Morgan Geer Interview: From Fan to Freakwater

By Jordan Mainzer for SINCE I LEFT YOU

It’s been a little over a year since Freakwater released one of our favorite albumsof last year, Scheherezade. One of the highlights of the album was the song “Missionfield”, actually a cover of a song by Drunken Prayer, the project of musician Morgan Geer, now a member of Freakwater. Geer’s story is one for the books, his relationship with the band starting out ambiguously and ending with creative influence. Last year, I had the chance to speak with him about playing in Freakwater and offering his creative energy to the band as a musician, composer, and music video director. Read some bits from our conversation below, edited for length and clarity.


Since I Left You: How did your relationship with Freakwater start?

Morgan Geer: With me and my best friend at the time. She had a cassette someone made her that was a mixtape. There weren’t any band names or titles. My favorite song was [what turned out to be] “My Old Drunk Friend”. For years, I was obsessed with trying to find who did this song. This was kind of pre-internet. Any time I would run into someone who was familiar with alt-country, I would ask them whether they knew the name if I recited some of the lyrics.

Nobody knew until I was sitting in Nashville playing with a honky tonk band. There was a bass player named Dave [David Wayne Gay], and he knew [because he was in Freakwater!] I couldn’t believe it. I became kind of a super fan after that. A couple years later, Catherine [Irwin] asked me to help with her Cut You With a Switch solo record. Around that time, Bloodshot [Records] picked up my cover of Public Enemy’s “Bring the Noise”, and they put that on one of their compilations. Me and Dave and Catherine toured South by Southwest with that. A couple years later, I did a couple songs with Janet [Beveridge Bean]. In the meantime, Janet asked if I would help them with Scheherazade. I’m still with them [laughs].
SILY: What does playing with them allow you to do that playing with Drunken Prayer doesn’t allow you to do, and vice versa?
MG: I like playing with other people because you see music through their eyes. You can be kind of a tool for them to help someone else realize their vision. I like doing that with anybody as long as I’m a little sympathetic to the music. With Freakwater, as a fan, you have opinions. When you’re a deep fan, you feel like a sense of ownership because they’ve been with you through different times in your life. I have an opinion of the direction I want them to go. This is an opportunity to be in the band and interpret their vision and get free reign. I was able to be a kid in a candy store with their songs. Having not written any of them, I wasn’t weighed down by the personal experience that drives you to write. Freakwater’s not really much of a stretch from what I do with Drunken Prayer. They’re also not sticklers for technical ability, which is nice. I like playing with them. It’s liberating, in a sense.
SILY: How did it feel to have them cover one of your songs on their record?
MG: It was surreal. They didn’t tell me about it, and I didn’t find out until I saw the final list of the songs in order. I thought it was a typo. We had so many great songs. Out of 20, they only recorded a dozen songs, so they didn’t need to cover it. I’m glad it’s been well-received. I’m pretty happy the way it turned out.
SILY: Did you not even know they had recorded it?
MG: I had no clue. I wasn’t there. They probably didn’t want me to talk them out of it. They probably wanted to be liberated from my influence. My version is more fleshed out. They wanted to play it like it was their song. They just took some words and Freakwatered it up.
SILY: Tell me about the video for “The Asp and the Albatross” that you directed.
MG: I made one video without any kind of guidance. It was like too much with other stuff they had done. It was kind of violent. They wanted it to be less violent and less literal and narrative. We came up with a new thing. I used almost all found footage and whatever cameras they had at home filming their mouths singing the words. It was many late nights editing pieces together of found footage, going through hours and hours. I like doing that kind of thing. It’s tedious, but it’s kind of fun tedious.

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Posted on: May 4th, 2017 by drunkenmaster No Comments

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