El Paso Music Scene

Interview with David Aaron Freed of Fighter Pilot

From Fighter Pilot's site:

APRIL 4, 2005 (the date Dave wrote this):

Thinking back on our first official show as FIGHTER PILOT. It was a little under a year ago at a huge sports bar/club in Hollywood. Our friend Max asked us to play his birthday party. He hadn't rented out the whole place - only a small section of the balcony on the second level. When we got there to set up, we were excited to see the place was PACKED! Wall to wall, as far as the eye could see. But we soon discovered we were not the reason for the massive crowd. That night, the Lakers were playing the deciding game of a crucial playoff series. The locals had come to cheer on their team. The last thing they wanted was a band, especially a remarkably loud one, to turn it up to eleven while they tried to watch on the big screens.

As we prepared to play, we were met with disapproving eyes, fierce glares - we knew this would be a hostile crowd. So we decided to start playing at half-time, as sort of a "peace offering." Once we began our set, the reception from those outside the party was tepid at best. But things would get much worse once the game resumed. To put it mildly, all hell broke loose. The boos were so deafening, we couldn't hear ourselves. The management came forward, begging us to stop, trying to figure out how to disconnect our equipment. We were physically threatened as customers came forward, some with fists in the air. I remember one girl in particular, pleading with us, nearly in tears, trying to take my microphone away. In this situation, we did the only thing we could do, the only right thing to do - we played LOUDER. MUCH LOUDER. We were so obnoxiously loud, we're confident it drove several of those morons running for the exits.

When we finished, the boos were overwhelming. Kevin, his mic still turned on, threatened the entire crowd of four hundred to a fight. In the end, we barely escaped with our lives. It was so great, and so rock 'n' roll. And it was the beginning of FIGHTER PILOT!

A side note: The girl who tried to steal my mic wound up asking for an album as we packed up our stuff. You gotta love it. ....................DAVE

EPMS: Is the story on your first official show true?

David Aaron Freed: That story is true. We had a tentative other name, and had done a few shows before with the other name. That story is about our first official show using the name, "Fighter Pilot." We knew right away that would be part of our legend. Our first show, five hundred people booing at the top of their lungs. Classic. That was inspired. We were scared to take our equipment out of there. After the game was over, people were telling us they really liked us.

EPMS: Where did the name come from?

David Aaron Freed: Picking it was a lot of hard work. We wanted a name like we were, something that meant energy, excitement, power. We knew that was the one when we came up with it.

EPMS: Which other names did you consider?

David Aaron Freed: I was totally hung up on one, but I can't remember. Everyone had a favorite that the other two didn't like. It was a standoff, then we came up with Fighter Pilot, and that ended that.

EPMS: In your story about your first show, you say, "We played louder, much louder." I have a similar rection when people tell me I should stop drinking.

David Aaron Freed: LOL. Exactly. There was no question we were going to do that. All you're going to do is make us play louder. Kevin still had his head mic on, and there was a huge "Boo," and he said, "Any of you guys have a problem with that? That's what I thought!"

EPMS: I don't think I'd try that around here. Why are you such a loud band?

David Aaron Freed: There's only three of us, and we want to make sure we fill as much sound as possible. It's very tricky to do. Paolo's guitar, lots of harmonies. A lot of three-part harmonies. That's one of funnest parts of music. It's the bells and whistles that make our music unique.

EPMS: Your sound supposedly includes crunchy guitars. What are crunchy guitars?

David Aaron Freed: Dirty. Distortion, but not an 80's kind of distortion. It's a contemporary, modern, dirty, muddy sound.

EPMS: Are your guitars more crunchy than in other bands?

David Aaron Freed: Yes, we're the crunchiest. LOL.

EPMS: When did Fighter Pilot form?

David Aaron Freed: I'd say, a little under two years ago. We just started breaking out in the Southwest.

We just put out our debut album, Atomic Anthem, in January. We've already gotten great reviews, Our single, "Too Much About Me," is doing well.

We were an Editors Pick on Download.com. We get a ton of downloads every week. I don't know how people find out, but it's great.

EPMS: I know KLAQ has been playing your music here.

David Aaron Freed: KLAQ been very supportive. They've been terrific.

EPMS: Why is your CD so short?

David Aaron Freed: That was by design. We feel that most bands put everything they've got into album, including a couple of clunkers. What's the point? We have very high standards. We created a CD you can put on, play from start to finish, and enjoy every note. The record was done in a way that we can pull it off live.

EPMS: What is the most off-base thing that has been written about you?

David Aaron Freed: That's hard. We've gotten really good feedback from everybody. I've been incredibly overwhelmed. Everybody has been so positive.

EPMS: Fighter Pilot has been compared to a lot of bands. Which of the following are you not like, or the least like: Jet, Foo Fighters, Rick Springfield, Cheap Trick, Sister Hazel, Enuff Z' Nuff, Collective Soul, and Jimmy Eat World?

David Aaron Freed: We're probably the least like Rick Springfield. None of us has ever been on soap opera.

EPMS: Would you like to be?

David Aaron Freed: If we could play music on it, sure. Those are all really good. Rick Springfield jumps out as the one that we're not like. He had a lot of hit songs. Nothing wrong with that. Our goal is to play music people can relate to, sing along with, enjoy. All those bands do that.

EPMS: Do you ever do tourist things in Hollywood?

David Aaron Freed: Yes. I'm always disappointed. Why come three thousand miles to see this? You see all these tourists in Hollywood, at the Walk of Fame, taking the pictures. The best thing about Hollywood is the weather, the entertainment scene, and a plethora of beautiful women. We love being Fighter Pilot.

EPMS: The home towns of the three of you are Chicago; Vail, Colorado; and Brasilia, Brazil. How did you three end up as a Hollywood, or LA, band?

David Aaron Freed: We all moved here to pursue music. We met, we saw that we had something special, and we formed the band. Obviously, some of us moved farther than others. Paolo came here all the way from Brasilia. It was his dream. That's dedication.

EPMS: Have you ever played Brazil?

David Aaron Freed: No, but we are hoping to. We're planning to, we're looking forward to it. From what Paolo tells us, Brazil loves rock and roll.

EPMS: Have you ever played Mexico?

David Aaron Freed: No. We've sold CDs all over the world, though. Our music seems to be multi-cultural. Do a lot of El Paso bands play there?

EPMS: I'd say about one in five or six has been there once or twice. What's the best thing about touring?

David Aaron Freed: The reaction of people excited to see you. That's what it's all about. People get spoiled in LA, because there's so much. People really appreciate us outside LA.

EPMS: What's the worst thing about touring?

David Aaron Freed: Gas prices. That's the truth.

EPMS: Where are you right now?

David Aaron Freed: In LA. We're heading out next week. We have T-shirts coming out, I think they'll be ready Friday.

EPMS: Have you ever been to El Paso, even on a non-music trip?

David Aaron Freed: I know I stayed in Las Cruces one night. I might have driven through El Paso, but I'm not sure.

EPMS: Who is the most interesting person you've met in Hollywood?

David Aaron Freed: The most colorful characters are in Hollywood. I'd say, the girl that threatened to beat us up, the one who tried to steal my mic. She was so passionate, she was enraged. It was so bizarre. I'll never forget that. I remember trying to look deranged while singing at her. She realized I was crazier than she was.

EPMS: Who is the most interesting person you've met, period?

David Aaron Freed: On my end, and this was before Fighter Pilot formed, I briefly worked with Willie Nelson, and he's a fantastic individual. He talked about writing "Crazy," and pitching it to Patsy Cline. He complained about the state of song-writing. His parting words to me were, "We need good songs, now. Go write 'em." That's why Willie was thanked on our album. He's an inspirational individual. He was actually my motivation for trying to start a band.

EPMS: What is your wildest tour story?

David Aaron Freed: It's still to be written. It will be written when we come to El Paso.

EPMS: When did you start touring?

David Aaron Freed: Right now, this summer, in support of our debut album.

EPMS: Are there just three people in your van?

David Aaron Freed: Just three people in the van. Never have three people done so much noise. People think, how can three people make so much noise?

EPMS: What music do you listen to?

David Aaron Freed: We listen to everything. I know, one night, I might be listening to Graham Parsons, and two seconds later, some new Foo Fighters. Kevin's favorite all-time band is Earth, Wind and Fire. Paolo loves all forms of rock, anthing Bon Jovi, Stone Temple Pilots. We listen to everything. Our rule of thumb is, there's nothing better than a perfectly-written pop song.

We've been influenced by so many different artists. You can hear a little bit of all of them. We wear our influences on our sleeves, we really respect those artists. We have genuine love for music.

EPMS: When you're messing around in practice, do you play other types of music?

David Aaron Freed: Yes, everything. Paolo, from Brazil, has a wide array of music influences. Kevin likes heavy jazz, R&B. Yes, a little bit of everything.

EPMS: Who was more influential, Elvis Presley or The Beatles?

David Aaron Freed: The Beatles, because everybody still sounds like The Beatles. You can hear The Beatles in our stuff, even. I'd say, though, that Kiss was the most influential. More kids started playing music because of Kiss, and that's pretty cool. I respect them, although they didn't influence me.

EPMS: Have you ever piloted a plane?

David Aaron Freed: No, but we've all flown on several, LOL. If a pilot was needed in an emergency, we'd be happy to give it a shot.

EPMS: On your site, your childhood goal is listed as becoming Jim Rockford, the private detective of the 70s show, The Rockford Files. How close did you come to becoming Jim Rockford?

David Aaron Freed: Umm, not very. I was never able to find the tools he'd use to break into houses. I gave up after that. My parents wouldn't have been thrilled.

EPMS: When you were a runner-up in the Billboard Magazine songwriting contest, who did you beat?

David Aaron Freed: It wasn't like that. They were all unknowns. We were a runner-up, for the song, Stuck in Traffic.

EPMS: What was the prize?

David Aaron Freed: That was amazing. I got a little award thing. First prize, I think, was a pair of sunglasses. The contest was by song category. There was one winner, and about fifteen runners-up. You got evaluated by critics.

EPMS: Is Michael Jackson going to be convicted?

David Aaron Freed: No.

EPMS: What are the future plans of Fighter Pilot?

David Aaron Freed: We just want our music to fall on as many ears as possible. We feel our music is incredibly commercial, and accessible. The sky's the limit.

EPMS: What are your goals for the next album?

David Aaron Freed: To grow as musicians and keep making our fans happy.

EPMS: Thanks.

David Aaron Freed: Well, thank you for giving us the exposure.

Fighter Pilot will be bringing their crunchy guitars and remarkably-loud music to Lucky Devils on June 18.

- Charles Hurley

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