Free is the founder of the Elevation Theory band. We met up to talk about inspirations and insight into the beginnings of what has grown to be one of the most talented leading bands to come out of Boston.
MM: Free, How did you first get into music?
FREE: Amazing question, I was introduced to music of course though as every great music legend well… lets not say every but close to it, started playing in a church band when I was 7. I got my first drum set when I was 7 too so that was cool too. I was playing on pots and pans so much my dad just decided to do it before I tear up the whole house so he got me a drum set. Upon getting the drum set I was able to not play in church. from 7 going on to 9 I didn’t have a lot of patience. I thought that if you weren’t learning you weren’t growing so either you are playing of you are not.
MM: Where do you get your inspiration from? Who inspires you?
FREE: My inspiration comes from John Roberts who is by far the biggest musical inspiration in my career. I met him at the age of twelve I was able to go to Atlanta and He was playing in a church. To actually meet him was something. One thing he told me…”Never forget your identity, never compromise your sound, and believe when no one else does.” From that day, that inspirational speech has forever stuck with me. I pay homage to him every day.
MM: When did you first start elevation theory?
FREE: I started Elevation Theory in March of 2007. The idea came in around 2007 before I got into Boston I was in South Carolina. The name of the band was B Free and it was me, my best friend Brandon Williams. I knew it was kind of weird because B was for Brandon and Free was because everyone calls me free so it was a little weird. I was telling him I was planning on moving to Boston and in 2008 I had gotten accepted to Berklee College of Music. I knew I had to change the name of the band, and Believe it or not I came up with the name of the band from watching ET the movie. Its true! A lot of people don’t know that but its true. I was sitting home with my Brother watching ET the movie so I was watching it, from top to bottom because I had never seen it. And I thought…. ET… Extra terrestrial and I was moved by the whole theoretical part of the movie. Part of me knew I was going to Berklee and I was about to study the theory of music and that’s where the word Theory came in. I saw ET and I thought of the word Elevation. When I thought of Elevation thought to be big to be higher to be stronger and above the norm. When I put the words together Elevation Theory it just stuck. The logo, I have to give credit to my room-mate Robert Jordan, My Marketing Director who came up with the UFO thing. Everyone looks at it like “Yo! That’s a crazy logo!” .. and it just spring boarded. Right off that movie.
MM: How do you warm up for a practice session?
FREE: Its a matter of coming in with a mindset. Having mental preparation is the first thing I do. Coming into the studio with the right frame of mind is important. The first part of rehearsal is getting the programing part of the show together. Then we get into the records and putting the arrangements together. then comes the practice part. Learning the material and retaining it are huge factors.
I don’t do anything particular with my hands, but I do a technique I learned from a good friend. Its a technique of stretching while holding the drumsticks in your hands. From your right hand to your left hand, you stretch your arms around the sticks. That’s a real good start up. I tune the drums making sure the drums sound right and I go from high hat, to toms, to snare, and the rest of the kit. One by one, all the time carefully making sure the sound is right.
MM: Whats a typical rehearsal; like?
FREE: Hell! Really. H-E-L-L And I mean… We say ET Boot Camp. And when we say that Be prepared for 12 hours of just hell. Blood, sweat ,tears and cuss words, just everything! I say that with so much sincerity. I give credit to my band member my bass player Keithen Foster. I call him the anchor of Elevation Theory. He came in as my musical supervisor and just anchored everything in together. Keithen sets the tone and is consistent which is the best part of elevation theory. Keithen brought in my music director Mathew Johnson he’s really the sergeant. Matt is more like a coach than anything. He puts together the show and we have a phrase we say before every show. He says “When Matt presses pay on the pro tools, we’ll see you at the end!” See you at the end means I don’t care what happens or what you do I will see you at the end. Meaning If you make a mistake, make it big and keep moving on.
Elevation Theory’s website… http://elevationtheory.org/