FreeThinker | High School Bands Are Cool Again

freethinker 75We don’t just do covers. We don't scream.

freeThinker 500

High school bands are fucking cool again.

FreeThinker, Kirkwood natives and indie-rock enthusiasts, are bringing back the high school band sans teen angst. Members consist of seniors Shane Perry, vocals and lead guitar; Molly Giessing, guitar and piano; Cody Diehl, drums; Mike Coburn, bass; and Matthew Norman, saxophone and synth.

Having already played gigs at venues like Pop’s and Fubar, FreeThinker takes the Cicero’s stage this Saturday night. With a mastered EP released in January, the band brings a whole new set and sound reminiscent of groups like The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, and Tame Impala.

I talked with the band in the most excellent underground setup conceivable—Cody’s basement—about their process, future plans, and socks.

How did you all get together?

SP: It was me and Cody. We used to just do White Stripes covers and we didn’t really have our own music—well, it wasn’t good or developed: It was just one drummer and a guitar player. And that’s when I started singing; it was like two years ago.

CD: Shane, no, that was 7th grade.

SP: Seventh grade? It doesn’t feel like that long ago.

CD: Eventually we met Molly. She was like, “I can play guitar.” She came over and we jammed together, and I knew it was going to work.

MC: Two years after that, I came in.

MN: I worked my way into the band just recently.

What influences your sound?

MC: Tame Impala.

CD: Tame Impala, The Raconteurs, The White Stripes, The Beatles, for sure.

MG: Pink Floyd, more recently.

SP: It just kind of comes out the way it does.

MC: Other influences, especially in the beginning, are The Strokes and The Arctic Monkeys.

MG: Yeah, then we kind of steered away from that.

Writing process?

MN: Everyone helps but, between Shane and Molly, they pretty much write the songs. Cody throws in his little jabber.

MG: Shane or I will have a basic idea and just come to practice like “This is what I have written,” so we jam with it a little bit and go off from there.

SP: We never write anything down other than lyrics.

What’s the story behind your band name?

CD: One day Shane said, “Let’s be called FreeThinker,” and then it just stuck, like automatically.

MG: I just remember one day that was our band name. It was better than all the other ones.

If your band were an article of clothing, what would it be?

MG: Tie-dye shirt.

MC: Three-quarter sleeves.

CD: We would be a shirt because then everyone could wear us, man.

MN: Why wouldn’t we be socks?

SP: Not everyone wears a pair of socks, though.

CD: Who doesn’t wear socks?

MN: It’s between a shirt and socks.

SP: This is nothing to argue about; we would be a shirt.

Pros of being high school musicians?

SP: One big thing is that you have people to distribute your music to.

MG: It’s easy to get the word out in high school.

SP: We are only 18, so we have time.

CD: A big plus is we are young and we can do this.

Shittiest idea you’ve ever had?

MC: Playing on Cherokee Street was a pretty shitty idea.

SP: We played at someone’s family party and the whole time they were just like, “Play the Clash.” We didn’t know any.

What do your parents think about your music?

MG: My dad used to be a big critic. He used to be like, “This is good but don’t plan on making anything of it.” And now, when he hears our new stuff, he says, “You guys are actually good; you changed my mind.”

MC: My mom is just happy I have a hobby other than getting in trouble.

Who did you record your first EP with?

SP: Ben Martin.

MG: Yeah, he did a really good job. We have to give him credit for that.

What sets you apart from the clichéd high school band?

CD: We don’t scream.

MG: It’s a lot more complicated than most bands in high school.

MC: We don’t just do covers.

MG: Yeah, it started out with more covers, but now if we play one or two covers at a show, that’s odd for us.

MC: And we have really good equipment.

I have a “deep” question, if anyone is in the mood.

CD: I’ll be deep, as long as no one laughs at me.

Okay, so being teenagers, a time when musical discovery is most prevalent, what is it like to be able to manifest that discovery while in the midst of that period?

SP: It’s a whole other way of thinking when you play music.

MG: You get out of your own mind.

MN: When we play together, we are just all in sync.

Are you staying together after graduation?

MG: I don’t plan on graduation being the end of the band. Something could happen before that; you never know.

Purchase tickets to see the band live at Cicero’s this Saturday, January 18, or stream their past demo online. | Claire Musial

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