Throughout Tom Freund’s long-spanning career, he’s played bass for the Silos and has shared bills or otherwise collaborated with the likes of Matthew Sweet, Guided by Voices, Elvis Costello, and Jackson Browne. Never before, though, has he released an album as personal or as eye-opening as the journeys he chronicles in the forthcoming East of Lincoln. On the album, the Americana artist opens up on the adventure it was to find himself, navigating a sea of self-doubt to reach the enlightenment he had been searching for.
The album’s title track is a slickly-produced roots rock tune that instantly evokes visions of California skylines. As Freund himself puts it, “It is an ode (and an adios) to my beloved Venice, CA. Originally the song was asked of me by director Wally Pfister for the show Flaked he was working on. I took that premise and added my own tales of Venice: how deep and great it is, and how, when I go east of Lincoln, my ‘heart starts sinking’.”
“I’m leaving the bubble of the West Side life. I’ve always explained Venice as being LA by the ocean. Now in the show as well as in my life, I have witnessed a rapidly changing Venice. And, in reality, now I live ‘way East of Lincoln’ – and I’m fine, ha!! The hipster, art-oriented bohemian side being taken advantage of by big corporation, and chains moving in, and rents going up dramatically. The takeover happens in a lot of places all over the US like Austin, Brooklyn, or Portland.”
Freund continues, “I am also remembering the days of the Stronghold, a Speakeasy venue I played a weekly show at, with a great crowd and a sense of ‘tribe’ – with wonderful musician friends of mine sitting in like Jackson Browne and Ben Harper. Brett Dennen and Victoria Williams were regulars with me as well. We all knew it was gonna blow up; it was too good (but also heavily disorganized), a flash in the pan, but boy what a time it was!”
Its music video aches with these feelings of nostalgia, too. Utterly wistful in its composition, it features Freund and friends packing up in a car and quite literally going “East of Lincoln”. Scenes of Freund performing out on the beach and traveling down that titular avenue evoke a bittersweet feeling of sincere longing, but not without respect for the good times that he did let roll in Venice.
On the video, Freund tells PopMatters, The video director is Peter Harding, who is also a Venice resident. He understood the changing tides of Venice town, the same as me, so he really related to the song. We discussed the meaning of the words and decided we would portray me, as the singer, missing the days of yore back in Venice.”
“The nostalgia of fun times with my friends, on the beach and making music. It is our little nest there, and we don’t have to cross Lincoln. We can ride our bikes and boards and get where we need without the help of the outside world on ‘the other side’. Or we’d hop in the car and run into your neighbors and friends at the local coffee shop or bar; maybe they’d hop in and take a trip over the canals. Also, Peter thought that looming in the video throughout should be me, having packed up the car (a bitchin’ 1960s Ranchero) with all my belongings: a surfboard, an upright bass, guitars, a lamp and some suitcases; and I am headed across Lincoln with an aching in my heart.”
“We borrowed the car from my friend and co-worker, Swampy Marsh (Creator of Phineas And Ferb) and also Pete The Cat ( which I have been writing music for and performing on). The mighty Ranchero was a three-speed, with a DEEP clutch, So I was fairly exhausted from driving around for five hours, limping after the shoot, but it probably added to the feeling ( and look) of despair heading East, out of my hood. An interesting footnote, the house where I pick up a few of my friends in Venice, is actually the house that Dennis and Chip live in, in Flaked, cause we are good friends with the owner. Also, it was the first time I had used a drone for a video, to get some of those high shots leaving Venice. We had a trusty crew of Peter Harding (director) with cameras by Chance Forman and Leco Moura.”
East of Lincoln is out on 7 September via Surf Road.