Alex Bleeker (of the Freaks and Real Estate) answers the Questions of Doom
Alex Bleeker and the Freaks' debut was kinda of our favorite jam of last year. The records are lo-fi, fun, kinda of sloppy, and sound like they are played with the zestful joy or actual human beings rather than clinicians who have developed their sound in a laboratory. And similar to Kurt Vile (who has developed along similar lines) is their basis of love being in classic rock. Within Alex Bleeker and the Freaks you'll find him under the influences of 70s FM radio rock, Neil Young (oh yes, in fact, Neil Young could have exorcised this album in early '69), America, Buffalo Springfield and whatever track you find yourself listening to on the interstate highway that makes you feel truly free. We got Alex in to question him about the Freaks, songwriting, Real Estate and other things in this week's Questions of Doom.
Who is Alex Bleeker and his collection of assorted freaks?
The freaks are sort of a revolving door of musical talents, generally drawn from the inexplicably large musician pool of Northern New Jersey. Regulars include: Dark Bill, The Shredder, Stage Tiger, Wayne, Monotone Phil, The Gator, Fluffy Sam, Acraig88, among others…I like to keep it fresh. You never know who is going to be joining me on stage and I think that’s exciting.
What was your musical intention with the recording of Alex Bleeker and his Freaks?
The album is a mix of new and old songs, but this record sounds the way my music has always sounded to me in my head. Other recordings were of a lower fidelity, or just acoustic. With this record, I set out to complete my vision, in a way.
What were you under the influence of when you were writing Alex Bleeker and his Freaks?
Love, friendship, heartbreak, and familiarity.
Your musical jams lean towards FM Radio Classic Rock, What I dig about your band are the influences come out without being a homage, how do you reconcile being contemporary and retro?
I don’t give too much thought to that kind of thing. The popular music of our parents’ generation has undoubtedly had an influence on me, and that’s to be expected. Music is something that gets passed down, passed around, and reinterpreted. I pull my influences from a variety of sources, both contemporary and otherwise.
Are the Freaks your own version of Crazy Horse?
Passages from Neil Young’s Biography - ‘Shakey’, had a sincere effect on the way the album was recorded.
You’ve been gaining media attention and support with Real Estate and Alex Bleeker and the Freaks. The support seems to have grown every week. Is this part of the Wu-Tang/CSNY master plan for domination amongst yourself and band mates?
There’s no master plan. For whatever reason, we happen to know a lot of people who have been making great music for a long time. We decided to use some of the attention Real Estate had been getting to shed some light on our very talented friends. Bring up the crew!
You’ve used the internet and DIY intentions to great effect, do you feel the quick time lag between having an idea and seeing it to fruition as a positive or negative thing for music?
It’s cool to finish a record and then have it appear on vinyl in your hands 3 months later. Sort of a nice balance to uploading Mp3s.
You are from New Jersey, who is, for you - an iconic New Jersey artist?
The Boss, first and foremost. The Feelies, R. Stevie Moore, Yo La Tengo, Frank Sinatra, Kevin Smith…when he made Clerks. The guys who wrote Harold and Kumar go to White Castle. Sarim Al-Rawi.
You’ve split the record into two sides: Summer and Autumn, why did you arrange the songs in such a way? They seem to document the end of a friendship?
I don’t think I did that conciously. I am interested in what has given you that perception. Thats cool.
Everyone in Real Estate seemingly has their own band. Do other band members get in a quandary listening to the solo material and thinking ‘You should save that song for Real Estate’?
It actually tends to work the opposite way. Things get compartmentalized. “That sounds like the Freaks/Real Estate/Ducktails,” etc. I often wish that we could combine our sounds more frequently.
What is the greatest misconception of Alex Bleeker?
You tell me. It most likely has to do with something that somebody wrote on the internet.
What’s next for Alex Bleeker?
I have a new 7 inch coming out on Group Tightener Records, that I am very excited about. I also have another project in the works that has to do with a Casio keyboard. I’ve been looking to expand sonically, and I have been excited about some of the demos I’ve been producing.