ATJ presents FREE ENERGY, Saturday, August 29, 2009, at After the Jump Fest ‘09. This year’s 3rd annual festival is a three day extravaganza of independent music, and will take place at Brooklyn NY’s Littlefield Performance & Art Space.  Individual and weekend passes are available to purchase online here.

Listen :: Free Energy – Dream City

In preparation for After the Jump Fest 2009, Music Is Art asked frontman Paul Sprangers of Free Energy to answer our ATJF Interview questions, and below are his special replies.


Please share your earliest memory involving or creating music.

Paul: Hearing melodies in my head then playing them on the family piano.  They were probably inspired by cartoon theme songs and Bon Jovi.

May you share about your academic background concerning music?

Paul: Scott showed me how to play in drop d and I never looked back.  I did a lot of 4 track experimenting on my own and learned through trial and error.  I think I’m pretty against any kind of rigid academic schooling of any kind, but particularly in matters of intuition and inspiration, which seem to be hampered by strict training. I personally learn best through experience, not being taught.

If you had to explain your music to a stranger, how would you do so?

Paul: Imagine Bob Seger making love to Christine Mcvie while Mick and Keith (tattoo you-era) watch. Then imagine this all taking place within a crystal amulet hanging from Phil Lynott’s neck as he drifts through the galaxy searching for Marc Bolan so they can play pinball.

What are your favorite instruments to work with and what aspects do you like most about using them?

Paul: I enjoy the look and feel of a solid Steinberger bass. They’re perfect for “slapping it out,” and headstocks are overrated.

What are your inspirations?

Paul: I’m inspired by this crazy, spinning globe and all the jokers living on it!  I’m inspired by my bedroom, the girlfriend I share my life with,  collaborating with Scott, the amazingly talented dudes that play in our band, my sweet cat, lucid dreams, Philly, trying to understand myself, the prospect of becoming a mature human being and a positive force in this world.

When you’re working are you fully involved in what you’re doing or is your mind already planning ahead?

Paul: I err on seeing and hearing what does not already exist.  I think the key to success is being present and fully involved in whatever you’re making or doing, always.  I’m bad at that but I’m good at acting on ideas and inspiration when they strike.

On average, how long does it take for you to create a song?

Paul: Sometimes an instant, sometimes many years.  We seem to have a mix of some very old and thoroughly fermented songs, while others are written and recorded quickly so they retain that energy of being “new.”

On the website Music Is Art, our mission is to show how music and art are simply connected. Which albums do you credit as having the biggest influences as far as your life and creativity are concerned?

Paul: I credit Alien Lanes, Last Splash, Telephono, Helioself, Crooked Rain, Nevermind, INXS Kick, Slippery When Wet, Appetite For Destruction, He’s the DJ I’m the Rapper, Hanging Tough, I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One, Raw Hamburger, Spiderland, Surfer Rosa, Daft Punk Discovery, Midnight Vultures, Tusk, This Beat is Technotronic, 3 Feet High and Rising, Apocalypse 91 the Enemy Strikes Black, and on and on and on.

If you could have a drink with one musician, living or dead, who would it be and what would you like to ask them?

Paul: Maybe Springsteen?  I would want to ask him how he was able to “get it,” at such an early age. I’d also ask Bruce “what did you go through that gave you such incredible strength to believe in yourself and your words? how do you not get discouraged by the world and all the sleepwalking people who create so much pain?”

What do you hope people take from seeing you perform live?

Paul: Is this a set up?  Obviously as much merch as they can stuff in a fucking bag. But I also hope they leave as psyched as I am.  Ultimately, we create music to heal and inspire ourselves, but we believe it attracts and inspires other people that are on the same wavelength as us.  Especially people who are trying to learn and grow and understand themselves.

What has been your favorite experience thus far in your career?

Paul: Every experience good and bad is so enjoyable and enlightening, it’s hard to pick one.  Recording with James was like being at a ridiculously fun studio summer camp. Moving to Philly and meeting tons of people has been incredible. Practicing with the band has been really tough and really rewarding.  Having really talented and experienced people work with us and guide the band.  People at every level who get our music and feel as strongly about it as we do — that blows my mind.

What would your number one suggestion be for someone who wants to do what you do?

Paul: Look at yourself as honestly as you know how.  Spoiler alert: miracles will happen.

What exciting projects do you have coming up?

Paul: More web shows featuring our drummer Nick Shuminsky. A Bass Instructional Video with Evan. Making healthy meals. Getting album art done. We’re working on a hush hush comedy/reality series with James Murphy and Whoopi Goldberg.  It’s kind of like Mad TV meets Emeril.  There’s a lot in the works right now stay tuned — we”ll be tweeting all about it.

May you have a particular inspired quote, statement or favorite words to live by?

Paul: A wise man once told me this:  “No rules.”

Please share a mix tape within a theme of your choice.

Paul: Full disclosure, these songs were on a mind-blowing mixtape made by our friend Neil.

Full Disclosure
Robert Palmer – Every Kinda PeopleExile – Kiss You All OverT.I. and Rihanna – Live Your Life

Tilly and the Wall – Beat Control

Coldplay – Strawberry Swing

Fleetwood Mac – Walk A Thin Line

Thin Lizzy – You Can Do Anything You Wanna Do

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About The Author

“One glimpse is all it takes to tell you that Music Is Art is something special. You can start by judging this blog by its cover—it’s one of the best-designed, most aesthetically aware music blogs around—but there’s much more to it than just a pretty template. For one, Danielle, the “dreamer/designer” behind MIA, focuses not only on excellent music, but on art, photography and writing and how they all intersect and inform the music. By sharing the sounds and sights that inspire her, she’s inspiring a growing number of readers on a daily basis. By documenting artists’ creative processes, she’s, in the process, creating a pretty substantial, always-evolving work of art herself.” - Nerd Litter

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