Upon first glance you may take Zack Freitas for some type of bohemian rock gypsy from the 1990s. You may not be entirely wrong. “Lately I’ve been into consciousness and romanticizing the shadow, embracing it and integrating it,” Freitas says about his personal growth. “I’m looking beyond myself and trying to get out of my own way.”
Addictions and heartbreaks have haunted him, but the obstacles have become a path. In the last few years, Freitas has made his way as a musician and performer who openly acknowledges those challenges.
“As an artist you have to be transparent, especially about addiction,” he says. “Playing with fire you can get burned, but it’s also very illuminating.”
Essentially a pop record, the Sweet Oblivion Tastes Like Peaches EP is fun and easy to listen to. Freitas’ vocals go from raw screams to a suave mid-range that has you questioning if it’s the same singer. Influenced by alternative indie rock artists such as Elliott Smith, his lyrics use stories from his life as a vehicle for bigger issues. From making bad decisions to that girl with the “cute butt” – it’s done with a style and charm that is infectious and listenable, with writing that makes it easy to imagine yourself as the protagonist in the lyrics.
His current release, “8-Track,” begins with layers of reverse guitar ambience before it drops into a melodic frenzy. Luscious and bright reverberating guitars, a lead bass line and a catchy instrumental hook set the stage for Freitas’ sentimental, nostalgia-inspired songwriting: “Been a long time since I heard your voice/ Now it sounds just like music to my ears/ A sound I can listen to for years.”
Bringing the song to life on the stage in Carmel’s American Legion Hall is in the hands of Freitas’ latest band. New connections have led him to Bad Juju, a drum-and-bass duo of Dan Ramirez and Auston Rutledge. Bruce Gilsenan of San Juan Bautista lends his chops on the six string. Expect to see appearances from surprise guest vocalists, as well.
The release of the final single from Freitas’ latest EP is a goodbye to old projects and a hello to new territory. With a trip to SXSW planned, a Pacific Northwest tour in the works and another EP in the queue, 2020 is mostly booked.
Freitas’ next EP, Controlled Burn, will debut this summer. The title track is fundamentally about a breakup, but with some wildfires literally close to home, he identified a metaphor for rebirth. The CD will also feature cover art from local artist Andrew Jackson.
ZACK FREITAS 7pm Saturday, Jan. 11. American Legion Hall, Dolores and Eighth, Carmel. $10. 624-9941, zackfreitas.com.