The Family Business: Stan Freese and Sons Josh and Jason

The music of the Freeses is ubiquitous. And they talk a good game, too

Stan: I know exactly what you're saying because you feel almost obligated to the spirituality of the whole thing that you don't . . . You have this gift, and it's your time, and it's coming around, and you have these opportunities. . . .

Josh: And you feel like a total jerk.

Stan: That's how I feel about retiring from Disney. I've been at Disney for 40 years, and I'm 67 years old, and everyone's going, "Well, why don't you retire?" But then I look at the news, and I see tons of people out of work, and I just feel so lucky to have a job that I'm going, "Man, I'm not quitting this thing." Plus, I'm having fun. . . . I feel an obligation to the law of nature to keep doing it—as long as I think I'm doing a good job.

 

So what was it like growing up? You obviously all have strong personalities.

Stan: I wish I could tell you it was really rough and they were hard to raise and they rebelled, but actually, we had a great time. Josh was out of the house sooner because he had quit school to go out on the road, but the years we spent together it was fun. It'd be me going to their gigs and roadie-ing for him.

Plus, we all kinda spoke the same language and had the same sense of humor. I think musicians, in my experience, are funny. Good musicians who are smart are funnier than anybody else in the world. Bad musicians aren't all that funny. So I love being around musicians who have that sense of humor, and both boys have that sense of humor. We laughed a lot.

Josh: Bad musicians are funny to us.

Stan: Don't you think so? Let me tell you one of the reasons: A musician grows up by himself. You play in a practice room, practicing by yourself, getting to be really great hour after hour after hour, and spending all your money on instruments and getting really good. And so you go out and mow yards when you're young, wash cars, whatever, and then you go to college and whatever, and you practice. And then you're finally a professional musician, and you're on your first professional gig after all those years of hard, solitary work, and they make you come in through the back door.

Jason: I also think it's a profession where you get paid to be onstage for about an hour, but you gotta be there for nine hours. So those other eight hours, you're just hanging with people. And that's what you do for a living. You're paid to work about an hour out of the day. So the other 23 hours when you're on the road is hanging out—and if you don't have a sense of humor . . . you'll kill yourself.

Stan: If you're a great player, that's one thing, but you better be a good hang in the dressing room, a good hang on the tour bus, a good hang at the hotels. Even if you play your fanny off and you're the world's greatest player, the band leader is gonna fire you if you're a drag. I've seen it my whole life.

 

. . . And that's when the conversation came around to the topic of poop, so we'll stop there. Look for Stan this summer performing at Vandals shows and doing a "little quick hit" for the new Muppets movie, out this Christmas. Josh will be touring with Weezer and doing a few Devo gigs. Both Jason and Stan just finished recording on Jewel's next record; Jason also produced Zebrahead's latest, Get Nice.

 

This article appeared in print as "From Disney to Devo: Stan Freese & sons Josh and Jason."

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