YesterdazeNews Magazine. I’m talking with Andrew Freeman from Last In Line. They’ve got a new album coming out on February 22nd, and it’s ‘Last In Line number II’. Andrew, how do you feel about the mix of the album?
Andrew Freeman: I feel pretty good about it. I think we’re all pretty positive about the whole package. We have a really good mix of songs with different tempos. It’s not a lot of the same stuff, so there’s a wide variation on it, a lot of new sounding material for us. What else, and as far as the mix goes, sonically, it’s amazing because we had our mix engineer Chris Collier who did our last album and is on a bunch of records, he is a fantastic engineer who is really happy with the way it came out.
You guys worked with Jeff Pilson to produce this second album, you also worked with him on the first one as well. What does he bring to your sound that made you guys decide to work with him on both albums?
Well we didn’t work with him as much on this one as we did on the last one. The last one he was more available. This one he was not as available to do what we needed to do. This one was a little more entailed, and his schedule wasn’t conducive to what needed to be done for the record. A lot of the record got done at my home as far as my parts, my vocal parts, probably a little less than half of the record. Jeff’s got a good energy. He is fun to work with. I think the guys they have a history with so it’s a very comfortable atmosphere for them ’cause the studio is in his house and it’s all in the LA area, so it’s a simple drive, it’s pretty private and there’s not a lot of distractions, and so that’s part of it I believe. From the first record, he was kind of like a fifth member of the band on the first album, so I think that’s why we decided to do the second there as well.
Just wanted to be good with the same formula as the first one.
I think that formula works actually really well because the second album sounds amazing.
How do you think your sound has progressed from the first album through to the this one?
Progressed, I don’t know how much it’s really progressed because it’s the same process. I know people are going to say, “Oh this sounds different. This is not something that we would typically expect from you guys”, but from our backgrounds, I feel like it’s just a natural progression. These are not foreign ideas that “What’s that? That’s something new that I haven’t heard before as far as that I wouldn’t be expecting.” Everything that comes out of the minds of these guys is, I think it all fits the same mold of what we all want to do, to the point where we only demoed about maybe about 13 different ideas for this album. We have I believe about 11 songs on it. It’s as a band, and with Phil coming in, it was a really easy fit with Phil because Vinny and I both knew Phil, and he brings a little bit more to the table as far as a player and as far as an audio engineer, and just his knowledge of the music business and the music, the art of recording I should say.
For me personally, it doesn’t feel like much of a progression as far as we’re breaking new ground as a sense. I don’t know, I don’t feel like we’re taking any chances. I just feel like we keep writing and writing and writing, just a natural evolution it organically evolves into what everybody else decides it is outside of the band so.
Absolutely. Now I covered your first show when you guys came to Seattle in late 2016. At that show, I had the opportunity for myself to see that Last In Line is a real band, not just a project. Can you tell the fans what you envision for Last In Line, and what you want them to understand about what you guys are as a band?
What do I envision? It’s really hard to answer that. (laughter) It’s really hard to answer that because at its core, it’s a spin-off of two different bands. It’s a spin-off of the original Dio band. It’s the Joanie Loves Chachi of the Dio band. It’s the Mork and Mindy of Def Leppard you know what I mean, Def Leppard being Happy Days. I don’t know, every time we do something, it’s a surprise to me. The fact that we had a second record was a surprise to me. If we do a third, it’ll be a surprise to me because I don’t, for the amount of time that we go out, and the amount of time that we work, it’s not something that I can depend on as a full time band or job in a sense, something that’s going to keep me above water personally. As a band, I mean it’s a great band. It’s very much a band. It’s very much a lot of decisions being made by everybody in the band.
I think the chemistry between Vivian and Vinny is a very strong thing. You have people who are like minded and get along and you have established friendships, established relationships, it makes it a little easier. I had worked with Vinny before this whole band had happened, so him and I had a relationship and we were friends and that helped moving forward, I knew Jimmy [Bain] and Vinny, so it kind of helped before because well I didn’t just walk in the room as a stranger, we had a rapport, we had memories together which really helps build a chemistry in a band. When Phil came into the band, that was a great fit because he has worked with myself, and he has worked with Vinny before as well. He comes from the same ilk. He comes from the same place as Jimmy [Bain] came from, Vinny came from. He’s from London and he’s from that same generation and draws off from the same influences.
It’s very much a band, but it’s very much, can be a brotherhood at times. We enjoy traveling together and we enjoy playing together. If we didn’t, I don’t think this band would continue. There’s really no drama, there’s no sort of animosity or any sort of problems. If there is a disagreement, it gets squashed pretty quickly, and there’s very few of those. We’re very much a band. When we’re together, we’re very much a band that is just out there fighting the fight like any new band would be. We have a little bit of an ace in the hole with the affiliation that we have with “Happy Days” so.
Can you tell me what you think is the best part about working the Last In Line band mates that you have?
The best part about it? I guess the creative process of it. I don’t have any sort of restrictions on what I do. I can be myself in writing, I can be myself when I’m performing. I don’t have to fall under some parameters of the former band. This is very much a new band with a pretty amazing pedigree and a pretty amazing history, and a pretty amazing back catalog of materials. When you have something like that, I think in a lot of these bands, people want you to be the new guy to fit in the mold of what that former act portrayed back in the day, however you want to interpret that, and I just had never had that feeling. I’ve never been told that “You can’t do that because this guy didn’t do it before.” I’ve never been told that. I’ve just kind of done my own thing, and these guys trust me to do it, and I’m very lucky to be able to fit into the chemistry that they’ve had for the past 35 years.
Yeah that’s awesome to have that kind of creative freedom.
Sure, sure. That being said, I might not write a song about flowers or driving a car or picking up girls, that’s just something that doesn’t go here (laughter), but that doesn’t really go in my life either. It’s not something that I feel passionate about. I think we’re all very like-minded, which makes it a lot easier.
When you look back over your career and all the music you’ve made in your career, what gives you the most joy out of doing it, and are you still loving what you’re doing?
No. (laughter) Am I still loving it? I don’t know. I do love the performance part of it. I really do enjoy the travel part of it. I don’t enjoy the business end of it. I don’t enjoy, honestly I don’t enjoy this end of it. I don’t enjoy the press, I don’t enjoy, no offense because you’re very nice, but I don’t enjoy that part of it. I’m not really big on talking about myself. I’m really big on moving forward and doing new things, and trying to, not so much talk about what we’ve done and what I’ve done. I’d rather let the music talk and let newer things that I’m working on be the, I guess the more important than what happened over a year ago. I know this is over a year ago for me getting this record done. I know this is brand new to everybody else, so that’s kind of the challenge to be like, “Oh yeah let’s talk about this.” It’s not fresh in my mind anymore because I’m thinking about 10 steps down the road here I am thinking about the future 10 steps from now.
I do love performing, and I do love writing music, and I do love a lot of the things that go along with this band.
Do you have any other projects that you’re working on this year?
Yeah there’s just one. I’m working on with a band called Lies, Deceit and Treachery, which is again three of the original guys from the band Bullet Boys, a band that has an amazing chemistry and just needs a singer to kind of put them over the top, or at least get them out and working. That’s really the one project that I have going on right now.
We did the Devil’s Hand album last year, it just came out, not the Lies, Deceit and Treachery. I did another record with a producer named Mike Slammer called Devil’s Hand that came out with Frontiers, I believe in December. I think that is in full the promoting network now alongside this Last In Line record. Yeah not really much in the works right now besides just fulfilling, trying to do as much work as we can with Last In Line this year while everybody’s available to do it so.
That does bring me to one question about Last In Line about the tour, because you guys are currently kind of in a tour situation where you’re doing a little bit of touring in February, a little in March, a little April a little May. It’s not like a full straight out you’re on the road the entire time. You guys have some dates across the states. Are you planning to expand to outside of the United States, or are you just doing the USA this year?
Well we have two shows booked in the UK in June. Maybe in the fall I mean there’s talk about doing some stuff in the fall in South America and maybe some Europe. I haven’t heard Europe mentioned yet, so again right now we’re not really going to be doing a full on tour. It’s mostly fly dates, weekend fly dates. Right now, it’s just the north east and two shows in the UK. Then Leppard goes out in I believe in May or June and they will be busy until September.
Yeah we’ll be catching Leppard in Sweden Rock, so yeah, they’ve got a busy schedule summertime.
Yeah they always do. When we started this band, I think Vivian was … had under the understanding that they were going to be taking a little bit of a break, but they haven’t taken a break since we started so. That’s a challenge for us but again, it’s a side project. We were kind of at the mercy of what their schedule is, and understandably so.
It’s great to be busy working in the music industry. If you can get it, do it, I mean that’s the-
Oh yeah I mean I can’t fault those guys. Last year was probably the biggest year they’ve had with their Journey tour, and I’m happy for them. They’re all great guys. They’re all super nice guys. They’re super supportive of what we do to the point where for me, being a guy who grew up on Def Leppard’s music, and one of the first records as a teenager that I ever heard, to be able to walk in a dressing room and get a big hug from Joe Elliott and it actually be genuine is like, “Whoa, how does this happen”, you know what I mean? “How did I become friends with this guy who was kind of an icon to me?” He’s a very underrated singer, and a very underrated band. I know they’re wildly successful and very popular with their fans. They don’t seem to get the accolades from the industry, which kind of goes hand in hand with being a rock band so-
… these days if you watched the Grammys the other day.
Yeah rock and metal is still not really showing up in the Grammys, and don’t expect that it ever really will.
No of course. I am a member of the Grammy association. I’ve done a lot of work for them in Nevada trying to get politicians behind changing some of the laws with music licensing and the things that go on streaming, and getting artists paid for their work because it’s all archaic sort of ideas and laws that go on with this stuff, and did a lot of work with them. The fact that it’s mostly the people who are mostly working for the Grammy association are rock people trying to get there from a business standpoint. It’s really a little unnerving when they don’t even include you in what they do. Rock is such a big part of the music industry. Rock and roll is the basis of all this stuff, and what it’s evolved into. I feel what we do goes back way further than a lot of what is being represented there.
They lose a huge audience by not televising it, and I don’t understand what the problem is, and even to the point where they didn’t even put our friend Vinnie Paul in the in memoriam section. I think they did that to Jimmy Bain passed too, they didn’t put him in the in memoriam.
Yeah and there’s a lot of chatter on social media on that. A lot of people really disagree with them skipping him [Vinnie Paul].
Yeah, yeah. I mean it’s pretty disrespectful in a sense, but they have their motivation in whatever it is they do, and it’s also a TV show, and they also need to stay under time parameters and all that stuff, but again, they definitely alienate themselves from a huge audience, a huge buying audience who uses their sponsors. A lot of people that come see us, they’re over 30 years old and they all have great jobs, and the travel all over the world to see us, and that’s just the small band that we are. Imagine when you take an audience that would support somebody like Def Leppard or even that supports Pantera, that’s a big audience that those guys have. That’s a legendary rock band. The fact that they wouldn’t even acknowledge that the guy passed away is pretty disrespectful to the entire rock community, disrespectful is a strong word, pretty neglectful.
Yes, it’s a little bit aloof and just kind of out of touch.
It is aloof yeah.
And obtuse. I always wanted to use that word, just any opportunity to use the word obtuse, there you go.
You find a way to squeeze in the funny words that you’ve always wanted to use? [Editor note: we are intentionally leaving this part in the interview so Andrew finally gets obtuse in an interview]
Yeah, exactly. I’m a bit of a wordsmith.
Can I back it up just a little bit, because you said you were involved with how the legalization of stuff, paying for streaming. What do you think of the Music Modernization Act that was put into place? Do you think that’s really going to make a difference or help? Is it in the right direction?
Well I hope so because I lobbied for it, I had intense meetings with lawmakers to try to push that forward and get their support on it sure, very involved within that. One of my friends Rachel Stilwell (http://www.rmslawoffices.com) she is a music attorney in Los Angeles, she had a big part, she is very high up in the Grammy association, and she has a lot to do with lobbying politicians for trying to get that stuff corrected. The big thing that Trump just signed everybody made fun of Kanye and shaking hands with Trump because he’s trying to get a law passed to help people like me, a guy who is that popular, who doesn’t really need the money.
He makes money over all other platforms besides just music royalties, for him to take a stand on something like this and go in and fight for the little guy like myself, because I’m sure he’s probably losing millions and millions of dollars, whereas I’m just losing thousands, you know what I mean? For somebody like myself or even Viv Campbell and any of the guys in our band, we’re the guys that we create this music, and then we end up getting paid a fraction of what we’re supposed to get. It’s a tough fight, but I’m optimistic that it will help. I’m not saying that I’m pro Trump because I’m not. I’m not pro politician, but I’m hoping that this will help us in the long run. It seems to be if all promises are kept, we’ll see what happens, but again, you’re dealing with a political system that doesn’t always work in your favor.
There’s a lot of broadcasters that, there’s broadcasters that don’t want that to happen. There’s major corporations that don’t want that to happen because that’s going to cost them a lot of money, and they don’t feel that that’s deserved.
I think I saw somewhere calculations that say you had three million and a half Spotify streams, you’d probably get paid $11,000 US dollars, and that was kind of shocking to me.
Absolutely. I mean we have over 100,000 views on our new video. We have same on our old videos too, and I haven’t seen a royalty check in over a year for anything I’ve done so. Things are happening. I know that the band is getting airplay. I know the band is getting streamed. Again, it’s not a Kanye level of streaming of course, but it’s something, and I should be seeing something, even if it’s a $30 check, I’m not even getting that. Again, this business for me it’s not all about money. It’s mostly about, it’s a labor of love. If you can eek out a living or an existence doing, just playing music, that’s great. That’s why you see a lot of guys in my genre and from the past using their celebrity and starting new bands so they can just try a bunch of different things to keep them working steady.
That’s the sad truth behind the music industry, absolutely.
One last question I want to ask and this is for the fans, is there anything that you want to personally say to your fans for following your career?
Thank you. I mean it is very much appreciated that I get to do what I do for a living. Most of the time I’ve been able to be a full time musician for the past 15 years or so, and it’s been a real joy to be able to do that. I do appreciate them very, very much in everything that they … basically, if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do, and I’m very aware of that. I don’t know, how you thank somebody for doing something like that. I’m glad that they enjoy what I do. I really would try to work on staying interesting and staying relevant and taking it as seriously as I can, a little too seriously sometimes to fulfill the need that I have with what I put out there, and the need that they have for entertainment, and for trying to connect to them on a one to one level. That’s very much what I do when I write songs, I try to connect with people on a one to one level.
It’s not a group thing, it’s what you take out of it. I write in the abstract a lot, and I like to hear people’s perception of what my thoughts are, you know what I mean, how it affects them.
I really appreciate everything that they do. I have a lot of fans who contact me on social media, and I try to get back to them as much as I can and befriend a lot of them. We’re having an issue right now we had some shows canceled and we sell these VIP meet and greets. One of the fans who I know comes out a lot, he’s like, “Hey I have VIP for this”, and saw the email, wrote him back. I said, “Dude you can do whatever you want. You just tell me what you want to do”.
Andrew, thank you so much for your time. Again, let’s wrap this up with Last In Line two comes out on February 22nd. You guys want this album, it’s fantastic. Andrew again, thank you so much for your time. We wish you the best of luck this year.
Thank you so much.
Check out the our review of the new album ‘Last In Line II’ here.