Dexter Freebish is a band. Not a person. Since forming almost 20 years ago, Austin-based quartet Dexter Freebish has always been a band with which fate and faith have had a close association. Hearing parts of the story of how the members came together, it’s hard not to acknowledge the power of predestination.
“I was just looking in the Austin Chronicle and had never been in a band or called an ad,” recalls Dexter Freebish lead singer Kyle. “At the time I wasn’t really a singer except for in school chorus, though I kept notebooks of lyrics. But that day I saw an ad that read, ‘Singer Wanted. Influences Bono and Sting,’ and I said what the heck and called. And because of that I met Chris [Lowe, Dexter Freebish’s bassist] and Scott [Romig, the group’s guitaris]. It was the first ad I ever called and it’s still the only band I’ve ever been in.”
The band was named after a [now closed] roller coaster in Houston [the Dexter Freebish Electric Roller Ride] and it couldn’t be any more appropriate. The band has had many up’s and down’s never knowing where they might land.
Their determination lead to “Leaving Town,” Dexter Freebish’s John Lennon Songwriting Contest Song of the Year (picked from 27,000 entries), which lead to a deal with Capitol Records for the band’s 2000 full-length debut A Life of Saturdays. However, after exuberantly received radio play (for “Leaving Town” and “My Madonna”), heavy video play on VH1 and MTV2, and enthusiastic tours both domestic and abroad something happened that might rattle anybody’s faith. Dexter Freebish and Capitol, experiencing a regime change that would not allow the band to get the attention it deserved, decided to part ways.
This only proved to strengthen Dexter Freebish’s resolve, however. A decision was quickly made that this was fate’s way of telling the group to independently release the 2004 sophomore album, Tripped Into Divine. Pressed by producer Matthew Wilder [No Doubt], Tripped Into Divine bridged the gap between the wide-eyed wonder of unbridled youth and the contemplative fortitude of experience. The single on this album was the fan-favorite, “Prozak” (which went on to win Rock Song of the Year in 2004 in the John Lennon Songwriting contest).
After touring the world to promote their sophomore release, the band decided in 2005 to go on permanent hiatus. “We all needed to do other things for a while,” says Lowe. He adds, “We never officially broke up and have still remained friends. But I can honestly say, there was never any hint that we would ever put out another Dexter Freebish record. We were pretty much done.”
In early 2008, the band decided, on a whim, to play a couple of shows throughout Texas. “It just felt right playing together again,” says Romig. “Soon after that, we started writing and recording some new songs.” One of those new songs captured the attention of Electronic Arts, garnering the band’s song “The Other Side”, a spot in the Sims 3 video game.
Steve Schnur, President of Electronic Art’s Publishing Company, Artwerk, comments, “I was in awe of the talent that Dexter Freebish exemplified when I first signed them to a record deal and these feelings have not changed. Ten years ago, I signed them to Capitol Records because of their incredible songwriting and performance abilities and ten years later I’m still working with them for the exact same reasons. The songs that they write are timeless.”
In early 2011, the band started work on their first full length album in over six years. The new album entitled, “Shine On”, is a diverse album that both explores new sonic territory and builds on the hook laden efforts of past albums. While creating “Shine On”, the band was inspired by 808 drum machines, beat up synths, and their I-phone apps. Produced by The Singularity, the album ranges from the dance, heavy beat influenced “Wide Awake”, to the rock anthem “Do You Want To”. The band also collaborated with Greg Wells (Katy Perry, One Republic) on the song “Save the Last Dance”, which was started in 2001 and finished 9 years later.
Lowe comments, “It’s crazy to look back to the days when we were on Capitol and how much money the labels would waste to record albums. With modern technology, it is so much easier and cheaper to record an album these days.” Romig adds, “We laugh because recording and mixing this new album cost 1% of our budget for the albums we made on Capitol. This is a great thing for independent artists and brings power to the people.”
Dexter Freebish is currently working on a new album, slated to be released in early 2014.